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

October 14, 2012 by  
Filed under Catch All, Featured Pets, Reptiles

The Veiled Chameleon

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

Chameleons are famous for their camouflage capabilities! They have the perfect body shape and are able to somewhat change colors in order to mimic their surroundings! The Veiled Chameleon Chamaeleo calyptratus has evolved to be particularly good at blending in with leaves! There are several different types of chameleons, with the Veiled Chameleon being one of the easier types to keep as a pet. Other Chameleon types include the Jackson’s Chameleon, the Panther Chameleon and the Graceful Chameleon. Other names the Veiled Chameleon goes by are the Yemen Chameleon and the Cone-head Chameleon.

The coolest thing about these creatures is the way their bodies can change. They are flat and arched (to match the way leaves look) and are primarily green with other markings depending on if they are male or female. They can easily change color to match whatever their environment is. Not only do they change color in response to their surroundings – they also change color in response to the temperature, their mood, whether they are in breeding mode, and to changes in their health! Another interesting physical feature is that their eyes can rotate all around and focus independently of each other! Chameleons are fairly large lizards. When full grown some males can reach 2 feet long!

Chameleons have a reputation for being difficult to keep as pets. This is definitely true, but the Veiled Chameleon often proves to be one of the somewhat easier types to care for. The reasons for this are that they can tolerate a little larger temperature range, they are omnivores (eating both plants and insects) and they can reproduce fairly easily. Most people who keep them simply love their unique attributes and love to watch and interact with them!

The Veiled Chameleon is native to Saudi Arabia and Yemen. They have only recently been widely kept as pets, with the first ones being imported into the United States in 1990. They are on the IUCN Red List for Endangered Species. However they are listed only as a Least Concern (LC). And they have adapted to many environments and are kept in captivity fairly easily.

As I mentioned earlier, these guys are omnivores and can eat a large variety of both insects and plants. In captivity they do well being fed crickets and mealworms that are coated with a vitamin powder. Adult chameleons need less calcium than younger ones and may not need their insects coated. Give them plant materials such as acacia fruit and ficus and pothos leaves as well. These chameleons should be provided with a large enclosure. An adult male should have a minimum space of 30” W x 60” L x 45” H. Large terrariums work well. They are aggressive and should be kept alone once they reach adulthood. Provide them with a mixed substrate containing both sand and peat moss. Place several vines with leaves and perches around for them to climb on. Mist both the chameleon and the leaves at least twice a day (with de-chlorinated water). These lizards drink from the leaves and so this is a must in order for them to stay hydrated.

The temperature of their environment should be kept in the 80′s during the day, but keep one area around 90 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit (with a heat lamp) for a basking area. At night the enclosure should be in the 70′s. Humidity should be between 60 and 70% (less than what other chameleons need). Keep their environment very clean and disinfected to keep them as healthy as possible. Their cage should be cleaned at least weekly.

These chameleons are one of the easier ones bred in captivity, as well. If you want to know more detailed information on breeding these lizards, here is the specific Veiled Chameleon Reproduction area of the page.

To make sure your chameleon is healthy, clean and disinfect their cage on a weekly basis, provide them with the correct food and lighting, mist them twice a day, and provide a heat lamp. The most common disease found in captive lizards is called Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD). This is caused by too little calcium. To avoid this, coat their insects with calcium powder at least once a week prior to feeding them. To ensure they also get enough Vitamin D3 by providing UVB-emitting light bulbs.

To read more on keeping these amazing lizards, here is a good run-down of everything you need to know on Veiled Chameleons.

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 Neon Tetra!

September 30, 2012 by  
Filed under Aquariums, Catch All, Featured Pets, Freshwater fish

The Neon Tetra

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

Most likely, you have heard of or seen the Neon Tetra Paracheirodon innesi, even if you are not a fish person! They are extremely popular aquarium fish and many beginner aquarists start by adding a few of these little guys to their new tank. These small fish are clear with both a brilliant red stripe and a brilliant blue stripe, hence their “neon” coloring. The red stripe only goes part way along their body, though. They have been kept as aquarium fishes since the 1930′s! They are schooling fish and make quite a beautiful display when you have 6-8 of them dancing around your aquarium.

There are many advantages to keeping neon tetras. Besides just their beautiful colors, they are very small and easy to keep. They are great for beginners and can live to be over 10 years old. They are inexpensive and can be kept in a small aquarium. They are relatively hardy and need only basic, regular care. They are good community fish and can be kept with many other small community fish.

The Neon Tetra is originally from South America and is a member of the Characin fish family. They can be found in Brazil, the Paraguay River basin, the Pantanal of Mato Grosso do Sul, and the Rio Taquari. Generally they live in the middle layer of these water bodies and eat worms and tiny crustaceans. Pet neon tetras are virtually all captive bred, however. Most are bred in Europe and shipped out. Different variations of neon tetra have also been developed, including the Long Finned Neon Tetra. Make sure not to confuse the Neon Tetra with its similar colored cousin the Cardinal Tetra! The Cardinal Tetra has a red stripe which extends the length of its body. This is the most obvious distinction between it and the Neon Tetra.

Here is the nitty gritty on the care and feeding of the Neon Tetra. They are fairly hardy fish, however they will be more delicate the first week after moving them to a new aquarium. Once they adjust to the environment, though, they usually do quite well, especially with continuous maintenance. They are small and so do not need a large aquarium. The more fish you are keeping, the larger the aquarium should be. A ten gallon tank should do nicely for one school of neon tetras. They like to have plants, dark gravel, and some sort of decorations they can congregate around. Normal lighting with a temperature between 68 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit is best. Change their water bi-weekly and feed them two or three times daily. A good freshwater flake food should be sufficient. Feel free to offer them live foods (worms, shrimp) as a treat on occasion.

Neon Tetras are generally hardy and have few health problems. One condition that you should be aware of, however, is called the Neon Tetra Disease. This disease is actually a condition that affects several fish species, but it earned its name due to being first diagnosed in neon tetras. It is incurable and very contagious. It has been traced to a sporozoan in the Plistophora genus. The main symptom is a spot or blotch that begins to spread right under their dorsal fin. Most attempts to cure this disease have been unsuccessful and there is no guaranteed way to get rid of it. Other than the Neon Tetra Disease, other fish illnesses can affect these guys if they are not kept in a stable and clean aquarium. They can be susceptible to parasites, bacterial infections, and other common fish diseases.

To read more on the popular Neon Tetra, check out Animal-World’s Neon Tetra 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 Diamond Dove!

September 23, 2012 by  
Filed under Catch All, Featured Pets, Pet Birds

The Diamond Dove

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

Diamond Doves Geopelia cuneata are one of the most common doves kept as pets. People like them because of their beauty and their easy care requirements. My main exposure to them (other than through the pet store) was with a friend who bred them in her house. She had several doves, both Diamond Doves and Ringneck Doves. Breeding them and having them in her home was truly her passion!

The Ringneck Dove Streptopelia risoria, is larger and is actually the most popular pet dove. However the Diamond Dove comes in a close second! Diamond Doves are very easy to care for and are quite hardy. They are great for first-time bird keepers, for people who just want a low-maintenance bird, and for dove lovers! They are easy to breed as well, for those interested in breeding. They are generally considered a “domestic” bird because they are so widely bred and available in the pet market. But they also live in the wild and have no problems there.

The native home of the Diamond Dove is in Northern and Central Australia. Their natural habitat is in open grasslands and sparsely wooded areas near water. They can also be found near human populated areas such as parks and gardens. They are part of the popular “Turtle Dove” category and are fairly small birds. They are slightly larger than canaries and have very long tails. They live to be around 10 years old, which is a good lifespan for someone not looking for a lifetime commitment but who still wants a companion for a good time. These birds have white spots that look like diamonds on their gray backs and shoulders, hence their name “Diamond” dove. They have reddish eyes with a orbital red ring around them. Males tend to have darker coloring overall than the females. These doves can also come in a variation of colors such as silver, pied, cinnamon, and many others.

Dove care is relatively simple and easy. Most people keep them in a fairly large aviary but they can also be kept in a regular cage. These cages should be at least 18 inches square to give them enough space to move around in. Diamond doves are very hardy. They can be kept outside in cold conditions, but to keep them in optimum health a heat source should be provided. They can be fed a finch or parakeet food mix purchased at a pet store. As a supplement provide them with cuttlebones, grit, and occasional greens and spray millet. Doves are social birds and so you may want to consider keeping more than one together. They also get along well with other bird types, such as canaries and finches!

If you are interested in breeding doves, diamond doves are a good choice. They don’t breed quite as easily as Ringneck Doves, but they aren’t particularly difficult to breed, either. Provide them with a nest (dried twigs, grass, etc.) in a large enclosure or aviary and make sure you have both males and females. You can tell the difference in the sexes at about 6 months of age. Males have a larger orange ring around their eyes compared to females. The females will lay two eggs in the provided nest which will then hatch around 13-14 days later. When you notice they are weaned you will want to remove them from the cage so the parents don’t try to run them off.

To keep these birds healthy and free of problems, make sure to provide them a safe, dry, and clean environment. They are generally hardy birds if their basic needs are met!

Diamond Doves are easy and hardy birds to keep as pets as well as good breeders. For more information, Animal-World’s Diamond Dove page has everything you could want to know!

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 Pet Mouse!

September 9, 2012 by  
Filed under Catch All, Featured Pets, Small Pets

The Pet Mouse

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

The Pet Mouse. Ahhh. I cannot say enough good things about mice. I love them and could write a book based on my experiences alone! The first thing that comes to mind is, “This is what started it all!” Because, really, the mouse is the rodent that marks the beginning of my complete fascination with animals. I got my first pet mouse when I was in 4th grade. I remember begging my parents to let me have one. They reluctantly said yes. Then one mouse turned into getting two mice so that the first one would not be lonely! And from there, two mice turned into a litter, and then a second litter, and then into a whole roomful of many small pets. I have fond memories with my pet mice from my childhood. As a matter of fact, the mouse pictured here is one of my mice that I had in high school! Her name was Dora.

Mice are great pets. They are great for young children as a first pet and great for older people who just want to have a small, easy to care for, companion. Mice are inexpensive and clean. They do not need a lot of room or a ton of attention. They are clean and don’t usually have much of an odor to them. They only live for 1-3 years and so do not require a life time commitment. They can become quite tame and handle-able if you wish.

Some background on mice. There are several different mouse types. These include house mice, field mice, harvest mice, and pet mice or fancy mice. They all have their own scientific names, with the Pet Mouse being Mus musculus domesticus. It is believed that house mice originally came from parts of Asia and from there began to spread throughout the world. Mice are very adaptable, making their spread easy and natural. In the 1800′s people began using the term “fancy mice” because of the rising popularity of exchanging colored mouse fur. The National Mouse Club was founded in England around 1900 by Walter Maxey. Over the years mice have been used for several purposes. They have been used for everything from religious rituals to being test subjects in studying disease. Today, they are even specially bred by mouse enthusiasts to come up with new coat and color combinations. Did you know that there are over 700 different color and coat varieties in mice?!

The care and feeding of mice is simple. Find or purchase a mouse cage (many different types are available) and line the bottom with wood shavings or other purchased litter preparations. You can provide them with a wheel for daily exercise and other decorations/hiding places if you wish. Change out the bedding at least once or twice a week and clean their food and water dishes out daily. The easiest way to feed your pet mouse is to simply provide them with a nutritionally balanced mouse food mix that can be found at a pet store. They will also appreciate occasional treats such as vegetables, seeds, cheese, or other prepared treats from a pet store. Provide them with sticks of wood as well, to help keep their constantly growing teeth trimmed. Mice are also very social and do well with companions. For this reason, you may want to consider having at least 2 mice in a cage to keep them from becoming lonely. Females usually do great together, but you may have to watch putting males together because they will often fight.

Mice are fairly healthy if taken care of properly. As long as they have clean and dry bedding, food and water, and are kept away from drafts, they don’t usually have too many health problems. Things to keep an eye out for include sneezing, not eating, lethargy, and diarrhea. If they have any of these or other concerning symptoms, check out this list of Mouse Ailments.

The Pet Mouse is a common and wonderful small pet. They are great first pets for children. For more information, Animal-World’s Pet Mouse page gives a thorough run-down of everything mouse related!

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 Thoroughbred Horse!

September 3, 2012 by  
Filed under Catch All, Featured Pets, Horses

The Rose-haired Tarantula

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

I think everyone knows what the Thoroughbred horse is famous for – racing! Our minds instantly fly to the famous race horses such as Seabiscuit and Secretariat. These famous race horses all have one thing in common – they are Thoroughbreds! Thoroughbreds are the fastest horses in the world and are primarily used in competitive horse racing and other competitive sport activities such as jumping, eventing, and dressage.

These horses are known for having a ton of energy and are often called “hot” and can be difficult to handle. They love to run and be athletic, and due to their high energy levels they are not usually the best horses for beginners. They have very long legs and have a long and straight looking profile. They grow to about 16 hands and their prime racing years are when they are a young 2 and 3 years old. The Thoroughbred is considered to be a light horse breed. Light horse breeds are on the lighter side and most often weigh under 1500 pounds. They are commonly used as riding horses and sometimes for light ranch work or in the show ring.

The background on the Thoroughbred all starts in Britain. Back in the 1600′s and 1700′s was when an interest in horse racing really took off. King Henry VIII started the very first royal racing stables due to this budding interest. Three specific Arabian stallions are where the modern day Thoroughbred genes can be tracked back to. An interesting fact is that those three stallions never actually raced! The majority of the Thoroughbred horses have 31 known ancestors, and all of these can be traced back to those three original stallions. The names of these stallions were Byerly Turk, Darley Arabian, and Godolphin Arabian. The first famous racehorse, Flying Childers, was the offspring of Darley Arabian!

Thoroughbred care and feeding is similar to most other horses. One thing to note is that Thoroughbreds do require more food than other horses their size because of their fast metabolism! Typically horses are grass-fed or fed hay twice a day with occasional grain if needed. Other foods such as oats or treats should be kept to a minimum. Make sure to provide fresh water everyday and keep a salt block where they can easily lick it. They should be groomed on a regular basis to keep their coat in shape. Pick their hooves often (especially before riding) to check for rocks and fungus. You should have their hooves trimmed regularly as well.

There are some health problems specific to the Thoroughbred. Because they are racehorses and are pushed to the limit, they are prone to accidents which cause injuries and sometimes death. Broken legs and other musculoskeletal injuries are the biggest problems. Other problems include bleeding in their lungs, constipation, small hooves in relation to their bodies, and fertility problems.

Thoroughbred horses are available almost everywhere. They can be very expensive (the most expensive around the world!), especially in the competitive racing world. Older, former race horses can be found cheaper in classified ads and at auctions. Many horses offered at auctions though, will need to be re-trained to be leisure riding horses or to become competitive in other disciplines. They may also sport injuries from their racing days.

Thoroughbreds definitely have a legend around them and are highly sought out in the horse racing world. Animal-World’s Thoroughbred Horse page has more information on these horses if you want to know more!

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 Rose-haired Tarantula!

August 26, 2012 by  
Filed under Catch All, Featured Pets, Reptiles

The Rose-haired Tarantula

Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The Rose-haired Tarantula!

Do you have an interest in spiders? If you are one of the many people who are fascinated by spiders rather than terrified by them, then the Rose-haired Tarantula Grammostola rosea may be the perfect pet for you! These are one of the most popular spiders kept as pets and they are also one of the hardiest!

Other names the Rose-haired Tarantula commonly goes by include the Chilean Rose Tarantula and the Chilean Rose-haired Tarantula. Part of the reason they are so popular in the pet spider world is because they are very gentle and tame. They are easy to care for and females can live up to 20 years! (Males only live to about 6 years). This makes them ideal as pets and also a good candidate for science projects. They are easy to hold and reach about 5 inches when full grown. They are fairly cheap in price and are available at almost any pet store or online.

These tarantulas originate in Chile in the Atacama Desert. This desert is one of the driest in the world – hence why these guys are so durable! They were first “discovered” in 1837 by Walckenaer. They are called “rose” because of their color. Black or dark tan is their base color, with reddish orange or pink long hairs covering their body. This gives them a rose colored hue.

The Rose-haired Tarantula has simple care and feeding requirements. They do not need a large environment, but would appreciate some plants and other decorations. They also like to hide in burrows and would be happy with a log or piece of wood that would allow them to retreat. The temperature should be around 78 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit with a humidity around 60 to 80%. Misting the plants in the cage on occasion can help keep the humidity at a comfortable level for them. In the wild these tarantulas eat a variety of insects. In captivity just make sure to provide them with live crickets or other insects once or twice a week. Take note, however, that these tarantulas should be kept alone. They are not compatible with any other pets and will eventually kill or be killed by any other housemate.

Tarantulas do molt their skin. This can be quite stressful for them, but if they are kept in a comfortable environment with enough humidity they usually have no problems with it and come out fine. A few weeks before the molting process begins they may stop eating and become lethargic. They will lay on their backs when the molting begins and the process usually doesn’t take too long. Within a day or so they will begin to harden again and are ready to eat again within a week or so.

Breeding Rose-haired Tarantulas in captivity is common and has been done for a long time. You can tell the difference between the sexes because males usually look “fuzzier” than the females and have longer legs. Females are also much stockier looking. The process of breeding is pretty straightforward. Once the male and female are ready to mate, simply introduce the male into the female’s enclosure. He will then fertilize the female. The males then generally die within a few weeks of mating. If the female was successfully fertilized she will produce an egg sac with around 500 eggs.

Rose-haired tarantulas very rarely have problems. As noted before, they are very hardy spiders. They may be more stressed out if held a lot or if moved to a new environment. If they show signs of stress (pacing, lethargic, not eating, etc.), try to provide more hiding places and leave them alone for a while to give them time to de-stress.

There is much more to learn about these spiders. If you would like to know more, check out Animal-World’s Rose-haired Tarantula 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 Convict Cichlid!

The Convict Cichlid

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

Of the aggressive freshwater fish people keep as pets, the Convict CichlidAmatitlania nigrofasciata is among the most popular. They are inexpensive and come in a variety of colors. They are also commonly called Zebra Cichlids. They are from Central America and are one of the smaller breeds.

Here are a few reasons Convict Cichlids are popular freshwater fish. They only reach 5 or 6 inches in length and are quite hardy. They require minimal care and are great for beginning aquarists. They can be kept in aquariums with several other “aggressive” fish as long as the other fish are not so big that they will swallow the convicts! They also have rambunctious little personalities and can hold their own against fish up to three times their size! Another plus is that they are very easy to breed for people who are looking into fish breeding!

The Convict Cichlid’s habitat in the wild is in Central America. They are found in rivers from Costa Rica to Guatemala and from Honduras to Panama. Specific rivers include the Guarumo River, the Tarcoles River, and the Aguan River. They live in shallow areas with lots of rocks and plants.

The care and feeding of the Convict Cichlid is pretty simple. They are omnivores and can be fed most vegetation (spirulina is a good choice) as well as worms and small pieces of beef heart. Feed them a few times a day with just a few small pinches. Once full grown, they should be kept in a minimum of a 50 gallon aquarium for a pair; a larger aquarium for any more than that. The temperature range is a comfortable 74 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Provide them with sand on the bottom and plenty of rocks and plants. They love to rearrange their “furniture”! Because these fish are aggressive, they should only be kept with other aggressive fish. Generally you will want these other fish to be larger than your convicts so that they don’t pick on them. You will also probably not want more than two convicts because they often will not get along with others of the same species.

If kept in a clean aquarium with a healthy diet, the Convict Cichlid will usually have minimal problems with fish diseases. One common problem among many freshwater fish is Ich. Ich looks like little white dots covering your fish. It is generally easily treated by raising the water temperature up to 86 degrees for about 3 days or by using a copper based medication purchased from a pet store. Other diseases to watch out for include parasites, fungal infections, skin flukes, and bacterial infections.

The Convict Cichlid is one of the easier fish to breed in captivity. So if you are interested in breeding fish – you may want to start with them! Having a small group of convict cichlids will result in at least one pair by about the time they are a year old. When they are ready to mate they will do a little “dance” and then make an area to spawn in (usually in the sand or near rocks). The female lays around 20-40 eggs which the male will then fertilize. The male will protect the spawning area while the female directly “fans” the eggs. The young fry will hatch in 48 to 72 hours. Within a week they can swim freely and will start to eat crushed flake food. By three weeks old they can be fed regular flake food. Removing the fry from the parent tank after a few weeks is a good idea because the female may eventually try to eat the young.

If you are interested in more facts on these cichlids, please visit Animal-World’s Convict Cichlid 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 Eclectus Parrot!

August 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Catch All, Featured Pets, Pet Birds

The Eclectus Parrot

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

The Eclectus Parrot Eclectus roratus is one of the most beautiful and brilliant colored parrots! My primary experience with them was at the pet store I worked at, as well as visiting at various bird breeding facilities. We had several pairs come through the pet store and they for sure attracted quite a few people over to ooh and aah over them! One of the most interesting facts about them is that the males and females are different colors. The males basic colors are green on top with red on their bellies and under their wings. The females basic colors are red on top with purple or blue on their bellies and under their wings.

Although their colors alone make them desirable to look at, they also have several traits that make them good pets as well. They are very good talkers and have calm personalities. If they are well-socialized with humans while young, then they often become very affectionate and accepting of them as their companions. They tend to like quieter environments and become very attached to their cages and play areas. They also do very well with routines and are easy to care for because of this. These attributes make them ideal pets for older people or people without noisy children and/or lots of visitors. They become stressed easily if there is lots of noise or new routines every day.

The Eclectus Parrot originates in Australia, Maluki Islands, New Guinea, Soloman Island, and other Pacific Islands near Eastern Indonesia. It was described in 1776 by Muller. Only one species is currently in existence from the Eclectus genus and that is the Eclectus roratus. There has been fossils found of another species however, Eclectus infectus, which is extinct now. There are now 10 or more subspecies from the existing Eclectus roratus, and four of these can be found as pets.

The care and feeding of the Eclectus Parrot is mostly easy and straight-forward. Provide them with a hookbill bird seed mix and supplement with whatever fruits and vegetables you have on hand. The fruits and vegetables are a necessity because these foods are what provide them with most of their Vitamin A and fiber, which keeps their digestive track healthy. The two foods that should definitely be avoided are avocado and chocolate, which are poisonous to birds. A cuttle bone should be provided for them to chew on. This keeps their beaks trimmed down and is a good source of calcium for them. Provide them with fresh water daily as well, to keep them healthy. You may also want to provide a dish of water on the bottom of the cage so they can bathe.

Provide them with a large enough cage or aviary that they have plenty of room to move and climb around. They should be given several perches and toys and swings to play with/on. You will also want to take them out daily and have a separate play area. These parrots crave routine. They can become territorial over their certain “areas” as well. As I mentioned before, these birds are social and can become very attached to their human owners as well as to other companion birds. They are fairly easy to tame and handle. In general, the females are the more dominant of the sexes and can become more aggressive – especially near breeding time.

The Eclectus Parrot does not have any general health problems and usually remains healthy if well taken care of. Some signs of illness to look out for include wheezing, watery eyes, diarrhea, plucked or ruffled feathers, and extreme changes in their mood. If you see any of these, it is best to get them to a veterinarian to have them checked out.

These really are fascinating birds with their amazing colors and personalities! Check out more on the them on Animal-World’s Eclectus Parrot 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 American Guinea Pig

August 5, 2012 by  
Filed under Catch All, Featured Pets, Small Pets

The American Guinea Pig

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

The American Guinea Pig Cavia porcellus, or just Guinea Pig, is a popular small animal pet, for both adults and children. Guinea Pigs are another one of the pets that I had several of! I bred them for a time as well as had a few strictly for pets. I loved them! They are notorious for “not biting.” Meaning they very rarely bite (although they can!), which is a desirous trait, especially for a child’s pet.

Guinea Pigs are adorable, personable, and easy-to-care-for pets. They are easy to love and handle, are hardy, and can live 8 to 10 years in captivity. Most of them get along well with each other, as well. The American Guinea Pig is the most common breed of guinea pig, however there are several different varieties. They come in many sizes, colors and hair textures. Different hair styles include the silky coat, the rosette coat, and the skinny (hairless!) coat. Check out this Guinea Pig Care and Breeds page to learn more on the different types of guinea pigs.

I will start with some background on the American Guinea Pig. First, the name “guinea pig” is somewhat of a misnomer because they are not pigs, nor are they from Guinea! They are actually rodents! The American Guinea Pig was first noted as being domesticated around 5000 BC in the Andes Mountains and is the oldest known breed of guinea pig. In the sixteenth century different varieties started appearing as people began to selectively breed them. The American Guinea Pig is a short-hair variety and was initially called the English Guinea Pig. It became The American Guinea Pig in the 1960′s by the American Cavy Breeders Association.

Now onto their care and feeding. The majority of their diet should be vegetables, grains, and fruits. Guinea pig pellets, which can be purchased at most pet stores, are a good staple diet. Their bodies do not produce Vitamin C and so this vitamin must be provided by their diet. Many people mistakenly feed their guinea pig rabbit pellets – however do not make this mistake not because rabbit pellets do not have the nutrients necessary for guinea pigs. It is still a good idea to offer dark greens (kale, romaine lettuce, etc.) in addition to the pellets to ensure they are getting enough Vitamin C. Their teeth also grow constantly which dictates it necessary for them to be provided with pieces of wood or chew sticks from pet stores. Make sure to provide them with fresh clean water on a daily basis. American Guinea Pigs do not need to be groomed much at all compared to some of the other varieties, and that helps make their care that much easier.

Housing should be taken seriously as well. They need plenty of room to move about, plenty of ventilation inside their enclosure, and it should be easy to keep clean. Try to stay away from wood enclosures because they are much harder to clean and guinea pigs love to chew on wood. Guinea Pigs should be taken out of their cages for play time and interaction several times a week. When you pick them up to handle them make sure to support their whole body with your hands and not just their shoulders. This will help avoid injury. Most can also be housed together, as they are social creatures. You will, however, want to keep an eye on males to make sure they aren’t going to fight.

Health problems with guinea pigs are minimal and are generally caused directly be improper feeding and failure to keep their enclosures clean. Most of their ailments include respiratory infections, pneumonia, diarrhea, scurvy, and parasites.

Read more about American Guinea Pigs on Animal-World’s American Guinea Pig 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 Dalmation

July 1, 2012 by  
Filed under Catch All, Featured Pets, Pet Dogs

The Dalmatian

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

Have you ever seen the movie or heard the story of 101 Dalmatians? Most likely, the answer is yes! Almost everyone is familiar with it. The every day person probably has a love for Dalmatians simply because of the popularity of the story – I mean who couldn’t love a hyper and super cute white and black-spotted dog!

Dalmatians are actually a very old breed and are also known as a symbol for firemen. They have traditionally helped firemen fight fires and are very good at it due to their nature. These dogs have tons of energy, love people, are very playful, and are extremely intelligent. Because of this they can make very good companions for a variety of different people. As well as good fire dogs, they can also often make good guard dogs, hound dogs, carriage dogs, and war dogs! Other names the Dalmatian goes by include Firehouse Dog, Dalmatiner, Carriage Dog, and many others.

As for the history of this dog, it is not known for sure exactly where it originated. It is definitely a very old breed of dog, but whether or not the Dalmatian started out in Dalmatia, a section of Croatia, is debated. It has made appearances in ancient Egyptian art as well. They are a non-sporting dog breed with a very unique spotted coat. When they are born they are completely white, but as they grow they develop spots. These spots are often black, but can also be brindle, blue, or lemon colored. There are also several Dalmatian hybrids. Two popular ones are the Sharmatian (Dalmatian and Shar-Pei mix) and the Chimation (Dalmatian and Chihuahua mix).

The care and feeding of these dogs is what is expected of any dog, but should be taken seriously. Taking them to their regular annual check-ups and giving them their shots is a must in order to keep them at their best health-wise. Their diet should actually not be too heavy on protein because they are prone to urinary problems and too much protein can facilitate these. Dog foods that are mostly rice, poultry, and lamb are the best choice. Dalmatians can be kept both indoors and outdoors. However, if they are kept indoors they should be allowed out regularly to play and taken on walks because they are very energetic dogs. Also, they shed heavily twice a year, and so must be regularly brushed and the house should be vacuumed frequently. Baths should be infrequent.

Socially, these dogs make pretty good companions overall. They get along with most people, including children, as well as with other pets. Males (especially if not neutered) may be more aggressive towards other male dogs, so take caution if you have more than one male dog. Very small children may also not be the best companions for them because these dogs are so hyper.

The Dalmatian is quite intelligent, which makes them an ideal dog for obedience training, housebreaking, and learning tricks. This is why they are used for many important jobs such as firehouse dogs and guard dogs.

The two main health problems for these dogs are urinary problems and skin allergies. As I mentioned before, limiting protein and watching their diet can generally help with their urinary problems. They may still need medication however. If your Dalmatian develops skin problems, check out their living conditions and consult your veterinarian. Sometimes indoor carpet and furniture can contribute to skin allergies, so it is important to determine what is causing them. Deafness can also run in the family, so check for a family history of deafness before purchasing a particular dog.

Overall, Dalmatians are considered great pets! You should look for a reputable breeder before purchasing one and keep in mind that prices can vary greatly. Read more about these dogs on Animal-World’s Dalmatian page!

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

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