Monthly Archives: December 2016

Why Groundhogs Are Terrible House Pets

77Thinking about a groundhog as a pet? Please read this article before trapping or charming one into your home. They are demanding animals and quite honestly belong in the wild. Is there any upside? Absolutely. Similar to a dog, my groundhog will lovingly greet me when I come home, but then he hastily scurries back into the crawl space and starts digging. If I had to do it over again, I would have chosen goldfish.

1. Hibernation. My groundhog hibernates in my basement all winter long. This may sound like a good thing, but when he wakes up in the spring, it’s a different story. Each year, right around March Madness, this little whistle pig comes climbing up from the basement. Not only is he very hungry, but he’s also looking for a new mate. Having to deal with a hungry groundhog in heat in an urban environment is rough to say the least.

2. Digging. These animals absolutely LOVE to dig. I usually have to replace the carpeting in my townhouse twice a year. Last July he dug right through the dry wall and wedged himself in between the walls. I had to call a contractor to help me remove him AND he bit me during the process. I had to get yet another tetanus shot.

3. Veterinarian Care. Not many vets will even agree to see a “pet” groundhog, let alone have experience in dealing with one. I only brought my little guy to the vet once and it was not a pleasant experience. The vet told me I shouldn’t try to domesticate a wild animal and she threatened to call animal control.

4. Not good with kids. When I first got my groundhog, I tried to get him comfortable around children. I assume he perceived the children as threats, which is why he started snarling so viciously. Thankfully no one was hurt. For safety measures, I always put him on a leash when we go out and I usually tie a piece of string around his snout so he doesn’t snap at anyone.

5. Special dietary needs. The pet stores don’t carry groundhog food, so I just feed him table scraps which may be why he weighs about 45 pounds and is very lethargic. His favorite snack is Bugles and I sometimes let him eat taffy and pretend he is trying to talk.

Will a Pygmy Goat Make a Good Pet

75Learn All About Having a Pygmy Goat as a Pet

If you are looking for information about pygmy goats as pets, then you have to come to the right place. These animals are miniature but they generate a considerable amount of energy. They are very active and if not contained will be into and onto everything in sight.

Normally these little guys are not used for the purpose of getting meat or milk like the larger breeds. They appear to be used almost exclusively as pets. You don’t need too large of a backyard for them to be happy in. Make sure there aren’t any restrictions against having pygmy goats in your area before planning to get your new pet.

Pygmy goats are very playful and intelligent and can easily become bored if they don’t have company to play with, which help to make them wonderful pets. As their name implies they are very small compared to regular goats. There is a lot of energy packed into them and they will almost behave like a dog. The will enjoy being handled and will follow you around if allowed.

They are extremely robust and will adapt easily in cold climates by creating undercoat which is thick and woolly. This goat breed is among the handful of animals which are able to reproduce outside of their regular season. For this reason, they are able to deliver several baby goats for each season.

Perhaps, one of the main reasons why these goats are kept as pets compared with others is because they love people and are extremely sociable. When they are brought home as pets, it is a must that the horns are removed to avoid harming individuals or even other goats. These animals can also be infamously inquisitive and sometimes manage to stick their horns into fences or any other restricted places.

Tips for caring pygmy goats

As mentioned before, they will adapt to almost all environments. Their diet should primarily consist of grains and greens. It’s advisable to provide items that will enable them to play and enjoy themselves because they like to jump and might even climb on top of small vehicles. When it comes to housing you should have a suitable open area and shed which is accessible all of the time.

If you have other animals at home it would be best to introduce your pigmy goat to this group carefully, because they could be harmed by them. They are classified as prey animals and as a result you should keep them in appropriate shelters, particularly during the night. It is a must that they are given fresh water daily, because it’s more than likely that they will not drink it if it’s not fresh.

In essence, if you have a pygmy goat for your pet you will not be disappointed because they love to have contact with humans. As long as you are giving this pet the best care in order to keep them healthy and fit, you will end up with the ideal companion for both adults and children.

The 4 Boa Species Best Suited As Pet Snakes

74Boas are among the very best snakes to keep as pets. While most boas are large snakes, and not necessarily suitable for owners with no previous experience, in my mind there is no better snake. In fact, after 25 years of keeping snakes, if I could only have one it would definitely be a boa!

In general boas, while large and powerful, are normally a joy to handle, and generally docile by nature. There 28 recognised species of boa, and many of them can be kept in captivity, though some are certainly more suitable than others. This is a guide to the 4 species best suited to captivity.

Common Boas Boa Constrictor Imperator

The Common Boas, also referred to as Central American Boas or Columbian Boas, range from Mexico to central South America. Variable in looks, and also habitat, they thrive everywhere from rainforest to scrub-land. The majority of Boa Constrictors in captivity are Common Boas, most of which originated from Columbia.

While no boa is the perfect pet snake, the Common Boa comes closest to attaining that title. They tend to be considerably cheaper than other boas, such as the Red Tailed, and yet are still beautiful snakes, often with striking markings. They are usually very docile, will normally take defrosted prey with no difficulties, and in general are easy to care for.

Tending to be a little smaller than Red Tailed Boas, Boa Constrictor Imperator will generally reach 6 – 9 feet in length as an adult. Males will tend to be a little shorter and less well built than females, and sex can usually be determined by the anal spurs which are quite prominent on the males

Neonates will be around 14 – 20″ inches at birth, and will normally start feeding well on fuzzy mice soon after their first shed if given optimum conditions.

If you want a beautiful snake that is relatively easy to care for and good to handle, the Common Boa might well be an ideal choice

Red Tailed Boas Boa Constrictor Constrictor

The true Red Tails are only found in the Amazon and Orinoco basins in northern Brazil, eastern Peru, Suriname, Guyana and southern Columbia. They are generally light coloured with striking saddle markings which are a rich red, bordered in black, on the anterior third of the snake.

Generally longer, and more heavily built that the common boas, Red Tails can grow to over 12 feet in length, although 9 – 10 foot is more common.

They are generally considered suitable for more experienced keepers, mostly due to their larger size and the fact that they are more difficult to breed in captivity than the common boa. They are also considerably more expensive than the common boas. Having said that, they are still docile and generally easy to care for snakes. If you are prepared for the large size and can accommodate a large enough enclosure, they are truly striking animals. A large adult will require an enclosure of at least 6′ in length by 3′ and will typically take a jumbo rat or rabbit once a fortnight.

Dumeril’s Boas Boa Dumerili

The Dumeril’s is a CITES protected species from Madagascar. The CITES status of this species means that WC or CF farmed specimens cannot be exported, but it does not prevent CB snakes from being kept. If you do buy a Dumeril’s Boa however you will need CITES paperwork to prove its origin, and be micro chipped. Any reputable breeder or dealer with Dumeril’s Boas for sale will be able to arrange paperwork and advise on micro chipping (adults should already be chipped, but juveniles too small to be chipped will require a visit to the vet to have a chip inserted when they are large enough.

They are an excellent alternative to the Common or Red Tailed Boa for keepers wanting a large boa, but are daunted by the idea of owning an 8 – 10 foot snake. These snakes very rarely exceed 7 foot in length, and adults often to do not exceed 5 foot.

Similar husbandry to Common Boas is required for the Dumeril’s, although some specimens can be more problematic to feed and are slightly more prone to stress.

Rainbow Boas Epicrates cenchria

Rainbow boas get their name from an iridescence on their skin when they are exposed to the sun, or other bright light. There are several subspecies, found on much of South America, and of these the Brazilian (E.c. CenchriaI) and Columbian (E.c. Maurus) are most common in captivity.

In general, Rainbow Boas are considered a more advanced snake, and suited to experienced herpetoculturists only. This is largely due to the fact that these are typically much less tolerant of handling than snakes such as boa constrictors. Whether of not Rainbows Boas are suitable to be kept as a first snake really depends on what you want from a snake. If you want a snake which you can handle pretty much whenever you want, and not have to worry to much about the snake being aggressive, then a Rainbow Boa probably isn’t for you. If, however, you want a beautiful snake that you can observe in its vivarium in the way you would enjoy fish in an aquarium, then there is really no reason why a Rainbow Boa couldn’t be kept as a first snake, provided you are capable of giving it the environment and care it needs.

A temperature (controlled by thermostat) of around 78 – 80 F should be provided at night, rising to 85 – 90 F during the day. The humidity must be kept considerably high. In addition to a pool/bowl of water large enough to soak in, the enclosure should be misted daily. These snakes very rarely drink from pools, but will take droplets of rain water from branches and leaves, and even their own scales. Aim for a humidity of 75-80%. Since high humidity promotes the growth of mould and fungus, extra care must be taken to ensure cleanliness and good ventilation.

Other boa species

There are of course many other species of boa, including much smaller species such as the rosy boas and ground boas. But for the average snake owner, who wants a truly magnificent snake and is able to commit to keeping a large snake for 20+ years, one of these 4 superb species would certainly be my choice.

A Good Addition To Your Pet’s Flea And Tick Treatment Regime

74Fleas are annoying blood sucking creatures that no pet owners want to see them on their pets. If you’re thinking they are just annoying, pause and ponder a bit more. They are not just irritating, but are of greater health risk to your dog, cat and other animals not excluding humans too. These pesky creatures thrive in a warm environment while feeding on mammals and the flea bites lead to numerous health issues including flea allergy dermatitis.

In spite of waiting for the fleas to infest and then treating your pet, the best option is the preventive measure. Several prescriptions as well as on-the-counter medications are available that helps in controlling these pests and diseases caused by them. However, at times when already your pet was heavily infested with fleas, you need to look around for the result-oriented solution that just works best in eliminating these dark colored creatures. Among the many, Capstar is one such treatment that is highly effective in destroying those adult fleas.

Capstar is one such flea medication on the market that most pet parents may be well aware of. Due to its quick action and high effectiveness in controlling fleas, it is quite popular. But, still there may be those in the shell that may be wondering whether really Capstar is capable of eradicating a heavy flea infestation. For all of them, here is a brief guide to this flea product to know more about it.

First of all, unlike topical treatments, Capstar is an oral treatment. The tablet is specially designed for easy administration contrasting to messy topical treatments. The oral flea control is easily given through the mouth or can also be mixed with food.

Usually, after a few hours of administration, you can find your pet scratching, but not to worry about this as it normally happens because of dying fleas.

What is the best part of this oral flea control product is – it starts working within thirty minutes and kills most adult fleas within 24 hours. However, you need to know that Capstar kills only adult fleas and is not capable of destroying flea eggs and flea larvae. Moreover, it can last a day leaving you with the option either to treat your pet with another dose of Capstar after 24 hours for heavy flea infestation or follow it with other long-term monthly treatments to control re-infestation.

It is evaluated that Capstar is safe for younger pets as young as four weeks old puppies and kittens. The oral tablet can be given to puppies and kittens with no negative reactions.

Many may know of topical treatments like Frontline plus and advantage, but Capstar is a good addition if you are looking for oral flea control products.

Do Rabbits Make Good Pets?

73Are you looking at adding a bunny to your household? Keeping rabbits for pets (as compared to breeding, meat or fur) has become hugely popular in the last decade.

In fact rabbits are now the third most popular family pet after dogs and cats. It seems the world is finally cottoning on to how intelligent, fun and loving bunnies are.

So, what makes a rabbit such a good pet? Well here are our top 5 reasons:

1. Bunnies are very social

In the wild bunnies live in warrens, or groups. There can be up to 40+ in a warren so your bun is used to having company (but probably not their own bedroom!) Rabbits crave interaction (compare that to cats who are essentially solitary creatures) and if they are handled frequently and gently when they are little will always be happy to interact with you.

Many a rabbit owners tells stories of how their rabbit is very inquisitive and always needs to know what they are up to.

Older rabbits tend to become even more affectionate and companionable as they age and are often content to spend the evening snuggling beside you with a good DVD, especially if it’s ‘Watership Down’ or ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’.

2. They love to play

Bunnies absolutely LOVE to play, possibly more so than any other animal. It doesn’t get much better in life than watching a rabbit play. They hide, run, jump and throw their toys in sheer joy.

Bunnies even have a legendary ‘jump for joy’ called a binkie (or binky) which is where your bunny will jump in the air and twist at the same time. It is amazing to watch and a great sign that your bun is on top of the world.

Laughter is great medicine for all of us and it’s a rare person who can watch a bunny at play and not laugh out loud!

3. They are easily litter trained

If you’ve heard they are hard to litter train then you’ve been mislead! Rabbits are naturally clean animals and provided you work with their natural instincts to keep clean you will have a toilet trained bun in no time.

4. Rabbits form close bonds with their owners

Years ago rabbits were almost thought of as ‘disposable’ pets. That they lived outside and weren’t really part of the family. Nowadays, particularly as more and more rabbits are becoming inside, house rabbits this isn’t the case thankfully.

Owners are quickly realising that they can become very attached to their bunny in the same way they do for a dog or cat and find themselves just as devastated at the loss of a precious pet rabbit.

5. Bunnies are off the scale when it comes to cuteness

OK, so this one is really logical but who can forgive us for adding it in here. Rabbits are very high on the cute scale. Who can resist the snugly, calm and inquisitive Holland Lop or the cuter than a bug and softer than velvet Mini Rex?

So, if you’re looking for a new addition to your family maybe it’s time to pass on a Fido or Snowball this time and consider making a bunny your new best friend?

Always keep in mind that while keeping rabbits for pets is an amazing experience, bunnies are not low maintenance animals. Please be a responsible owner and do your reasearch first.

Abbey Mitchell is a long-time animal lover and rabbit enthusiast.