20 Interesting Facts About Elephants

See more interesting animalsIndian elephant bull in Bandipur National Park, India. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy Yathin S Krishnappa

“Nature’s great masterpiece, an elephant; the only harmless great things” …John Donne

Elephants! When these giant creatures roam in the wilds, they create a sensation that entrances the one who observes this marvelous scene. These mighty mammals are the largest land animals. They are members of the Elephantidae family of the Proboscidae order. There are basically two recognized species of elephants: The Asian Elephants and African Elephants.

These giant creatures have various unique features that make them distinctive from other wild beings.

A few of the unique features of elephants are:

  1. Usually female elephants live in herds. The veteran female elephant leads this herd, however, and the male elephants are generally solitary and shift from herd to herd. Each member in the female herd helps each other to find food and care for their young ones. These creatures do not lie down to sleep as their straight legs provide them an adequate amount of support. They can converse with their herd from far away by using sounds that are extremely low, too low for the human ear to recognize.
  2. Elephants can converse with each other by creating sounds known as "tummy rumbles."
  3. Elephants in general walk about 4 mph.
  4. Elephants know how to swim for lengthy distances.
  5. Elephants spend almost sixteen hours a day eating food.
  6. Elephants have the biggest brains of all the members of animal kingdom.
  7. A Fully-grown Indian Elephant can reach a height of more than 8 feet.
  8. Adult Indian elephants are about 10,000 plus pounds in weight.
  9. In general, one tusk of an elephant is shorter than the other. This happens because the elephant uses one of its tusks more often for things. It’s the same as for people, being either right or left-handers, the Elephants will also rely upon the tusk they use more frequently.
  10. Elephants are able to give birth every three to four years. The period of gestation is nearly two years.
  11. The Babies weigh around 250 pounds when they are born.
  12. The elephant herd makes a circle around a mother elephant when a baby elephant is born. They generate this circle to guard her from harm. A number of the elephants nudge the baby elephant to support as it’s standing up after birth.
  13. It is fairly amazing to know that the elephants can catch one anothers trumpeting sounds up to 8 kilometers (5 miles) away.
  14. Elephants can become suntanned; therefore they shield themselves with sand.
  15. Elephants get frightened of bees.
  16. This mammoth creature is the lone mammal, other than the Homo sapiens, to have a chin.
  17. 17. It is quite clear by their structure that elephants eat a lot. Moreover, they also drink nearly 50 gallons of water every day. These giants can go for around four days without water. It is remarkably fascinating to know that they can dig wells with the help of their tusks if needed.
  18. The trunk of an elephant can certainly be a lethal weapon. The trunk can pick up something weighing around 450 pounds, perhaps more. Remarkably, the trunk has nearly 150,000 muscles.
  19. These giants have no natural predators. However, lions at times will prey on weak or young elephants in the wild. The foremost threat to elephants is from human beings through poaching and alterations to their haunt.
  20. The potential for an elephant to travel a long distance makes them extremely handy in terms of jungle safari. They can walk for miles on their physically powerful feet. For this reason, elephants are extensively used for jungle safaris in India, especially in the national parks. An Elephant safari in a national park is a great way to experience the spellbinding traits of this giant creature.

These giant creatures have many startling, and often concealed, facts about them. A single sight of this mammoth creature is enough to spellbind all!

Contributing author Jessica Frei is a wildlife admirer and nature lover. She loves to explore the wildlife of different countries. She has visited many popular national parks

Spotted Rafael Catfish, talking spotted spectacle on Animal-World

March 27, 2014 by  
Filed under All Posts, Aquariums, Freshwater fish

Spotted Rafael Catfish, Agamyxis pectinifrons

Not only is the Spotted Rafael a looker, but this catfish can talk!

The Spotted Rafael Catfish is a hardy fellow with a striking pattern of white spots on black. This spotted white-on-black design makes it very attractive and desirable. The spotting is quite variable with big spots, little spots, and even a few spots fusing into bars, and no two catfish will look exactly the same!

Looks and durability are some great things about this fish, but now let’s examine some of its other awesome attributes.

First off, this looker can also talk, and is often referred to as the Spotted Talking Catfish. It rubs its pectoral fins (the ones sticking out to the sides) by rotating them in the shoulder sockets which then produces “Clicks”, “groans”, or “squeaks!” Aquarist usually hear it vocalizing when they are removing it from its tank.

Which leads to its next cool attribute, it is a Thorny Catfish with built in armor. Its protective coverings start with heavy armor over its face and neck. Then it has rigid spines in its top and side fins that it holds out in an erect fashion to ward off any threats, or when disturbed. It also has a series of tiny spines along the sides,running the length of its body. No fish in its right mind is going to mess with this armored “thorny” dude!

Another great attribute is its daily routine of helping to keep the aquarium clean. It is nocturnal, so during the day it likes to rest, but at night it becomes a great natural aquarium vacuum. It will spend its evening and nighttime hours busily scavenging tasty treats from the bottom of the tank.

But the last and BEST attribute… it is a peaceful fish. It likes companions and enjoys hanging out with similar types of catfish. It’s moderate in size, at about 6 Inches, but it gets along great with most other moderately sized or larger fish, even with more aggressive fellows. I guess if you have all that built in armor, you just don’t have to be a jerk!

An aquarium with lots of natural decor and a variety of community fish will create a very attractive showpiece. Give it ample space with at least 35 gallons of water (though more is better), and you will be rewarded with a wonderful companion fish for up to about 10 years!

Learn more about this cool spotted “talking” catfish. Pictures and information for the Spotted Rafael CatfishAgamyxis pectinifrons, along with habitat and aquarium care!

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

Horse Lovers, people with a passion for life

March 26, 2014 by  
Filed under All Posts, Animal News, Horses

Horse people honor and celebrate just about everything, but with a wonderful horseman’s twist!

Horsemen and women are passionate about anything horse. Websites, facebook pages, and blogs dedicated to horse lovers are filled with pictures and quotes that embrace the finest qualities we each strive for.

Strength and courage, passion, love, hard work and endurance spread across the pages. But the simple everyday riches of life are also embraced like smiles, spring, horse shedding season, and even the fact that it’s a Friday! Quickly I find myself being drawn in, and loving it!

I was so fortunate to be raised in a family where horses were a big part of our activities. My father, raised on a ranch in Eastern Montana, felt horsemanship was a fundamental part of life. Trail riding, cattle herding, and rodeos were all part of our fare.

The short summer seasons were filled with exploring on horseback, heading out with a packed lunch, and swimming gear incase we chanced upon a stream or pond. During the long winter season, the horses were kept at a highland ranch, where moving cattle between pastures was an ongoing affair. With 10 children, local ranchers loved to have us show up at branding time. All those extra hands helped the work go smoothly and quickly. Then the arrival of springtime had my brothers trying their hands at bronco busting in local rodeos. All these wonderful parts of a young, blossoming horse person set the stage for my life as a passionate horse lover.

Light Horse - AndalusianLight Horse – Andalusian.
Photo © Animal-World.com, Courtesy Tanja Mikkelsen

Owning a Horse… the ultimate passion

Horses are still used for ranching and other types of work, but the joy of riding and keeping them as companions is what stirs the hearts of even more people today. Each horse breed has its unique abilities and charm, and there’s a horse for every type of person.

Getting the right horse depends on what you imagine doing with it. There are many types of horses, each with their individual breed characteristics. They come in a variety of colors and vary greatly in height and size, as well as temperament. Be patient and take the time to determine what you want, because owning a horse is not only a fabulous experience, but a big responsibility.

Horses are commonly divided into three groups; Light Horses, Draft or Heavy Horses, and Ponies.

Draft Horse - Gypsy Vanner named BonanzaDraft Horse – Gypsy Vanner named Bonanza.
Photo © Animal-World.com, Courtesy Maria Wahlberg of Sweden
  • Light Horse Breeds – The majority of the riding horses are found in the light breeds. All Light Horses originally descended from the Arabian type. They have great strength and stamina, and depending on the breed, can be used in a variety of show disciplines, with some specialized as racing breeds.
  • Heavy Horse Breeds – The heavier types, commonly known as Draft Horses were developed from the bulkier equines found in the northern hemisphere. They generally have a quiet calm temperament, but they are big and strong.
  • Pony Breeds – Ponies on the other hand, are small. The Pony Breeds are durable horses that evolved smaller in stature, but strong and hardy, because they came from areas where there was often inferior nutrition and harsh environments. They are very durable and usually require less care than the other two groups, but they are also more independent.
Pony Breed - Shetland PonyPony Breed – Shetland Pony.
Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy ken taylor

Horse paraphenalia… extending the passion

Whether you own a horse or not, once you become a horse lover you’ll find yourself drawn to anything that has to do with horses. I find myself perking up with interest when watching movies or television, whenever a horse comes onto the scene. The super bowl halftime is a favorite, just to see those beautiful Clydesdales in the Budweiser commercials. A recent episode of the fantasy drama “Da Vinci’s Demons” even includes an Andalusian, the beautiful Pure Spanish Horse.

The Internet is great for finding all sorts of tack, equipment, and riding gear. But it is also a great place to find all sorts of cool horse related accessories, knickknacks, and collectables.

I collect Painted Ponies from the popular “Trail of Painted Ponies” project. Rod Barkser, a writer who makes his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, started the project. He was actually prompted to begin the Trail of Painted Ponies project because of a public art exhibition entitled “Cow Parade” that he came across while passing through Chicago during a research trip. He was charmed by these artistically transformed cows, and took it to a new level. He was inspired by the ponies of Santa Fe, and today many artists submit designs for competition, and the results are wonderful pieces of collectable art!

There are too many different types of collectibles to even begin to outline them here. But if you are a horse lover and collector of horse related art, accessories, and collectables, you can check out the horse section of a website called The Collectionary.

The Horses Collectionary is a growing library of horse collectibles and nostalgic items that are fun to peruse, and you can join and share your collections as well.

Happy horse loving, enjoy your passion!

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

Ocellated Synodontis, Large-spot Catfish making a splash on Animal-World

March 25, 2014 by  
Filed under All Posts, Aquariums, Freshwater fish

Ocellated Synodontis, Synodontis ocellifer

Ocellated Synodontis, an upside-down catfish with very large spots!

The Ocellated Synodontis is not a clown, but it does have a very spotted coat!

Sometimes those spots can be very large, and in size it’s not too small either. Most seen in an aquarium will be less than 10 inches, but if you see this dude in the wild, it could be a whopping 20 inches in length!

A good-sized aquarium with lots of natural decor and a variety of community fish will create a very attractive showpiece. But even better than that, this is a great environment for housing a very cool large-spotted Synodontis catfish. Rocks, driftwood, and twisted roots all work great to make places of refuge, and wood is especially appreciated for it to will rasp on. And because it’s nocturnal, plants floating on the surface help keep the light subdued during the daytime.

This fish spends its evening and nighttime hours peacefully scavenging delicious morsels from the bottom of the tank, and its days resting in a cozy hiding place. It pretty much gets along with almost any other tankmate, even semi to aggressive cichlids. It does get pretty big though, so beware of keeping it with very small fish. When these little fellows fall to sleep near the bottom of the tank at night, they could easily become scrumptious snacks!

In the wild it schools with its own kind while young, but then becomes a solitary fellow as it matures. Consequently, adults can be somewhat aggressive towards other Synodontis catfish species, especially if the tank is too small and without enough hiding places for all.

This easy keeper is not fussy about food, and with its non-intrusive demeanor, it makes a great community fish for both beginners and advanced aquarists. It can live for up to 20 years, so as long as its watery home is at least 50 gallons in size and is well kept, you can have this interesting and attractive fellow for a good long time!

Learn more about this “Large-spot” catfish. Pictures and information for the Ocellated Synodontis Synodontis ocellifer, along with habitat and aquarium care!

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

Insects and bugs are on the menu, hungry?

March 18, 2014 by  
Filed under All Posts, Animal News

Insects are also good foods for reptiles and amphibiansInsects to eat at a market stand in Thailand. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy An-d

Is it time to revisit the Paleo Diet, and go beyond to a diet of insects, bugs, and arthropods?

The idea of snacking on bugs reminds me of Pumbaa in the Lion King movie, smacking his lips and contentedly saying, “Slimy… yet satisfying!” Bugs are small compact packages of food packed with nutrition. But are they scrumptious? That depends on where you live and how you were raised.

Imagine sitting down to the dinner table where the usual fare is accompanied with a selection of succulent dishes concocted with bugs. That may make you a little squeamish if you didn’t grow up with it. People in Western cultures tend to be abhorred by the idea of eating anything that crawls around with six, eight, or more, legs. Yet there are many cultures where the consumption of bugs is commonplace.

Bugs are eaten in 80% of the world’s nations. It’s estimated that between 1,400 to 2,000 species of bugs are eaten in more than 100 countries. These include butterflies and moths, beetles, ants, bees and wasps, grasshoppers, crickets, cockroaches, termites, cicadas, dragonflies, and more. Even before hunting or farming became prevalent methods of food production, insects and other creepers are believed to have been an integral part of the human diet.

Bugs and the Paleolithic Diet

The latest diet craze, the Paleolithic Diet, takes it cues from the Stone Age. The recently popular best seller by Dr. Loren Cordain, The Paleo Diet, reflects this age as the idea behind this diet. Basically, if our early ancestors couldn’t have eaten something, than we shouldn’t be eating it today.

Cordain and other Paleo Diet advocates and researchers emphasize early man as skilled, aggressive hunters, feeding the tribes on meat. Paleo Diet advocates make an excellent point. Hunting and gathering were not only a primary part of our evolution, but are still vital practices throughout the world today.

According to Daniella Martin, in her article The benefits of eating bugs, Meet the new Paleo diet, “Cordain suggests that prior to the agricultural revolution, early humans ate this Paleo Diet for 2.5 million years.” And he further points out that farming, popular for only the last 10,000 years, is just a “drop in the chronological bucket when compared with the millennia leading up to it. He further says that “the hunter-gatherer diet our ancestors lived on is far more deeply and indelibly imprinted into our DNA than our habits of the last few thousand years.”

Yet Martin’s article is very insightful on another front, that of bugs! She suggests that in the long evolution of man, there are piles of evidence indicating that early man may very well have gotten a significant portion of their diet from insects and other creepy crawlers.

She describes how early hunters could score a big game kill on average only about 20% of the time. If this had been their only food source, they would have starven. To feed the tribe in between kills their regular fare would have to include lots of food items they could gather and forage. She says these would include tubers and greens along with small animals, the bulk of which would be insects and other invertebrates.

Skewered locusts, Beijing, ChinaSkewered locusts to eat in Donghuamen, Beijing, China. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy istolethetv

Bugs, nutritious and delicious

The practice of humans eating bugs for food is called Entomophagy. Animals that eat insects are known as insectivores.

An Entomophaga diet primarily consists of insects, those six-legged creepy crawlers with two antenae, but it also includes certain arthropods. Arthropods are not insects but are still creepers. These include arachnids like spiders, tarantulas and scorpions, and myriapods like centipedes. Crustaceans like crabs, lobsters and shrimp are also arthropods, but they are not included in the definition of Entomophagy. Animals that eat insects are known as insectivores.

The nice thing about eating bugs, from a nutritional standpoint, is they have so many of the things that the human body needs. They contain protein, iron, calcium, the healthy unsaturated essential fatty acids (EFAs), and other nutrients.

Martin says they are a much higher quality food compared to things like leaves, fruits, flowers, and nuts. Plant sources do contain many of these same nutrients, but in a much smaller concentration. She indicates the difference is because “insects are a two food source — they themselves have eaten, and thereby concentrated in their own tissues, the nutrients found in plant sources.” For people, this higher concentration means less work for the same nutritional benefits.

Deep fried giant waterbugs, ThailandDeep fried giant waterbugs (Lethocerus indicus) are often seen at local markets in Thailand. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy Takoradee

Bugs, on the market

There are some food bugs available in the US, but these are mostly found in specialty restaurants or as novelty snack items. Some of these delectable items are:

  • Chocolate covered insects: These edible, farm-raised insects include scorpions, superworms, silkworms, bees, ants, and crickets.
  • Crickets: Farm raised crickets can be found flavored with salt & vinegar, bacon & cheese, and sour cream & onion.
  • Larvets Worm Snacks: These edible, farm-raised larva are flavored in cheddar cheese, BBQ, bacon & cheese, and Mexican Spice.
  • Casu marzu: More commonly known as maggot cheese, this is a cheese laced with maggots.
  • Insect Lollipops: Transparent candy lollipops that have scorpions (the harmless California scorpions), mealworms, or crickets encased inside a delicious candy coating.
Emperor Caterpillars (Imbrasia ertli)Diverse Emperor Caterpillars (Imbrasia ertli) known as Mbinzo. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy Francis Hannaway

Insects and other bugs are a delicacy, and often a staple in many countries throughout the world. Here are some good food bugs, starting with mealworms and crickets which pet keepers in the US are very familiar with, and ending with some familiar arthropods:

  • Mealworms: (Netherlands) Mealworms are the larvae of the mealworm beetle Tenebrio molitor. These are good sources of protein, copper, sodium, potassium, iron, zinc, selenium, and polyunsaturated fats.
  • Crickets: (Taiwan) Crickets are one of the most common food items in this country. (NE Thailand) Crickets laden with eggs are considered a tasty snack in this country.
  • Ants: (Malawi) Candied ants are a favorite in Malawi. (Thailand) They consume Weaver ant eggs in this country.
  • Flies: (Malawi) They use flies to make fly pancakes!
  • Fried spiders, CambodiaFried spiders for sale at the market in Skuon, Cambodia. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy Mat Connolley
  • Grasshoppers: (So. Mexico) In Southern Mexico grasshoppers of the genus Sphenarium, called chapulines, are widely consumed.
  • Locust: (Thailand) Locusts feed primarily on the leaves of rice plants, they became a staple when they experienced a major locust problem in this country.
  • Termites: (South America, Africa, parts of Indonesia) Consuming termites is commonplace. They are rich in iron, calcium, essential fatty and amino acids, and high in protein, most with about 38%, but a species found in Venezuelan, Syntermes aculeosus, contains as much as 64%.
  • Cockroaches: (Thailand) They eat many types of insects in this country!
  • Giant Water Beetles: (Thailand)
  • Stink Bugs: (Asia, South America, Africa). These insects are rich in nutrients including protein, iron, potassium and phosphorus.
  • Skewered scorpions, Beijing, ChinaSkewered scorpions to eat, in Donghuamen, Beijing, China. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy istolethetv
  • African Palm Weevil: (Africa) This insect is fatty along with potassium, zinc, iron, phosphorous, several amino acids, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
  • Mopane Caterpillars: (So. Africa) Mopane caterpillars are the larval stage of the Emperor Moth Imbrasia belina.
  • Maguey Worms: (Malawi) (Mexico) Maguey Worms are the larvae of a giant butterfly, the Tequila Giant Skipper Aegiale hesperiaris.
  • Witchetty Grubs: (Australia) This is a staple in the diet of the aboriginal people.
  • Tarantulas: (Cambodia) These are favored delicacies here!
  • Spiders: (France) Some spider species are dipped in chocolate and fried as treats. (Africa) Spiders are regularly mixed into all the meals.
  • Scorpions: (Singapore, Beijing) These are a common food, usually fried and then skewered.

Bugs, solving the world’s food crisis

In a world pushing a population of 8 billion, and expected to reach 9 billion by 2050 according to the United Nations (UN), food resources are becoming stretched. Insects and other creepers are highly nutritious, readily available, and have a very efficient reproductive capacity. A growing number of experts claim that people will soon have no choice but to consume insects.

In his article, Why Insects Should Be in Your Diet, biochemist and entomologist Dr. Aaron T. Dossey says insects “hold great promise for thwarting an impending global food crisis” and he believes that they “can realistically become an important part of our future.”

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

The 5 Best Dogs When Raising Children

March 13, 2014 by  
Filed under All Posts, Pet Dogs

Golden Retrievers and other best dog breeds

So, you’re looking for a dog, a new best friend. But you’re not looking for just any dog, because you also have kids in your home.

In seeking a dog for a family pet, you’re in luck. Generally speaking, most breeds will get along well with older children as long as they’ve had the right training. However, there are some breeds, which not only tolerate children, but also thrive in a family atmosphere.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Toy Dog BreedCavalier King Charles Spaniel – Toy Dog Breed. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy Pleple2000

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Height: 12″-13″ tall at shoulder
Lifespan: 9-15 years

  • Pros: If you want a dog that will cuddle with you while watching a movie or stay close on a cold night, keep reading. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels love to cuddle. Their small size allows them to fit perfectly in your lap, which so happens to be one of their favorite places to be.

    The Cavalier is also one of the best dogs because it’s extremely friendly, and its tail is almost constantly in motion. It will sulk if spoken to harshly or left alone for long periods of time. It just wants to please you and love you 24/7. The Cavalier also loves to play, especially chasing games.

  • Cons: Because of its long, silky coat, the Cavalier needs daily brushing.

    Its natural energy also means that it needs to be kept on a leash while being walked, or else it will chase anything that moves.

    Also, the Cavalier cannot be left at home while you go to work. It does best when someone is home for at least most of the day to keep it company.

Bulldog

English Bulldog, a Non-sporting Dog BreedEnglish Bulldog, a Non-sporting Dog Breed. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy brykmantra

Height: 12-14″ tall at shoulder
Lifespan: 8-12 years

  • Pros: Bulldogs, commonly referred to as the English Bulldogs, are a non-sporting dog breed. They are one of the most patient, sturdy breeds out there. If you’re worried that your toddler will annoy the dog, have no fear. Bulldogs are more likely to get up and walk away than bite once they’ve had enough.

    In fact, Bulldogs are so patient that they can be downright lazy. After a little bit of play, they are content to curl up next to you on the couch and snooze.

  • Cons: Due to their flat features and compact bodies, Bulldogs are prone to respiratory and joint problems. Climates that are excessively hot, humid, or cold are not compatible with these dogs. And you can bet that you will be able to hear your dog snoring while he sleeps.

    Bulldogs are voracious eaters, and can easily become overweight without preventative action. Food intake must be carefully monitored, which means keeping the kibble and groceries out of reach. Regular walks also help this dog stay in shape.

Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever, a Sporting Dog BreedGolden Retriever, a Sporting Dog Breed. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy Scott Beckner

Height: 21″-24″ tall at shoulder
Lifespan: lives 10-12 years

  • Pros: Golden Retrievers are loyal, patient dogs with playful puppy attitudes that can last for years past physical maturity. They love kids and all the chaos that comes with them.

    If you enjoy going for a daily run, a Golden Retriever would make a great running partner. They need 40-60 minutes of hard daily exercise to keep them sane. Since these intelligent dogs were originally bred as a working breed, they thrive when they have a “job” like retrieving the paper or waking up family members.

  • Cons: Because of their playful nature and large size, Golden Retrievers can get a little boisterous and knock down small children. Their need to be where the action is can also become a little annoying when you find yourself trying not to trip over your friendly pooch.

    Golden Retrievers need to be brushed daily. While this keeps their skin and coat in good condition, it is also essential for keeping hair off your couches and clothes. These dogs shed profusely, so daily grooming and a good vacuum are a must.

Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever, a Sporting Dog BreedLabrador Retriever, a Sporting Dog Breed. Photo Wiki Commons

Height: 21″-24″ tall at shoulder
Lifespan: 10-12 years

  • Pros: Labradors love children. They love all the chaos associated with them, and being very social dogs, the more people around, the better!

    Aside from being great family dogs, Labradors can function as hunting dogs or therapy dogs. They are also very intelligent and loyal to the point of absolute devotion.

    Like Golden Retrievers, Labradors are also one of the best dogs, making excellent companions for active families. They need 30 to 60 minutes of exercise daily to stay sane, otherwise they may release their excess energy with barking, chewing, and other vices, which makes for excellent motivation if you’re looking to get into shape.

  • Cons: Although Labradors tend to be very active, their love of food can lead to obesity if preventive measures are not taken. Regular meals, few treats, and no table scraps can help keep the dog fit. It is also important to keep the garbage and other food sources out of reach, as Labradors have a reputation for doing anything for a snack.

    Labradors also shed profusely, requiring regular grooming and a quality vacuum to keep yourself and your home clean.

Collie

Rough Collie, a Herding Dog BreedRough Collie, a Herding Dog Breed. Photo Public Domain Pictures, Courtesy Karen Arnold

Height: 22″-26″ tall at shoulder
Lifespan: 10-14 years

  • Pros: If you’ve never had a dog before, the dependable Collie is a good bet. Gentle, predictable, and extremely intelligent, these dogs are easily trained.

    Collies are very compatible with other pets, and have been known to be very gentle around even small animals like rabbits and chicks. This same gentle nature translates into the way they treat children.

    However, since Collies were originally bred as herding dogs, they may try to “herd” your children. This is a habit that can be entertaining at best and annoying at worst. Don’t worry, Collies are only protective, not aggressive.

    As a working breed, Collies need daily exercise. This makes them ideal companions for an individual who likes to stay fit.

  • Cons: Rough Collies are known for their long, often fluffy, fur. This fur needs regular brushing in order to avoid becoming matted, dirty, and unattractive. Smooth Collies have shorter fur, basically a smooth coat, so less maintenance is needed.

    While Collies are usually a fairly quiet breed, their high energy levels make them prone to barking if they get bored. Regular exercise and plenty of time spent with the family helps curb this tendency.

Articles referenced: “10 Dogs for Kids”, “The Ten Best Family Dog Breeds”

Victoria Ramos studied business and now blogs about developments in the field, as well as her other interests. She loves dogs, socializing, hosting parties, and writing.

5 Must-Have Things To Keep Your Pet Bird Comfortable and Healthy

March 11, 2014 by  
Filed under All Posts, Pet Birds

Animal-World's Bird Care - How to Take Care of a Pet Bird

Birds can be amazing pets!

Birds are very low maintenance. When keeping them as pets they take up little room, they are great at socializing, they are easily trained, and best of all… a pet bird can be beautiful to look at!

A happy bird will make a happy owner.

If you’re thinking about getting a bird there are a few easy ways to ensure they remain comfortable and healthy.

Here are the 5 must-haves that every pet bird needs:

See Bird cages at Real Smart

1 – A Nice Big and Airy Cage

Remember that birds are wild animals. They are used to the freedom of flying around and hunting for food. If you are going to enclose them make sure you invest in a good cage, which is the appropriate size for your bird.

Put the cage in an area out of direct sunlight but where your pet bird can see action, nature, and other living things. Although they are great socializers and will thrive on human contact, high traffic areas may be stressful for them, so keep them out of the traffic corridor.

2 – Plenty of Toys

It’s very important that your bird is entertained. Remember, they have nowhere to go so need to be stimulated throughout the day, especially when you’re not there to talk to them. If they get too bored they can develop behavioral problems such as screaming, plucking their feathers, and biting. Essential toys a bird should have are:

  • Foraging Toys: These allow your bird to work for their food like they would in the wild.
  • Chewing Toys: Chewing is a major part of a wild bird’s life and it is essential they can do this while caged.
  • Preening Toys: Preening toys such as rope will satisfy your bird’s needs and stop them plucking their own feathers.

3 – Exercise Equipment

Birds are animals that exercise a lot in the wild so exercise equipment inside their cage will keep them happy and entertained throughout the day. Swinging perches and ladders will not only instigate movement, they are very important for foot and muscle health. Perches that look like natural branches are the best choices, but be sure to get the correct thickness for your bird. Ladders and net climbing obstacles will be great for your pet birds play time and discovery. Also check on the latest innovation that could help your pet. It shouldn’t hurt to try new exercise thingies especially if they look promising.

4 – A Cozy Retreat

Make sure there is a nice place to go so that your bird can find solitude as they would in the wild. This is easily achieved with a bit of fabric on one corner. At nighttime, it’s always a good idea to cover the cage entirely to convey comfort and sleep time. You can also add a small birdhouse inside so the pet can go there anytime it feels like it.

5 – House Keeping

A clean bird cage is essential for your bird’s health and happiness. It’s an easy job to do and made even easier with pre cut cage liners. Changed daily, you will avoid unpleasant smells and bacteria on your cage floor. There are also non-toxic sprays which dissolve droppings, and remove stains and marks from your cage. A good example of this is Poop-Off. Also learn how frequently cleaning should be. The cage doesn’t have to be squeaky clean, because hay and some newspaper trimmings inside can create a nice forest-like atmosphere. But it will be helpful if wastes are removed from time to time.

Melianie Cho of Real Smart, works with pet care and has been working in a pet store for several years, where she advises customers on the best products for their pets. She is also a regular contributor in pet forums and blogs.

Why I Hate Crabs

Emerald Crab or Green Clinging Crab, Mithraculus sculptusEmerald Crab or Green Clinging Crab Mithraculus sculptus is a dark green color and comes from the tropical waters of the Caribbean Sea

Crabs in the Saltwater Aquarium

No, I am not talking about our old aunts or other relatives, although they can probably fit loosely into this topic if I could throw them in my saltwater tank! For the sake of family peace, however, I have had to refrain myself during one visit. An odd circumstance arose that would have lent itself to the submergence of a crabby relative INTO my 150 gallon tank! Yet, I digress…

I am talking about crabs; all species, all genus, all colors, all shapes and all sizes. Be assured, that eventually these little hellion monsters, with evil intentions and back biting ways, will murder another creature in your tank, that you spent your hard earned money on! It’s just their nature, and they can’t be blamed. Even the ones with “small claws” have been known to cause problems, especially in a reef tank. I am sure there are a few well behaved crabs out there, but I am not risking my inhabitants on something that can be easily replaced with a less opportunistic murderer.

My first experience with the “little darlings,” was when I bought my first “clean up crew” for my 8 week old cycled 55 gallon saltwater tank. During this time, my research was quite focused on water quality, live rock, substrate, skimmers, heaters, and lighting. I did however, intend on doing research on the fish I was going to buy. After all, how can you screw up buying a “clean up crew?” …Everybody else is doing it!

Reef Hermit Crab, Clibanarius rhabdodactylusReef Hermit Crabs, Clibanarius species, are omnivorous marine crabs, but mostly prey on small animals and scavenge carrion

Hermit Crabs

My appreciation for hermit crabs were short lived. Over a period of about 4 months, the hermits, one by one, took out my snails, which of course COST more then THEY did. Yes, there was plenty of food and algae for both, perfect water parameters, and no predatory fish; so nothing else would have killed the snails. For me, the last straw was the loss of my prized Jumbo Nassarius Snail, who was one of five I had in my tank. The day I saw a hermit crab rockin’ that snail’s shell, was the day I pulled each and every one OUT of the tank and returned them to the store.

I actually have witnessed larger hermit crabs starting to attack a resting or sick fish! Then a friend of mine related a story of a puffer fish that was attacked at night, and dead by morning. She owned the puffer for a long time, and it was not sick. I remember once, when looking in someone else’s reef, I noticed a hermit crab sitting on top of a healthy SPS coral. As I observed this little beast, I noticed it was tearing the flesh off of the coral! Enough said!

If a fish dies, your nassarius snails will converge and consume, but they will never touch a live fish, only a rotting one. This will keep your water quality from deteriorating if a fish does die. This makes nassarius snails great inhabitants! Over time, I discovered that brittle starfish also do just as good of a job getting extra food that the fish missed.

Emerald Crabs

Back to the crabs! Well, against my better judgment I did buy an emerald crab down the line to take care of some green bubble algae. Once again, another little monster crab had to be extracted as it threatened my Halichoeres wrasses that were napping under the sand. I swear you could hear him say, “Where did those morsels go? The algae just ain’t cutting it!” My wrasses were unusually afraid of this emerald crab as it grew. So were we…

Reef Crabs

The worst experience I’d ever had was a reef crab that hitchhiked on some live rock. I bought the rock from a gentleman whose system crashed when the power went out. This is common during hot summer days in Las Vegas. I didn’t know there was a little monster stowed away in the rock and the way I found out was not cool! One morning, my fairy wrasses came up to be fed, and I noticed that my Scott’s Fairy Wrasse was no where around. This was odd, because he was usually the first in line for breakfast. I started looking for him and found this big, black, butt ugly, reef crab slowly scraping the now gutted sides of my most expensive wrasse! The Scott’s was NOT sick and I owed him long enough to rule out disease. Why is it ALWAYS the MOST expensive fish that is killed?

Thus started my long search for this monster in the bowels of my tank after he scampered away…. sideways… the LITTLE FREAK! I found him in a twisted and gnarled piece of live rock, which of course was UNDER a bunch of other live rock! So I had no choice but to remove the rock from the tank and chase him out of the middle. That was the WEIRDEST 30 minutes of my life up to that point. With saltwater tanks, these weird minutes start to accumulate over the years… just wait, you’ll see! So I got the little turd out and put him in a refugium as I decided what his fate would be. Let’s not go there.

Crabs Begone!

I started to search for fish that would not typically eat snails but WOULD eat crabs. Why? I had this suspicion he had a brother! Enter the Harlequin Tuskfish. I loved that fish! For as big and scary his teeth were, he was not even the dominant wrasse in my tank. One day, about a week after I bought him, I found remnants of yet ANOTHER reef crab on the substrate. So I blurted out, “WHO’S A GOOD BOY? WHO’S A GOOD BOY? WHOOOOOSE A GOOOOD BOY?!?!” Yes, another weird moment, as my family members looked at me perplexed; since, well, we DIDN’T have a dog!

Upon further research, the Internet supplied more and more horror stories of crabs wreaking havoc in tanks. Reef crabs include Mithrax Crabs (Mithraculus sp.) and Xanthid Crabs, and these are some of the worst culprits. The Mithraculus crabs belong to the Majidae family of “spider crabs”, which has around 200 species in 52 genera. The Xanthidae family is huge, with 133 genera and 572 known species.

Horseshoe Crab, Limulus PolyphemusHorseshoe Crab Limulus Polyphemus. This is a saltwater crab, yet it is more closely related to spiders, ticks, and scorpions than to crabs.
A wide variety of marine crabs can be seen here, at Dr. Jungle’s Animal-Image: Saltwater Crabs

Now I am sure there are crab lovers out there, and in certain set ups, hey, go right ahead!

Yes, they are very useful, but only in the ocean. There are many seasoned writers and hobbyists who have written books that will back me up on not keeping crabs in most closed systems. One may say that there are certain crabs like the tiny blue-legged hermits that don’t cause problems. Well, except if you happen to have those little nassarius snails! So YES, I did try those and they started to kill my little nassarius snails that, by the way, were perfectly fine up to that point.

Crabs are opportunistic scavengers, not pets. They are “cute” but the snails in your tank are thinking, “Well, I know one day I will be disemboweled by that heathen.” So the snails sulk away, out of the grip of the new resident… for now.

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

Pink Skunk Clownfish, Unique in pink on Animal-World

March 6, 2014 by  
Filed under All Posts, Aquariums, Saltwater Fish

Pink Skunk Clownfish, Amphiprion perideraion

Pink Skunk Clownfish, a pink anemonefish with a white skunk stripe!

Beginners to advanced aquarists love this little dude. The Pink Skunk Clown is one of the most unique anemonefish. It stands out with its awesome pink hue topped with a skunk-like white stripe. But even better, it is one of the smallest clownfish with a personality to kill for. It works well in a reef tank, but is just as wonderful in a community setting.

It is a delicate clownfish with a shy and reclusive nature, happiest when it can call an anemone its home. Along with its color and friendly personality, its timid characteristics also add to its charm. For the aquarist who is willing to make sure the tank is pristine, this unusually decorated clownfish can provide a one-of-a-kind attraction for years. Beginners and advanced aquarists alike can marvel at its beauty and pleasant personality.

Keep it with other small fish that are peaceful and relatively calm and you can enjoy a lifetime of beauty and perfection in a smaller aquarium. Or conversely, add it to a reef with an anemone and have a supreme addition with interesting color and personality.

It can be kept singly without an anemone, but is also great as a pair with an anemone and a small group of like kind sub adult companions. Its diminutive size makes it great for a smaller aquarium, and beginners can have great success as long as they use due diligence in keeping the water in top condition.

Pink Anemonefish can be obtained as captive bred fish and are available as a single specimen or as a pair. Keep one in a smaller tank, or a pair and some little guys in a larger tank and you’ll have a great aquarium.

Check out more about this pink “skunk-striped” anemonefish. Pictures and information for Pink Skunk Clownfish, along with habitat and aquarium care!

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

The 10 Most Curious Dog Breeds

March 5, 2014 by  
Filed under All Posts, Pet Dogs

See Animal-World's Pet Dog Breeds

Come with us and explore the incredible variety and whimsical nature of the most fascinating dogs on the planet!

As man’s best friend, dogs are known for their loyalty, selfless love and dedication to their owner. Usually their specific breed predetermines their overall character as well as their physical appearance. We all have stumbled upon some pretty funny or even shocking dog looks either in the park or in the canine magazines.

Here are some of the most curious dog breeds know to men:

See Terrier DogsBedlington Terrier – Terrier Breed.
Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy Pleple2000

1. A dog or a sheep?

Take for example a breed called Bedlington Terrier. Most people tend to confuse such terriers with lamb, yes lamb! This lamb looking dog breed originally developed in Bedlington, England is actually very active. It needs heaps of exercise every day in order to keep it healthy and happy.

Bedlington Terriers are usually grey to whitish in colour, and have a decent amount of fluffy fur on them. The good news though, is that their specific type of fur makes them ideal for allergy-prone owners.

See Herding DogsBergamasco Shepherd – Herding Breed.
Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy Towncommon.

2. The Rasta dog!

Another worthy example of a weird looking domesticated canine is the Bergamasco Shepherd. This dog, as its name implies, is bred for helping animal farmers with their stock.

Its furs gradually tend to matt and stick together in clumps, which later become even more tangled thus giving the dog a distinct look. The funny dreadlocks that this Shepherd breed is so well known for actually distinguish it as a true Rastafarian.

Puli – Herding Breed.
Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy Steve Jurvetson

3. The moving frieze rug

A good competitor of the Bob Marley hairdo breed is the Puli. The Puli has thick corded fur that protects it from zero outside temperatures in the winter quite well.

The Puli’s distinct fur coat is practically water resistant as well, which is good news as winters in Hungary (the country where the Puli breed first appeared) can be quite cold and wet.

See Sporting DogsCatalburun, Turkish Pointer – Sporting Breed.
Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy minifauna.com

4. The double-nosed hunter

From strange furs and hairs to split noses! The Catalburun is basically a Turkish pointer. However, a Catalburun has a split nose, which is attributed to inbreeding somewhere down the line.

This dog is only found in Turkey. The local people that breed and look after these guys assume them to have superior tracking skills, thanks to their strange yet very useful nose.

See Toy DogsChinese Crested – Toy Breed.
Photo Courtesy Michelle Duvall Zentgraf

5. Hairless with style!

If you are into exotic house pooches, then the Chinese Crested dog will surely fascinate you. The Chinese Crested is a furless dog. This makes it a somewhat higher maintenance animal because his delicate skin is exposed and needs moisturising and protection from the sun – remember there is no fur. This breed also needs regular bathing in order to avoid skin infections.

Believe it or not, Chinese Crested is considered to be one of the ugliest dog breeds out there, and these doggies usually win first spot at ugly dog competitions – yes, there are many such events staged every year.

See  Working DogsNeapolitan Mastiff – Working Breed.
Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy Przykuta

6. Prematurely old

There are many guard dog breeds, but this one is quite special – it looks way too wise for its age. The Neapolitan Mastiff has droopy skin around its face and neck, which some people find even cute. Usually all those facial wrinkles make these dogs appear quite ancient – just like a grandpa.

Mastiffs were originally bred in Italy, ancient Rome to be exact. They were a worthy part of the Roman army. The legionnaires trained them to wear special armour with sharp spikes on their back, with the help of which they could knock down the enemy horses.

See Hound DogsBorzoi – Hound Breed.
Photo © Animal-World.com, Courtesy Justin Brough

7. Out of proportions

The Russian Borzoi impresses with quite a disproportionate body type – it has small head and a really long body and slender legs. If you think you have the patience and tenacity to train and discipline dogs, try out your luck with a Russian Borzoi.

This purpose bred dog is highly athletic and similar in appearance to a greyhound, but very unruly. The Borzoi (meaning fast dog in Russian) is agile and willing to chase small animals and prey for as long as it physically can. Canine experts say these hounds are best trained by experienced dog handlers as they do as they please because they lack the concept of obedience that other dogs have.

See Brussels GriffonBrussels Griffon – Toy Breed.
Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy Webweazle

8. The angry sailor

Brussels Griffon is a small yet really temperamental dog. It has angry look and a thick beard complemented by a characteristic moustache. Compared to other breeds, this little guy likes dominating, or at least tries to dominate other dogs around.

Most people find the Griffon to be quite cute with its bearded face and the hilarious aura the dog has about it. The Griffon can be described as a bossy, four-legged caricature.

Affenpinsche – Toy Breed.
Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy Ingunn Axelsen

9. The mini Big Foot

The Affenpinscher has a very hairy face. Its facial fur could grow so thick that you could practically see the dog’s resemblance to the mythic creature the Big Foot. The initial purpose of this German Affenpinscher breed was no other but to hunt and kill rats. The Affenpinscher is relatively small in size, which does make it more efficient when rat eradication time comes. The dog has distinctive burly, long fur.

The Affenpinscher can be described as playful, active, adventurous and fun loving, though at times these little guys can be quite stubborn.

See Non-Sporting Companion DogsFrench Bulldog – Non-Sporting Companion Breed.
Photo © Animal-World.com, Courtesy Justin Brough

10. The rabbit-eared hobbit

Short and petite at first sight the French Bulldogs could make you believe they have something in common with rabbits – or at least their long ears will. However their character is much stronger than that of a trembling fluffy bunny. They were originally bred in France, to attack and kill bulls. Back then this violent and cruel ‘sporting activity’ was in its hay day, luckily the tradition was abolished. The dog in question is no other but the now super cute French Bulldog.

Despite its dark and violent origin, this dog breed has changed into one of man’s most affectionate companions. These little guys crave human attention and will happily interact with you at every chance they get.

Natalie Goodale is a freelance writer, who loves spending time with her Shih Tzu dog, Roxane. She is involved in a number of projects, the most current of them all being a mutual initiative with San Antonio Dog Life.

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