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Archive for April 2014

Chinchilla

ChinchillaChinchillas are a rabbit sized rodent from the Andes Mountains in South America that can live from 18-20 years. They need a dry climate that is neither too hot nor too cold as they are susceptible to heat stroke and freezing to death. Just like rabbits, chinchillas have teeth that continually grow, up to 10-12 inches a year and they can jump about a foot off the ground. If you are purchasing a chinchilla for the first time there are some variables you should consider before your purchase.

Chinchillas make great pets for grown children as long as they have been socialized. A chinchilla that has not been socialized will display aggressive behavior and typically be more inclined to bite. The best place to purchase a chinchilla is from a reputable breeder who is willing to give you a list of referrals. Chinchillas bought from a pet store have most likely not been properly socialized and are more liable to be sick due to the lack of socialization, or being bored. You should buy a chinchilla when it is 10 months old so that you can socialize with him/her yourself as well as get comfortable with one another.

Be careful when handling your chinchilla, they are fragile animals and can be hurt easily. If you wish to hold him/her you should cup their bottom in one hand and hold them securely, but not too tightly in your other hand supporting their arms and neck. You should also give a chinchilla a dust bath every week. Be sure that the dust is not grainy like sand, but more like dust or ash. Put some dust in a shallow bowl and rub all over the chinchilla. The dust stops the chinchilla from contracting diseases from an unclean coat and is something they would do in the wild.

When purchasing a cage for your chinchilla stay away from cages with wire floating bottoms. Chinchillas can easily get their feet stuck in between the wire and hurt themselves trying to free their foot. These bottoms can also cause a chinchilla to become arthritic from walking carefully all the time trying to avoid trapping their feet in the mesh. The best cage will have tiers for the chinchilla to jump onto and off of. Be wary of buying hamster balls or wheels for your chinchilla, these result in high number of deaths and accidents.

Chinchillas need a specific diet. They can eat guinea pig food as well as alfalfa and timothy hay. Be sure not to leave soiled hay or food lying around the cage, as these will cause the chinchilla to become sick should they ingest it. Chinchillas should never be fed too much treats as these can cause troubles for the chinchillas sensitive system. However you can use treats sparingly as a means to train your pet. You should bottle feed your chinchilla water. Make sure that you wash the bottle well in hot water and don’t use soaps as these can cause the animal to become ill.

The same goes for cleaning the cage. Because the cages wires may be treated with toxins you should clean the cage with hot water before placing your chinchilla in there. You should clean the cage of your chinchilla every day or every other day. Wash the bottom of the cage once a week with water and bleach ensuring to rinse well with hot water.

Chinchillas are curious animals that need a lot of stimulation and toys that they can chew. If you plan to let your chinchilla loose in a room of your home you will need to proof it first. Make sure there are no exposed wires, wood or furniture for your animal to chew. If you are going to handle and play with your chinchilla you must do so at the same time everyday. Chinchillas are nocturnal and are more active at night, they also tend to be very time sensitive, which means that it causes them stress if they do not have routine.

You should give your chinchilla toys that not only pique his curiosity and help him to wear down his teeth. Salt licks, cardboard boxes, and untreated wooden toys are great. You can even let your chinchilla gnaw on bones. Never let your chinchilla chew wires, plastic, or anything that has been chemically treated because they can cause your pet to become deadly ill.

All pets need a certain amount of care, always research the type of animal you are thinking about purchasing before your buy them. Some animals require specific care that can keep them healthy and happy for many years, chinchillas are no exception.

 

Photo from Chinchilla Chronicles

 

Snakes

Have you thought about buying a snake for a pet? We have some tips for you to read before you go and take the next step. There are many species available for sale, but you need to know which are best for first time owners. You also need to know where to buy your pet snake. You can talk to other snake owners and find out where’s the best place to buy, and there are reptile shows that feature breeders who you can talk to and buy snakes from.

Corn SnakeThe best snakes for first time snake owners are ones that are hardy and docile, like the corn snake, ball python, king and milk snakes. These snakes are readily available at pet stores, easy to breed and are great for first time snake owners. These snakes can cost as low as $10 but can increase due to color variations or more. This price does not include the equipment you will need to house the snake.

You need a cage with a lid that cannot be opened from the inside and has temperature controls. Some snakes need more warmth because they are from hot climates, where others can deal with moderate temperatures. Snakes are escape artists and love to squeeze through holes, so make sure where ever you’re housing your snake that they cannot escape easily, and if they do get out of their cage, you can find them without too much trouble.

Another thing to consider is feeding your snake. Some snakes are okay eating frozen food, but some snakes might be used to live feedings, so definitely find out what your potential snake is used to eating and decide if you’re okay feeding your snake live bait, or storing frozen mice in your freezer.

Ball PythonAnother thing to consider is the size of the snake. The snakes that are listed above will not grow to be more than 8 feet long, some species will grow to be much longer. You will also want to consider the breed if you have children in the house. Kids under 5 years old are not great snake owners because snakes demand a certain amount of understanding and care.

Be wary of buying a wild snake, these are more likely to be aggressive, bad eaters, and carry diseases. You will notice if the snake has parasites because the scales will appear enflamed and sore around the edges in groupings. Snakes that have been captured from the wild are more likely to die than a captive bred species too.

Also know your limits, do not buy an anaconda, reticulated pythons, or venomous snake. These snakes need an experienced snake handler to minimize accidents. It’s always a good idea to talk with a snake handler or owner before purchasing so you can get an idea of what owning a snake is like. If you’re too timid to hold and interact with snakes, then you should think twice about owning one. Snakes need interaction with their owner in order to bond and establish a relationship.

Milk SnakeWatching videos on snakes is another good way to gauge your preparedness for snake ownership. Here’s a great video by Snake Buddies. As with any animal, know what it takes to properly care for an animal, there are many snakes for sale on Craig’s List because the owners were not ready for the responsibility or the dedication that snake ownership comes with. Do some research and act on knowledge, not on impulse.

 

Ferrets

ID-10051447 Did you know that there are more than 10 million pet ferrets in the US? Did you also know that ferrets are regulated state-to-state, meaning that before you buy one you may need to buy a permit and learn whether you are able to buy an unaltered male or female. Contact your local Wildlife or Fish and Game department before purchasing a ferret.

Ferrets may not only require your legal understanding, but they’ll require your patience and knowledge. Ferrets are not like owning a cat or dog, they are more prone to wild and hunting behaviors, which means that they require a lot of supervision before they can be given free reign of the house. Even after you’ve owned the ferret for years you may still find that they require your close attention.

Due to their inquisitive nature, you will need to ensure that you do a harm and danger reduction check in your house. Keep toilet lids down, ensure buckets are empty, don’t let empty toilet paper, paper towel or wrapping paper rolls to sit around as these are all dangerous to ferrets.

Ferrets can also be expensive animals, be sure to talk to your veterinarian about vaccinations and neutering prices. These on top of the price of the ferret can be very expensive. For many reasons you will want to neuter your ferret unless you plan to breed them. Ferrets have a natural musk to them that increases when they reach sexual maturity and become ready to mate. Ferrets in heat change their behavior and smell. The males become increasingly aggressive, and the female risks death if she remains unaltered and  unable to mate. Female ferrets secrete high levels of estrogen and if this hormone stays in the blood for a prolonged period of time it will cause a progressive depression of  bone marrow that results in a severe, life threatening aplastic anemia.

Ferrets need to be kept indoors as they are very temperature sensitive, they can suffer and die from heat stroke and frost bite. Make sure that if you’re keeping a ferret in a cage you have a large enough cage for the ferret to romp and play as well as rest and relax. You can litter train a ferret, but it requires time and patience. Unlike cats, it isn’t a natural instinct for the ferret to exit waste in kitty litter. Make sure that for the first while you leave the waste in the litter box so the ferret learns this is where they are supposed to go. Immediately remove and clean odors from accidents as it is the odors that attract the ferret to dispose of waste in certain corners.

Make sure that the ferret has an abundance of food and water available to them. They eat small portions periodically, so be sure to leave food out for them all day. ALso do research into the kind of food to feed ferrets. There is a lot of conflicting advice about what to feed ferrets, so be sure to talk about the ferrets diet with a vet. Generally it’s not a good idea to feed food to an animal that is not meant for that animal. Also be aware that in the wild ferrets eat smaller animals, so if you own rodents or birds that the ferret does not have access to them and that fish tanks have a closed lid on them.

Ferrets are great pets, just ask one of the millions of ferret owners. But you need to do your homework and decide if owning a ferret is right for you. They require a lot of attention and patience, so if you don’t have the time to commit to a ferret, you should probably look for another pet.

House Training a Puppy

CVH 13You’ve just bought the cutest bundle of fur in the world. You’ve put so much time in choosing a name, buying pet products, and now your new family member is finally here! You should put just as much time and effort in the training process as you did everything else, otherwise you may become frustrated with your new friend quicker than you thought possible.

Start training your puppy the day he/she comes home with you. Choose a little room in your house to dedicate to you new puppy. This is where the majority of the training will take place. In this room your puppy will learn where it is okay to eliminate and what kind of play is acceptable. Begin by layering newspapers in the floor. Then choose a corner for the bed and another for the food and water dishes. Stay with your puppy in this room and give him all kinds of love. Remember your puppy just left his family behind and he’s probably feeling anxious.

Don’t rush to your puppy’s side the minute they start to cry or whine. They have to learn how to be alone, especially if there will be no one in the house with them during the day while your at work. Likewise, if your puppy is showing signs of being tired leave your puppy alone to sleep. Don’t overwhelm the puppy with your presence or they’l feel anxious when you’re not around and increase the likeliness of accidents.

Find a vet that you trust quickly and get your puppy’s vaccinations done as soon as you can. Puppies shouldn’t be let outside who haven’t had all their vaccinations. And once they’ve been vaccinated you can begin training your dog outside too. Choose a spot in your backyard where you want your puppy to go. Consistently take your dig there and praise him with a treat for eliminating in that spot every time. Be sure that you’re taking him/her out on a regular basis so there are no accidents and no anxiety about having to hold the pee.

Now if you’re going to bring your new puppy to sleep in your room prepare for him to soil your bed. Young puppies do not have control over their bladders yet. Older puppies have more control, but might still have an accident. So if you don’t want to be woken to a mess, leave your puppy to sleep in his crate or bed for the night in his room.

Teach your puppy how to play. Introduce him/her to the toys you bought and verbally praise him/her for chewing those toys. And just as you wouldn’t let a toddler or baby alone in a room of your house, don’t leave your puppy alone either. If they’re left alone they’re possibly going to chew something you don’t want chewed. Be there with your puppy, ready with some of his toys. If he/she starts chewing something say “Off!” with authority and then give them their chew toy. Ensuring to praise them for chewing the toy.

When your puppy is ready to go outside make sure that you lead the way, not the other way around. This will establish dominance with the puppy and they won’t pull you down the street as you try to walk them. Also take walks that your puppy can handle. Don’t try to force them to walk long distances at first, you can burn your puppy out with too much walking. But do walk your puppy daily.

Never train your dog using negative reinforcement. This will only teach your dog to fear you. Remember that your puppy is still a baby and needs your patience. Remain calm and know that your puppy will learn fast and before the month is out he/she will know where to go to the bathroom, sleep and eat. Enjoy your puppy because he/she won’t remain one forever.