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

September 9, 2012 by  
Filed under All Posts, 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 American Guinea Pig

August 5, 2012 by  
Filed under All Posts, 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 Animal of the Week: The Jack Rabbit

April 8, 2012 by  
Filed under All Posts, Featured Pets, Small Pets

Saltwater Crocodile
Animal-World’s Featured Animal for this week is:
The Jack Rabbit!

Photo Wiki Commons
Courtesy user:pschemp
Licensed under Creative Commons ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.

I thought that an appropriate Featured Animal of the Week would be a Jack Rabbit – in the spirit of Easter! Jack Rabbits are not typically kept as pets, however they are widespread in their natural habitats. Many people probably associate a Jack Rabbit with the famous “Tortoise and Hare” tale, where the two animals race against each other. Ultimately the tortoise wins because he is “slow and steady,” whereas the hare uses all his energy up at the beginning of the race. Jack Rabbits are hares, meaning they do not build nests like other rabbits and their babies are born with all of their fur and eyes open. This is not the case with most rabbits. I am going to focus on the Black-tailed Jack Rabbit, scientific name Lepus californicus, because this one is the most common. The Black-tailed Jack Rabbit lives in the deserts of the 4 southwestern states and Northern Mexico. They are quite adaptable and can thrive in areas inhabited by humans as well.

These Jack Rabbits usually have a salt and pepper look with colors of brown and silver and very long brown ears. There is a black stripe going down the tail. Their long ears are to help regulate their temperatures by increasing or decreasing blood flow to them. This is helpful in the desert because of the very hot days and cold nights. They have a lifespan of approximately 1-5 years in the wild (somewhat longer in captivity) and breed prolifically. They usually have four to six litters a year, averaging 2-4 young, or leverets. The mother stops nursing them after 1 month of age. These babies reach sexual maturity by about 8 to 12 months of age and can start breeding soon after this. Males can reach up to 11 pounds and females can reach up to 13 pounds at maturity. Their lengths can reach 28 inches with 5 inch tails.

They have many natural enemies who will prey on them, including coyotes, foxes, hawks, snakes, bobcats, and even human hunters. Jack Rabbits are quite fast, reaching speeds of 36 miles per hour to escape predators. They can also leap about 20 feet into the air. These are just some of the many defensive tactics to help keep themselves safe. They prefer grasslands and large empty areas so they can spot enemies before the enemies spot them. They also spend most of their days crouched down with their ears flat against their backs which helps them to blend in. They mostly are active only at night as well.

Jack Rabbits are herbivores and eat only vegetables, fruits, herbs, grasses, leaves, and shrubs. They eat some of their poop as well, which helps them retain water and get the maximum moisture from their food. In this way they don’t have to drink much water, if any, at all. It is especially helpful in the desert where there often is not much water. Jack Rabbits are considered a problem in agricultural areas because they will snack on many crops and can make huge dents in them. Fences are put up to try and keep them out, however this often does not work and poison is used instead.

Although Jack Rabbits are not kept as pets, if you would like to read more about domestic pet rabbits, check out Animal-World’s World of Pet Rabbits!

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

Sources Used

http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/jackrabbit.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black-tailed_jackrabbit

http://www.desertusa.com/july96/du_rabbi.html

Banner Photo
Photo Wiki Commons
Courtesy Jim Harper
Licensed under Creative Commons Share Alike 2.5 Generic.

Animal-World’s Featured Pet of the Week: Polish Rabbits

January 22, 2012 by  
Filed under All Posts, Featured Pets, Small Pets

Polish Rabbits

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

Rabbits make the perfect pet for many people. There are so many different rabbit breeds which all have their own unique characteristics! This makes it easier to choose a rabbit that suits your particular needs and wants. I personally have had several Polish Rabbits, and I enjoyed them very much! They have one of the sweetest dispositions I have come across in all of my rabbits! One of their greatest attributes is that they are one of the smallest rabbit breeds out there (along with Netherland Dwarf Rabbits). This gives them the advantage of not needing as much living space. They can be kept in smaller areas and are better for apartment dwellers. They don’t need as much play room and are easier to pick up and handle than larger rabbits.

There actually are two different types of Polish Rabbits. They are the American Polish Rabbit and the British Polish Rabbit or the Brittania Petite. The British Polish Rabbit is the smaller of these two, with weights only reaching 2 ½ pounds! The American Polish Rabbit can reach 3 ½ pounds. However these are both very small rabbits! The British Polish Rabbit can come in many colors, however in the United States, the only color recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association is white with red eyes. The American Polish Rabbit has many more recognized colors, including chocolate, black, and blue with matching colored eyes, as well as white with either red or blue eyes.

Polish Rabbits have some other intriguing attributes. They are considered to be quite smart and can learn some simple tricks! This is mostly them learning to react to certain hand signals and voice commands by working with them repetitiously. These little rabbits also have great dispositions, making them ideal pets for young children – in fact they often love being pet by them! Their small size makes it easier for children to handle as well.

A little background on the Polish Rabbits. The British Polish Rabbit was first recognized as a breed in 1884 in Hull, Yorkshire. They were so small that they were the first rabbits considered “dwarf” rabbits. The American Polish Rabbits are descended from the British Polish Rabbits but are mixed with some other breeds of rabbit – such as the Netherland Dwarf Rabbit – which has caused them to be a little bigger than the British Polish Rabbits. Also, when you think of magicians pulling rabbits out of their hats, guess which rabbits are most commonly used?! Yes – the Polish Rabbits! Their size and disposition make them the perfect candidate!

Polish Rabbits can thrive if given basic rabbit care. This includes the proper diet, housing, and interaction. A proper diet includes grass hay, green vegetables, and cecotropes (which their digestive systems produce and come out as droppings, which they then consume). I would recommend buying a good commercially prepared rabbit pellet and giving them that along with some fresh green foods (fruits and vegetables) daily. As always, make sure they have access to clean, fresh water daily. Proper housing should include a cage large enough for the rabbit to have some maneuvering room. Give them daily access to an “exercise area” which could be run of the house for a few hours or a safe area prepared for them outside. Make sure to change the bedding regularly (a couple times a week) to keep them healthy. Remember to remove any uneaten green foods each day as well.

Rabbits in general are fairly hardy animals, however you do want to make sure to keep their cages clean. Ensure a proper diet and the correct housing environments to safeguard against them becoming sick. They can get respiratory illnesses, diarrhea, teeth problems, and many other illnesses if not taken care of properly.

Again, Polish Rabbits make great small pet rabbits and if you would like to read more about them and their care, please check out Animal-World’s Polish Rabbit page! Thank you!

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

Animal-World’s Featured Pet of The Week – Pet Gerbils

November 6, 2011 by  
Filed under All Posts, Featured Pets, Small Pets

Gerbils

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

Gerbils are a fairly well-known small pet – particularly for children. Often considered “pocket pets” due to their size, pet gerbils are very friendly, quiet, and clean little animals! Most people believe they make even better pets than other small animals such as hamsters, mice, and rats. Gerbils do not have the same reputation as hamsters do when it comes to biting. Pet gerbils very rarely bite! And many people prefer gerbils over mice and rats because they have furry tails, rather than scaly naked tails. Another plus of these little creatures over other rodents is that they are much less prone to some respiratory illnesses. Gerbils are illegal in some areas, such as in the state of California, because of the fear that if they escape they could be a hazard to crops due to their very fast breeding times.

There are many, many different types of gerbils throughout Africa and Asia. However, the type that has become popular as a pet in the United States and Europe is specifically the Mongolian gerbil from Eastern Mongolia. They were first discovered in 1867 and brought into captivity for the sole purpose of using them as laboratory animals. It wasn’t until the 1960’s that they started to become widely available as pets.

Pet gerbils can live 3 to 4 years – which is longer than most mice, rats, and hamsters. They are easy to care for and demand little of your time. They should be housed with at least one other gerbil because they are very social creatures. They must have another companion of their kind to thrive and not become lonely, and humans don’t fit this bill. They will become quite friendly with a human friend, but require other gerbils as well.

Because of their small size, they don’t need a huge enclosure, but their space should be large enough that they can run around and get plenty of exercise. Providing them with a bedding that they can burrow in and toys they can climb on will also help keep them healthy and happy.

Of course they should have clean water everyday as well as fresh food. Pellets or a small animal food mix bought in a pet store should be sufficient and include all of their needed nutrients. Giving small amounts of fresh vegetables and a little fruit occasionally is good for their diet and also a nice change for their pallets. Because their teeth continually grow throughout their lives, they need things to chew on. Offering them chew sticks and other toys meant to chew on will help keep their teeth in shape.

Gerbils make excellent pets for children for several reasons. First of course, is that they are easy to care for and don’t have many specialized needs – which makes it easier for a child to take on the responsibility of their care. They also are diurnal, meaning they sleep at night. This makes them awake and available to play during the day when kids have the time! Because of their sweet nature and reputation as non-biters, they are generally easy to handle and will tame down as they get to know a child.

Pet gerbils are very hardy animals and very rarely become sick. When they do become sick, it is often due to lack of care and not keeping their environment clean. As I stated earlier, they are much less prone to respiratory illnesses than can often kill mice and rats. Some illnesses to watch out for would be external parasites (particularly if their cage is not cleaned very often), hair loss, and fungal infections. If you do notice your pet becoming ill, make sure to completely clean out their cage and food/water dishes. If it continues to get worse you may want to consult a veterinarian.

If you would like to learn more about gerbils as pets, check out Animal-World’s page on Pet Gerbils!

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

How to Care for your Pet Rabbit

September 28, 2011 by  
Filed under All Posts, Small Pets

Caring For Your Rabbit

Rabbits are cute and fuzzy but require a lot of care. Whether you plan on keeping them inside with the family or outside in a hutch, know how to make them a happy addition to the group.

Choosing your Rabbit

Any potential rabbit owner needs to look beyond the fuzzy fur and look closely at the animal before purchasing him. Look for obvious signs of illness like bald patches, runny or rheumy eyes, discharge in the ears, fecal matter in the hind fur and problems walking. Also, look at teeth to be sure they are even and not overgrown.

If you don’t plan on breeding then buy same sex rabbits to share the same hutch. Mixing will undoubtedly result in a bunch of little baby bunnies running around.

The Rabbit Cage

A rabbit needs a suitable place to stay. The cage or hutch needs to be large enough for them to move around and get exercise. Also, they need a place to burrow and eat and also to do their business. If you use an outside hutch, make sure that the rabbits are well-protected from the elements should it rain, snow or get too hot outdoors. You may consider having a space in the garage where you can bring the hutch inside in inclement weather.

Cleaning is not fun but it is a necessary evil. On a daily basis, remove any soiled hay from their cage. Half eaten fresh food should also be removed before it rots. Inspect water bottles or bowls and change water daily.

Check litter boxes daily. If you have more than one rabbit, you may definitely need to empty it each day. Litter training your rabbits will make cleaning easier throughout the life of your pet. You will still need to make a habit of regular cleaning to avoid their strong urine smell and your rabbit getting sick.

Feeding your Rabbit

Bugs Bunny might only eat carrots but your bunny will need a bit more. Rabbits can eat pellets that are commercially sold but need fresh vegetables to supplement their diet. Choose a variety of greens (mustard, kale, dandelion, turnip and spinach). Avoid rhubarb, iceberg lettuce, potatoes, beans and cauliflower.

Hay is also a good source of roughage for their diets. Choose grass hays like oat. Alfalfa is a good nutritious hay for baby bunnies. When they are older, you can switch to other grass hays.

Fresh fruit can be given as a treat but not too often. Try one or two tablespoons a day. Commercial treats are not necessary to their diet and can make them overweight.

Rabbits love the company of their families even if they don’t like to be picked up much. Learn to care properly for your rabbit so they can enjoy a long healthy and happy life.

For general rabbit care, check out Animal-World’s Rabbit Care page!

Purchasing a Hedgehog

September 21, 2011 by  
Filed under All Posts, Small Pets

African Hedgehog

Pet Ownership: Purchasing a Hedgehog

They look cute on the cartoon and quite harmless. We are speaking of hedgehogs. They are not your traditional pet so make sure that you do some research before you buy one as a pet.

Hedgehogs are becoming more popular as pets these days. They are small animals that have pointed noses and whose skin is covered in quills. They remind people of porcupines only more compact.

Even though they are small, owning one is not a walk in the park. Here are several tips that can help you know before you buy if a hedgehog will make a good pet for your lifestyle and family situation.

What to Know before Buying a Hedgehog

1. Check the Laws – Know the laws. Hedgehogs may not be allowed as pets inside city limits in all areas. If they are allowed, you may need a special permit. Don’t get your heart set on one until you know that it is a possibility.
2. Hedgehogs are solitary animals – This means that they don’t get along well with other animals sharing their space, especially another hedgehog. Putting two together can be disastrous as they will fight.
3. Hedgehog females can breed early – As early as eight weeks a female can have a litter. It is best for them to wait until they are at least five months of age.
4. Know how to house them – Besides being alone, hedgehogs need a solid walled cage that they can exist in. An aquarium can work or you can build a habitat for them. When you first bring your hedgehog home, it is important to let him stay in his cage so he can become familiar with the surroundings. Hedgehogs also need very warm temperatures to feel comfortable (75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit). If they become too cool it can induce a partial hibernation state which can be deadly for your pet.
5. Know how to feed and entertain them – They can play with plastic toys made for dogs or even blocks of wood or flowerpots. It is good to create a habitat with hiding places so they can slip out of view. Also, they eat vegetables, some fruit, insects, worms and also foods of other animals such as cats and dogs. Don’t feed them too much or weight will become a problem. Hedgehogs need regular exercise. They can get them by themselves but will welcome you to play with them if you do so consistently.
6. Know how to care for them – Hedgehogs need to have their quills cleaned. Also be careful if they are losing too many quills outside of the times when they shed them naturally. It could be a sign that they are sick or are not getting enough nutrients in their diet. Their habitat needs regular cleaning and daily litter box changes. They also don’t like too much noise at all.

If you want a hedgehog as a pet, go into it with your eyes open. They are small but delicate and need a lot of regular care.

How to Build a Hutch for your Pet Rabbit

September 9, 2011 by  
Filed under All Posts, Small Pets

Rabbits, as fuzzy and cuddly as they are, are not meant to roam freely around your home. Trust me, I’ve seen people who allow this and the results are awful. Chewed cords, chewed walls, and chewed shoes – not to mention the fact that it’s downright dangerous for the little guy. Instead, why not build your rabbit a home it can call its own? Build your own rabbit hutch.

Whether your rabbit is going to live outdoors or indoors the process of building a hutch is essentially the same. Your materials may differ slightly but the process of building it is the same.

The First Step – Choosing Your Dimensions

In general you want to make sure that your lovely rabbit has room to move around. Now of course some rabbits are much larger than others so the dimensions can vary. The size of your hutch will also likely depend on where you’re going to keep your rabbit.

If you’re building a hutch for a dwarf rabbit consider building a nice 24” by 24” cage. For larger rabbits consider starting with a 36” by 36” and at least 18” tall.

The Second Step – Your Materials

The next step is to decide what you’re going to build your hutch out of. You’ll need:

1. Mesh or chicken wire. Make sure the mesh is small enough that the rabbit’s foot cannot slide through and get stuck. You’ll use the mesh for the floor and for the door of the larger non-sleeping room so make sure to measure enough to cover the entire floor and to create a door.

2. Wood. Six pieces – to include the roof, four walls and center dividing wall for a two room hutch. You can use plywood, hardwoods or MDF.

3. Hinges for two doors and two door catches. (Note: you can make a hutch with one door if you’re making a large one room hutch. If you’re offering a separate, windowless room for sleeping, you’ll probably want a door on that side also in case you need to extract your rabbit when they’re in that space.
Note: If your rabbit is going to be outside you’ll want to elevate the hutch off of the ground. You can use small wood blocks nailed onto each corner of the hutch to do this. You can also use cement blocks or get fancy and build a table. (Take care to make sure that your structure cannot be blown or knocked over.)

4. Tools
Screwdriver or drill with screwdriver attachment
Screws
Staple Gun with large staples for fastening wire to wood.
Tape measure
Wire cutter
Saw – a hand saw may be enough but it’ll go more quickly if you have access to a table saw.

The Third Step – Assembly

If you’re making a two room hutch you’ll need to cut a passageway into the room divider. This makes it possible for the rabbit to enter the sleeping area. Cut the wood to size depending on your desired dimensions.

Fasten wood together, leaving the roof for last. You’ll want to make sure your screws do not pop through the wood and leave sharp points. Before placing the rooftop on attach the mesh floor. Bend the mesh into shape and staple it to the outside of the hutch. This will ensure there are no sharp points. Attach the roof. Cut out the center of your larger room’s door so you have a frame. Staple the mesh to the frame on the outside. Add the hinges to the door and attach to your hutch.

Voila! You’re done. Your rabbit now has a happy home where it can rest, get plenty of fresh air and stay safe from household hazards. You can also place food and bedding in the hutch to ensure ultimate comfort.

To read more on rabbit care, take a look at the Rabbits as Pets page!

Featured Pet of the Week – Mini Lop Rabbits

August 28, 2011 by  
Filed under All Posts, Featured Pets, Small Pets

Mini Lop Rabbits

The Featured Pet for this week is: The Mini Lop Rabbit!

I personally really love rabbits as pets – with lops being my favorite! Mini Lops are quite cute with their long floppy ears, and in my experience, if they are handled regularly they tend to be very affectionate and sweet. I had several types of rabbits growing up, including mini lops, and I bred them for some time as well. They are smaller than a typical regular rabbit which makes them a little less awkward to pick up, and due to their gentle nature they can be good kid pets.

Some other perks to the mini lop rabbit are that once they are adapted to their owners and families, they become quite playful and are sometimes considered to being akin to a pet dog. They also can be litter-box trained if enough time and dedication is spent working with them!

The Mini Lop is related to the regular Lop-eared Rabbit and was bred to be a miniaturized version of it. They were originally derived from the German lops, however the Mini Lop that is in the United States is believed to have been developed from several varieties of lops. They were first recognized in the United States as a their own breed in 1982, however they are still not recognized in England.

Mini Lops are a breed that is fairly popular for rabbit shows because they are recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association, Inc. (ARBA) and the Mini Lop Rabbit Club of America. They come in a range of colors, with the following color and pattern groups being officially recognized at shows: Agouti (chinchilla, chestnut, opal); Broken (white with colored spots); Ticked (steel gene and ticking); Self group, white pointed (solid color with no ticking); Shaded (shaded markings with colors); and Wide Band (cream, orange, red, and fawn).

Here I will include some general guidelines on how to select and keep a healthy mini lop! When first purchasing your rabbit, try to get a younger one – between 2 to 3 months old – because that is an ideal age to start the training and handling process to get your rabbit used to you. Look for healthy signs – such as an alert rabbit with no matted fur, healthy eyes with no drainage, and hard and dry stools. If you want to get more than one rabbit, you will most likely want to choose 2 females because 2 males will have have a tendency to fight.

Your Mini Lop will be it’s healthiest and live the longest if provided with the correct foods and nutrients, as well as fresh water daily (through a water bottle ideally). Their basic diet should consist of grass hay and green foods. You can buy commercially prepared rabbit pellets which should contain the correct nutrients, however you will want to offer them fresh green foods daily as well. This includes romaine lettuce, cabbage, celery, broccoli, and most other greens.

Mini Lops need lots of exercise, so you will want to make sure they have an enclosure that is big enough for them to run around in or make sure they get enough time outside of their cage each day. If you choose to house your rabbit outdoors, make sure that they have shelter from the elements and/or are allowed indoors during extreme temperatures (80’s and above and very cold temperatures). Make sure to clean out their cage or hutch at least twice a week. This will ensure that your Mini Lop is happy, healthy, and a joy to be around!

If you would like to learn more about Mini Lops in general check out the Mini Lop Rabbits page!

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

Class Pet Showcase: Hamster

August 26, 2011 by  
Filed under All Posts, Small Pets

Hamsters

Hamsters are among the most popular rodents kept as pets. Their small size makes them ideal for small spaces, and they are reasonably easy to care for. Each one has a unique personality, and they are lots of fun to watch and interact with. These attributes make them good candidates for classroom pets.

The breeding of hamsters is a fairly recent achievement. They weren’t successfully bred and domesticated until 1930. But today there are numerous hamster breeds available, including dwarf hamsters, striped hamsters, long-haired Angora hamsters and golden hamsters. Depending on the breed, adult hamsters may measure anywhere from 2 to 13 inches in length. Most, however, grow to approximately 5 to 7 inches long. The life span is generally 2 to 5 years.

Hamsters are omnivores, and they will eat everything from insects to nuts to fruits and vegetables. Captive hamsters do well on a diet of commercial hamster food, but they may also be given treats. They hoard food, and can often be seen carrying food in the large pouches located in their cheeks. They also do a lot of gnawing to wear down their front teeth, which never stop growing.

Hamsters are nocturnal animals. That means they will spend most of the school day sleeping. However, most do not mind being awoken for play and lessons. This is also good because they rarely cause a disruption during class. However, it is important to make sure that the hamster receives attention during its regular waking hours, and that may mean taking it home with you at night or allowing students to keep it over the weekend.

A class hamster may be kept in a wire or plastic cage or a 10-gallon or larger tank. Solid habitats provide the advantage of keeping substrate inside, making for much less mess. The bottom of the cage should be covered with pine or cedar chips. The hamster will also need a wheel, a water bottle, and a sturdy food dish and some toys to chew on. The cage should be cleaned and disinfected once a week.
Hamsters provide endless learning opportunities for students. Kids especially enjoy rubbing food along paths to create scent trails and watch hamsters follow them. You can find lots of hamster lesson plans online, and it’s also easy to create your own.

The biggest issue with hamsters as class pets is biting. Some hamsters bite frequently, others occasionally, and others rarely. It may be a good idea to keep a hamster at home to see how tolerant it is to handling before bringing it to the classroom, but be prepared to keep it as your own pet if you find that you’re not willing to expose it to your students. It’s also wise to keep only one hamster and purchase it while still young due to the risk of having a litter of baby hamsters to contend with.

Hamsters are educational pets that generally do well with children. Hamster allergies are rare, and they’re lots of fun for kids to play with. If you’re looking for a classroom pet that’s easy to care for and doesn’t take up a lot of space, a hamster is a fine choice.

If you would like to learn more about hamster care in general, check out the Hamster page!

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