More Stranded Seals Due to Declining Ice Cover

July 26, 2013 by  
Filed under All Posts, Animal News, Wild Animals

Hooded Seal
A Baby Hooded Seal

Photo Wiki Commons
Courtesy NOAA Fisheries
Licensed under Public Domain

Recently more Harp and Hooded seals than usual have been found stranded along the East Coast of the United States as far south as the Carolinas and the U.S. Virgin Islands. These stranded seals should have migrated much farther north by this time of year. A recent study indicates the problem is in part due to the decline in ice cover.

The Harp Seal Pagophilus groenlandicus, also known as the Saddleback Seal, lives in the north Atlantic Ocean and the Artic Ocean. Their scientific name translates to “ice-lover from Greenland,” and they really do love ice! Having a thick layer of blubber and efficient flippers which they can use as heat exchangers, they can efficiently regulate their temperature on ice and in extremely cold water. They have all-black eyes with grayish-silver bodies. Adult harp seals can weigh from 300-400 pounds.

The Hooded Seal Cystophora cristata is also found primarily in the North Atlantic Ocean. They are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. What stands out on these seals is a bulge on the males heads which develops around four years of age. This bulge is actually an inflated air sac or “hood” above their noses and is used in mating rituals. Adult males can weigh up to 900 pounds! That’s a big seal!

In general, these seals reproduce in the spring on huge masses of ice. As spring turns to summer the seals begin to migrate North. It is believed that a seals sight is very helpful in helping it navigate, making vision one of their most important senses.

Increasing numbers of Hooded Seals are being found dead or unhealthy on beaches further south than where they should be. Usually around 25 to 35 stranded seals are found on the Northeast Coast, however this year a total of 55 stranded seals have been found in both the Northeast and Southeast coasts combined. According to biologist Ulrika Malone, the seals are found dehydrated, sunburned, and suffering from heat exhaustion and hair loss. The ones that are alive are taken into rehabilitation centers by wildlife officials. The seals are nursed back to health and then released back into the wild.

A recent study published in the PLOS ONE journal confirms the theory that receding ice levels are at least partially to blame for more seals being found stranded. Most of the stranded seals are young, with 62% of them being male. It is thought that the majority are males because of their tendency to wander further away once they head off by themselves. Genetic issues, such as inbreeding, were mostly excluded as reasons. It was found that the stranded seals were just as genetically diverse as seals which were not stranded.

Sea ice is a prominent part of seal life and reproduction. Every spring (March-April) the seals reproduce on the ice drifts. The mothers nurse the young for a short time before they are left on their own to start their journey north. In the past 30 years ice cover in April has declined about 8%, which is significant. Researchers believe this affects the seals because there isn’t enough space on the ice for all the new young seals. Some of the babies may then be forced into the water prematurely and become confused as to which direction they should go. They may follow large groups of fish moving south instead of north and completely lose their way.

If the amount of sea ice continues to decline, it could cause serious problems for many types of seals, especially the ones who use the ice masses to reproduce. In fact, Ringed Seals and Bearded Seals are already listed as threatened species due to this decline in ice cover.

Should we be concerned with ice cover decline? What do you think?

Animal-World’s Featured Pet of the Week: The Abyssinian Guinea Pig

July 22, 2013 by  
Filed under All Posts, Featured Pets, Small Pets

The Abyssinian Guinea Pig

Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The Abyssinian Guinea Pig!

Would you like a small pet but want something a little more out of the ordinary? An Abyssinian Guinea Pig may be just the small pet you are looking for! These guinea pigs have a very interesting patterning to their fur. They are also known as “Rosette” guinea pigs because they have 8-10 whirls in their fur, which are called rosettes. Popular as show guinea pigs, these are a big hit among many people. Many Abyssinian babies however, do not meet the standards to be shown and end up as pets. I owned three of these guinea pigs when I was growing up and I always thought they were the most beautiful. Other people think their fur just looks wild!

Guinea pigs in general can make great small pets. They are clean, friendly, hardy, and easy to care for. If you make sure to acquire a baby guinea pig, your child can bond with him/her early on and have a great companion growing up. Abyssinian Guinea Pigs make wonderful pets for children. In my experience, these guinea pigs are quite energetic and can be a bit more spunky than some other breeds. But this also makes their personalities that much more endearing. Some can learn to do a few tricks and are smart enough to open their own cages and escape!

Domesticated guinea pigs have been around for a very long time. Records indicate their being kept with humans since around 5000 BC, most likely to be eaten as a food source. Specific breeding most likely began around 1200 AD. Initially they were kept as pets only by the wealthy upper class, but eventually became a favored pet of everyone. Different variations of guinea pig breeds became popular and specific traits were bred for. When the American Cavy Breeders Association was founded, one of the very first breeds they recognized was the Abyssinian breed.

Showing guinea pigs is a specialized hobby enjoyed by many. Ideally, Abyssinian Guinea Pigs should have one rosette on each shoulder, one rosette on each hip, four rosettes across the back, and two rosettes on their hind rumps. This gives a total of ten rosettes. As I mentioned before, many Abyssinian guinea pigs don’t quite make the standards for showing and end up as pets only. Your Abyssinian pet may still be eligible to show though, as long as he/she has at least eight rosettes which are symmetrical. Abyssinian’s come in many different colors and most of these can be shown.

Caring for and maintaining a home for your guinea pig should be relatively simple. Provide a cage large enough that he/she can run around in comfortably. Change out the bedding and clean the cage at least weekly. A good commercial guinea pig food should be offered daily, along with some fresh vegetables (i.e. lettuce and carrots). Water bottles work great for providing water. It is a good idea to provide chew sticks to keep their teeth trimmed. Also keep in mind that guinea pigs do get bored and they do need exercise. For this reason try to schedule in time every day where you can take him/her out of the cage to roam around for a bit.

Abyssinian Guinea Pigs are hardy animals and rarely get sick if they are kept in clean environments and out of drafts. If you are concerned your guinea pig is sick, read about Guinea Pig Illnesses. They are readily available. It should not be difficult to find them at pet stores or online. Guinea pigs are very social critters, so you may want to consider purchasing two to ensure they don’t get lonely.

Have you ever shown one of these guinea pigs? What was your experience with it?

Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

The 5 Most Dangerous Dogs

July 13, 2013 by  
Filed under All Posts, Pet Dogs

Did you know that 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs every year in the United States? About 800,000 of these bites are bad enough that the victims seek medical attention, and anywhere from 20-40 dog bites result in fatalities each year. What is astonishing is that almost 80% of these fatal dog attacks occur from two dog breeds alone! These are the Pit Bull Terrier and the Rottweiler. The Pit Bull is at the top of the list by far though, with over 60% of fatal attacks attributed to this breed. Many of these attacks however, are from dogs who are not properly trained and restrained, or are abused and neglected by irresponsible owners. It is also important to note that any dog could be considered dangerous under the right circumstances.

Below are the 5 most dangerous dogs in the United States. These are in order based off the number of fatalities attributed to each.

Alaskan Malamute#5. Alaskan Malamute. The Alaskan Malamute is descended from an old breed. Its ancestors were dogs living with the Mahlemuits Indian tribe in Alaska. Bred originally as sled dogs, they are now kept more often as pets. They must be given a lot of attention and have proper discipline. If not, they can develop bad behaviors which could prove dangerous.

Siberian Huskies#4. Husky. Huskies are another very old breed of dog and distantly related to Alaskan Malamutes. Being used as sled dogs as well, they have high energy which must be channeled into productivity. Aggressive tendencies can come out, especially if they are not properly trained and disciplined. Smothering them with love and attention is a must for these dogs!

German Shepherd#3. German Shepherd.German Shepherds, another high-energy dog, come in third and are known for their intelligence. They have an amazing ability to learn and can be trained quite readily. They are very loyal and obedient, but should be trained from an early age to insure these qualities. Jobs which German Shepherds are often used for include police dogs and guard dogs. And don’t forget what wonderful companion pets they can be!

Rottweiler#2. Rottweiler. Even though Rottweilers are the second most dangerous dog, they are a well-loved dog breed by many. Being one of the oldest herding dogs, they have a strong instinct to hunt. If they are socialized and trained well from a young age, they make fantastic guard dogs and are fiercely loyal to their families.

American Pit Bull Terrier#1. American Pit Bull Terrier. Pit Bull Terriers top the list as the most dangerous domestic dog. In fact, they are completely banned in some areas. Pit Bulls have a reputation of being aggressive dogs. Most likely being descended from Bulldogs and hunting terriers which are now extinct, they possess a strong instinct to hunt and protect. One of the reasons these dogs are dangerous is because they have a strong bite and a tendency to not let go of their victim. These dogs have specifically been bred to be fighting dogs, which is thought to be part of the reason they have such an inborn tendency to be aggressive. It is illegal to fight dogs in the United States, but there are still people doing it. Even though Pit Bulls are considered dangerous, many people successfully raise well-behaved and loving pets, and truly believe their behavior is a reflection of the owners discipline techniques.

Other potentially dangerous dogs include Wolf-dog Hybrids, Doberman Pinschers, Chow Chows, Presa Canarios, Boxers, and Dalmatians. Wolf-dog Hybrids are actually responsible for more fatalities than Alaskan Malamutes but aren’t included in the list because they aren’t true domestic dogs. Strict regulations regarding owning and breeding wolf-dog hybrids exist in many areas. The Presa Canario is another dog which was bred specifically to participate in dog fights and bans have previously been placed on this breed.

Precautions should always be taken when you come across any dog you are unfamiliar with.

Some suggestions for interacting with dogs you don’t know:

  1. Never approach a strange dog. In fact, walk the other direction! But don’t run, as this could attract their attention.
  2. Don’t try to pet any dog that is tied up, behind a fence, or in a car.
  3. Even if a dog seems friendly, never pet them without first letting them sniff you and determine you aren’t a threat.
  4. Avoid eye contact with a dog. Some dogs may think you are challenging them.
  5. Never yell at a dog you don’t know. Any type of discipline could trigger acts of aggression.
  6. If you ARE attacked by a dog, don’t move. If you run, their fighting and hunting instincts kick in and they will chase you with even more aggression. If you are knocked down, try to curl up in a ball and call for help.
  7. Report any dog you find who appears menacing or threatening, even if they haven’t actually attacked you.

Whether a dog appears to be a stray or with someone, don’t approach them until you know it is safe! Another thing to keep in mind is that many attacks happen in people’s homes or on their property. If you know that a friend or relative owns a potentially dangerous dog breed, use caution when visiting them, especially if you are bringing a child. Ask that they restrain or remove their dog from the area you will be visiting.

Dangerous Dog Laws

Chow ChowLaws are in place in many areas to strictly regulate dogs and owners or to even ban some dangerous dog breeds altogether. These laws address both dangerous dogs as well as the owners who often facilitate their dogs behavior. According to the ASPCA a dangerous dog is any dog who injures another animal or person without being provoked or having good reason. The ASPCA really favors reckless owner laws, where the owners take primary responsibility for any dangerous behavior on their dogs part. They also believe that some situations warrant aggressive behavior. These cases would include a dog protecting himself or his/her family from a threat from other animals or people. A few laws that really help to keep bad behavior in check if enforced include:

  • Universal leash laws
  • Spaying and neutering (to reduce aggressiveness and reduce stray populations)
  • Owners held legally responsible
  • Progressive levels of violation for owners

More Interesting Dog Bite Facts from the American Humane Association

  • Most fatal dog attacks (92%) occur from male dogs.
  • 94% of these male dogs are not neutered.
  • 67% of dog bites occur on or near a victim’s personal property.
  • Most people personally know the dog who bit them.
  • 58% of deaths occur on the owners property by unrestrained dogs.
  • 25% of fatalities are attributed to chained dogs.
  • Over 25 dog breeds have been involved in fatal attacks in the United States.

Resources Used

  1. http://dangerousdogs.net/
  2. http://www.curiosityaroused.com/nature/top-10-most-dangerous-dog-breeds-based-on-bite-fatalities/
  3. http://www.wikihow.com/Prevent-Dog-Bites

Animal-World’s Featured Pet of the Week: The Rottweiler

July 12, 2013 by  
Filed under All Posts, Featured Pets, Pet Dogs

The Rottweiler

Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The Rottweiler!

Rottweilers often get a bad rap as being aggressive dogs. It is true they can be aggressive, but with the right socialization and training they can turn out to be good pets. I have known several Rottweilers or “Rotties” as they are often called. Once they got to know me, most of these dogs seemed quite friendly and loving towards me and I felt safe. All of them had fantastic owners who really spent time with them and helped shape them into great dogs!

A major appeal of the Rottweiler is its propensity for being a great guard dog. They become extremely loyal to their owners and will protect them at almost any cost. If they are well socialized with other pets while they are young, you can expect your Rottie to get along with just fine with them. Other characteristics they are known for are being calm and affectionate towards their family, including children. You can expect to have a wonderful addition to your family with a trained Rottweiler!

Rottweilers have a very long history stretching all the way back to the Roman Empire. They were first bred in Rottweil, Germany and are most likely descended from the Italian Mastiff. They were used first as herding dogs, and may very well be the oldest herding dog breed in the world. They were also used as war dogs and guard dogs and were highly valued during times of turmoil. But as the need for them subsided due to other technological advances, this breed diminished in quality and quantity, nearly becoming extinct. In the early 1900′s, while gearing up for World War I, there was a renewed interest in the breed as a need for police dogs came about. In 1931 the American Kennel Club recognized the Rottweiler as an official breed. Today the Rottweiler is a very popular dog, having more registrations than any other breed! Hybrids such as the Boxweiler and the English Mastweiler are also becoming more popular.

Rottweilers are impressive looking dogs and many consider them beautiful. They are heavy dogs with a muscular build and forefront muzzles. Their coats consist of short hair and are predominantly black with some brown markings. I have been asked in the past if there are all-black Rottweilers. Curiously, purebred Rottweilers cannot be all black! They will always have some brown on them. These dogs also reach a good size, with males weighing up to 130 pounds! Females are usually somewhat smaller than this, with a maximum weight of 115 pounds.

This breed of dog needs to be trained from an early age. From the beginning, you should let your dog know you are the boss. Once this is established, most Rottweilers are eager to please. They are obedient, very good at following commands, and fearless. In general they have a very good-natured temperament and are alert. When trained for a particular task, they can be relied upon to get the job done. Guarding and herding are their most notable strong points.

The reason this dog sometimes has a bad reputation is because of irresponsible owners. These dogs have the potential to be aggressive and have serious behavior problems if not trained and socialized. Their problems often stem from an owner not investing enough time to spend with them, or worst case scenario completely neglecting or abusing them. Rottweilers are also very strong dogs, which can increase the risk for problems in a neglected or untrained dog.

Basic Care of Rottweilers

Because Rottweilers have short hair, they don’t need much grooming other than just a quick brushing once a day or so. Regular vacuuming is a must for inside dogs, because they do shed and dog hair will accumulate! Rottweilers need a lot of exercise. Large yards which provide room to run and play in are ideal. Daily walks and/or swims are helpful too. They love to let their energy out, and regular activities also provide good opportunities to keep up on their socialization and training skills.

Puppies should be fed a good quality puppy food until they are close to 2 years old. After this, you should feed them a diet comprised of mostly protein (such as poultry and lamb) mixed with some wheat and dairy. Most good quality dog foods will provide the needed nutrients.

Vaccinations. Vaccinations are very important for dogs to keep them healthy. They should be given their first shot at 6-8 weeks of age. This shot is the DHLPPC or Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza, Parvo, and Corona virus shot. They should get their second shot at 10-12 weeks, their third shot at 14-16 weeks, and then annually from their on out. A rabies shot should also be given and 14-16 weeks and then annually as well.

If Rottweilers are given their vaccinations, they are a pretty hardy breed. They don’t have a lot of problems with disease or many physical problems. They can be prone to hip or joint dysplasia because they are a larger breed. It is also important to take note of a puppy’s genetic history before selecting one. Heart Disease and Von Willebrand’s Disease are hereditary problems that should be taken note of.

Availability of Rottweilers is widespread. They can be found in most areas of the United States from reputable breeders. $800 to $1000 is a price you can expect to pay for a puppy with a good genetic background.

Do you have experience with Rottweilers? What do you like or dislike about them? Are there any tips you would like to share?

Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

Keep your Pet Safe and Happy this 4th of July

June 30, 2013 by  
Filed under All Posts, Animal News, Pet Cats, Pet Dogs

4th-of-July-dog_med

Do you dread the Fourth of July for fear of how your pet will react to loud noises and bright lights?

Many people can attest to having their dogs and cats go bonkers while fireworks are going off, and then having to deal with the “damage” afterwards. In addition to having a scared or injured dog or ruined furniture and broken windows, there are other, less obvious hazards to watch out for this July 4th.

Keeping your Pet Safe

1. Keep them away from the noise. This is probably the most important thing you can do for your pet. The best idea is to keep them indoors in a familiar and safe place. Close all doors and windows to reduce noise. Consider even turning on music or television to keep things feeling normal to them. Don’t bring them to festivals where there will be lots of other people and fireworks going on. This will also prevent them from running away or getting lost. Fact: Did you know that after the 4th of July, there is a 30% increase in lost pets? That’s scary! Do what you can to prevent losing yours!

2. Don’t let them near fireworks You may get a great YouTube video, but the risk is not worth it. Not only can your pet become burned or otherwise injured by getting too close to the fireworks, they can also suffer serious internal damage from eating them. If you do decide to let your dog outside while letting off fireworks, it is advisable to keep them on a leash and far away from where the fireworks are being stored and let off.

3. Keep them away from other pets. This is especially true if you will be celebrating with other people who will have their pets around. Fireworks can make your dog on edge and be more prone to getting in fights with other dogs. This can result in injury or even death for your dog.

4. Keep non-pet items out of reach! This includes alcohol, lighter fluid and matches, oils, and anything else that could be hazardous if ingested. Many animals are poisoned or injured from ingesting chemicals.

5. Don’t use non-animal approved items on your pet. Many people like to dress their pets up on holidays. This can be fun and safe! However, don’t put items on them such as glow sticks which could be harmful to their health if ingested. Likewise, don’t put substances which are safe for human use, such as sunscreen, on pets. This is because they could lick and groom themselves and ingest the substance. This is not good for your pet!

6. Don’t give your pet human food! Just because you are eating barbecued hot dogs and s’mores doesn’t mean your pet should! It can be tempting to “celebrate” with your pet by allowing them to eat unhealthy human food. But this is just plain unhealthy for pets and could cause bigger health problems for them.

7. Consider using anti-anxiety medication. If you know that your pet is one of those who becomes terrified with 4th of July fireworks, it might be a good idea to plan on giving him some anti-anxiety medication to help him get through it.

8. Act normal! Signs that your pet is feeling anxious and scared include them howling, shaking, running around frantically, and trying to hide. If your pet is obviously having a hard time, remember to act normal around them. Show them you aren’t scared by petting them, talking soothingly to them, etc. If they see you acting normal and unafraid, it will help them to calm down.

What are some experiences and tips you have to share on keeping your pet safe and healthy this 4th of July?

Buying Horse Accessories

June 28, 2013 by  
Filed under All Posts, Horses

Horse Accessories

Congratulations on your new horse! Your new companion is a strong animal that will give you many years of joy in your life. Horses are expressive animals that adapt well and are quite sensitive to the emotional state of others. You’ll want to give him the best that you can.

Bedding

Horses need comfortable bedding in their stalls. The type of bedding you choose depends on your budget. Straw is nice but it can get moldy. Store it where you store your hay to avoid any problems.

Another choice is wood shavings or shredded newspaper. Both are easy to muck out each day. If you or your horse has allergies to the wood, try peat moss or the newspaper.

Blankets

Horses will need blankets at different times and for different uses at some point. In the winter months, a blanket can provide warmth in the stables, pasture, and when riding them. Here are a few choices:

1. Horse sheets – These are a lighter type of horse blanket that can be used more often than a heavier one. It is made of nylon and circulates air to prevent sweating and irritation in your horse. Use them in areas where pests like mosquitoes are prevalent in the summer. Heated barns make heavy blankets unnecessary in the winter but horse sheets would be ideal. Make sure they are secure so your horse can move without them slipping off.

2. Stable blankets – In winter months, your horse may need extra warmth. In barns that are not heated or areas where temperatures fall very low, a stable blanket can keep your horse comfortable. There are blankets that just cover the body and others that include a piece to cover the head as well.

3. Turnout blankets – These are used when riding your horse. These are thicker than the cotton blanket used for stables and they are waterproof. If you keep your horse in the pasture during the winter, these blankets will keep him dry and protected no matter what his movements.

Horse Boots

Horse boots or wraps are used for a variety of reasons. Those who show jump or ride horses for polo can use different boots to protect their horse’s legs from injury. Other boots are used to protect a horse after an injury to help improve their gait and strengthen their joints. Here are a few that you may see:

  • Shin boots
  • Knee boots
  • Polo boots
  • Coronet boots
  • Brushing boots
  • Heel boots
  • Poultice boots

Grooming Box

This often includes everything you will need to groom your horse to perfection. Invest in a good one that you can use for a long time. Your kit needs but is not limited to:

  • Mane and tail comb
  • Body brush
  • Hoof picks
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Hoof dressing
  • Sun block
  • Fly spray

Bridles

Bridles are very important in allowing you to direct your horse! It used to be that bridles all came with bits that fit into the mouth, a sensitive area for horses. Nowadays you can buy bit-less bridles that don’t have to rub this sensitive area to guide your horse.

There are a host of other horse accessories that you can buy for your horse. These are just a few of the more common ones to have on hand.

Saving the Jaguar

June 26, 2013 by  
Filed under All Posts, Animal News, Pet Cats, Wild Animals

Jaguar
The Jaguar Panthera onca

Photo Wiki Commons
Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Licensed under Public Domain

The jaguar gets its name from an old Latin American word ‘yaguar’ which means ‘he who kills with one leap’. This refers to the fact that they kill their prey quickly, sometimes instantaneously with only one bite. They are at the top of the food chain, and are vulnerable only to Anacondas or Caimans when young. Jaguars are very large exotic cats. In fact, they are the largest cats that inhabit North, South, and Central America! They are the third largest cat species in the world, being smaller only than tigers and lions.

It is believed that jaguars will become endangered if conservation efforts are not undertaken soon. Right now, they are listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) Red List.

The Jaguar Panthera onca is one of several large cats belonging to the Panthera genus. Other commonly known cats in this genus are lions, tigers, and leopards. The Jaguar and the Leopard look very similar and it can be hard to tell apart. The Jaguar is the only one living in the Western hemisphere however. So if you run into a large spotted cat in North America, you can be sure it is a jaguar and not a leopard!

Jaguars can reach 350 pounds, 6.5 feet in length (excluding their tail), and 2.5 feet in height. Being great swimmers and loving water, these cats usually prefer humid environments, such as rainforests and swamplands. However they can also be found on grasslands and in drier forests. An Interesting Fact: Jaguars have very strong jaws! Even for large cats, these guys have quite the bite. This enables them to easily and effectively kill their prey. These powerful jaws are also useful in piercing the shells of reptiles, such as tortoises and alligators. They are carnivores and their diet consists of just about any animal they can get their jaws on. Larger prey is usually preferred if available, however. Jaguars are solitary creatures as adults and spend most of their time in territory they have staked out for themselves.

Concern for Jaguars is steadily increasing. Three main problems are the cause of declining Jaguar populations.

1. Their natural habitats are shrinking. This is mostly due to fragmentation of their environments. As deforestation happens more and more to create room for agriculture and homes, and more major highways are constructed, the jaguars’ homes are compromised. They are no longer able to travel over large areas or breed as effectively because their access to other jaguars are restricted. This also leads to not as much diversification in the gene pool. In the United States, most Jaguars are already gone. However, there is believed to be a breeding population in Southern Arizona. In 1995, Jaguars became protected under the Endangered Species Act in order to stop people from shooting them for their pelts.

2. Their supply of natural prey is shrinking. People hunt many of their prey animals, such as deer and pigs, which reduces their availability to the cats. The prey animals are also losing their habitats, for much the same reasons as the jaguars are.

3. Jaguars are being killed by people. The reasons vary, from farmers/ranchers killing them for preying on their livestock, to Jaguars being deliberately poached to sell their pelts for profit. But these deliberate acts of killing jaguars are contributing to their decline.

Some organizations have recognized a need to project large cats everywhere and have taken steps to set up programs to do just that. One such organization, Panthera, has set up a program called the Jaguar Corridor Initiative. The primary purpose of this Initiative is to provide “corridors” or protected areas through human developments to connect one wild area to another. These corridors can be through a variety of different areas. Agriculture plantations, ranches, and people’s personal properties can all act as corridors. So far, this program seems to be producing positive results. Jaguars are able to safely pass through developed areas to hunt, breed, and live.

Panthera has another program, the Pantanal Jaguar Project. This one primarily focuses on educating local farmers and ranchers who reside in the Pantanal flood lands to help them reduce conflicts between the Jaguars and the cattle. This theoretically helps reduce the rates at which the cats are killed. Panthera is working with many of the South and Central American governments to monitor Jaguar populations and take motions to conserve them. The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary and Jaguar Preserve was opened in 1986 in Belize with the help of its government. This sanctuary helps protect around 200 Jaguars who live in the area.

Jaguars, like all large wild cats, are part of this world and help keep our ecosystems in check. There is great benefit in making sure they are protected and do not go extinct!

References

1. Kollus, Brad. “Corridor to the Future.” Cat Fancy March 2013: 28-29. Print.

Animal-World’s Featured Pet of the Week: The Emperor Scorpion

June 24, 2013 by  
Filed under All Posts, Featured Pets, Reptiles

The Emperor Scorpion

Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The Emperor Scorpion!

Are you a spider lover? Are you fascinated by arachnids in general? If you want to keep a unique arthropod for a pet, the Emperor Scorpion might be just what you are looking for! I would say that keeping these types of pets is either a love it or hate it type of situation. People who love them often keep several different types and make a hard-core hobby out of it. People who are terrified of them often don’t even want to go in a house that they know has these critters in them!

The Emperor Scorpion Pandinus imperator is a great choice for people just being introduced to keeping arthropods. They can be quite tame and are easy to care for. Scorpions don’t make a lot of noise, have very little odor, and are resistant to illness and disease. Because of their calm nature they can usually be held without fear of being stung. If they do sting, it usually isn’t dangerous and only causes localized pain for a short period of time. For an arachnid, the Emperor Scorpion can live a fairly long lifespan of 8 years. This scorpion also goes by the names of the African Emperor Scorpion and the Black Emperor Scorpion. It is the best known scorpion in the world.

The natural habitat of this scorpion is in West Africa. They can be found in many of the African sovereign states, including the Ivory Coast, Guinea, Nigeria, the Congo, Ghana, Liberia, Togo, and several others. Most often they live in forests with a fair amount of moisture. In 1842 it was described by C.L. Koch. In 1876 it was put into its own genus by Tamerlan Thorell. Right now it is not considered to be endangered, however it is listed as threatened on the CITES II species list. This is mainly due to a decrease in the wild populations because of over collection.

Emperor Scorpions are quite impressive looking. Being all black and reaching up to 8 inches in length, they can appear formidable! This is probably why they have gained such appreciation and are used in movies as a scare tactic. But despite their appearance, they are not as scary as they first seem. They can be held, but this should be done carefully. If scared or stressed they may pince, which can be quite painful, especially from a large adult! It is often better to just look at and watch scorpions rather than make a habit out of holding them.

To properly prepare for a scorpion, you will want to acquire a terrarium. This can be anywhere from 2.5 to 15 gallons depending on how many scorpions you want to keep. Although most scorpions are solitary creatures, Emperor Scorpions can be kept in groups. You will want to make sure there are enough areas and hiding spaces so that each scorpion has a place it can call its own. In the wild they are burrowers and definitely appreciate deep, moist substrates such as peat moss, damp sand, and cypress mulch. Their environment should be kept humid to keep them in good health. A humidity level of 75 to 80% and a temperature of 75 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal.

Feeding Emperor Scorpions is easy and simple. As adults they primarily eat insects such as crickets and grasshoppers. Occasionally they might enjoy a mouse. Offer them live insects every day and a mouse a couple times a month. Make sure to remove any uneaten prey within a day. This is to keep them from decaying and attracting parasites or growing mold. Make sure to keep a large, shallow water dish in their terrarium as well.

Breeding these scorpions can be easy. If you keep their environment at a suitable temperature and humidity level, and they are healthy and feel comfortable, they will often breed on their own accord. After mating, the mother will gestate the young for about 7 months. The babies are born alive and immediately climb onto her back. The litters range anywhere from 15 to 40 young. The mother feeds them dead insects until they reach maturity, but the majority of them do not make it to maturity. If you want to succeed at breeding Emperor Scorpions, read more here on their Reproduction.

Emperor Scorpions rarely become ill if they are properly taken care of. One of the largest problems they run into is molting. Scorpions are covered by a hardened exoskeleton which they must shed every so often. Most scorpions molt 6 to 10 times in their lifetimes and these are by far the most dangerous times of their lives. Right before a molt, a scorpion often seems lazy and doesn’t move much. For a few days after a molt, a scorpion is especially vulnerable to injury until their new exoskeleton hardens. Molting takes quite a bit of energy. If it is very difficult, a scorpion may have deformed limbs or die.

If you are interested in an Emperor Scorpion, they are quite readily available. You should have no problems finding one. More information on scorpions can be read here on Keeping Arachnids and Other Arthropods as Pets.

Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

The Best Small Pets for Kids

June 21, 2013 by  
Filed under All Posts, Small Pets

World of Small PetsWorld of Small Pets
“There are so many small pets you can choose from!”

Children have an inborn fascination with animals, and keeping a pet is something most children will want to experience (and should!). It is likely that if you have a young child, you have heard them ask, “Can I have a pet?” If you haven’t heard it yet, you likely will someday soon! The question then becomes which pet should we choose? Well, believe it or not, there are plenty to choose from, all with their own perks!

Before jumping into the pet world with your child, you will want to consider all the aspects of pet ownership and go over them with your child. Many factors will determine what type of pet you ultimately decide upon. The child’s age, maturity level, and how responsible they are all come into play. Also keep in mind that as a parent, you will ultimately be responsible for any new pets well-being.

Benefits of children owning pets abound. It helps teach them responsibility, it provides them with unconditional companionship, and, because most pets do not live as long as people, it gives them the opportunity to learn about and experience death. In general small pets for kids are the most ideal. This is because of their small size, relative ease of care, and because they don’t entail a long-term time commitment. Next, I will go over the qualities of many of the more popular small pets for kids you might consider..

The Different Types of Small Pets

1. Hamsters. Hamsters are a very popular small pet – One of the most popular in fact! This is one of the very first animals many people consider purchasing for their child. And they actually do make very good small pets for kids. They sleep during the day and are active at night. As long as they are tamed while young and held regularly, there is usually not a huge problem with biting. Hamsters can make wonderful pets for young children.

2. Rats. These critters are many peoples favorite. Rats have an astounding reputation for being quite smart. They can learn many basic tricks, including coming when you call their name. They can be trained to ride around on shoulders and give kisses. They are very loving and affectionate to their human owners and are definitely kid-friendly pets! In addition, they are very clean and don’t have much of an odor to them!

3. Mice. Mice are very easy to take care of. They require little time or maintenance and can be great for very young children. Mice aren’t quite as interactive as rats, but they are still easy and fun to handle.

4. Guinea Pigs. Guinea pigs take a little more care than some of the smaller animals and can live somewhat longer. Because of this, they are better pets for older children. Guinea pigs rarely bite, but can get jumpy when frightened. They need larger cages than rats, mice, or hamsters. But, they can be very loving and usually respond well to human interaction.

5. Rabbits. Rabbits are another small pet which are often recommended for older children. There are several different rabbit breeds however, and some are better suited for younger children than others. In general, rabbits require higher maintenance. They are larger and live longer than other small pets. Needing a lot of interaction, their owners have to be able to dedicate time to petting and handling them. Many people like to brag that rabbits can be litter box trained. This is a definite plus!

6. Gerbils. Gerbils are one of the all-time favorite “pocket pets” available! They are great for kids, and crave plenty of interaction and love. It is actually a good idea to get at least 2 gerbils, to ensure they don’t get lonely. Gerbils are extremely clean with little to no odor.

7. Degus. Degus are good for older children. They require really delicate handling because their tails are prone to breaking off. A good way to win over their hearts is to offer treats often.

8. Chinchillas. Chinchillas require much more specialized care than some other small animals. They need to be given dust baths, and should be handled gently. If chinchillas fall, they are prone to breaking their legs or going into shock. They also cannot be exposed to extreme temperatures (especially heat) because it will kill them. Because of these needs, chinchillas are really best for older children who know how to be gentle and are ready to take on the responsibility of caring for them.

9. Ferrets. Ferrets have very strong personalities. It is hard not to love them! They are also always on the go and very curious – they want to check out everything! Many people compare them to having a small child in the house. Because of this, they are not a very good pet choice for small children. Older children often love them and do well having them as companions. They do need dedicated time where they can interact and explore outside of their cage, and they do need some training to keep them from getting into trouble! Biting can also be a problem. They can bite a person or another pet if they feel threatened, or they may attack smaller animals in the house for no apparent reason. Having them de-scented is also a must, because these critters can smell.

10. Sugar Gliders, Squirrels, Hedgehogs. All of these small pets are more high maintenance and require special care. If an older child wants one, they should prepare to do some research and really plan to dedicate time to being a good, interactive pet owner. They are quite rewarding and unique pets to have around!

I hope this gives you a good start on determining what the best small pet for your child might be. There are many considerations that have to be made!

Have you gotten a small pet for one your children before? Are there any other factors you would like to add to these?

More on Small Pets!

Are You Struggling with Pet Allergies?

June 19, 2013 by  
Filed under All Posts, Pet Cats, Pet Dogs

Are You Struggling with Pet Allergies?

If so, you may be searching for some remedies to help deal with them. It is estimated that as much as 10% of the United States population suffers from animal-related allergies. And many of these sufferers love animals, which often makes it difficult or impractical for them to own pets.

What Causes Pet Allergies?

Allergies in general are caused by your immune system reacting to perceived irritants in the world around you. Besides pets, irritants such as pollen, dust, and chemicals can all cause a flare-up in allergies.

Allergy symptoms from dogs and cats are very similar to allergies arising from other irritants. These usually include a range of symptoms from itchy watery eyes, runny nose and sneezing, an itchy throat and coughing, to even rashes breaking out wherever your skin is exposed.

Dog allergies are actually caused by the dogs glands releasing a certain protein rather than from their fur or dander. This protein is called Can f 1 (Canis familiaris). This protein shows up in a dogs dander, urine, and saliva.

Cat allergies are caused by a similar protein secretion in their saliva. It is called fel d 1. Cats love to groom themselves by licking their fur. This then spreads the fel d 1 to their fur and dander. The dander flies off and can accumulate on surfaces all over the house.

Tips to Help Reduce Allergic Reactions

Depending on whether you have a dog or a cat, these tips can help more or less.

1. Groom your dog or cat outside daily. In the case of dogs, plan on bathing them regularly as well (twice a week would be optimal). Brushing your pet everyday can significantly reduce the amount of dander which accumulates on their skin and then is released into the air. Another good idea is to make a habit of wearing a mask when bathing or grooming your pet.

2. ALWAYS wash your hands immediately following any contact with your pet. Try to start washing them more frequently throughout the day just in general and especially before you touch anywhere on your face.

3. Keep up on housecleaning. This includes washing bedding frequently, washing surfaces that accumulate dust regularly, and cleaning and vacuuming floors, sofas, and curtains/blinds. Consider covering couches and chairs with easily washable covers or make it a rule that pets are not allowed where people sit and sleep.

4. Replace carpets and rugs with vinyl or tile.
If this is practical for your home, it might be a good idea – especially if your allergies are particularly bad. This will keep allergens from accumulating on these hard-to-clean surfaces.

5. Designate certain areas of your house as pet-free areas.
I would recommend declaring your bedroom a pet-free area. Because you sleep in there (which is a significant amount of your life!), this is a great place to keep allergen-free. It is also not a good idea in general to sleep with your pets. As an extreme to this, you may also consider keeping your pets primarily outdoors. Depending on where you live and varying weather conditions, this may or may not be an option. But the less time they spend in the house the less dander is going to accumulate.

6. Consider buying and installing vacuum and air filters. High-efficiency particulate air filters (HEPA filters) in particular really help people with pet allergies. Purchasing them for your vacuum is a must. If you have the money, buying them for your home as well can provide even more benefit.

7. Consider getting treatment.
Many people will take over-the-counter antihistamines. In addition to this, some people with pet allergies can enjoy long-term relief by receiving allergy shots from their doctors.

Do you suffer from pet-related allergies or know someone who does? Do you have any helpful tips on how to reduce or eliminate them?

References

1. Wargo, Meredith. “Clean Getaway.” Dog Fancy March 2013: 30-34. Print.
2. Shirreffs, Annie B. “Keep It Clean.” Cat Fancy March 2013: 22-23. Print.

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