Do You Keep a Pet?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Where to Find Exotic Pets For Sale for Cheap

Exotic pets are sometimes available for cheap, or even for free, if you know where to look.  Sometimes they even come with a free cage and/or supplies.  An exotic pet is any pet other than a cat, dog, fish, or livestock.   Birds are also often considered as exotic pets too.  As such an exotic pet may be anything from a hamster to a wolf.  Clearly it will be easier to find a free hamster than a free pet wolf.

Some exotic pets are far easier to find than others and are often available for free.  If you use Facebook look for a local "group" as somebody may be giving away a pet there, or selling it for a low price.  In Canada the website kijiji is well known for hosting ads for pets for sale, and Craigslist is another place to look too.  Check the bulletin boards at local stores, veterinarian offices, and livestock feed stores in particular. 

Our pet Reeve's Turtle

Pet stores rarely give animals away for free, or sell them cheap.  Pet stores are in the business of making a profit so if they have a cheap (or free) pet it is possibly unhealthy, or one they need to get rid of quick for some reason or another.

Animal shelters, on the other hand, typically have exotic pets for adoption at a price far lower than you would find the same animal available for in a pet store.  In some cases these animals were surrendered to the shelter with their cage and supplies and as such the shelter may give these away free with the pet adoption.  Many animal shelters (SPCA, Humane Society, etc.) list some of their adoptable pets online but you should also check the shelter themselves to see what they have for adoption.

In some areas (such as where I am in Alberta) there are livestock auction markets that hold odd and unusual livestock and pet auctions in the spring and fall.

Before you get any exotic pet make sure you understand the proper care requirements for that animal.  Make sure you can provide the right kind of environment and food.  Make sure you can pay for any medical needs (ask your vet if they care for exotic pets). 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Why Do Some Animal Shelters Make it So Hard to Adopt a Pet

Many potential pet adopters complain about the steps they have to take when adopting a pet.  They fail to understand why animal shelters require so many steps.  Some people will go so far as to say "Why don't animal shelters just give the pets away for free to anyone?"

The number one goal of an animal shelter is to make sure pets go to good homes; ideally "forever" homes.  If they did not require people to go through an application and screening process many of the pets adopted out would not find good homes.  Even with everything in place there is no guarantee that a pet will find a good forever home.

Sometimes people come to an animal shelter on a whim or with limited information in regards to the pet they want to adopt. The animal shelter asks questions so they can offer tips and advice and perhaps steer the people in a better direction in terms of what pet to get.  As such if a person comes to adopt a dog, for example, the animal shelter uses the screening process to make sure the people are aware of just how much exercise, grooming, training, and so forth, that a particular dog needs in terms of making sure the dog is suitable for the people. 

Dog and owner at park, photo by author
 When people get the wrong pet for their lifestyle they become frustrated with it, and the pet suffers.  Sometimes it is abused, and often it is returned to the shelter.  Any time a pet is returned to the shelter it is stressed.

Additionally animal shelters screen people to make sure they can own a pet.  Some people rent properties where pets are not allowed, if caught the pet can be confiscated.   Some people do not have fenced yards and in some areas it is illegal to keep dogs on chains so the animal shelter must make sure the dogs only go to responsible, prepared, homes.

Animal shelters have questionnaires and contracts because they are adopting pets out, not unlike when human children are adopted out.  Animal shelters do not sell pets, they actually care about who gets the pet and they care about that pet's life after it leaves the shelter.

If you are looking for a new pet, be it a cat, dog, bird, or other exotic pet, always check your local animal shelter first.  The adoption process can take an hour, or more, by the time you select your pet, apply, and complete the adoption process, so you should go early in the day.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Beware of Offering Large Rewards for a Lost Pet

A woman in the city of Edmonton recently had her small dog go missing. She put up posters offering a reward.

A man called her and asked how much the reward was. She told him $200.00. He said he had her dog and to transfer half the money via e-mail. She did, and then he demanded the other half. At that point she questioned him to prove he really had her dog. He threatened to hurt the dog. She sent the other half, and needless to say, did not get her dog.

At that point she called the police.  Here is the actual news article.

Offering a reward for a missing pet is good, if a person found the pet and was thinking of keeping it, this can motivate them to do the right thing. Sadly, offering rewards has also created a problem of dog-napping; where people intentionally steal dogs for the purpose of collecting a reward.  Note of course that it is illegal to just keep a pet you have found, you are suppose to call the local animal shelter and report finding it or can bring it to them. 

author's pet cat

If you have lost a pet and do offer a reward it should be small and never give the reward to anyone until you actually get your pet back. If somebody contacts you about your missing pet and demands a higher reward, or seems suspicious, call the police.

I do hope the dog, named Piper, is found and returned to his owner, and I also hope the man who scammed this woman is caught too.

This article was originally published by me on Bubblews.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

How to Care for a Scared Pet Cat

If you have adopted a new cat and it is scared you need to realize that this is perfectly normal, especially for older cats.  Kittens tend to accept change a little easier, but adult cats are often concerned; cats bond to places rather than to people so a sudden change of environment can be hard for them.  This also applies to current cat owners who move into a new home.

Try to keep the noise level down if possible, this means controlling screaming kids, and keeping music low too.  If you are moving into a new home keeping quiet can be tough as furniture moving is generally loud.

One of author's cats
The cat really should be kept confined in a bathroom, or small bedroom, for a few days while it adjusts to the new environment.  Plopping a cat into the middle of a big house (or even into a small apartment) can be too much for the cat to take, particularly if it was adopted from an animal shelter where it mostly stayed in a small room or cage.

The cat will need its litter box in the room for it as well as its dry cat food and water, which should be placed far from the litter box.  The cat should also have a bed, which can be as simple as a box with a towel.

Make sure to visit the cat from time to time, talking to it softly, patting it, and offering it small amounts of canned cat food or cat treats.  If the cat accepts being held you can do that too but watch for body signals that the cat has had enough.  Here is a link to help you find cool toys and treats for your new cat!


If the cat hides the first few days go ahead and leave it hiding - noting that it is coming out and eating/drinking and using the litter box when all is quiet, but if it continues to hide after three days you may need to bring it out of the hiding area and hold it for a few minutes just to let it know you will not hurt it, offer it the canned food or treat, so that it associates these goodies with you.

It can take up to two weeks for a scared cat to over come its fears and accept you and the new home.  Just take things slowly and do not rush or overwhelm the cat, allowing it to overcome its fear or shyness on its own time is best.

Friday, May 16, 2014

About Breeding Rabbits

Although rabbits are quite easy to breed there are some considerations to keep in mind before breeding your rabbits.

First be sure there is a need for more rabbits in your area.  If you are breeding them for pets make sure the local animal shelter does not already have a population of rabbits looking for homes.  If the animal shelter has several rabbits for adoption it means selling your litter may be harder than you think.

If you are breeding for meat or fur, make sure you have buyers.

Rabbits should not be bred by somebody who does not have space to keep them, while it may be assumed the male can be left with the pregnant female, he really should be removed and kept in an adjacent cage one week before she gives birth.  The female should be in a large hutch indoors so she can be monitored closely.

Rabbits who are not registered/purebreds should not be bred. Although the problem has not reached the level of concern of cats and dogs, there are more rabbits produced yearly than there are homes for. There is no practical reason for producing more common, or mixed breed, rabbits.

Rabbits should not be bred by people who do not have additional funding for emergencies. Although rabbit breeding is often considered easy, there are sometimes problems that may occur.

Note that it is not uncommon for the first litter to die.

A doe who is over the age of a year when she has her first litter will have a very difficult time, and in fact this can be life threatening, so never breed an older doe unless she has had a litter previously.  Usually she would be first bred when she is between 6 and 8 months of age.

Two female rabbits, photo by author.

Reasons for Breeding Rabbits:

There really are only two reasons for breeding; production for meat and fur, or to improve the breed as a whole.

If you are considering breeding your rabbits, ask yourself these questions:
  • Is my rabbit worthy of passing on its genetics?
  • Do I have the time/space to devote to caring for the kits until they are ready to go to their new homes?
  • Do I have homes, or a market, that will take them?
  • Do I have funding for veterinarian care if an emergency situation arises?
  • Why am I doing this? Is it for me, or because I want to improve the breed?
With rabbits being discarded in shelters, or abandoned outdoors, there is no reason to to let your rabbit reproduce just so you can see how cute her kits will be.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

How to Care for a Cria

A cria is a baby llama or alpaca. They are born after an eleven to twelve-month gestation. Generally no special care is needed, the young cria stands and drinks on its own and can be left with its mother. Often delivery happens in the daytime and with the mother in a standing position, always alert to danger.  Here are steps on how to care for the mother and cria.

Newborn Crias

Supervise to see that the newborn cria is breathing and is able to stand and nurse on its own. Try not to interfere as this can be stressful to both animals, however if the cria is unable to nurse after two hours you may want to assist.
The newborn's naval should be dipped in seven percent iodine.
Be sure mother and cria are not in the hot sun, or bad weather. Ideally they should be kept in a large, clean, stall or small pen for the first few days.
You may want to weight it to monitor growth and condition, however this is not necessary, and most people simply leave the mother and cria on the pasture.
The baby should pass meconium (first stool), but if it is straining may require a enema (rarely needed).

If there are problems

If the mother refuses to allow the cria to nurse she may need to be restrained to allow the cria to suck, and monitored to see if she will accept it. If she does not, the cria should be removed and bottle fed.
If the cria is too weak to drink on its own it should be given something to drink to boost its energy. This should be its own mother's milk (llamas can be tricky to milk) or goat colostrum. Goat colostrum may be purchased from a goat farmer, veterinarian, or livestock feed store.
If the mother does not accept the cria, or has died, the young one will need to be bottle fed regularly. In addition to the goat colostrum for its first day, the following meals should be of goat replacement formula. In the first day it should be fed every three hours, and every six hours over night. The following day meals can be every four hours with a six hour stretch overnight. It will need to be kept in a stall for the first few days to enable catching and to keep it safe.

Author's llama and young cria

General care for mother and cria

The mother llama, or alpaca, should be fed a healthy diet, and given plenty of water. She will probably need a good drink especially after giving birth. After delivering, her grain should be reduced for the first 12 hours to reduce risk of her developing mastitis.
The mother and cria should be checked several times a day, signs of a weak cria (sleeping, standing hunched) should be investigated as it may not be getting enough to drink.
Female llamas and alpacas do not produce a lot of milk, you will not see a large udder on the mother, as such the cria must drink several times during the day.
After the first couple of days try to handle the cria for short periods of time each day as this will help it with social skills towards people.
Do not hesitate to call a veterinarian if there are any other concerns.

Weaning can take place around six months of age.  Gelding/castration can take place anytime after 4 months of age, and ideally before 2 years of age.  The age at which a male llama, or alpaca, is castrated will affect his further development.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Drawings of Tigers

Tigers are beautiful, but sadly they are also an animal who is headed for extinction unless we do something drastic.  I am not really sure how to save the tigers other than to control our own population growth to prevent people from needing more land and taking it from natural areas where tigers live.  Housing more and more tigers is not really the answer either, while it may preserve a species, it really does so in an unnatural manner.  Keeping tigers as "pets" is selfish and does not really benefit tigers as a species.

At any rate, tigers are beautiful and are an animal that is often captured in art.  I have done several drawings of tigers and want to show some of them to you.
Snarling tiger.  © Brenda Nelson

This is my first drawing of a tiger.  If you look a the image you probably do not immediately notice that I added a man's face on the tiger's forehead, if you look at the picture upside down you can see it better.  I thought it was clever at the time but now I sort of wish I had not done that.

Snoozing tiger.  © Brenda Nelson


This is my second drawing of a tiger.  I like how this turned out.  While I did it from a picture of a sleeping tiger it could also be a dead tiger and could be a statement against hunting or extinction in general. 

I do hope we can preserve natural areas for tigers and not wipe them out.  We need to have proper breeding programs for the captive tigers and not allow inbreeding or hybrid breeding between species unless it is to improve the bloodlines.  Breeding white tigers should be illegal as they are inbred and suffer from genetic eye conditions.

Hopefully we can prevent tigers from going extinct in the wild or all we will have left one day is images of tigers in photos and art, which is very sad.