Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sugar Gliders as Exotic Pets

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.

File:Petaurus breviceps Petauro dello zucchero.jpg
By Alessandro Di Grazia (http://www.petsugargliders.eu/) [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

How To Care For A Sugar Glider

Like 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 eggs.

Housing and Care

Height 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.
You 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.

Other Information

As 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. 
These 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 involved.

An 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.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Exotic Pet Skunks

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. 

Read more about the Care for Pet Skunks - click here.
Read more about Skunks in General - click here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What is an Exotic Pet?

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.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cutest Bunnies in the World

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!

photo source
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.

Discount Pet Supplies at ThatPetPlace.com

Read more about angora rabbit breeds.
See other cute rabbit breeds.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Green Anole Lizards

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.  

Discount Reptile Supplies at www.thatpetplace.com

To Learn more about keeping Green Anoles as Pets, Click Here.
To see some Macro Photography Images of Green Anoles, Click Here.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Shaggy Donkey of France

One of the rarest donkeys is the shaggy Poitou Donkey of France.

Here at the cabin we enjoy sharing information about such unusual animals, ones that many people will never see in their lifetime, but hopefully whose species can be saved.

In France these shaggy donkeys are called Baudet du Poitou. These donkeys are so rare there are less than 300 purebreds even today.

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.   

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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.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Can Wild Cats be Tamed

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.  

Read more about What to feed a new kitten, click here.

Real wild cats are a different matter....

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.