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  1. Chinchillas have a perky, curious personality similar to a park squirrel and are very low maintenance. They require a lot deal of attention and can actually bond and become very attached to its owner. While they make terrific pets, chinchillas are not ideal for kids because if little hands squeeze them too tight, they will bite. Characteristics Chinchillas have plush, silky fur that’s pleasant to the touch, no odor unlike other rodents, and they don’t make any annoying noises though they are very vocal. On the flip side, they can be high anxiety and they don’t have a great attention span. In addition, they don’t do well in hot (above 78 degrees) or humid (above 40 percent) weather. Chinchillas have rounded ears and their eyes are situated on either side of a broad head. The fur is often gray, but it can appear as beige, tan, black or white. Adult females weigh about one and a half pounds, slighter heavier than males, and can be up to a foot long. They boast a very long life span for a rodent and can live 12 to 20 years. Females also have an incredibly long pregnancy: 111 days! Here are some cute and quirky names for your chinchilla. Exotic Pet Name Ideas for Your Chinchilla A-B Ajay (from Andes Jr.) Andes Ashes Avalanche Avalon Avatar Baja Bandit Barnaby Basil Baxter Big Daddy Big Mama Blossom Bongo BooBoo Boris Bubbles Bucket Buckles C-D Camomile Charity Charlie Chaz Cheech Cheerio Chella Cherry Cherub Chewy Chicha ChiChi Chile Chili Chilli Chinchi Chingy Chochee (pronounced cho-chee) Chokotah (Chok for short) Chubbs Church Cicero Coolio Cutie Cuzco Cyclone Dachi (pronounced Duh-chee) Daquiri Davon Dazie Chilla Deliah Drifter Dusty Dylan E-K EJ (short for Eric And Joe) Eve Felix Flint Fluff Puff Fluffy Fox Furby George Ghost Girdy Gizmo Gretzky Grey Harriet Herman Horsepower Indiana Indiana Stone (Indie for short) Jiggly Puff (Jigz for short) Kassy Kitoby Kitty Kiwi (Key for short) Kunzite (nickname: The Chin Man) L-N Lord Stanley LucyBelle Madagasca Magoo (short for Mr. Magoo or his full name Houdini Buddy Magoo) Manilla Manzana Marlo Meringue Milo Miracle Missy Misty Mogwia Mohady Moonlight Morris Mr. Chili Mr. French Muggwye Musti Nibbles Ninya Noel O-R Ollie Oriel Oscar Ozzy Panca Pepper Petal Phoebe Pikachu Princess Prozac Puffin Quechua (pronounced Qeechua) Quena Raggedy Anne Rambo Ringo Roca Mu Chocka (Roca for short) Rocket Rocky Ronoke (pronounced row-noke; Nokie for short) Roo Roosevelt (Rosey for short) Roxy Ruby S-T Sammy (short for Usama) Sancho Savannah Semolina Shawna Shirley Shuga Silver Sisi Skitter Snidjer, Snidj for short (Pronounced Sniger / Snig) Sparky Speckles Speedy Splinter (a.k.a. bob) Squeek Star Stitch Stumpy Surf Tamale Tequi (pronounced Tee-Kee, short for Tequila) Theo Toby Torg Twister Twynky (nicknames include BooBoo, Fluff Puff, Cutie and Princess) V-Z Vinny Webster Willow Zazu Zeus Zoe Zorro Also, see the alphabetical list of all names. There are some names for pairs of animals, too. Want to share your chinchillas’ names? Add them to the comments section on this post about chinchilla names, and they will be added to this list as well.
  2. Chinchillas are very sensitive rodents and often come down with ileus, also known as gastrointestinal stasis. If something is going wrong in a chinchilla’s body, their intestines, or guts, will typically be the first things affected. It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of ileus so that you can act fast if you chinchilla gets sick. What is Ileus? When the intestines of a chinchilla stop moving the normal ingesta through the colon and out through the rectum, it is called ileus, or gastrointestinal stasis. A chinchilla should always be eating and pooping but when they stop doing one or both normal things, the bacteria inside the intestines start producing excessive gas. This large amount of gas is painful (you should know if you’ve ever had bad gas!) and prevents your chin from wanting to eat more. Since chinchillas cannot vomit we need to help them work the gas, and whatever food that may remain inside, out of their bodies using medications and stimulation. Medications Used for Ileus Your exotics vet may have a combination of drugs that work for them or they may want to try a few different things. Regardless of what specific medication that is prescribed there are usually certain types of drugs that work well to relieve the symptoms of ileus. Gut motility drugs, such as metoclopramide (Reglan) or cisapride are usually prescribed along with a pain medication. Drugs to decrease the amount of gas, such as simethicone (Gas-X), are sometimes recommended, as well as probiotics and other medications. Force feeding if your rabbit isn’t eating is a must since food needs to be put in to get poops coming out. Food to Feed for Ileus Oxbow Critical Care is a popular and effective choice for rabbits with ileus. It is more nutritionally complete than other similar products and chinchillas typically like it. It is fed using a syringe and comes in two flavors, anise (the original flavor) and an apple-banana flavor. It is a powdered hay formula that you add water to so it can be pushed through a syringe. If your rabbit won’t take Critical Care or you do not have access to any, ground up chinchilla pellets mixed with water, or mixed vegetable baby food (without potato or starch in it) are alternatives. Your vet will tell you how much food you should syringe feed your chin but it will probably be about 10-20 ml’s twice a day or so. If your chin is eating a little on his own you should syringe feed less to encourage him to continue eating without assistance. What Should a Chinchilla Eat To Prevent Ileus? Chinchillas should eat a pile of grass hay (timothy, orchard, Bermuda, etc.) the size of their body a day (if not more). Alfalfa hay is too high in calcium to offer as the sole hay source but offering it mixed in with the grass hay is fine. Chinchilla pellets are the least important part of a pet chinchilla’s diet. A pet chinchilla can get one to two tablespoons of pellets daily, no more. Fruit is considered a treat but also isn’t really recommended and broccoli, cauliflower, and other gas-forming vegetables should especially be avoided. Exercise and Ileus A chinchilla who may have ileus should also be encouraged to exercise. Create ample and safe space for your chin to run around in or at the very least, massage your chin’s belly to encourage his guts to move food through. Other Diseases with Ileus Your chinchilla may have another medical reason for why he is not eating or pooping. His teeth may be overgrown, he may have a bladder stone, or he may just be stressed out. I’ve even seen chinchillas have hernias and ileus at the same time. It is important to diagnose the reason why your chinchilla has ileus and not just treat the ileus, otherwise, it may just happen again or the ileus may not go away. If you start seeing small stools don’t stop your efforts! Until your chinchilla is eating and pooping normally you should treat him as an ileus case. With quick action and proper treatment, your chinchilla will be back to normal in no time at all. Ileus can be deadly if left untreated so within 24 hours of your chinchilla not eating or pooping you should be starting treatment. If you can’t get into an exotics vet in that time frame, start by syringe feeding (mixed vegetable baby food or Critical Care) and offering water in a dish or by syringe.
  3. Chinchillas have very sensitive digestive systems, so feeding a good quality diet appropriate for chinchillas is essential to their health. In the wild, chinchillas are naturally adapted to eating a diet of vegetation that is high in roughage. They are not designed for rich or fatty diets and such diets can easily cause serious digestive upsets. Instead, feed your chinchilla quality chinchilla pellets supplemented with plenty of fresh grass hay. Chinchilla Food Options Pelleted diets are better than a mixture of loose items. Loose mixes may be nutritionally balanced while in the bag but only if your chinchilla eats all of the parts of the mix. Chinchilla Nutrition Look for a pelleted, formulated diet specifically for chinchillas that is 16-20% protein, low in fat (2-5%), and high in fiber (15-35%). If it is impossible for you to get a good quality chinchilla diet, many experts suggest substituting a good rabbit or guinea pig pellet with similar characteristics but this should only be done temporarily and in emergency situations. Online stores should be utilized if your local pet store does not carry a quality chinchilla formula. Chinchillas have specific dietary requirements that are different than other rodents and their health will suffer if they are not fed a quality, chinchilla specific food. If you choose to feed a loose item mixture (with pellets, seeds, corn etc.), keep in mind that there is concern that feeding corn can cause digestive upset and bloating, but many chinchilla foods contain corn as an ingredient. Scientifically speaking, little is understood about the ideal chinchilla diet beyond the need for lots of roughage. Since corn is starchy and likely largely indigestible for chinchillas, whole corn should be avoided as a treat or the main part of a diet. How much do chinchillas eat? Most chinchillas will eat one to two tablespoons of pellets a day. While they are not prone to overeating, for freshness it is a good idea to feed a small number of pellets at a time. Feeding a tablespoon in the morning and again in the evening seems to work well, but can be adjusted as needed. Some people just feed a couple of tablespoons in the evening. Try to be consistent whatever you choose to do, as chinchillas like routine. A small food hopper or heavy ceramic dish is the best way to keep the food from getting dumped or soiled. Chinchilla Hay Even when you choose a high fiber pelleted diet, it must still be supplemented with hay to ensure your chinchilla gets plenty of roughage (fiber). This roughage in hay helps keep teeth in good condition and the digestive system functioning properly. Feed as much good quality grass hay (orchard, timothy, etc.) as your chinchilla wants each day. Hay should be cleaned out and fed fresh on a daily basis to keep it from becoming soiled or moldy. Pressed cubes of hay can be given, but it is recommended to still feed loose hay, as it has long strand fiber. Alfalfa hay should not be fed exclusively to most adult chinchillas. Alfalfa is high in protein, calcium, and oxalates, and too much could possibly lead to urinary and other problems. Don’t feed any hay that is damp, smells musty, or is discolored, regardless of what kind it is. Chinchilla Treats Chinchillas should be given very little in the way of treats (never more than a teaspoon a day). Raisins and dried fruit are favorites but are also high in sugar so they should be fed in very small quantities and infrequently. Try not to feed more than 3 or 4 raisins per week. Rose hips are another recommended treat as they are high in vitamin C and other nutrients. Most commercial treats for chinchillas will be too high in sugar and fat and are best avoided. Check with your vet if you are unsure about anything you are feeding your chinchilla. Though we don’t normally think of twigs and branches as anything special, your chinchilla will likely view them as a terrific treat. Twigs from apple trees and other safe trees can be given to your chinchilla. Make sure any wood you use has not been treated with pesticides and do not offer branches from toxic trees, including trees that have fruit with pits or stones, evergreen wood, and others.
  4. Chinchillas are a small rodent native to South America, found in rocky, arid areas in the mountains. They are perhaps best known for their incredibly soft, thick, luxurious fur. In the wild, this fur protects them from the elements, but in captivity, it makes them somewhat susceptible to overheating. This must be considered when deciding where to place your chinchilla in the house. A cooler, quiet area of your home is the best place to put a chinchilla cage. The Cage The larger the cage, the better. The minimum floor space is about 24 by 24 inches, and a tall cage is best; if possible, get a tall cage with shelves and ladders that allow the chinchilla to climb. Wire is the best cage material, and avoid plastic cages or accessories and chinchillas chew and destroy plastic readily. The tray can be lined with wood shavings (avoid cedar shavings, and hardwood shavings such as aspen are preferred over pine), or newspapers. Many chinchilla cages have a wire floor, which is nice for cleanliness but can be hard on chinchilla feet so are best avoided. Wire floors or shelves can be covered with wood to give the chinchilla’s feet a break. A nest box, made of wood, should also be provided. Where to Put the Cage The cage should be placed in a quiet area of the home where human activities won’t disturb (and stress) them during the day. The cage should also be located in a cool area (no drafts) and not exposed to direct sunlight which could cause overheating. Summertime temperatures must be monitored to make sure the ambient temperature is not much over 77 F (25 C). If you do not have air conditioning, placing a shallow pan of ice cubes in the cage may help, or drape a damp towel over part of the cage (the evaporation of water is cooling). Place the cage on a table or stand as this will help make the chinchilla feel secure (chinchillas can be intimidated if you must lean over the cage to interact with them). Water Bottles Glass water bottles are ideal because the chinchilla can’t chew through them. If you use plastic, encasing it or creating a barrier to it with wire mesh should reduce the risk of damage (you can also get commercial chew guards). For feeders, hopper style feeders that attach to the outside of the cage are nice because they can’t be tipped and the chinchilla won’t be able to urinate in their food. If a food bowl is used, it should be a heavy ceramic bowl to reduce tipping, and it must be cleaned daily. Toys Toys can be provided too – blocks of wood and tree branches (free of pesticides) are good chew toys. Some of the wooden parrot toys make good toys as well, as do the willow balls and rings that you can find for rabbits. It is important to provide toys that do not have small or plastic parts that could be ingested. In addition, a “chinchilla block” or pumice block can be provided for chewing and this will aid in keeping the teeth trim. Wheels Wheels can provide excellent exercise, although you may find that unless the chinchilla is introduced to the idea at a fairly young age it may not take to running on a wheel. Look for a 15-inch wheel (anything smaller will be too small for most adult chinchillas), with a solid running surface and an open side with no cross supports (wire wheels are dangerous to feet and tails). Some people also find the use of running discs like the Flying Saucer a good option for chinchillas. The risks of overheating make the use of plastic run about balls undesirable. Your chinchilla would much rather run around in a secure, chinchilla-proofed room. Resources about chinchilla cages: Setting up a Chinchilla Cage – a photo and description of a good sized, suitable chinchilla cage, from Etc. chinchillas. You may also want to visit their Chinchilla Yellow Page listing for cage suppliers.
  5. Many exotic pets are small and fragile critters with even smaller and more fragile bones, but chinchillas seem to be seen at animal hospitals pretty often for bone fractures. Read on to find out more about broken chinchilla legs. What is a Bone Fracture? A bone fracture is another way to say broken bone. There are different kinds of breaks and different degrees of severity. Compound fractures can be more severe since they are not just a broken bone. They also have a wound associated with the fracture, such as a hematoma, or the bone is protruding through the skin. Compound fractures are at a higher risk of getting infected than simple fractures. Simple fractures are just a broken bone with no skin wounds. These may be able to be fixed depending on where the break is located and how long it has been broken. Fractures can also be broken down into more specific types such as oblique, complete, compression, and others. How Did My Chinchilla Break A Leg? Ramps are the most commonly seen reasons for broken chinchilla legs. Tiny chinchilla legs tend to fall between the wire spacing on ramps when they hop on and off of them and they get stuck. The chinchilla then struggles and tries to break free from the ramp and a bone fracture results. Other reasons include being dropped, being stepped on, getting stuck elsewhere in the cage or hay hamper, or from being malnourished. If a chinchilla does not receive an appropriate diet his bones will become weak, brittle, and prone to fracturing. What Do I Do If I Think My Chinchilla Broke His Leg? Get him to your exotics vet as soon as possible! Although the fracture itself may not be an emergency, your chinchilla is in a lot of pain if he does have a broken leg and the stress his body goes through from the accident and the pain is enough to kill him. Even if the first vet you take him to cannot help you fix his leg ask for pain medications and anti-inflammatories to keep him comfortable while you get him more help. Your vet may be able to tell if the leg is broken without radiographs (x-rays) but a radiograph is the best way to see what and where it is broken exactly. It may need to be splinted or have surgery to place pins in it to hold it together until it heals. If the leg is unable to be repaired surgically, splinted, or is a break that is more than a few days old it will most likely need to be amputated. How Can I Prevent This From Happening? Make sure you are providing the proper chinchilla diet to keep his bones strong, remove anything that you could see him getting stuck in, such as a wire wheel, a hay hamper or hay ball, wire ramps, etc. Have children sit on the ground when handling chinchillas and make sure you and everyone in the house knows when your chinchilla is out of his cage so that they can pay extra attention to where they are stepping. Accidents happen and when they do you should not blame yourself. Plenty of chinchillas do well with only three legs or while they have a splint or bandage on their leg and they will be back to jumping around before you know it.
  6. Chinchillas are active curious creatures who need to chew on things in order to keep their teeth in good condition. By providing them with a variety of toys you can help keep them active and healthy. Dust Bath Just a quick note about dust baths: these are absolutely vital for keeping your chinchilla healthy. The Need to Chew Like other rodents, chinchillas have teeth that grow continuously over the whole lifespan. The teeth are kept trim and in good condition by gnawing and chewing on things, so this is a natural and necessary activity for pet chinchillas. Chinchillas often favor a variety of branches for chewing, such as willow, apple, poplar, and aspen tree branches. Avoid branches from cherry, citrus fruit trees, redwood, cedar, and other evergreen trees (see more information about safe and toxic wood). You can also provide a variety of wooden toys (should be of untreated wood) such as the wooden chew toys often sold in the rodent sections of pet stores, or rope and wood toys found in the parrot section. Manzanita branches (check the bird section of the store as these are sold as perches) are also good for chewing, and some chinchillas will chew on pumice stones or mineral blocks too. Climbing Chinchillas are very agile and love to climb, so be creative with their cage providing lots of sitting platforms of different heights in the cage, as well as ladders, blocks, and platforms for climbing. Also, sturdy branches make a good addition to the cage for climbing (as well as chewing). Arrange the cage furnishings so that they are sturdy and won’t shift or fall when the chinchilla climbs on them. Wheels Many chinchillas will use exercise wheels. They should be large (e.g. 15-inch) and have a solid surface with no spokes (e.g. the solid sided type that attaches to a cage wall – unlike the one shown in the picture on the right), such as the Leo Braun Exercise Wheel. Another excellent option is the unique Flying Saucer style. The large enclosed balls for running about outside the cage should be used with caution, as they are a bit low on ventilation and chinchillas could overheat. If you choose one of these, only allow your chinchilla to spend short periods in it at a time, and avoid its use if your house is warmer than usual in summer. Hiding Chinchillas appreciate a secure place to hide. Commercial rodent (e.g. guinea pig) houses can be used, as can such things as PVC pipes, clay pipes, clay pots etc. Even cardboard boxes can be used, although they will likely be chewed up and need to be replaced. PVC pipe can also be used in longer lengths as a combination hide and tunnel for play. Outside the Cage Perhaps the favorite activity of chinchillas is simply exploring the environment outside the cage. This provides a wonderful opportunity for exercise and stimulation, although you will want your chinchilla to be fairly tame and used to being handled before attempting this. The last thing you want is to stress your chinchilla by chasing it when it is time to go back to the cage! Remember, though, that playtime outside the cage is also a potentially dangerous time for your pet. Chinchillas are curious, and many things are investigated by biting into them to see if they are edible. The natural curiosity of chinchillas means that you should have a room that is thoroughly chinchilla-proofed before allowing time outside the cage, and close supervision is necessary.
  7. Are you thinking about getting a pet hamster for you or a child? Be prepared with knowing how to choose a hamster, what supplies you need, and how to feed and care for your new pet. Before you go to the pet store, learn how to provide a good home for a happy and healthy hamster. 01 of 07 Choosing a Pet Hamster Hamsters are popular pets for children. They are small rodents that typically live about two years and are usually best if housed alone. Hamsters come in a variety of colors and breeds. Different breeds are known for distinctive traits. Learn about the choices before picking one out to take home: Chinese Hamsters: These small hamsters are not as common as other kinds of hamsters. Many people often mistake them for dwarf hamsters. Dwarf Hamsters: There are several varieties of dwarf hamsters, such as Roborovskis and Russians, and they’re similar to Chinese hamsters. Syrian Hamsters: Syrian hamsters come in several color variations and go by different names, such as goldens and teddy bears. 02 of 07 Make Sure the Hamster You Choose Is Healthy Not every hamster in the pet store is of optimal health. Moving from supplier to store to a new home can be a stressful period for baby hamsters, and they will often get sick from it. Learn how to choose a healthy hamster and what to watch for after you take it home. Young hamsters are best for taming since they will most likely be friendlier from the get-go. Choose an active hamster and one that doesn’t look like he has a wet rear end or watery eyes. If a cage seems to have a few sick hamsters, it is probably best to avoid buying any hamster from that group since hamster diseases are very contagious. 03 of 07 Hamster Cages and Supplies There are many hamster cage options available online and at pet stores, but some cages are better than others. Several cages, for instance, the ones with all the tubes and colors, may look cool but aren’t very functional and are difficult to clean. A fish tank isn’t a good choice for hamsters to live in due to a lack of appropriate ventilation. You also have to take into consideration that smaller hamster breeds have different cage needs than the larger Syrian varieties. Regardless of what kind of hamster you choose, it’s a good idea to get your hamster cage all set up with bedding, a water bottle, a wheel, chew toys, and other necessities before bringing them home. 04 of 07 Hamster Diet Is that store-bought bag of seed mix really the best thing for your hamster? Probably not, because hamsters need a variety of other proteins, fruits, or vegetables to keep them healthy and happy. Also, your hamster may pick and choose and not eat the full variety of seeds provided, resulting in an unbalanced diet. Instead, choose a pelleted diet and supplement it with a variety of other safe foods. 05 of 07 Taming Hamsters Does your hamster bite? Your child may not want to play with the hamster once bitten. You can learn how to combat biting by, for instance, not startling your hamster. Instead, entice it to climb onto your hand, and gaining its trust. Learn how to handle your hamster so both of you are happy. 06 of 07 Toys for Hamsters Hamsters need activities and enrichment to keep them happy and healthy. They also need chew toys to keep their teeth neat and trim. You can find a variety of hamster toys in pet stores, and other pet rodent toys often work great as hamster toys as well. You can even make some of your own toys. 07 of 07 Hamster Breeding Hamster breeding is not something the casual hamster owner should do. It is best left to hamster breeders who are breeding for specific qualities and temperaments. But accidents happen and sometimes, unknowingly, you end up with baby hamsters or a pregnant hamster. Learn a bit about hamster breeding, and see what you can expect with a pregnant hamster.
  8. There are a number of important factors that you should consider when deciding if a hamster is the right pet for you and your family. There are a number of varieties of hamsters and they tend to vary in characteristics and look, based on the variety. While all hamsters have around the same lifespan and require very similar care, be sure to choose the hamster (or hamsters) that is the best fit for you. Types of Hamsters These are the three most common types of hamsters that are typically for sale in pet stores. Different species of hamsters should never be kept together. Some hamsters are best as solitary pets and some are social and enjoy the company of others. If you choose to have multiple hamsters in one cage, be sure to determine the gender of the hamster and aim for only one gender. If you have mixed genders in one cage, you will likely have hamster babies soon. Syrian hamsters are the most common type kept as pets. These should be kept one to a cage (they will fight if kept together). They can be quite tame and easy to handle. Dwarf hamsters (Campbell’s and winter white Russian hamsters, Roborovski hamsters) are more social and are probably better kept with others of the same species, but they should be introduced as a pair at a young age. Fast and agile, they are a bit harder to handle. Chinese hamsters are similar in size to the dwarf hamsters but not a true dwarf hamster. Sometimes they get along with other Chinese hamsters, but often they do not. This type tends to be quite friendly but is also very quick and agile. Lifespan Different varieties of hamsters do have slightly different expected lifespans, however, all varieties seem to live for approximately 2 years. Syrian Hamster: 2 to 3 years Dwarf Campbells Russian Hamster: 1.5 to 2 years Dwarf Winter White Russian Hamster: 1.5 to 2 years Roborovski Hamster: 3 to 3.5 years Chinese Hamsters: 2.5 to 3 years Size and Habitat The different hamster varieties do have a quite significant physical size range. Be sure to understand how big your hamster is expected to grow and have a hamster habitat that is suitable for your size hamster. Syrian Hamster: 6-7 inches Dwarf Campbells Russian Hamster: 4 inches Dwarf Winter White Russian Hamster: 3.5-4 inches Roborovski Hamster: about 2 inches Chinese Hamsters: around 4 inches (10 cm) – and, unlike other hamsters, they have a noticeable tail as well. You will need to select a cage that is large enough, safe, and easy to clean. Unfortunately, standard cages you will find at the pet store are not “one size fits all” in regards to hamster varieties. A Syrian hamster will need a different type of cage than a Chinese hamster. As always, if you have any questions about the type of hamster and specific care needs, be sure to talk with people at a pet store or with your veterinarian.
  9. A surprise birth isn’t uncommon with hamsters since they are often incorrectly sexed and purchased as adults from a pet store. While it is best to make sure you get your hamster from a store that separates males from females at a young age to avoid surprises like this it isn’t always possible. Sometimes you’ll bring a hamster home from a store where they were housed with many other hamsters and they’ll already be pregnant without you even knowing it. You may be surprised to see a litter of baby hamsters that have suddenly appeared one day in your hamster’s cage and not know what to do with them. Make Your Hamster Feel Comfortable In order to help your hamster care for its new babies, you can place strips of toilet paper or facial tissues in the cage so there is soft, clean bedding material available for the nest. Ideally, you would do this once you realize your hamster is pregnant but it’s alright if you are unaware of the pregnancy. A pregnant hamster is usually pretty noticeable a couple of days before birth just by the sheer size of its abdomen. If you have just noticed your hamster is pregnant, do a thorough cleaning to prepare for the new arrivals. Once the babies have arrived don’t worry about cleaning the cage for a while. Leave it alone for the first 10-14 days. You can spot clean really wet spots if absolutely necessary but avoid disturbing the nest, mother, and babies. Feeding a Pregnant Hamster As soon as you notice your hamster is pregnant, make sure you are offering a high-quality hamster diet with lots of protein. This diet should be continued throughout the pregnancy and until the babies are weaned. In addition to a good quality diet, you can offer small amounts of hard-boiled egg, bits of cooked chicken, cheese, and wheat germ to give the mom a nutritional boost. Make sure it always has clean water as well. Separate Your Hamsters If your pregnant hamster lives with another hamster you may want to separate them. This will keep the babies safer and avoid any fighting between adults. It will also avoid another pregnancy in the future if you discover you have a male and a female hamster living together. Give Your Hamster Privacy It will be hard to resist, but don’t try to handle the babies at all for at least two weeks. You want to avoid getting your scent on the babies and unnecessarily moving them. If for some reason you must move a baby hamster, use a spoon so you do not get your scent on the baby. It is rare that you will need to move a baby though, even if they are out of the nest. The mother hamster will usually retrieve any stray pups and return them to the nest. Make feeding and watering time as efficient and calm as possible. Keep quiet when you are in and around the cage so you don’t stress your hamster out. It’s okay to have a quick peek in the cage on occasion but you should avoid sitting and watching the hamsters for long periods of time. Keep in mind that the mother hamster will be very protective so it may act more aggressive than usual towards you while you are in the cage. It may charge at your hand or stand on its hind legs if you get too close. This is natural and is not a cause for concern but you should still avoid getting bit and unnecessarily stressing your hamster out. Weaning the Baby Hamsters The baby hamsters will be ready to wean off of their mother at about three weeks of age. This is the best time to separate the males from the females if you have dwarf hamsters but Syrian hamsters can stay in these male and female groups for another two to three weeks. Young Mother Hamsters Unfortunately, if you purchased a pregnant hamster from the pet store it is probably quite young and may not have the best mothering abilities. Because of this, it may be more likely to abandon or even cannibalize its babies. If you notice your hamster isn’t attending to the nest or caring for the babies and they are less than 10 days old, it is unfortunately extremely difficult to save the babies.
  10. Hamsters, both dwarf and Syrian, are active creatures. They need a variety of toys and other items to provide them with opportunities for exercise, exploration and play. While they do appreciate time outside of the cage to explore in a hamster-safe environment, there are many things you can place inside the cage to provide exercise. Hamster Wheels and Balls Most hamsters make great use of a hamster wheel and your hamster’s cage should have one. It is important to make sure the wheel is the proper size and try to get a solid surface wheel to cut down on the risk of injuries. Run-Abouts are the clear plastic balls (several styles are available) in which you put your hamster in and let them run around on the floor without worry of them getting away from you. Both wheels and Run-Abouts are great ways to make sure your hamster gets enough exercise. Chew Toys for Hamsters Hamsters need a good supply of items and toys that they can gnaw on to keep their constantly growing teeth in good condition. Wooden pet chew toys are an ideal choice. Wood items not purchased from the pet store (stay away from cedar or other evergreen type woods) should be pesticide and chemical free. If you are unsure if a type of wood is safe it is probably best to stick with items made for pets. Pesticide-free fruit tree branches from your backyard or hardwood blocks or shapes that are not chemically treated are okay for your hamster. Willow balls, rings, and tunnels are also marketed for rabbits but and the smaller sized options are great for hamsters. In addition to wood chews, cardboard can be provided for chewing (and hiding). Hamsters also love cardboard tubes from paper towel and toilet paper rolls and there are now commercial tubes that are a bit sturdier and are said to be safe for chewing (e.g. Totally Chewbular Play Tubes and Critter Crunchy Chew Tube). Climbing and Housing Options for Hamsters There are a variety of climbers and houses/huts designed for hamsters and other small rodents. Wood ladders and climbing blocks are great for hamsters. If you can’t find wood ladders in the hamster section of your pet store, check the bird section. You can also use hardwood dowels and wood to make your own ramps and climbing structures. Coconut shells can also be used to create huts and houses. Organic ropes (hemp, sisal, cotton) can also be used to construct hanging toys, walkways, and bridges in the hamster cage. Extreme caution is required with hanging toys and ropes — use thicker sizes of rope and be absolutely sure your hamster (head, body, legs or toenails) cannot get entangled in any ropes used to hang items or use them only under close supervision. Plastic Toys for Hamsters Caution is needed when it comes to plastic. Most hamsters love plastic tunnels and tubes and other play structures but chewing them can lead to problems. Some plastic toys will be destroyed very quickly and if your hamster is swallowing plastic pieces from chewing it is a big concern. When you offer plastic items keep a close eye on them and if your hamster is chewing too much discard the item. Sand and Digging Options for Hamsters You can provide a dish of chinchilla dust bath or fine sand, in which you hamster may roll to keep its coat in good condition. Also, most hamsters love to dig so providing a deeper box of sand or sterilized soil big enough for the hamster to burrow in is a great treat for hamsters. Mineral Blocks and Pumice Stones for Hamsters These are not really necessary. If your hamster does gnaw on them it can help keep their teeth in good condition but they are very hard and many hamsters won’t really use them. A variety of natural wood chew items is a better option (and necessary minerals should be provided via the diet).
  11. Chinese striped hampsters have the Latin name of Cricetus griseus. They are not true dwarf hamsters but they are of a similar size to other small hamsters. They are originally from China and Mongolia. Chinese hamsters are not commonly bred, can be hard to find at pet stores, and are also restricted in some places, such as the state of California where a permit is required to keep them. But these challenges don’t stop them from being kept as pets. The Lifespan of the Chinese Hampster They are small in size and unfortunately so is their lifespan. Chinese hamsters, like other hamsters, only live about two and a half to three years. Size Chinese hamsters are small and slender hamsters that reach an adult size of about four inches (10 centimeters) long. This means that they are small enough to squeeze through the bars on many hamster cages. If you don’t have a cage specifically designed for a dwarf hamster, an aquarium may be a safer choice for housing these little rodents. They can also easily disappear while you are playing with them outside of their cage, so you must be extra careful and watch where their tiny bodies are at all times. Appearance The natural coloration of a Chinese hamster is agouti (hairs are banded with light and dark colors) with a dark brown color on the back, a black dorsal line (along the spine), and ivory colored belly (this is called the normal or wild-type coloration). The only other patterns seen are a dominant spot (white coat with patches or spots of color) and a black-eyed white. Chinese hamsters have a tail that is about an inch long and hairless. Sometimes these are called rat-like or mouse-like hamsters due to their slender appearance and the fact that they have a noticeable tail. Chinese Hamster Personalities Chinese hamsters are nocturnal (active at night) but they may also be active for short times during the day. They are somewhat timid but are generally good-natured and rarely nip. Because they are so small and quick they can be a real challenge to handle, especially for kids. They are very active and require a large cage to prevent boredom. Otherwise, they may resort to getting cranky, have a suppressed immune system, and chew everything and anything they can get their teeth on. There is some disagreement among experts about the social characteristics of Chinese hamsters. As they mature, Chinese hamsters, especially females, may become quite aggressive with others and may need to be separated. However, other owners have managed to keep them in pairs or groupings (only when they are introduced at a very young age) which requires a fair amount of space for these active little hamsters to live in. To be on the safe side, plan on housing Chinese hamsters separately, only keeping them together if they show no signs of aggression towards each other. Caring for Pet Chinese Hamsters Basic care for pet Chinese hamsters is like that of other hamsters. A wire hamster cage may not be escape proof for these little hamsters, so an aquarium or another solid-sided cage with a secure top is preferable. The larger the cage, the better. Avoid cedar or pine wood shavings and keep the hamster’s cage clean. Dirty cages accumulate urine. This produces an ammonia build-up since ventilation is diminished with solid-sided housing. Aquariums and other solid-sided hamster enclosures need to be kept cleaner than a wire sided enclosure due to this lack of ventilation. Feed a good-quality hamster food supplemented with small amounts of fresh foods including vegetables. Small treats like nuts, fruit, cereal, and crackers can be offered to help your little hamster become hand tamed.
  12. The majority of a pet hamster’s food should be made up of a good quality, store-bought food designed specifically for hamsters (not for rats, mice, or cats). But your pet food choices at the pet store can be overwhelming even by narrowing it down to hamster food. The decisions don’t end when you get home and want to offer fresh foods and treats to your hamster. Learn the best diet to give your hamster and the safe foods you can offer as treats. Pelleted Hamster Diets Pelleted hamster foods offer a completely balanced diet in every bite, and they are often recommended for this reason. Pelleted diets can come in many shapes but usually look like small biscuits, cookies, or cereal. A hamster can be picky with loose seed mixes, eating only their favorite items, resulting in an unbalanced diet. Pelleted diets prevent this from happening, but they are a bit monotonous and some hamsters will refuse them. A pelleted mix can be supplemented with a variety of other items as long as the pelleted food makes up the bulk of the diet. Seed Hamster Diets It is important to pick a loose seed mix diet that contains a variety of foods such as grains and dried vegetables along with some seeds. Some loose seed mixed foods also contain a balanced pellet food as part of the mix (which is ideal). When feeding a loose seed mix, make sure your hamster empties the food bowl before adding more, not allowing your hamster to eat only its favorite things. Fresh Foods and Treats for Hamsters You can feed your hamster a variety of human foods as long as you limit the treats to no more than 10 percent of your hamster’s diet. Skip the junk food and stick to healthy things like whole grains, fresh vegetables, and fruit (in moderation, otherwise diarrhea may result). Store-bought treats such as yogurt drops and honey/seed sticks are too sugary for a hamster and they should be avoided. Since dwarf hamsters are somewhat prone to diabetes it is also especially prudent to avoid sugar in their diet, so avoid fruits altogether as treats for them. Some safe foods you can offer to your hamster are: Apples (no seeds) Bananas Blueberries Broccoli Carrots Cauliflower Cucumber Dandelion greens Grapes Kale Peas Potato (cooked) Romaine lettuce Spinach Strawberries Sweet potato Squash Hay Whole grain bread or toast Whole wheat pasta (cooked) Brown rice (cooked) Whole grain cereal (no sugary cereal) Mealworms Crickets Small pieces of cooked chicken Hard-boiled eggs Nuts (unsalted, no almonds) Peanuts (unsalted) Pumpkin seeds Lentils Sunflower seeds Plain air-popped popcorn (no butter or salt) Hamsters also usually love peanut butter but it must be fed carefully (as with any other sticky food) because it can get stuck in their cheek pouches and cause severe problems. A very thin layer on a piece of wood is okay as an occasional trea,t but peanut butter must be given with caution. Foods You Should Not Feed Hamsters Apple seeds Raw beans Raw potatoes Almonds Citrus fruit Garlic Onions Rhubarb leaves or raw rhubarb Chocolate Any sugary or salty foods Any junk food The Best Hamster Diet The ideal diet for a hamster is a pelleted diet that is supplemented with a variety of other safe and human foods. If your hamster won’t eat the pelleted diet then sprinkle some seed mixture onto the pellets or find a seed diet that already has pellets in it.
  13. Even though they are thought of as ideal pets for kids, hamsters can and do bite if they are scared. Hamsters that have not been handled very much are usually not very tame and often bite if you try to pick them up. When dealing with these hamsters, it is most important to remember that they are biting because they are afraid though, not aggressive. How to Handle a Biting Hamster The key to handling a hamster that bites is patience. You need to earn the trust of your hamster and this is a slow and gradual process that is detailed in the steps that follow. Do not be discouraged though if it takes a month or even longer to gain the trust of your hamster. And if your hamster settles down and responds faster than expected you can shorten the time between the steps. If your hamster is still fearful at any step, go back to the previous step and spend a little more time working on that one. Week 1 – Let Your Hamster Get Used to You – In the evening when they are most active, spend time sitting near the cage and talking to your new hamster. You can read or even sing to them if you don’t know what to say. The idea is to let your hamster adjust to your presence, especially your scent and your voice. Remember, moving to a new cage in new surroundings is very stressful and this period also gives your hamster a chance to adjust to life in their new home. At this point do not try to touch your hamster. Week 2 – Let Your Hamster Get Used to Your Hand – Now when you sit by the cage and talk to your hamster place your hand inside the cage. Move slowly – the first day, put your hand just inside the door or top of the cage and then each day after that you can put your hand in a little farther. Do not try to touch your hamster but if your hamster becomes curious let them sniff or explore your hand. Week 3 – Offer Your Hamster Treats – By now you might have discovered some of your hamster’s favorite treats but if not try sunflower seeds, raisins and apples. While these treats should only be fed in moderation they can be a great training aids. Offer your hamster these goodies from the bare hand that you’ve been putting in their cage and eventually your hamster will likely come over to eat. Feeding your hamster from your hand will help gain their trust. Week 4 – Petting Your Hamster – Once your hamster is taking treats comfortably you can start trying to gently pet your hamster. If your hamster tolerates this you can quickly move on to the next step of picking up your hamster otherwise continue to be patient. Week 5 – Picking Up Your Hamster – If your hamster accepts treats and allows you to touch them try picking them up. You might want to try enticing your hamster onto your hands with the treats. Then you can try scooping them up with both your hands. Place one hand on either side of your hamster and then bring your hands together under their belly. Gently cup your hamster in your hands, rather than tightly gripping over their back, as hamsters sometimes find pressure over their backs to be threatening at first. Do not hold your hamster high off the ground in case they try to jump out of your hands. First, try holding them just off the floor of the cage and gradually lift them a little higher. Holding hamsters facing your body seems to make them less likely to try to jump out of your hands. Over time your hamster will learn to see you as a source of treats and not be scared of you. You will need to be patient but in the end it will be worth it. Tips For Handling Hamsters That Bite If you need to pick up your hamster (such as for cage cleaning) before they are tamed, try using a drinking glass. Use the open end of the glass to move your hamster into a corner then scoop them up gently and tip the glass upright. If your hamster jumps out of your hands and gets away and won’t let you pick them up again, you can use a drinking glass or a thick towel to scoop your hamster back up and get him or her back to the cage. Wash your hands before trying to handle your hamster. If your hands smell like food your hamster might mistake your fingers for food. Sometimes people will use thick gloves for handling biting hamsters. This can be a good temporary solution to picking up a hamster that bites. However, it is still stressful for the hamster and the hamster doesn’t get a chance to know your scent so it doesn’t help the long term taming process. As much as bites hurt, try not to shake your hand to dislodge your hamster if they won’t let go when they bite. Try to gently put your hamster back down or use your other hand to pry the hamster off your hand. Do not scold, yell, or hit your hamster. Try to stay calm and remember your hamster is biting out of fear, not because they are aggressive.
  14. When choosing a hamster, looking at a few simple things can help ensure that your new pet is a healthy one. Difficulty: Easy Time Required: 10 minutes How to Select a Healthy Hamster Look at the overall body condition – a hamster should be neither fat nor skinny, with no swellings. Hamsters should be bright and curious in attitude and never lethargic. This can be a bit hard to judge in a nocturnal animal, but with attention (and perhaps some very gentle prodding), hamsters should wake up and be inquisitive about what is happening. The hamster’s coat should be well groomed (fluffy and smooth looking), with no bare patches. Especially check for soiling around the rear end, as this may indicate a problem with diarrhea. The eyes, nose, and ears should be clean and free from discharge. Check the fur around the eyes and nose for signs of wetness, staining or crusts. Try to get a look at the teeth, they should not be overgrown and should be well-aligned. Also, check for wet or matted fur on the chin. Observe the hamster’s breathing, which should be quiet and not labored, with no wheezing, clicking, or gurgling noises. Watch the hamster move around – it should have no signs of lameness, stiffness, or reluctance to move around. Look at the hamster’s surroundings. The cage should be clean, with good access to fresh food and water, and not overcrowded. Hamsters kept under good conditions will be less stressed and have less exposure to disease. Observe how the hamster reacts to people — most will be skittish at first but ideally, try to pick a hamster that is relatively calm about being approached and okay with being handled. Tips Try to find out the age of your hamster, and adopt one that is as young as possible (around 6 weeks old is best). If any of the hamsters in the same cage (or even at the same store) seem ill, resist the temptation to adopt from there. If it is contagious your hamster may be next and there may be possible heartbreak ahead. Make sure the store separates males and females. Familiarize yourself with the differences between males and females, and if the store doesn’t separate them or seems unsure about the gender of the hamsters, move on to another store. It is best to avoid the possibility of surprise litters, especially in very young hamsters. They can become pregnant by about 5 weeks old but this is not a good thing. If the shop will not let you handle the hamster before you buy, it is best to move on as it is definitely worth trying to handle a potential pet to assess its temperament. If you find a breeder, make sure they are breeding for specific goals such as temperament and health.
  15. Gerbils are great pets for older children who have mastered proper handling techniques. They are easy to look after, gentle, hearty and seldom bite. And unlike hamsters, Mongolian gerbils — which are most commonly kept as pets — are active during the day, which typically fits in well with a child’s schedule. However, all gerbils are very frisky and can easily escape from a cage that isn’t closed securely. And because they have poor eyesight, you’ll need to take extra care when they are outside the cage. Environment Gerbils are very sociable animals and get lonely and unhappy if they are kept on their own, so it’s a good idea to get at least two. However, do not keep males and females together, or they will breed. Also, two males not raised together may be prone to fighting. Gerbils also like lots of room to run around and play, so a large multi-level wire cage or a 10-gallon aquarium with a wire mesh cover will work best. The enclosure should be placed away from direct sunlight and drafts. Because they love exercise, gerbils need a running wheel. Make sure that the wheel has a solid surface without wire rungs so their tails won’t get caught. Gerbils love to climb and run around, another reason a multi-level habitat is optimal. Gerbils also like to hide, crawl and sleep inside enclosed spaces, so put a small box with an entrance hole, a medium-sized never-used flower pot or tubes (cardboard tubes from paper towels and toilet paper will do fine) in the cage. Gerbils love to gnaw, so place hearty toys in the cage that will stand up to constant chewing, such as unpainted, untreated pieces of wood, cardboard tubes or safe chew toys in the cage. This is crucial for keeping their teeth in good condition. Habitat The home for your Gerbils should be lined with carefresh® complete all natural paper bedding or carefresh® custom Haster & Gerbil bedding for added absorbency and odor control. Do not use cedar chips, as aromatic oils in cedar bedding have been shown to have adverse health effects on small pets. Gerbils also love to nest! Provide them with nesting material, such as colorful and fun carefresh® Nestables. Spread them around the habitat, and they will forage for the springy shreds and gather them into a comfy nest. Remove soiled bedding, droppings and stale food from the cage daily. Clean the cage completely once a week by scrubbing the bottom of the cage and soiled accessories with warm water and a gentle soap and replacing dirty litter and bedding. Make sure to rinse and dry everything completely before returning it to the cage. Diet A good diet consists of commercially available pellet-based food specifically formulated for gerbils. Because gerbils are omnivorous, the ideal diet should contain 16-20 percent protein. We recommend carefresh® Complete Hamster & Gerbil food. You can also supplement your gerbil’s diet with carrots, leaf lettuces, turnips, broccoli and small amounts of apples or banana. Gerbils will not drink large quantities. In fact, in the wild, gerbils don’t drink water at all because they get enough of it from plants and roots. However, they do need a constant supply of clean fresh water at all times. Care & Handling Before you handle a gerbil, he may need a little time to get used to you. Start by feeding him small treats. Once you’ve earned his trust, you can pick him up by scooping him into your hand. Never pick up a gerbil by the tail. After that, you can let your gerbil out of the cage for supervised exercise every day in a small, secured area where your pet can’t get stuck behind furniture or chew on electrical wires. Remember that gerbils do not have very good eyesight and may not recognize threats to their safety. Make sure that no other pets can enter the room and that there are no house plants in reach that could be toxic to your gerbil. Like Chinchillas, Gerbils sometimes like to have a sand bath. Place a half inch or so of high-quality sand into a box or bowl, and let your gerbils roll around and flip over. They will thoroughly enjoy themselves, and the sand will help to keep their coats healthy by removing excess oils. Health & Veterinary Care Take your gerbil to the veterinarian for a new pet exam, and every six months after for wellness exams. If you think your gerbil is sick, seek medical attention immediately. Common symptoms include sneezing, difficulty breathing, diarrhea and lethargy. Gerbils are also susceptible to external parasites such as fleas and lice. If you think your pet is infested, you’ll need to treat the animal, housing and surrounding environment
  16. Gerbils are great pets, but as with all animals they have needs, and they require your attention on a daily basis. There are also some costs associated with pet ownership, which you’ll need to meet throughout your pets’ lives. However, for all the responsibilities that come with owning animals, gerbils are wonderful additions to families – they’re cute, they’re amusing, and they’ll develop strong relationships with their owners. If you’re unsure about whether or not a gerbil is right for you, have a read of the pros and cons below. If after this, you’re still on the fence, one of the best things you can do is volunteer to pet-sit for somebody while they’re on holiday. You can ask your friends, but you can also contact local adoption centres and see if they’re looking for occasional volunteers. Pros Companionship – gerbils are great companions. As you get to know your pets you’ll understand their individual personalities, and they’ll likely be more interested in spending time with you. They’re very curious little animals, and very interesting to watch and interact with. Relatively Low Costs – like all pets, there are certain costs that you’ll have to meet. The basics include a good enclosure, lots of bedding, food and water, a water bottle, a wheel, and a food bowl. Although this might sound like a lot, several of these items come free with our Qute Cage, and in general small mammal expenses are substantially lower than costs associated with other, larger pets such as cats and dogs. Cons Upkeep – your pets will need daily care. They’ll need to be fed, their water bottle will need to be checked each day and refilled regularly, and each week you’ll need to clean out their enclosure. All of this care needs to be provided rain or shine, three hundred and sixty five days a year. Lifespan – gerbils rarely live as long as larger animals, although some gerbils, particularly the fat-tailed gerbils, have quite long lifespans for rodents.
  17. For Mongolian gerbils, you can expect to pay something between five and twenty pounds per animal. Whilst this will vary depending on where you purchase them from, there won’t be much difference between buying and adopting – adoption centres can give you gerbils for a very low cost. Before you decide where to get your gerbils, we’d like to suggest adopting them from a shelter – the animals in them would love some new owners and the shelter really needs your help in order to keep going! Animal shelters are wonderful organisations. They help pets in need, and their staff are full of excellent advice. At the present time, Mongolian gerbils will be the easiest to find, both in shelters and in shops. The other pet gerbil, the fat-tailed gerbil, is a relative newcomer to the pet market and so will be a little difficult to find at the moment. Although they are growing in popularity, this scarcity means that they cost quite a bit more than their Mongolian relatives, often with asking prices upwards of twenty or thirty pounds. If you are thinking of getting gerbils, then you might want to have a look at some of the Getting A Gerbil pages of our guide – we’ve got information on how to bring gerbils home, how to choose between buying and adopting, and how to provide your pets with everything they need.
  18. At some point in their lives, nearly every parent will ponder the question: Should I get my child a pet? However, the real question is: Should my family get a pet? The decision to own a pet affects everyone in the family. No matter what they might say, children are not capable of being a pet’s sole caregiver. Parents will always need to oversee to ensure that the care is adequate. And a pet will affect siblings and other members of the household, so here are 5 things to consider before getting your child a pet. 01 of 05 The Benefits of Pets Let’s start with the positive. The benefits of pets are many, though somewhat intangible. Pets–whether a dog, cat or even a goldfish–can provide positive experiences that will shape your child in a way nothing else can. Pets can: Promote responsibility. While children are continually encouraged to take on more self-care–from learning to put the spoon in their own mouths all the way to driving themselves to school–being responsible for another being doesn’t happen as naturally. Parents must seek out opportunities to invest their children with the responsibility of caring for others. And since it will be a long time before a child is ready to provide care for another human, pets can be a stepping stone in this life lesson. Encourage your child’s nurturing side. There’s more to a pet than seeing to its physical needs. Most pets both give and must receive emotional support. A pet is a responsibility and also a friend. Pets can be a someone for children to confide in when they are sad, a playmate when they are bored, and someone to nurture when the pet grows old or sick. Pets offer a different kind of friendship than other children, thus helping round out a child’s early life experiences. Create bonding in the family. Not only do humans and pets bond, but humans can bond with each other through pets. The shared experience of owning a pet is something that siblings will carry with them their whole lives. Pets become part of the family, changing the experience for all. Reduce allergies. While allergies are often cited as a reason not to get a pet, research has shown that young children in households with pets are actually healthier. Early exposure to dogs and cats may build immunities and possibly reduce allergies later in life. Most of the time kids who are angling for a pet have a pretty good list of reasons why this is a good idea. And for the most part, the kids are probably right about the benefits (It’s the drawbacks, listed next, that they might skip over). 02 of 05 The Potential Pitfalls of Pet Ownership Allergies – While preventing allergies can be an upside to pets, if someone in the house already has pet allergies, some pets can be a problem. However, pet ownership is not limited to simply dogs, cats, and other allergen-producing animals. Cost – There is the initial outlay of money for the pet and its needs, but then there is the ongoing cost. This continuing cost should be factored in, particularly if a grandparent or someone else outside the household gives the pet as a gift. Time/Commitment – Pets add another layer to work to a family’s already busy life. And they can live for a long time, perhaps longer than your child will live in the household. Disruptions to Family Life – There is always the risk that the pet becomes a behavioral problem. And though often these issues are preventable, through training or a good routine of pet care, once they occur they can be difficult to fix. 03 of 05 Understanding the Commitment Before you plunge into pet ownership, be sure you know what you are getting into. Do research about the pet you are interested in or, better yet, have your child do research (which you verify). When you make the decision to own a pet, be sure that you know its lifespan, potential health issues, exercise and grooming needs, and the costs of food, habitat, supplies and veterinary care. Then, reflect on this in the light of your family’s life. Do you have resources and time to provide this care? If not, you may not want to give up on pet ownership but adjust your focus to a different pet. After you have delved into what this commitment will mean practically, consider what this commitment models for your child. It can be a beautiful way for your child to build a sense of faithfulness and duty to others to others. However, if you make then break this commitment, what does that model? 04 of 05 Getting the Timing Right To be sure that this commitment is right, consider the timing carefully. This means thinking about both your child’s age and the lifespan of the pet. If you get a kitten for your teenager, you may be the one seeing the cat through its old age. On the other hand, teens or tweens can be caregivers in a way toddlers cannot. 05 of 05 Choosing Your Pet Now you’ve weighed the pros and cons of pet ownership and looked at the commitment, costs, and timing in light of your family’s life. Read on if you are ready for a pet! Whether you go the traditional route of a dog or cat or choose an exotic pet for your child, here are some thoughts about which pet might be right for your family. Dogs and cats – While many people have a distinct preference for one of these animals, they are actually pretty similar in terms of how they integrate into family life. They both have fairly long lifespans (10-20 years), give and need affection, and require daily, hands-on attention. Their cost, exercise and grooming needs, and the likelihood of causing allergies vary between them and among breeds. Rodents – Hamsters, gerbils, rats and guinea pigs can be good starter pets because the length of the commitment is shorter, like their lifespans (2 to 7 years). Unlike dogs and cats, they do not roam the house. Their daily needs of feeding and watering are minimal, but they do require affection and regular cleaning of their habitats. The initial cost of the habitat may be high, but ongoing costs are not. Birds – Similar to rodents, birds will usually be contained within a habitat, but they differ in lifespans. Macaws can live up to 100 years, while even a parakeet might live 15-18 years. Birds vary significantly in their need and desire to interact with children, so choose the best bird species for your family. Reptiles – Like birds, some reptiles have lifespans measured in decades. Their feeding needs can be more complicated and expensive. And though they generally don’t give affection like mammals or birds, many people have deep affinities for these ancient creatures. Fish – Yes, fish are not particularly affectionate, but they will teach your child responsibility while providing beauty and wonder. And fish can be scaled to your level of commitment–a goldfish in a bowl or a tropical aquarium.
  19. Cedar chips and pine shavings are commonly used as pet bedding materials. However, there have been many discussions over the safety of these materials among exotic pet owners and advocates. Are these items really dangerous to the animals for which they are marketed? Concerns with Cedar Chips and Pine Shavings Cedar and pine became popular as pet bedding materials because they are good at controlling odor and have some natural insecticidal properties (they kill or repel bugs like lice, especially the cedar chips). These softwood shavings also smell nice due to the volatile compounds (e.g. aromatic hydrocarbons, phenols) that are given off. Unfortunately, though, these compounds are thought to pose a potential health risk, especially with regards to respiratory problems (asthma, inflammation, allergic responses) and changes in the liver. Studies on Wood Toxicity Many of the studies on wood toxicity have actually been conducted on humans who are exposed to these woods and their by-products in the wood product industry (such as those who work in lumber mills who are exposed to lots of wood dust). These studies often compare the incidence of disease in workers in the wood product industry compared to other workers or the average population. Obviously, this is a much different type of exposure compared to that of our pets who are not breathing in dust particles from milled wood. Studies of laboratory animals have shown fairly dramatic changes in liver enzymes of animals housed on cedar bedding though. These changes, in turn, can affect the metabolism of drugs in the liver, including anesthetics, but there is not much information on a direct link between these changes and disease or clinical symptoms. The changes in liver enzymes can be problematic for research animals but the impact on pets hasn’t really be studied well. The Bottom Line With Wood Shavings Based on the studies that have shown concern with the compounds in the cedar chips that may cause changes within the body, it seems it is best to avoid using cedar as bedding or litter for our pets, especially since alternatives are readily available. With pine shavings, the problem isn’t as clear cut though. Pine shavings emit similar volatile compounds as cedar chips but the risks aren’t clear. It is thought that heat treating pine shavings may reduce the levels of aromatic hydrocarbons that have been shown as a potential concern. Therefore, products such as kiln-dried pine are safe (many pet products are heat treated like this). Other experts report skin sensitivities, itching, or allergies to pine shavings and their pets so it might be irritating to their skin despite being safe for the respiratory tract and liver. Since the information about the problems with wood shavings is circumstantial and hasn’t been evaluated in the context of health problems in exotic pets, it is hard to make firm recommendations. But, if you have access to other types of pet bedding it is recommended to use them over wood shavings so you don’t have to worry about potential risks. Other Bedding Options The concerns over pet bedding safety seem to have led to a bit of an explosion of alternative bedding products on the market. As far as wood shavings go, aspen is a good option that is widely available. There is an increasing number of other litter or pellet type products on the market now, which are appropriate for use as bedding or in litter boxes. The best option for you depends on the type of animal you are caring for and what the litter is used for. Some of the harder pellet products might be better used in the litter box of a ferret or a rabbit, while the softer types of bedding or litter are good for the smaller pets that need their cage bottom filled, like hamsters. However, even some of the pelleted products can be used as a substrate or bedding for rodents, especially as a cage liner with some softer bedding provided as a top layer. Some of the newer alternatives include paper-based pellets and fluff like Carefresh Ultra (an absorbent bedding that also holds together well so the wet parts can easily be scooped out), litters made from a variety of other organic materials (e.g. cherry/maple wood, aspen wood or bark, grain by-products, wood pulp fibers), and even paper strips (which are soft, but not very absorbent). Another often overlooked alternative is alfalfa pellets (e.g. rabbit food) which are cheap and fairly absorbent. Many options exist and most of them are less of a risk to your pet than wood shavings.
  20. Moving pets to a new home, in particular to a new state, region or province requires a lot of planning and research. For instance, in Canada, the major national airline recently stopped transporting pets. This severely limits the ability to move a domestic animal across the country. So, when you’re planning a move, make sure you allow time to arrange the safe transport of your companion animals. Arrange Transport Decide if you’re going to drive with your pet or fly them to the new destination. Make the necessary arrangements well in advance of your move – at least a month if not longer. Get a Vet Check Take your companion animal to the veterinarian for a checkup and let the vet know that your pet will be moving. Tell them where and when and ask what your pet will need in terms of health documents and records. Also, ask about your concerns about moving your pet. If your companion animal is a senior, there are some precautions your vet may recommend, such as blood work and a heart check. Ask your vet for a recommendation of a vet in the new city. They may be able to provide you with a vet or the name of an animal hospital. Your vet should also provide you with a copy of your pet’s health records or offer to send a copy to the new vet once you’re settled. Ask for a printed copy or electronic version just so you have the records with you while traveling. If you’re driving with your pet, you should always carry their records with you. Check State Regulations Each state has its own regulations surrounding importing of animals, including domestic pets. To avoid being detained at the border, make sure you check the regulations before you leave. Often, your vet can provide you with the information, but it’s also a good idea to keep checking the state website for updates as the move grows closer. Although most states will perform only random searches, some do check every vehicle that enters. If you have all the papers required, this should not be a problem. If you’re flying your pet, some customs officials will check the pet upon arrival. Again, it depends on the state you’re moving to. Health Certificate Basically, this states that your companion animal is free from diseases and has had all its necessary shots. Dogs and horses must have an interstate health certificate, while cats, birds, hamsters and other small companion animals may need them depending on where you’re moving to. Again, speak to your vet about preparing this document and check with the state itself to determine what is required. Get Your Tags Most states require that dogs have a rabies’ tag stating they’ve been inoculated against the disease. Usually, your animal must have a rabies’ shot every three years. Again, check with your vet or the state regarding the regulations. Cats may need their rabies’ shot, too – it’s up to the state. IDENTIFICATION In addition to permanent identity and rabies tags, both dogs and cats should be provided with special travel identification tags. A luggage- type tag with space on both sides for writing is excellent for this particular purpose. The tag should include the pet’s name, your name and destination address, and the name and address of an alternate person to contact in case you cannot be located. Other pets are less apt to become lost, but birds are sometimes identified by leg bands; horses and ponies by brands, tattoos, color photos, and/or registration papers. The pet’s health certificate may also be used for identification.
  21. 01 of 13 Winter Is Here! Sure, winter has its downsides, like shorter days, chillier temperatures and, depending on where you live, shoveling snow. But this snowy season has its perks, too! From snow days that cancel work and school, to cozying up with a good movie and hot cocoa on the couch, to getting back into your favorite winter sports, there’s a lot to love about winter. Celebrate the season with these 12 baby animals who love winter just as much–and maybe even a little bit more!–than we do. 02 of 13 Baby Animals Love Catching Snowflakes Seeing the first snowflakes of the season (and attempting to catch a few on your tongue) literally never gets old. Not only do they signal the start of the season, but they bring with them the potential for snow days curled up on the couch or playing outside, too. 03 of 13 Baby Animals Love Snow Day Speculating Remember the thrill of speculating whether or not school would be cancelled for a snow day? No matter your age or method of contacting all your friends to deliberate (AOL Instant Messenger, anyone?), the excitement of a potential snow day was never lost on anyone. Especially not on these baby penguins. 04 of 13 Baby Animals Love Snow Day Activities And of course, if you did have a snow day, you made plans to meet your crew at the top of the tallest hill in the neighborhood, first thing in the morning. With sleds, saucers, toboggans and even baking sheets (which actually make excellent makeshift sleds!). 05 of 13 Baby Animals Love Winter Sports No more jogging or biking in hot weather or swimming laps in the pool–winter sports are back. Whether you prefer to snowshoe, cross-country ski or shred sick powder like this radical snowboarding pup, there’s nothing better than doing your workout against a beautiful, snowy backdrop. 06 of 13 Baby Animals Love Just Playing in the Snow If you’re like us and aren’t coordinated enough to go skiing or snowboarding, just getting dressed in cold weather gear (there are so many layers, it takes an eternity) and playing in the snow is probably enough to get your heart pumping. 07 of 13 Baby Animals Love Just Admiring the Snow, Too Not into hitting the slopes or just getting cold and wet? Take a cue from this baby monkey: Sitting on your kids’ swing set and admiring the freshly fallen snow can be fun (and relaxing), too. Especially if you bring a hot cocoa or hot toddy with you. 08 of 13 Baby Animals Love Wintery Recipes Extra cheesy grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, hearty chili and warm chocolate chip cookies all make for the best cold weather eating. And so does fresh snow, according to this baby polar bear. 09 of 13 Baby Animals Love Warming Up by the Fire There’s nothing like warming up and relaxing next to a nice fire–or maxed out radiator, if you’re a renter–after a long day of romping in the snow, shoveling the driveway or spending time with family at a holiday party. 10 of 13 Baby Animals Love Their Sweaters The best part of winter? Retiring your warm weather wardrobe and bringing back your favorite boots, sweaters and coats. Not only does a winter wardrobe keep you warm and cozy, but it’ll conceal any pounds you packed on eating holiday cookies, too. That’s a win-win, if you ask us. 11 of 13 Baby Animals Love Their Beanies Lousy weather? Put a beanie on. Bad hare day? Cover it up with your favorite beanie. Feeling a little extra hip today? Beanies are the headwear for all cool kids. Want some extra street cred? Try to DIY your own beanie on your next snow day. 12 of 13 Baby Animals Just Love All Winter Fashion If donning your favorite scarf and taking a few dramatic selfies against a snow covered tree doesn’t make you feel like a Norwegian model that just got off the slopes like this shiba inu, we don’t know what will. 13 of 13 Baby Animals Love the Holidays ‘Tis the reason for the season! Although the holidays require lots of time spent with extended family members, there’s some good stuff, too. Specifically, holiday cookies and cocktails, festive parties, twinkly lights, holiday movie marathons and that warm and cozy feeling you get during the holiday season.
  22. Choosing a name for any pet can be a challenge and pot-bellied pigs are no different. Some people like to get to know their new pet’s personality prior to deciding on a name while others have made up their mind before even seeing them. A trend in pot-bellied pig naming involves incorporating food items that we consume from pot-bellied pig cousins, but some people don’t find it as humorous as others. Regardless of your preferences, you shouldn’t have any trouble choosing a name after reading through this list of ideas. Famous Pigs From History, Literature, Movies, and TV Pigs are amazingly versatile characters. Some are villains, some are heroes, some are sweet, and some are bossy. A few famous pigs are messy, others are fashion-minded, and some are just plain gross. You’ll almost certainly find at least one well-known pig in this list that reminds you of your own pet! Miss Piggy: Miss Piggy needs no introduction! Babe: A piglet that had a whole movie dedicated to her Wilbur: The adorable piglet from the book and movie Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White Gub Gub: An unusually intelligent pig from the book Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting Empress of Blandings: An enormous prize pig from the books of P.G. Wodehouse Piglet: Pooh Bear’s best friend Poppleton: From the children’s books by Cynthia Rylant Snowball: From George Orwell’s anti-utopian (and rather terrifying) novel Animal Farm Squealer: From George Orwell’s Animal Farm Napoleon: Yet another pig from Animal Farm Hamm: One of the toys in Toy Story Hen Wen: A fortune-telling pig from the book and movie The Black Cauldron Olivia: From the animated TV series of the same name Petunia Pig: From the Merrie Melodies cartoons Porky Pig: Bug’s Bunny’s arch enemy Sir Oinksalot: A cameo character from The Simpsons Plopper (also called Spider Pig): From The Simpsons Movie Arnold Ziffel: From the 1960’s TV sitcom Green Acres Toot and Puddle: Best friend pigs from a book series illustrated by Hollie Hobbie Pumbaa: While not strictly speaking a pig (he’s actually a warthog), Pumbaa is a well-beloved pig-like character from Disney’s Lion King. Peter Porkchop: A character created by DC comics Gordy the Pig: From a movie of the same name Peppermint Pig: Another movie star animated pig Monokuru Boo: The Japanese pig who is similar in many ways to Hello Kitty Hogzilla: A real-life pig of enormous dimensions, Hogzilla weighed 800 pounds (360 kg) and was between 7.5 and 8 feet (2.25 and 2.4 meters) Max: George Clooney’s famous pot-bellied pig Noelle: A real pot-bellied pig that starred in the comedy Designing Women Pig Names Built Around Pork Products Oddly enough, the idea of cannibalism doesn’t put off some pet pig owners. Here are some options for those who favor pork or clever pork-related puns: Bacon Frankfurter Ham (not to be confused with Hamm) Hermione Hamhock Hamlet Jimmy Dean Kevin Bacon Kosher Porkchop Porky Sausage Slim Smokey Chewbacon Pig Names Based on Your Pig’s Appearance and Behavior Piggy Pink Pinky Oinkers Snort If you’re still having trouble choosing a name for your pot-bellied pig, a little research will give you a whole universe of piggy monikers that come from stories and myths. Teaching Your Pot-Bellied Pig Their Name Now that you’ve named your pet pot-bellied pig, you’ll need to teach it to respond when you call. Pot-bellied pigs are extremely smart (like dogs and primates) and will learn their name on their own if you consistently call them by their name. Avoid using a lot of nicknames when trying to teach your pet its name and use positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement can be in the form of verbal praise, petting, and treats (pigs are very food motivated). If you decide to use a treat to train your pig, make sure you are consistent and give them a treat each time you call their name if they come. Say its name in a higher pitched, happy voice so your pot-bellied pig is more likely to respond to you. Low-fat and healthy but tasty treats are a must during this training session to avoid making your new pig gain too much weight. Try Cheerios, puffed rice, or baby snacks such as Gerber Graduates Puffs to have your pot-bellied pig running when you call out its name.
  23. Pet foxes are cute and comical. They remind many people of small dogs or puppies and are in fact related to them. But that doesn’t mean they’re just like domesticated dogs. Different fox breeds have different personalities and care requirements and some are even illegal to own in some places. Depending on where you live, you may be able to care for a certain breed of pet fox. A pet fox may fall under different categories in different state legislation (wild canine, small canine, non-domesticated species, native wildlife, etc.) so depending on your state’s regulations you may or not be legally allowed to own one. Be sure to read your state’s laws before getting any breed of fox as a pet. Pet Fennec Foxes The fennec fox has been kept as a pet for a long time. They are known for their small size, large ears, long life expectancy, and sweet personalities. The fennec fox falls under the “exotic animal” or “non-domesticated species” description in most state regulations. Fennec foxes are the most commonly seen kind of pet fox due to their popularity as wild animals and availability but they come with quite the price tag. Expect to spend a couple of thousand dollars or more on a privately-bred fennec fox. These small foxes only weigh a few pounds as adults so they aren’t for most households with small children or pets that may cause harm to such a small, non-caged creature. Litter boxes are often used in households with fennec foxes but house training can be difficult. Pet Red Foxes The red fox is not as popular of a pet fox as the fennec fox, but those who have them can’t say nicer things about them. Although they are not domesticated and have their downsides as pets, many red fox owners argue that they can be as sweet as a house cat. The red fox is usually considered a “native species,” an “exotic animal,” or a “non-domesticated species” in state regulations. They are larger than a fennec fox, have more of an odor, and need much more room to dig and play. A domesticated variety of the red fox exists and is known as a silver fox. Pet Silver Foxes Also referred to as the tame Siberian fox, the tame Arctic fox, Sibfoxes, the domesticated fox, and other names, the silver fox is a true domesticated fox from Russia. These foxes have been bred for specific characteristics and have genetic differences from red and arctic foxes (due to selective breeding). Currently, the true silver fox is only available from Russia and there is a bit of a process involved if you would like to acquire one. A hefty price tag is also associated with them. Pet Arctic Foxes A variety of the red fox, the arctic fox is very similar to the red fox but is typically smaller and not as commonly seen as a pet. Arctic foxes are considered non-domesticated in most state legislature and their care requirements are the same as that of a red fox. Foxes are often an alternative to a domesticated dog or cat and make an interesting addition to a household that is prepared to care for one. Each breed has their own dietary specificities but for the most part foxes eat premium dog food with additions of other items such as insects, fruits, and vegetables.
  24. Every state has different exotic pet laws. In some places, you can have a pet squirrel or kangaroo while other places you can’t have a pet rabbit. Some states are specific as to what animals they restrict while others allow pretty much anything to be kept as a pet. Find out what your state’s exotic pet laws are here with these exotic pet law summaries but be sure to double check with your local government before getting your pet to make sure the laws haven’t changed. While these are the state laws, there may also be local, city, and county laws that also apply. Laws are also subject to change. See the BornFreeUSA.org list of state laws and their list of pending legislation by state. Alabama Exotic Pet Laws No one can possess, sell, or import fish from the genus Clarias or Serrasalmus, Black carp, any species of mongoose, any member of the family Cervidae (deer, elk, moose, caribou), any species of coyote, fox, raccoon, skunk, wild rodents, or wild turkey. There are no licenses or permits required for ownership of exotic animals. Alaska Exotic Pet Laws No one can possess, sell, import or export live game animals (any species of bird, mammal, or reptile, including a feral domestic animal, found or introduced in the state, except domestic birds and mammals). This restriction includes wolf hybrids possessed after Jan. 23, 2002. The state also defines all non-domestic animals including wild felines, wild canines, bear, and primates as “live game.” Arizona Exotic Pet Laws Restricted wildlife includes all non-domestic canines and felines, primates (except non-infant primates that are free from zoonotic disease), alligators, crocodiles, poisonous snakes and more. Special permits can be issued to specific individuals or groups to keep these animals if the request falls under categories for education, public health, commercial photography, wildlife rehabilitation, or wildlife management. Otherwise, they are illegal to own as pets. Arkansas Exotic Pet Laws Large carnivores (lions, tigers, and bears) are illegal to own. There is also a limit of six animals per owner for bobcats, squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, quail, opossum, coyote, deer, red fox, and gray fox. Ownership of an animal obtained in another state must show verification it was legally acquired. California Exotic Pet Laws To be short, no wild animals are allowed to be kept as pets in California. This includes all non-domestic canines and felines, elephants, crocodiles, and more. Colorado Exotic Pet Laws Colorado does not allow most exotic animals to be kept as pets, but you can keep some native reptiles, and what the state considers unregulated wildlife which includes sugar gliders, hedgehogs, kangaroos, and more. Connecticut Exotic Pet Laws This state restricts potentially dangerous animals. Bears, large cats, and primates are included in the list of illegal animals to own in this small state. Delaware Exotic Pet Laws This state requires permits for wild mammals and hybrids. Non-native poisonous snakes are illegal to possess. Florida Exotic Pet Laws Animals are classified into classes. Class I animals are illegal to possess and include bears, large cats, rhinos, crocodiles, and primates. Class II animals are allowed only with a permit and include howler monkeys, macaques, bobcats, cougars, wolves and more. A 2010 law forbids importing, selling, and releasing non-native species. This law further restricts capturing and keeping venomous reptiles and other reptiles of concern unless the owner had a permit before the law was enacted. Georgia Exotic Pet Laws Illegal animals are described as inherently dangerous animals. This classification includes kangaroos, primates, canines, felines, crocodiles, alligators, elephants, and cobras. Hawaii Exotic Pet Laws Exotic animals are illegal in Hawaii. These include bears, large cats, wild canines, and more. Idaho Exotic Pet Laws The law forbids any animal or hybrid that can be a threat to livestock, the environment, agriculture, or wildlife. This includes big cats, non-native canines, and non-human primates. Permits can be obtained from the Idaho Department of Agriculture. Illinois Exotic Pet Laws Dangerous animals are not allowed to be kept as pets unless you are a zoo, licensed circus, or other acceptable organization. Dangerous animals include large cats, coyotes, wolves, bears, and poisonous reptiles. Primates are not allowed as pets unless they were in possession before 2011 and have been registered. There are no restrictions on other exotic species. Indiana Exotic Pet Laws No monkey laws exist in this state, but you do need a permit for possessing wild animals. These are separated into Class I for squirrels and rabbits, Class II for a variety of mammals, and Class III for dangerous exotic animals including large cats, bears, wolves, hyenas, venomous reptiles, gorillas, Burmese pythons, anacondas, and more. Iowa Exotic Pet Laws This state is pretty straightforward with their exotic pet laws. No dangerous wild animal is to be possessed, owned or bred in Iowa. This is defined as non-domestic cats and dogs, bears, primates, numerous reptiles and more. Kansas Exotic Pet Laws Kansas does not allow dangerous regulated animals to be kept as pets unless you are a zoo, sanctuary, or other approved facility. Dangerous regulated animals include large cats, bears, and venomous snakes. Kentucky Exotic Pet Laws No person may possess an inherently dangerous animal. This includes primates, dangerous reptiles, bears, large cats and more. Louisiana Exotic Pet Laws Unless you were grandfathered in, you cannot own a primate, bear or cougar in this southern state. Permits are required for venomous or large constricting snakes. Maine Exotic Pet Laws Permits are needed to possess or breed wild animals. You may not possess deer, bears, moose, or wild turkeys. Maryland Exotic Pet Laws A wide variety of exotic pets are restricted in this state. Wild felines, bears, raccoons, skunks, foxes, primates and other exotic pets are not allowed. Massachusetts Exotic Pet Laws Wild animals are not allowed to be kept as pets here. Wild animals are defined as non-domesticated animals. Michigan Exotic Pet Laws No large cats, bears, and wolf hybrids allowed in Michigan. All other animals not listed need a permit. Minnesota Exotic Pet Laws This state has restrictions for owners of restricted pets that they acquired prior to the law changes in 2005. It is also unlawful to possess bears, non-domestic felines, and primates. Mississippi Exotic Pet Laws Small felines such as ocelots and servals are allowed in this state without a permit, but inherently dangerous animals as defined by the state’s law need a permit to be kept as a pet. The permit requirements are steep and the permit is only good for one year for one animal. Missouri Exotic Pet Laws If you want to own one of the animals on this state’s list of dangerous wild animals you must register it with the county in which the animal is kept. Lions, tigers, wolves, and poisonous reptiles are included in this list. Montana Exotic Pet Laws A permit is required if you want to have a “wild animal menagerie.” This is defined as anyone who does not exhibit their large cats, bears, etc., and does not have a minimum or a maximum number of animals listed. Other exotic animals must have a one-time entry permit and health certificate. Nebraska Exotic Pet Laws There are no restrictions for reptiles or primates but you may not keep any non-domesticated felines, skunks, wolves, or bears as pets. Nevada Exotic Pet Laws Specific animals are listed as being prohibited in Nevada and include alligators, crocodiles, raccoons, and foxes. You may still own primates, monkeys, elephants, wolves and non-domesticated felines without a permit or license. New Hampshire Exotic Pet Laws Primates, venomous reptiles, bears, wolves, and other animals are prohibited. New Jersey Exotic Pet Laws Potentially dangerous species are on the list of prohibited pets, including some you might not normally put in that class, such as some parakeets and ground squirrels. Zoos and exhibitors may apply for a permit after meeting extensive, but practical, requirements. New Mexico Exotic Pet Laws It is unlawful for a person to possess non-domesticated felines, primates, crocodiles, alligators, and wolves. Their state website has a permit application available for non-domestic animals. New York Exotic Pet Laws The law states you are not allowed to own any wild animal, including non-domestic felines or canines, bears, crocodiles, venomous reptiles, and primates. North Carolina Exotic Pet Laws This state allows individual counties and cities to create ordinances regarding exotic pets, therefore depending on where you live in North Carolina, you may or may not have any regulations. You need an entry permit from the State Veterinarian for bringing in skunk, fox, raccoon, non-domestic felines, coyote, marten, and brushtail possum. North Dakota Exotic Pet Laws Depending on what category your exotic pet falls into, you may or may not need a license/permit to own them. Inherently dangerous animals as defined by the state are listed as Category 4 animals and require a permit. Ohio Exotic Pet Laws Ohio’s laws have changed since the Zanesville massacre in 2011. Since then the Dangerous Wild Animal Act has taken effect and made numerous exotic animals illegal to own or require a permit to own what the state deems as dangerous. 2014 ushered in the last phase of the new laws. Oklahoma Exotic Pet Laws Just get a permit and you can own whatever animal you’d like. The state calls it a wildlife breeder’s license. Oregon Exotic Pet Laws It is illegal to possess an exotic animal, defined as wild cats, bears other than black bears, canines not native to Oregon, alligators, crocodiles, or caimans unless you had a permit before the law was enacted. Pennsylvania Exotic Pet Laws You must acquire a permit for the exotic animals that are listed as “exotic wildlife” by the state. Rhode Island Exotic Pet Laws Permits that require proof of adequate knowledge and housing for the animals desired are needed to possess primates and other exotic pets, including insects and amphibians. South Carolina Exotic Pet Laws A permit to own native animals is needed, but there are no state laws concerning primates, reptiles or large cats. South Dakota Exotic Pet Laws In order to own a primate, hoofstock, large cat, bear, or other exotic pet listed by the state you must obtain a permit and a veterinarian’s examination. Tennessee Exotic Pet Laws Class I animals (chimps, gorillas, cheetahs, etc.) are outlawed as pets but there are no rules on monkeys and small wild cats. Texas Exotic Pet Laws A license is required to own many animals the state considers to be dangerous. This includes bears, coyotes, cougars, chimps, lions, tigers and many others. There are no laws regarding monkeys, wolves and other animals. Utah Exotic Pet Laws In only very rare circumstances can you get a permit to own one of the many animals listed as prohibited. Animals that fall into this category include bears, all non-domesticated felines, ferrets, and more. Vermont Exotic Pet Laws Unless you want exotic animals for educational purposes or exhibition, you cannot keep them as pets. Exotic animals include primates, bears, poisonous reptiles, large cats, and wolves. A permit is needed even for educational and exhibitory purposes. Virginia Exotic Pet Laws Non-native animals listed in the law are illegal to keep as pets. Educational and exhibitory purposes need a license and anyone can keep primates as pets. But you can keep a non-human primate. Washington Exotic Pet Laws As of 2007, Washington state laws changed to restrict dangerous animals from being kept as pets. This list includes bears, wolves, large cats, alligators, primates and more. West Virginia Exotic Pet Laws A fee of $2.00 is issued to get a permit for native species that were legally acquired. Dangerous non-native wild animals were outlawed in 2015 unless previously in possession, so long as a permit is obtained. Wisconsin Exotic Pet Laws No restrictions here, except that all animals commonly sold at pet shops need certificates of veterinary inspection if brought from outside the state. Wyoming Exotic Pet Laws Game animals are regulated and exotic species (anything not found in the wild in the state or domesticated) are illegal to possess as pets.
  25. Tarantulas have been a relatively popular pet now for several years. They are unique, quiet, and need little space and keeping tarantulas as pets can make a fascinating hobby. However, if you want to handle your pet a lot they aren’t the best choice. There are many species available in the pet trade in a variety of sizes and appearances, and they are usually easy to care for but it can depend on the species. Tarantula Species There are over 800 species of tarantulas belonging to the family Theraphosidae. They are native to many areas and climates – arid, subtropical and tropical. They are roughly divided into two groups: “old world” (from the eastern hemisphere) and “new world” (from the western hemisphere). One of the more popular species kept as a pet is the Chilean rose (Grammostola rosea), a hardy, easy to care for spider native to Chile. Are Tarantulas Dangerous? Tarantulas can bite and their bites are venomous. However, for most species, the toxicity of their venom is much like that of a bee or wasp. It is most likely to cause a nasty local reaction including pain, redness, and swelling. However, people can have an allergic or anaphylactic reaction to spider bites in the same way that some people react to bee stings, and this reaction can be fatal. Also, there are few species which have a stronger venom that could potentially be fatal or at least make the bite victim quite ill. So while tarantula bites are unlikely to be fatal, you still want to avoid being bitten and the best way to do this is to learn about spider behavior and treat the spider accordingly. Tarantulas are wild animals and need to be treated with respect. As a rule, however, most spiders would rather retreat than bite. Another concern with regards to handling tarantulas is irritation and itching from special hairs found on some new world tarantulas. These tarantulas possess what are called “urticating” (itch-causing) hairs on their abdomens, which they can release by vigorously rubbing their abdomens if threatened. These tiny hairs are barbed and can work their way into the skin and cause itching and irritation. If these hairs get into the eye they can easily penetrate the eye and cause inflammation. Be very careful not to rub your eyes after doing anything with the spider and its cage until washing your hands (there may be loose hairs in the cage that can be picked up while cleaning, etc.) and don’t get in too close to look at your spider. If you get some hairs on your hand you can try blotting them with tape and then washing well. Topical cortisone cream might also help with the itching. Choosing a Pet Tarantula As mentioned before, there are many species available in the pet trade. In general, the best “beginner” tarantulas are the ground dwellers or burrowers as they tend to be a little slower moving. The following are among the best tarantulas for first time owners: Chilean Rose (Grammostola rosea) Costa Rican Zebra (Aphonoplema seemani) Mexican Redknee (Brachypelma smithi) Mexican Redleg (Brachypelma emilia) Desert/Mexican Blonde (Aphonopelma chalcodes) Curly Hair Tarantula (Brachypelma albopilosum) The pinktoe (Avicularia avicularia) is often cited as a good first arboreal tarantula but not a good first tarantula. In general, arboreal species are more challenging to care for, and the pinktoe is quite fast and agile, making handling more difficult. As a pet, a female is usually the better choice simply because females tend to be much longer lived than males. A female Chilean rose may be expected to live over 20 years whereas the male of any species will not likely survive more than a couple of years at best. Many dealers will guarantee the sex. In any case, males will spend most of their time trying to get out to find a mate, much to their distress. When choosing a spider, avoid spiders that are hunched with their legs curled under them, or that are housed without a dish of water. Try to find out the scientific name for the spider (as that will be the best way to get the appropriate care information) and make sure the age and gender are known. Housing Tarantulas A large enclosure isn’t necessary but if you have an arboreal species of tarantula you will need a tall cage and a burrowing type will need appropriate substrate or hiding places. Generally, spiders should be housed one to a cage as they are not social. For burrowing or terrestrial spiders, a general rule of thumb is that the cage should be approximately 3 times the leg span long and 2 times the leg span wide. The height should not be much more than the length of the spider – these spiders are heavy and if they climb and fall it can be dangerous, even fatal. 2.5 or 5-gallon aquariums work well. A larger tank is not better in this case, as tarantulas do not need a lot of extra space and a large tank may make prey harder to find. The arboreal tarantulas need a cage that is tall to provide climbing room with branches, twigs, or some other structure on which the spider can construct its web. A 10-gallon aquarium set on one end can work well for this purpose. They do need to have a very secure lid, as they can be escape artists but the lid must also allow adequate ventilation. On the bottom, a substrate of vermiculite, or vermiculite mixed with varying ratios of potting soil and/or peat, should be provided at least 2-4 inches deep to provide burrowing room and to hold moisture. Wood chips, especially cedar, should be avoided. A place to hide should also be provided to your tarantula. A piece of cork bark, a half hollow log (as available from pet stores), or half a clay flower pot on its side. A shallow water dish can be provided. It needs to be very shallow to prevent drowning and if there is any doubt some pebbles can be placed in the dish to give the spider something to climb out on if necessary. Tarantula Lighting and Humidity Tarantulas do not need bright lights but rather should be kept in a darker area of a room where direct sunlight will not fall on the cage. Incandescent lights should not be used for heating as they could potentially dry out the tarantula. Heating strips or pads (available at pet stores for reptiles) can be placed under a small part of the cage for heating needs. Most species of tarantula do fine somewhere between 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit. Appropriate temperatures and humidity must be maintained, but this is where the various species have different requirements. For tarantulas that do not require high humidity levels, a water dish (shallow) in the cage and misting once a week should be sufficient. For those that require higher humidity, more frequent misting will be necessary. In any case, temperature and humidity gauges should be used to monitor conditions. At the higher temperatures, extra care must be taken to ensure adequate humidity levels. At the same time, excess humidity can encourage mold growth and should be avoided. The cage should not need cleaning frequently. For spiders kept at a relatively low humidity level, once per year is likely enough (earlier if mold, fungus or mites are noticed). For those kept in a more humid environment, this will need to be done more often. Feeding Tarantulas A diet of crickets, supplemented with other insects, is fine for pet tarantulas and adults only need to eat about once a week. Some owners may try to mimic how a spider would eat in the wild and offer meals at random (maybe a couple of crickets then one cricket several days later, then a few crickets a week after that, and so on). Adults may also fast for extended periods (a month or two is not unusual), particularly before a molt. Growing spiders, however, should be fed several times a week. The crickets should be gut loaded prior to feeding your tarantula, that is, they should be kept on a diet of nutritious food and dusted with vitamins prior to feeding. Remember that what goes into the cricket is what you are ultimately feeding your spider. Mealworms, super worms, and roaches can be fed on occasion. Larger tarantulas can even be given pinkie mice and small lizards if desired, although it is probably not necessary. The most important thing is to keep the food smaller than the tarantula (that is, smaller than its body) and make sure the tarantula isn’t harmed by its prey. This includes not feeding any wild caught insects unless absolutely certain there is no risk of pesticide exposure. When molting, the spider is very vulnerable and even a cricket can kill them so be sure to remove any uneaten prey within 24 hours at the very most. Molting Tarantulas Molting is how the spider grows to a larger size – by shedding the old exoskeleton and producing a new one. This is a stressful time for a spider and also when humidity levels are most critical. The spider stops eating and then will lay on it’s back to molt. The molting process may take several hours. Once the old exoskeleton is shed it will take several days for the new one to harden (this is when growth occurs) and the spider should not be fed during this time as it is vulnerable to injury and even death from something as small as a cricket. In addition, the spider should never be handled during the molting and hardening time. It may take up to two weeks for the spider to fully recover after molting. Handling Tarantulas While most tarantulas are not very venomous many tarantula experts advise against handling them. For the handler, bites can be painful and irritation can result from contact with the itching hairs on the tarantula but the greater danger is to the tarantula itself. While a tarantula may become acclimated to being held on the hand if it suddenly runs or jumps it may fall and the injuries sustained could be fatal. Even a minor fall can kill a heavy bodied tarantula if the abdomen ruptures. Some tarantulas are very fast and could also escape. Children especially should not be allowed to handle tarantulas due to the risk of injury to both the child and the spider.
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