Imagine a little cabin in the woods, loads of animal books on the shelf, each packed with pictures, information, or stories. Each Blog post is a little book for you to read and enjoy. So pull one off the shelf today and read about Exotic Pets, and Unusual, or Rare, Animals!
More Tigers are kept as pets than there are in the wild. Sadly many of these pets do not have ideal, or even marginally good, lives and living conditions. Not only are Tigers an “extreme” exotic pet, they are one that requires a high standard of care, often not met due to the cost and work involved. Tigers are not a house pet, although some people do keep them as such.
Most areas that allow tigers as pets require the owner to have a permit. Sadly having a permit does not account for much in some areas. The high cost of meat means many “Pet” Tigers are malnourished. Tigers are frequently found in bad condition, or not found at all... (the market for Tiger bones is huge in China, but USA has the second largest demand for this commodity).
In some cases people try to breed Tigers specifically for color (to produce “White” Tigers) and this results in inbred animals that have loads of health problems, leaving them in pain, for shortened lifespans. As well many tiger cubs who are born in effort to produce the rarer white tigers, are killed if they do not have the correct color.
Many people grow up dreaming of one day owning an exotic pet, such as a Tiger, but in truth big cats, such as Tigers, are not “Pets” as we know them. They are wild animals, not domesticated to the level of being considered a “pet”. Many people who own Tigers do so for selfish reasons (to be “cool” or to impress others), as opposed to owning them for the “right” reasons (because they can afford to care for it, provide it with a good life, and because it needs a safe place to live).
The facts are alarming, according to Big Cat Rescue, (the world's largest rescue group for large cats) over 1000 big cats were listed as “unwanted” by their owners over a 10 year period (1999 -2009). The rescue saved 79 of these, while only 19 found other homes.
The same site also mentions that 98% of exotic pets die within 2 years of being brought home as pets. Their site offers more alarming stats on Tigers and other Big Cats. Here is their page on Wild Tiger information.
Many people hear about Hedgehogs being kept as exotic pets and wonder about this. Hedgehogs live wild in the UK and New Zealand, but indeed this is not the only place these spiky little insectivores are from. There are other species in Africa, and the common pet Hedgehog is typically an African hybrid species, the African Pygmy Hedgehog.
While most areas do not allow capture of wild hedgehogs, keeping a pet African Pygmy Hedgehog may be allowed.
Hedgehogs are sometimes fed cat food but do best on a proper Hedgehog food with meat as a main ingredient (not corn). They can have dried crickets or mealworms as treats.
Probably the biggest issue with keeping a pet Hedgehog, other than laws allowing them, is the fact that they are nocturnal - meaning they are active at night when their owners are trying to sleep. As well if they get too cold they may try to hibernate and will often die, as this is not natural. A pet Hedgehog should be taken out of its cage nightly for at least 2 hours.
Of course, as with any pet, exotic pets like Hedgehogs, are best to be purchased from a breeder, or adopted from an animal shelter, and never bought at a pet store.
8 week old Hedgehog.
This is not a complete guide to Hedgehog care, one should do more research before getting an exotic pet Hedgehog. Hedgehog Central is a great source of information, and even has a list of breeders.
I will also share with you a link written by my husband with information we gathered, it should be considered a good introductory guide to Pet Hedgehogs, click here.
Silkie Chickens look more like bunnies than like chickens, but indeed they are birds. Silkie Chickens (sometimes spelled Silky Chickens) are exotic chickens, as they have blue - black skin, flesh, and bones. Another unusual feature is that silkie chickens have an extra toe on their feet.
Silkie Chickens are one of the most popular chicken breeds for pets. They tend to be friendlier than most other chickens and often enjoy being carried around, particularly if handled from a young age. One of the things that make them so popular as pets is the fact they are friendly, even the roosters are not usually as mean as the roosters of some other breeds. However it should be noted that they are gentle even among other chickens and as such tend to be bullied if in with other breeds.
Silkie chicken hens are terrific mothers and are noted as being very broody hens - often used to hatch and/or raise chicks from other chickens, or even game birds.
photo source - House Chicken, Sweet Treats, having a day at the Park.
Silkie chickens are soft to the touch, and although their feathers look like fur, they should never be brushed. Their feathers lack barbicels which lock feathers together neatly. Although most chickens can fly a bit, silkies are considered completely flightless because their feathers are so poor. Additionally the loose feathers mean they are less able to cope with cold weather.
Silkie chicks can be purchased from Hatcheries, local farmers, exotic livestock auctions, and bird shows. Some people enjoy buying "hatching eggs" which are eggs that need to be incubated in order to hatch. Other people do not want the trouble and buy week old chicks. Still others prefer to buy more mature birds.
At five months of age the hens start laying light brown eggs, and, like all hens, will lay eggs even without a rooster. Laying does tend to decrease after two years, but a well cared for pet Silkie can live for more than 8 years.
Our silkie rooster and a chick.
Silkies are small chickens, even their standard size is small, but they also come in a bantam size as well.
When buying Silkie chicks, or chickens, always check to see that the vent area is clean when selecting any bird. Never buy birds from a farm if you see other sick looking birds around.
Who among us as children did not want a pet wolf, tiger, or wallaby? Okay perhaps Wallabies were not everyones first choice for a pet, but for some Wallabies are the most desired pets.
Of course they are not legal everywhere and do have very specialized care and needs that people must be aware of. There are several Wallaby breeders near me (in Alberta, Canada), and a few people own them as exotic pets.
One of the biggest cautions is for cat or dog owners. Wallabies should not be in contact with either of these animals as there are some health problems that can transfer through cat, or dog, feces, and be deadly to Wallabies - Coccidia being of major concern, and much harder to treat or prevent in Wallabies than in pet cats and dogs.
Also be aware there are several breeds of Wallaby, some being better for pets, some being more hardy in cold climates. One should do more research before rushing out to get an exotic pet Wallaby.
Sugar Gliders are a trendy exotic pet from Australia. It is important to know more about Sugar Gliders as pets if you are thinking of getting one.
These marsupials are certainly cute, but not a pet we, at the cabin, have ever owned. Having spoken to many Sugar Glider owners, they are a very demanding exotic pet, and one that some people have felt was a mistake to get. Sugar Gliders are certainly not pets for the first time owner, or a person who does not have a lot of time to spend with their pet.
Sadly, sugar gliders are often kept in cages that are far too small for a their needs; they also suffer if not kept with a companion, or not carried around for a good portion of the day (at which time they pee, and poop).
Another concern is the age at which Sugar Gliders are sold and purchased. Pet stores often sell retired breeding animals, in other words - old stock, with breeders selling younger animals directly to the public for higher prices than the stores are willing to pay them (indeed stores buy cheap so they can resell high). It is very difficult to tell the age of a Sugar Glider so this is a common trick in the industry.
most exotic pets, Sugar Gliders do have specific dietary
requirements. They are very prone to problems with getting an
improper balance of calcium to phosphorous, which will contribute to
a bone disease. There for it is highly recommended you find a proper
food made for Sugar Gliders. Or supplement their diet with vitamins
and minerals. In an emergency you can give them good quality cat
food, fresh fruit, as well as calcium enriched crickets or chicken
Housing and Care
of the Sugar Glider cage is very important. They are one of the few
pets who actually prefer a taller cage to a long one. The cage
should be at least 3 feet high for a pair of gliders, and taller if
you are planning on housing more. The bars should not be more than ½
an inch apart or you will risk escape. You may house two same sexed
animals in a cage, which may be better than having a breeding pair.
If the cage is large enough you may have as many as four adult
animals in a cage.
As they love to climb, you must provide plenty
of opportunity to climb, ladders, ropes, and even bird toys are good
if you cannot find actual toys for sugar gliders. They do require a
place to sleep, which should be either a nest box or pouch. Because
they tend to urinate in their bed you may want to get 2 pouches, so
you can wash one and use the other. They may enjoy a wheel similar
to what is used for hamsters.
will want to line the bottom of the cage with newspaper and cover it
lightly with pine (not cedar) shavings. Of course you need to
supply a water source.
mentioned, these are NOT pets for beginners. They require a lot of
social care. If you are only going to have one you must be able to
provide it with a lot of social interaction, such as carrying it in a
pouch for most of the day and evening. Remembering that Gliders are
not “neat” pets. They will urinate in the pouch. Punishing them
for a natural behavior is not fair. You cannot house train these
small, rather primitive animals. Likewise, because they are
climbers, and have sharp claws they should not be punished for
scratching you when they climb on you
They are nocturnal, which
means they will keep you awake at night if you plan to keep it in
your bedroom. They will live for 10-15 years, about as long as a
dog, are you prepared for this length of a commitment? Another
question to ask is do you have a knowledgeable veterinarian in your
area, who can provide care? If you are a person who likes to take
vacations, you need to be prepared to provide social care for your
Sugar Glider while you are away.
are not cheap pets and they have very special requirements. Getting
a pet should never be taken lightly, and this is especially true of
exotics like Sugar Gliders. I encourage you to do more research on
your own before getting a Sugar Glider (or any pet). Use multiple
sources and especially those from people with nothing to gain.
Somebody who is trying to sell you a pet has their income on the
line. They may not be totally honest about the work or expense
alternative pet would be a Rabbit or Guinea Pig. Both are awake in
the day, and so much is known about them that it is easier to find
good care for a sick animal. Neither are as demanding as Sugar
Gliders, and both come in some rarer forms. Good luck with your
selection of the right pet.
Here at the cabin we have a couple of barn cats that live outdoors (they have a dog house for shelter and several barns - both cats are neutered of course and brought into the house when its very cold, althogh they prefer to be outside). We leave bowls of cat food out for them, including one bowl on the deck. Sometimes this food seems to vanish overnight. We have seen who is stealing the food on a couple of occasions. A skunk! This cute skunk is easy to chase off and has never sprayed us or the cats.
Above you see he/she spilled the big container of cat food. The crash alerted me.
In our area skunks are not allowed as pets although this one seems to think we are in charge of feeding it! Some people do keep skunks as pets, they can be very ferret like in behavior with the main concern in that pet skunks (and all skunks) are nocturnal. As well an exotic pet, like a skunk, should never be caught wild (in most cases this is illegal) rather they should be purchased from a breeder, or adopted from a rescue group.
Depending where you live anything other than a cat, dog, fish, or livestock, could be thought of as an exotic pet. This means that in most areas everything from hamsters to hedgehogs, to hermit crabs... everything from parrots to pigeons to panthers, is considered as an exotic pet.
There is no specific rule to define what is an exotic pet, as such when different people encounter this term they may think it refers to different animals. Some may think of large carnivores, lions, wolves, and tigers, but other people think of ferrets, fennec foxes, or even pet rats.
It is important people define what they mean when using the term "Exotic Pet" particularly when making rules, such as landlord/tenant agreements. Be aware some exotic pets have laws regarding restriction of ownership, or permit needs - if you own an animal that might be called an exotic pet, check to be sure it is allowed in the area you plan on moving to.
On the whole exotic pets require different care than cats and dogs, and it may be harder to find food, supplies, and veterinary care for an exotic pet.
People who want exotic pets need to be sure they want such a pet for the right reason - because they can care for it, and it fits their lifestyle - not because they want a "Cool Pet".
photo by author - llama cria
Read more about the Laws on Owning Exotic Pets in the USA - click here.
Read more about the Concerns of Owning an Exotic Pet - click here.
At the Animal Cabin we like all kinds of animals, from tiny bugs, to massive creatures, but of course we also love looking at some cute critters, and what could be cuter than a bunny?
Writer RJ Evans is noted for his original sense of humor, and ability to find the most awesome pictures!
He must be a Star Trek fan too because in this link he references one of Star Treks most famous animals - the Tribble.
The Angora rabbit is Earth's version of the Tribble, and nearly breeds as fast!
If you think this Angora bunny is cute you will want to check RJ's article The Real Life Tribble - click here.
Angora rabbits are not easy pets to care for, they require regular grooming or their hair can become a real problem for them. If hair around their rump is allowed to become dirty it can attract flies which can lead to a deadly problem - fly strike.
Green Anoles are commonly kept as house pets. Sadly many do not live long as many people do not gather enough information on their care and requirements.
These small lizards require a warm tank, at least 7.5 gallons, however 10 or even 15 gallon tanks are better.
Males are more often seen in the pet trade and will fight and kill each other as they mature. Females are generally held back by breeders. The males have the larger red pouch they can inflate.
Photo By Huzzar [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Anyone wishing to get one of these small lizards as a pet should do more research, learn about the animal, its needs, and decide whether or not you can meet these, and that this is indeed a pet you want - for the right reasons.
An Anole (say Ah - No - Lee) is a good starter lizard for somebody who is truly interested in keeping larger species of lizard.
Although stores often sell Anole food many animals prefer live food so you must be able to provide them with live crickets. They can be handled but if stressed will drop their tail (let it fall off).
Anoles like tropical tank conditions.
To Learn more about keeping Green Anoles as Pets, Click Here.
To see some Macro Photography Images of Green Anoles, Click Here.
The Baudet de Poitou
is a fairly large donkey, standing 13 to 15 hands high (a hand is 4 inches or 10 cm). The most
recognizable feature is their long hair, known as “cadenette” which
hangs down like dreadlocks. In color they are always dark brown or
black, but with a white tummy and nose. The Baudet de Poitou donkey has lighter hairs around
the eyes. They lack the dark dorsal stripe seen in most other breeds.
Their long hair is a dominant trait and crossbred animals will have this
feature as well.
Because the long hair is dominant it means that part bred animals will have the long hair so unscrupulous sellers might try to suggest their part-bred Poitou is in fact a purebred, always get proof of parentage with registration papers. Like most animals these hairy donkeys cannot legally be called purebreds unless they have registration papers proving the same.
Read more about these shaggy donkeys - click here.
To read about the differences between horses, mules, and donkeys - click here.
To read a true story about my standard donkey - click here.
A "Domestic" house cat that was born owner-less and lived wild from the start is not really a "wild" cat, it is correctly known as a feral cat; with the term "wild" referring real wild cats, lions, tigers, and so forth. This article is about taming feral cats that have been living as wild all their life, not about taming tigers, lions, bobcats, and others.
At one time I was told it is impossible to "tame" any feral cat unless you caught them before they were 8 weeks old, but this is not true!
I live in the country, on 10 acres, with no neighbors in sight. An old house sits as it waits to fall in on itself, and from time to time a feral cat had litters in the house. Although we tried to trap her we were never able to but we currently have four of her kittens (from 2 or 3 different litters) in our care, only one of which was caught as a wee kitten.
We know these kittens had been living wild their whole lives, and yet now all are tame, and you would not know they had been without human contact for much of their early lives. The latest was well over a year old before we managed to catch him.
This snobby looking fellow was at least a year old when we caught him, yet is quite tame now.
As a result of our own experience, we at the Cabin, would like to share with everyone that even adult cats born totally wild can be tamed. One has to be willing to work at it. Typically once they know that it is warm indoors, and you have food, they will change their way of thinking.
* Be sure to spay or neuter as soon as possible!
How to Tame Young Kittens
To tame young kittens we would keep them in a small cage, as for guinea pigs, but a dog kennel would work too, or even a very small bathroom (keep the toilet lid shut). The kittens need dry food, water, and a small litter box. The idea of the small cage makes them easier to catch.
As many times a day as possible (at least 3 times) you should go in and hold each kitten. They will hiss and freak out so you must be unafraid. If you are worried about the kitten getting away from you, do this in a room with the door shut at first. Hold the kitten for at least 15 minutes at a time. Eventually there will be a time when the kitten will relax and even start to purr.
Cage with 3 kittens.
When you put the kittens back in their cage then offer them some canned food on a plate. This way they associate people with good things. Eventually the kittens will be less afraid, and will even start to climb up the cage to get attention/food. The overall taming process can take 1 week or more depending on how old and how feral the kittens are.
Lions, Tigers, and so forth are not easy to tame when caught in the wild even if caught as young kittens, and can never be fully trusted. Even those raised in captivity from captive parents are not as tame as domestic cats.
These animals can never be trusted to the same level in part because of their size and in part because they still have such strong "wild" instincts.
This past summer, when shutting the barn door, many nesting bats fell out of their cozy nesting spot. It was quite a sight to see, they squealed and made their way back up the wall of the barn to find their nest (it was a sliding door that had been left open most of the summer and they had made a next between the open door and exterior of the the barn.
By the time I got my camera most had climbed back to safety.
As a result of this I spent some time on the Internet researching bats and was alarmed to find that a mysterious disease is killing them by the millions (not in my area). This disease is known as "White-Nose Syndrome" and is one of the worlds largest disasters in terms of animal life being lost at the moment. You can read more about White Nose Syndrome in bats here.
Here at the Animal Cabin we know not everyone likes Pigeons. Many city folk call them "Flying Rats", but there are many people who keep Pigeons in lofts and aviaries. Breeders have developed some extreme appearances to these birds, some fly in loops, some can not fly well at all, but have beautiful fanned tails. Pigeons make pretty good pets for somebody who does not want a lot of work, and likes to hear bird sounds in their yard.
To read more about the Fancy Breeds of Pigeons, click here.
Sometimes we will hear somebody ask if Zebras are black with white stripes or white with black stripes. The trick to answering this is to look at their skin color, which we can see on their muzzle area. The skin of the zebra is black, as such we can see that the Zebra is a black animal with white stripes.
Lots of horse loving girls (and boys) think owning a Zebra would be pretty cool, however these animals are not commonly kept as "pets" simply because they are hard to domesticate, or tame. In the photo a team of four zebras is actually three zebras and a more tame - horse!
Zebras can be kept as pets in some areas, permits are required and they need to have sufficient space. These are not pets suitable for everyone, and should only be kept by those interested in zebras as an animal - not for the sake of getting attention by having an unusual equine!
You may be interested to know that there are many different kinds of zebra each with its on unique traits. Feel free to read some more interesting facts about these amazing animals, click here.
It is story time at the Cabin. As you may know we keep some pet sheep around to keep the pasture down (tall dry grass can be a fire hazard). One year one of the ewes gave birth in the middle of winter, the lambs faced certain death as the temperatures were well below freezing. It was a very lucky thing they were found, still wet, and one in its sack.
Raising a lamb is not an easy thing, but if they were to live we had to act fast.
Read the Full Story, complete with pictures, on this Lucky Lamb and her Sister, click here.
If you are interested in sheep, you may want to check out our other Blog, all about sheep - click here.
As much fun as exotic pets are, imagine owning an exotic livestock animal. People seldom give thought to owning exotic farm animals.. mostly because a lot of people do not have the land needed, but many hobby farmers are taking a liking to owning exotic, and rare breed, farm animals. Here, at the cabin, we use some hair sheep to keep the grass trimmed down nice and short. Oh look, there is a nice young ram chewing the grass right now!
Have you ever wondered what are the chances of finding an unhatched, but partially formed chick, are in the eggs you buy from the grocery store? We sometimes hear "stories" of this happening, but does it really occur?
Chances are what some people think is a growing chick is actually the tiny strands that hold the yolk in place in the center of the egg. These strands are white and break when the egg is cracked. They snap back next to the yolk and could look like a tiny growing chick.
Blood spots in eggs are also natural and are not a growing chick.
There are actual reasons why the chances of finding a chick in an egg from the grocery store are zero. In fact the ONLY way this would happen in grocery store eggs is if somebody intentionally took a fertilized egg and stuck it in with the other eggs as a prank.
In the egg industry chicks are sexed at the age of one day, females have their beaks cut, wings cut, get vaccinated, and get sent off to grow up. Male chicks are mostly put into a meat grinder. As such there are no males with the hens that will be laying eggs. Mature hens lay eggs daily even without a male present. With no rooster around the eggs are not fertile and cannot grow chicks.
Further more the eggs roll away from the hen instantly and are chilled; as such even if a rooster had been with the hen the egg would never be incubated (warmed) enough for a chick to grow inside. Before they are put into their cartons, they are screened and any egg with an anomaly is removed, so even if there was a chance of an unhatched chick being in an egg, the screening process would have those eggs culled.
On rare occasion when people claim they find an actual chick in the egg it is usually a prank or a major mistake with "farm fresh" eggs; if somebody was very sloppy in collecting the eggs and took one that had been incubated for at least 10 days.
Many parents are dumbfounded what they should do when their child brings home an animal and wants to keep it. This could occur with a stray pet, or a wild animal. There are laws and restrictions about what you can, and cannot, do. Knowing the right thing is very important. Not only are you acting in the best interest of the animal, but the law, and the animals real owner too!
At the Animal Cabin we want to make sure everyone knows what is the right thing to do to help the animal as best you can.
Just because your kids have found a pet and want to keep it does not mean they can. Even if you are okay with them having a pet there may be legal issues. That pet had an owner, and that owner is legally entitled to get it back.
As such the first thing you should do when your children bring home a pet they have found is to check it for identification, such as a collar and tags. You could also go back to where they found it and ask around if anyone knows who the pet belongs to.
Next, phone the local animal shelter or whomever deals with lost and found pets in the area. This could be an SPCA, humane society, animal control, or sometimes the police or local veterinarian's office. If you are not sure who to call your local police department will tell you. Have them check their "Lost Pets" reports and be sure to file a "Found Pet" report. This simple act protects you from potentially being charged with theft, unless it can be proven your children lured the pet from its yard or took it from a secured place.
You can also take the pet to the veterinarian or animal shelter and have them scan it (free) for a microchip.
Technically you have to wait to see if anyone claims the pet before you can consider it legally yours, this can be 2 or 3 weeks in some places.
Obviously if you have no intention of keeping the pet you should take it to the animal shelter so the owner can claim it. Until it is legally yours you cannot sell it or give it away.
Never keep a pet unless you are fully prepared to care for it.
We all have our differences of opinions in regards to the keeping of animals as pets, some animal rights activists feel that keeping any animal as a pet is wrong. Others feel that certain animals are alright as pets, but some should not be kept as pets. Then we have livestock animals, and the people who are taking those and making them into pets. As such we are now often seeing chickens, pigs, and goats, as pets, often coming right into their owners homes. Feel free to share your views by making a comment or clicking on the poll above.
A lot of pets can bite, but some are more likely to bite than others. This can be a concern for people who are afraid of getting bit, or in particular for considerations of a classroom, or childs, pet.
Here at the cabin we don't want anyone to get bit, or to have a pet, or animal, that is dangerous to others.
Many kids beg and plead with their parents to get them a pet. This can go on for years. The problem is that sometimes the kids are not reasonable in their requests. Kids do not understand why their parents say no (heck, sometimes the parents don't know why they are saying "no").
Here at the cabin we think that there are many facts that children must understand, and a few tips they should take to heart, especially when begging their parent to get them a pet.