Animal-World’s Featured Animal of the Week: The Groundhog

February 3, 2013 by  
Filed under All Posts, Featured Pets, Small Pets

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

Photo Wiki Commons
Courtesy Reinhard Kraasch
Licensed under Creative Commons ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.

In commemoration of Groundhog Day I figured that the Groundhog is the perfect animal to talk about this week! Although Groundhogs are not considered a normal pet, they are very well-known little animals. Groundhog Day falls on February 2nd every year and is traditionally a forecast of when spring will arrive. Groundhogs will hibernate throughout the winter and then pop up on Groundhog Day. The theory goes that if the groundhog sees its shadow then there will be 6 weeks of winter left. If it cannot see its shadow, then spring is just about to start! Of course, it doesn’t always work out this perfectly, but it is a somewhat helpful tradition!

The Groundhog Marmota monax is native to North America and can be found over most of the United States. Some people know them as Woodchucks and they are actually rodents! These are one of 14 species of marmots and marmots belong to the Squirrel family. Groundhogs are the biggest members. Their average weight varies anywhere from 4 to 9 pounds and in some regions they can even reach upwards of 30 pounds! In length they are in the general range of 16 to 26 inches. The fur of a Groundhog has two layers. One dense and short undercoat, and one longer and thinner overcoat which consists of banded guard hairs.

They tend to stuff themselves full of food all through the summer time. This way they will have enough fat built up in their body to keep them going through winter. They reach their heaviest mass around the end of summer. By October they are becoming lethargic and looking for a place to burrow down for the winter. They then spend all winter hibernating and asleep in their underground dens. While sleeping their heart rate slows way down, allowing their body temperature to drop. Their temperature can actually get down to around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s pretty low! This keeps them from needing as much energy. When they wake up in February Groundhogs have often lost about half of their body weight.

Groundhogs usually live in grassland areas near woods and rivers. This suits their diet well because they have access to a large variety of plants, grasses, and fruits. They also get their water from eating luscious plants. Farms are a favorite place of theirs as well because this helps ensure they have food! Which of course can be quite a dilemma for farmers, who depend on these crops. During their non-hibernation time Groundhogs are very active little critters! Believe it or not, they can climb trees and swim through water! Every Groundhog digs out a burrow with their powerful arms and thick claws. Often more than one groundhog can be seen living together and they will build very large burrows. These burrows will have several entrances to allow quick escape from predators.

Groundhogs can live around 6 years in the wild but in captive environments have been noted to live as long as 14 years. Most Groundhogs can begin breeding in their second year of life. In March or April, after they’ve awoken from hibernation, a pair of Groundhogs will mate and then stay in a burrow together. Mother Groundhogs produce litters of around two to six young after 31 or 32 days of gestation. It takes a couple months for the young to open their eyes, grow fur, wean, and begin searching for their own areas to burrow. During this time the babies mimic their mothers behavior to learn how to fend for themselves. Many young are preyed on by snakes. Older Groundhogs have to look out for other predators as well, such as foxes, hawks and bears.

Groundhogs are not usually kept as pets. However many zoos and other wildlife habitats do keep them for the general public to come and see. And of course many farmers are familiar with them as well. Farmers consider them pests and deal with them as such. Groundhogs are also hunted for sport in many places. This helps somewhat in keeping their numbers in check.

If you think the Groundhog is cute and would like to keep a similar animal as a pet, check out all these different types of Small Animals! I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit more about the Groundhog!

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

Sources Used

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/groundhog/

http://www.news.cornell.edu/chronicle/96/2.1.96/facts.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groundhog

Animal-World’s Featured Pet of the Week: The Leopard Gecko!

January 27, 2013 by  
Filed under All Posts, Featured Pets, Reptiles

The Leopard Gecko

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

Leopard Geckos are awesome lizards to keep as pets! They are good for beginner reptile keepers and are a good “staple” lizards for seasoned reptile keepers! The Leopard Gecko Eublepharis macularius is one of the easiest lizards to care for, and they are quite hardy. Pet stores almost always carry them as regular stock. If they don’t have one on site they can almost always special order one for you with no problem!

These geckos don’t require much of a time commitment other than basic maintenance and food. Biting is a rare occurrence with Leopard Geckos which makes them ideal lizards for children. (Remember to still supervise young children however!) They are also easy to tame and train. Many people like to walk around with their pet gecko clinging to their shirt! Breeding them in captivity is also generally easy.

Leopard Geckos are nocturnal, meaning they are active at night and sleep or rest during the day. They originate from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. Blyth described them and gave them a name in 1854. North America imported these lizards regularly until sometime in the 1970’s when importation became illegal. Today they are a very popular pet lizard and readily available in the pet industry. Leopard Geckos often have a ton of spots (hence their name!) but can also have no spots at all. Juvenile Leopard Geckos have no spots and do not get them until they mature a little. There are many variations in the colors and spots of these geckos. They can even come in albino and tangerine colors! Full grown size for these guys is only around 8 inches long. If you take exceptional care of your gecko he/she may live up to 20 years! Average lifespans are around 5 to 7 years however.

After you have the initial habitat set up for your gecko, they are easy to care for! For one leopard gecko, you can start out with a simple 10 gallon terrarium. You should purchase a larger one if you would like to keep more than one lizard. On the bottom, you can put paper towels, walnut-shell bedding or carpet. Be careful not to use any type of sand because sometimes geckos will ingest it as a source of calcium and too much sand can impact their intestines. Each gecko should be provided with their own hiding place (such as a log). They also love to climb, so branches or other decorations can be added. You should also purchase a lighting source. Put the light source (40-60 watt bulb) on one side of the terrarium so that your gecko can go in and out from it as it wants.

The ongoing maintenance is relatively simple and does not require too much time. Feed your Leopard Gecko mostly crickets and mealworms pretty much on a daily basis. It is suggested that you coat them a commercial calcium powder and/or gut loaded powder to make sure your lizard is taking in enough calcium, vitamins, and minerals. In particular make sure the powder you purchase has the vitamin D3. Or you could provide a UV fluorescent bulb to help provide the vitamin D3. Also give your gecko fresh dechlorinated water daily. Make sure to clean out any uneaten food on a daily basis, and wash their dishes and cage out thoroughly on a weekly basis.

Most Leopard Geckos do fantastic in a captive home environment, especially when well-cared for. One of the most common problems is vitamin deficiency, which can be easily remedied with the proper lighting and food powders. They can also acquire parasites if their cage is not kept clean. Again, this is easily remedied with a proper environment.

Leopard Geckos breed quite readily in captivity. I won’t go into all the details, however, if you are interesting in breeding them read more here on Leopard Gecko Reproduction.

Have you determined that a Leopard Gecko is the perfect pet lizard for you? That’s great! Make sure to read even more on Leopard Geckos before you bring one home!

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

Animal-World’s Featured Pet of the Week: The Ocellaris Clownfish!

January 21, 2013 by  
Filed under All Posts, Aquariums, Featured Pets, Saltwater Fish

The Ocellaris Clownfish

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

Have you ever been to a large aquarium? Such as the Long Beach Aquarium or the Monterey Bay Aquarium? I’m sure you have at least seen or heard of the Disney movie Finding Nemo! Maybe those things have perked your interest in starting up a saltwater aquarium? If you are a beginner saltwater aquarist, an Ocellaris Clownfish could be a great fish to begin with. You can have your very own Nemo!

The Ocellaris Clownfish Amphiprion ocellaris is also known as the False Percula Clownfish or the Common Clownfish. This Clownfish looks very similar to the True Percula Clownfish Amphiprion percula but is actually much easier to keep. The Ocellaris Clownfish is a popular saltwater fish and is usually easy to find and fairly inexpensive at most pet stores and online. They are great for beginners because they are so hardy.

In the wild, the Ocellaris Clownfish can be found in northwestern Australia, the coast of Southeast Asia up towards the Ryuku Islands, the Adaman and Nicobar Islands in the Andaman Sea, the Philippines, and the Indo-Malayan Archipelago. Another appeal to keeping clownfish in general is that they can act as hosts to certain sea anemones! The different species of clownfish all have their own unique species of anemones that they will host. The Ocellaris Clownfish will host 3 different species. These species are the Gigantic Sea Anemone, the Magnificent Sea Anemone, and the Merten’s Sea Anemone. If you would like to try having your clwonfish host an anemone, I would suggest trying the Magnificent Sea Anemone or the Gigantic Sea Anemone first. These can be tough to care for however, so you may want to establish your tank and make sure your clownfish is thriving before introducing an anemone. And don’t forget that anemones have their own set of needs and specific environments they should be provided with as well!

When you first start out, you will want to obtain at least a 20 gallon aquarium, minimum. I would recommend starting with a larger one if you want a reef or would like to keep other fish as well. The Ocellaris Clownfish can grow to a little over 3 inches in length. These clownfish are the most peaceful of all the clowns. They can sometimes be kept with other clownfish of the same species although you won’t want to introduce any other types of clownfish. They are often territorial and can become aggressive as they get older. The care requirements for these fish are rather easy. They don’t require any special lighting, temperature, or water movement. You will want to provide good filtration to keep the water quality up and stable. The salinity should be at a level to keep the specific gravity between 1.020 and 1.026.

They will eat almost any sort of live, frozen, or flake foods that you purchase for them and don’t require a specific diet. Just give them a variety and they will be happy! Feed them at least once a day. You can feed them a few times a day if you wish, just give them smaller amounts (about what they will eat in 3 minutes).

Breeding clownfish in captivity can be done, but it can also be difficult. If you would like to try your hand at breeding them, you will want to have a stable marine environment for close to a year with a mated pair of clowns. Once you have a pair laying eggs, you are good to go! They will continue to mate and lay eggs as long as their environment stays stable. The offspring will need to be moved and grown in a separate aquarium than their parents. For more information on breeding clownfish, read this Breeding Marine Fish article.

When you decide you want your very own little Nemo, the Ocellaris Clownfish is a good marine fish to start with! Have fun!

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

Animal-World’s Featured Pet of the Week: The Double Yellow-headed Amazon!

January 13, 2013 by  
Filed under All Posts, Featured Pets, Pet Birds

The Double Yellow-headed Amazon

Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The Double Yellow-headed Amazon!

Have you ever wondered what the most popular Amazon Parrot kept as a pet is? It is the Double Yellow-headed Amazon Parrot! With the Blue-fronted Amazon Parrot coming in close behind. When you are looking for a large parrot to keep as a pet, many people will steer you to the Double Yellow-headed Amazon Amazona oratrix. These Amazons are one of the best talkers and they can sing well too! At the pet store I worked at we always had at least one Double Yellow-headed and usually another less common type of Amazon as well, just to spruce things up a bit. We often got them as young babies and I helped hand-feed many of these youngsters! It was quite rewarding working with parrots at such a young age.

The Double Yellow-headed Amazon is a beautiful bird and a GREAT talker! That’s the main reason why people choose this one over others. They are very out-going and love to “cause a scene”! These Amazons love drama and will do all sorts of things to gain and keep their owners attention! This includes turning their head upside down, fanning out their tails, and dilating their pupils in and out very quickly. They should be handled and trained from a very young age to ensure they are tame and don’t get too rowdy. They are usually very social birds and love human companionship, but they also need down time where they can be alone and in their own space.

The Double Yellow-headed Amazons have been kept as pets for several hundred years now (pretty crazy to think about!), and they have definitely been favored. They were actually given a name and described for the first time in 1887 by Ridgeway. Other names they are known by include the Yellow-headed Amazon and the Yellow-headed Parrot. These Amazons originate from Central America and some coastal areas of Mexico. They inhabit regions such as forests and savannahs where there are plenty of nuts, seeds, berries, and other fruit. Usually they stay together as a flock or sometimes in pairs. The Double Yellow-headed Amazon is on the IUCN Red List for Endangered Species and is listed as Endangered (EN).

The care and feeding of these Amazons is like most other large parrots. They need a large enough cage where they can get around and stretch their wings. They should also have ample time outside their cage with a play area specifically for them. Their cage should be kept away from drafts, as birds in general are prone to respiratory illnesses. Give them plenty of perches and toys. You will probably find that switching out toys every month or so and giving them new ones will make your Amazon especially happy! Also, providing them with a rough or concrete perch can help tremendously in keeping their nails trimmed so that you don’t have to do it as often, or at all! Plan on trimming their wings periodically too. This will ensure they don’t get very far out an open door or window and become lost.

Give your Double Yellow-headed Amazon a wide and varied diet. Seed mixes or pellets bought at the store can be the bulk of their food. Feel free to give them plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables along with most other table foods from your meals. Some parrots like protein – such as chicken – as well. Give them clean, fresh water daily. You may want to provide a separate bowl or deep dish specifically for bathing. Amazons love bath time!

These Amazons rarely become ill if provided with a proper environment and are well-cared for. Some signs to look out for that they may be stressed or ill include: feather plucking, rasping, watery eyes, ruffled feathers, or moodiness. There are other signs too, so generally just keep an eye out for behaviors or appearances which vary from normal. If you suspect your bird is sick, definitely seek a veterinarian’s care.

If you are looking for an inquisitive, out-going, and fun-loving talking parrot, the Double Yellow-headed Amazon is certainly a good place to start!

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

Animal-World’s Featured Pet of the Week: The Netherland Dwarf Rabbit!

January 6, 2013 by  
Filed under All Posts, Featured Pets, Small Pets

The Netherland Dwarf Rabbit

Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The Netherland Dwarf Rabbit!

The Netherland Dwarf Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus is one of the most popular show rabbits. Many people who love rabbits breed and buy these guys simply for the love of showing them. At our pet store, we almost always had one or two baby Netherland Dwarfs available and they always went out the door quickly. I, of course, loved them! Rabbits are one of my favorite pets and I never passed up a chance to hold one of these little guys!

The first thing about these rabbits that pops out to many people is the dwarf part. These are very small rabbits! Even at full-grown size they only reach 2 or 2.5 pounds. This is part of their initial appeal for many people. They are cute as babies and they stay super cute as adults, as well! In general the Netherland Dwarf Rabbit is a friendly rabbit and easy to tame. One of the downsides is that they can get rather testy once they reach breeding age. So unless you plan to breed, it is a good idea to have your rabbit spayed or neutered to avoid negative behaviors. You can do this anytime after 4 months of age.

The Netherland Dwarf Rabbits are believed to have been bred form the British Polish Rabbit breeds. They were developed in Europe, mostly likely being first recognized in Holland. This is where the Netherland part of their name comes from. In Europe the Netherland Dwarfs are also called European Poles. In 1969 the United States decided to recognize them as a breed and they are now shown all over the states.

These rabbits look very similar to the the Polish Dwarf Rabbits. However, they are smaller than them. They are the smallest known rabbits! They have short and dense fur with short ears which stand straight up. As I said before they only reach 2 to 2.5 pounds and are popular show rabbits as well as pets. There are also 36 different color variations of the Netherland Dwarf Rabbit! Only 24 of these are recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association, however. Just to give you an idea, these colors include blue, chocolate, silver marten, lynx, opal, black, otter, fawn, tan, steel, lilac, and white. The white rabbits can have either red eyes or blue eyes!

To care for a Netherland Dwarf just follow the recommended Standard of Care. They require pretty much the same attention and care as most other rabbits. Keep them in a rabbit-friendly environment, which can be an indoor enclosure or an outdoor hutch. If outdoors, make sure it does not get too cold or too hot and that you provide protection from the elements. If indoors, make sure they have a large enough cage to get some exercise or that you let them out on a regular basis to roam. Clean their cage out once or twice a week and provide them with fresh water and food.

Rabbits need three main things in their diets: grass hays, cecotropes, and green foods. Purchasing a commercial pellet food can work fine in providing them with their grass hays. Cecotropes are actually their droppings! Their bodies produce a certain type of dropping which contains microorganisms to help break down their food. So you do not have to provide them with that part of their diet, they do it all by themselves! Green foods should be offered regularly and can include kale, cabbage, romaine lettuce, broccoli, mustard greens, and many others. You may also provide them with occasional supplements or treats, but these should be on a limited basis.

Are you looking for a show rabbit? If so, the Netherland Dwarf Rabbit may be a perfect choice!

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

Animal-World’s Featured Pet of the Week: The Shih Tzu!

December 23, 2012 by  
Filed under All Posts, Featured Pets, Pet Dogs

The Shih Tzu

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

Shih Tzus are a toy dog breed, and a cute one at that! My father and mother-in-law have a Shih Tzu, named Max. They got him as a puppy and he is now 4 years old. Max is absolutely adorable and he is a playful and personable little dog! He is small and loves to hang out on everyone’s laps during family gatherings. You really couldn’t ask for a sweeter dog.

Shih Tzus are actually ornamental toy dogs and are one of the oldest small dog breeds around. Other names for these dogs are the Chinese Lion Dog, the Chinese Shih Tzu, and the Chrysanthemum Dog. They make wonderful pets and are great show dogs. Because they are small they don’t need a lot of room they make good indoor dogs (especially good for apartment dwellers). They are happy, energetic little dogs who simply love their human companions! They have long beautiful fur coats. The one initial drawback of these dogs is that they can be quite expensive to purchase up-front. They range from around $300 to $1,000 depending on the area and the breeder.

Shih Tzu Background. It is known that these dogs came from China originally, and is agreed upon that they probably date back to the 7th century. Possible ancestors for the Shih Tzu include the Lhasa Apso and the Pekingese. The Chinese were quite proud of this breed and they did not start exporting them to other countries until the 20th century. Many people today will create mixes with the Shih Tzu by breeding them with other dogs. Common dogs they are crossbred with include the Maltese, the Poodle, and the Bichon Frise.

These dogs only reach about 11 inches in height and weigh from 9 to 16 pounds. They are often shown at dog shows, where you can see a large variety of colors they are available in. As I said before – they are happy and generally love human companions! They can make a good childrens dogs as long as the child is responsible and knows not to be too rough. They also usually get along well with almost any other pet! Because of their long hair they do not do well in hot temperatures. This makes it essential that they be allowed indoors if you live in a hot climate.

The Shih Tzu can be a stubborn dog. Anything you want to train them will have to be done consistently and you will need patience. I remember first-hand how difficult it was for everyone during the house-training of Max. It seemed like he was always having accidents! But now, he is fully trained and a great house dog. So don’t despair! Make sure to walk your dog regularly. That can be a great time to work on training them as well.

Shih Tzu Care and Feeding. These are typical dogs and so need mostly animal fats and some protein in their diets. Purchase a good quality dog food for them or make your own with poultry, rice, and soy. Keep their teeth clean as they are prone to dental problems. Just giving them teeth cleaning chews can help out in that regard. They also have long hair that should be brushed regularly to keep it free from tangles and mats. If you have a show dog this is especially true. If you don’t plan on showing your dog feel free to have your dogs hair groomed and cut for easier care!

Health problems can be common with the Shih Tzu. They are prone to respiratory diseases, eye and ear problems, spinal disc disease, and dental problems. First of all, make sure your dog or puppy appears healthy before purchasing him. Next, make sure to give all of the recommended vaccinations on time and to give the appropriate boosters. Bring your dog to the veterinarian for yearly check-ups and this would also be a good time to have his teeth checked and cleaned if necessary. One last note. They don’t do well in dusty areas because of their proneness to respiratory problems. So just make sure to keep the area they are living in as clean and dust-free as possible!

The Shih Tzu really is a great dog. More information is available on Shih Tzus if you have any questions or would like more details!

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

Animal-World’s Featured Pet of the Week: The Ball Python!

December 16, 2012 by  
Filed under All Posts, Featured Pets, Reptiles

The Ball Python

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

Are you a fan of snakes? Or do you think of scary slithering creatures that you would jump up screaming at the sight of? Well, whether they fascinate you or terrify you, they actually dominate a large part of the reptile pet industry! One of the most popular pet constrictor snakes is the Ball Python Python regius. They are popular due to their passive nature, relatively small size, and their beautiful patterning.

The Ball Python may actually be the most popular pet snake. It received its name from the fact that it curls up in a ball when feeling defensive. In Europe they are generally called Royal Pythons. They very rarely display aggression and have a quite docile nature, which makes them an ideal pet. They are good for beginners and children. They move slowly and can live 20 to 30 years. These pythons are mostly shy and they are small for constrictors, only reaching 3-5 feet in adulthood. They are less expensive than other constrictors as well. In the wild they can naturally occur as albinos. This is rare but many breeders are now trying to reproduce the Albino Ball Python in captivity. They are slowly succeeding but this variation is much more expensive and harder to come by than the typically colored ball python.

In 1802 the Ball Python was first described by Shaw. They originate from almost all areas of Africa. Their habitats include dry areas of open forests, agricultural areas and grasslands. Although captive breeding of these snakes in the United States has increased in popularity, a large portion of them are still imported from Africa. Wild specimens are imported most commonly from Tongo, Ghana, and Benin. These snakes are also on the IUCN Red List for Endangered Species and are listed as Least Concern (LC). They are listed as only least concern because they are suspected to have a declining population due to human involvement but it is not quite large enough that they are threatened as a species yet.

When first picking out your new Ball Python you will want to thoroughly inspect it for possible health problems. This is because they are notorious for having problems while they are young, especially imported wild specimens. Sometimes young ball pythons will refuse to eat for long time periods or have respiratory problems. Check your new snake for a high level of alertness, clean eyes and clean vent, and a rounded body. Also make sure they are not wheezing and that there are no signs of bubbles in the nostrils. Other general problems to look out for are mites and ticks, blisters and mouth rot. If a snake has any of these things, do not purchase it. Read Animal-World’s Ball Python Ailments for more information.

Ball Pythons are constrictors, meaning their primary means of feeding are to bite and strangle to death their food by constricting around it. Their diet should consist of small rodents such as mice and small rats. They only need to be fed once a week. When you first obtain a young ball python, provide them with baby “fuzzy” or “pinky” mice. As they grow they will gradually eat larger mice and then rats. Young snakes may not eat right away when first put in a new environment so you will want to give them time to adjust to their new home. Many snakes also do not like to eat after being handled so you will want to wait to handle them until a while after they have eaten. Also, provide them with a fairly large clean water dish for drinking and soaking in.

Obviously, with these guys reaching up to 5 feet in length you will want to prepare their enclosure and make sure it is large enough for their full-grown size. This should be at least 36” long by 18” wide. The bottom can be covered with mulch or aspen bedding or just simply paper towels. They like places to hide and sleep, such as a box or flowerpot. Their home should include both a warm side and a cool side. The cooler side should be 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and the warmer side closer to 88 or 90 degrees Fahrenheit. To keep it warmer just put in a heating pad made for snakes. Keep their cage clean of feces.

If you are looking for a snake which is docile and good-tempered, a Ball Python is definitely a good snake to think about!

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

Animal-World’s Featured Pet of the Week: The Dwarf Gourami!

The Dwarf Gourami

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

You will often see Dwarf Gourami fish displayed at pet stores! They have brilliant colored bodies and stand out from many other fish. They are extremely popular among freshwater fish enthusiasts. The Dwarf Gourami Trichogaster lalius is also known as the Dwarf Banded Gourami because of their stripes or ‘bands’. Males are especially pretty – having very vibrant colors as well as a pointed dorsal fin.

There are several reasons why it is appealing to keep Dwarf Gouramis. Other than their beautiful neon colors, they also stay small once full-grown. They reach a maximum size of 2 inches and can be kept in smaller aquariums. They are quite hardy fish as well as a peaceful fish. They are good for beginner aquarists. They can be an ideal community fish and are more shy than aggressive. Many hybrid types of Dwarf Gourami’s have been developed as well. They come in many colors and varieties and are generally readily available. You can choose from any one of these types! A couple of these are the Powder Blue Dwarf Gourami and the Flame Dwarf Gourami.

Here is a cool fact about these guys! They are one of several labyrinth fish. The labyrinth fish have an organ which allows them to absorb oxygen directly into their bloodstreams They also create “bubble” nests during breeding. Dwarf Gouramis will go al out with their nests. They bring in plants, fibers, twigs, and other debris to help fill out their nests. Their eggs and fry are both lighter than water and the whole nest will float up to the surface of the water!

The Dwarf Gourami was first characterized in 1822 by a man named Hamilton. It has gone through several names. It was first described as Colisa lalia. In 1999 it was treated as part of the Polyacanthus genus. In 2009 it was changed to the current Trichogaster lalius. It’s homelands include the Far East, Assam, Bangladesh, west Bengal, and India. They tend to live in tropical areas with lots of vegetation. Some of the common rivers it inhabits are the Ganges River and the Baram River in Borneo.

Caring for Dwarf Gouramis is easy. They can be fed any number of flake foods, pellets foods, live foods, and fresh foods. Provide a flake or pellet food as the bulk of their nutrients and then offer small amounts of live bloodworms or brine shrimp. This will keep them healthy, happy, and thriving!

Set up an aquarium which provides a minimum of 5 gallons per gourami. That is a minimum however and they will do better with larger aquariums. They love lots of plants and hiding places, so this gives you the go-ahead to decorate as much as you want! There is a common misconception that gourami’s don’t need water changes due to their labyrinth organ. This is FALSE. They can and will develop toxin build-up and tissue degradation if they are not kept in a clean environment. You should change approximately 25% of their water on a weekly basis.

If you are a beginning fish owner, I highly recommend trying out the beautiful Dwarf Gourami! They should provide a good experience as your first fish! Not only are they beautiful and easy to care for, but there is such a wide range of hybrid dwarf gouramis to choose from! Have fun and good luck!

Read more on Animal-World’s Red Factor Canary page!

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

Animal-World’s Featured Pet of the Week: The Red Factor Canary!

November 12, 2012 by  
Filed under All Posts, Featured Pets, Pet Birds

The Hamster

Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The Red Factor Canary!

Canaries are unique little birds and there is a HUGE variety of them! You can choose from so many different types if a canary is a pet you want. I am going to focus on the Red Factor Canary Serinus canaria because they are one of my personal favorites. I think they are beautiful and I love to watch them. They are one of the popular canaries among enthusiasts and are bred specifically to bring out their color. They are entertaining birds and easy to care for.

Most canaries in general are known for their singing abilities. However the Red Factor Canary is known for its color rather than its singing. They are known as “color canaries” and are not bred to enhance singing or physical traits, but are bred to enhance their color. For hundreds of years canaries have been kept in captivity and each specific natural occurring type was bred. As time went on more and more colors were coming out while breeding. People began to think they could influence these colors and by the 1900’s color bred canaries started to emerge. Red Factor Canaries in particular started to emerge shortly after 1929, when a German geneticist came up with a theory. He believed a red colored canary could come out if Venezuelan Black Hooded Red Siskins were introduced into the breeding line. And sure enough, the first Red Factor emerged successfully by A.K. Gill in Britain. The Canary Colour Breeders Association began in 1947.

Many people keep canaries to show them, especially the Red Factor Canary. They are divided into two classes, the Lipochromes and the Melanins. And these classes are then divided into subclasses, frosts or non-frosts (depending on their color brightness), and hard or soft feathers. They are relatively small birds, reaching 5.5 inches.

On to the basics of care. These canaries are easy to care for. They need a roomy cage with different perches and maybe a swing. The easiest way to feed them is to give them prepared canary seed mixes found at any pet store. Give them fresh greens a couple times a week to supplement their diet and as a treat. Also make sure to provide a cuttlebone to help keep their beaks in shape and provide them with calcium. If you are concerned with keeping their red color intense, you should focus on feeding them color-enhancing foods. Three chemicals help enhance color: carotenoids, Canthaxanthin, and Beta-Carotene. Foods with these chemicals include beets, sweet potatoes, berries, cherries, squashes, and tomatoes. Some people also add tiny amounts of cayenne pepper and paprika. You can also buy prepared carotenoid concentrates to simply add to their regular food in the proper amounts.

Other routine maintenance activities include providing them with fresh water and fresh bath water (they love baths). Also trim their nails and keep their cage clean! Red Factor Canaries are also very social birds and so you may want to keep more than one together. If you want a good singer, it is best to keep a male by itself.

These canaries are more difficult to breed than other types. However, read up on these Breeding and Reproduction Guidelines for Canaries if you would like to try your hand at it.

As I noted before, these canaries are hardy and easy to keep. They should have few problems if taken care of properly. They are also readily available for purchase. They can usually be found at pet stores, online, from breeders, or even at bird shows and clubs.

Read more on Animal-World’s Red Factor Canary page!

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

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

November 4, 2012 by  
Filed under All Posts, Featured Pets, Small Pets

The Hamster

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

So, did you have a hamster growing up? Or maybe your best friend had a hamster? Most people have had some experience with hamsters, and those experiences often leave lasting impressions! Guess what: I had hamsters growing up, too! They were one of many small animal types I kept. I really liked the typical “Teddy Bear” hamsters. But I also kept Dwarf hamsters and Angora hamsters. I handled them all and bred them all. I loved all the hamsters!

Hamsters are a common first pet for youngsters. They provide an excellent learning experience in teaching responsibility. Children learn to care for and love another being. Especially if gotten while young, hamsters can be handled often and become very friendly and affectionate towards their owners. These rodents are also small, don’t take up much room, are inexpensive, easy to care for, and only live to be around 3 years old. They are clean animals with little odor. They come in a variety of types, colors, and sizes.

Hamsters have been kept as pets since the 1930’s! They were discovered to be easily tameable and affectionate and quickly became popular pets. Their name means “to hoard” and is derived from the German word “hamstern.” And believe me, hamsters know how to hoard! They have large pouches in their cheeks which allow them to store and move around large quantities of food and nesting materials. In fact after you’ve had your hamster for a while you will probably know where is favorite “hoarding” spot is!

Caring for and maintaining a healthy and engaging environment for hamsters is generally very easy. They don’t need a huge enclosure, but large enough that they can run around in. Metal cages and aquariums make good homes for them. Be careful of using wood and plastic enclosures, because hamsters are great at chewing and escaping! There are many metal cages available that also have custom expansion parts you can use to change things up. Hamsters love these! Keep some purchased bedding (such as aspen wood shavings) on the bottom of the cage and clean it out once or twice a week.

Provide fresh water (a water bottle works well) and fresh food every day. Hamster food mixes purchased at a pet store or online are the best bet for providing your pet with optimal nutrition. You can give fresh fruits and vegetables once or twice a week as a treat. Also, provide them with chew sticks for their constantly growing teeth! Hamsters enjoy exercise. They are nocturnal and usually do most of their activities at night. One of the best toys you can give them is an exercise wheel. A hamster ball is also lots of fun if you want to watch them roll around the house!

Hamsters are mostly solitary creatures. So plan on only putting one in a cage unless you plan to breed them. Sometimes they will do alright together if they grow up together, but that is not always the case. And never introduce two adult hamsters into the same enclosure unless you want a fight on your hands! A hamsters best friend in captivity is usually: you! If you begin handling them while young, you can have a loving and fun to handle little critter.

Hamsters are available almost everywhere and are inexpensive. As long as you keep their cage clean, give them fresh food and water, give them play time and social time, they will most likely have very few problems!

Read more on Animal-World’s Hamster page!

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

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