Saturday, December 24, 2011

How to Feed a Pet Skunk


If you own a pet skunk, or are thinking about getting a pet skunk you will hear a lot of conflicting information in regards to feeding.  This is in part because very few studies have been done on skunk nutrition, and as well because all food companies that make skunk food (there are only a few) will tell you that their food is the "best".  

In the past a lot of skunk owners have fed cat food or ferret food to their skunk, but both are too fatty and contain too much protein. Skunks fed these diets often became obese.  Many skunk owners now consider feeding a top quality, grain free, dog food to be better (do not contain BHA, BHT, by-products, corn gluten meal, or brewers rice).  However the concern is that the skunk still requires taurine - an ingredient not found in dog food.

Skunk owners can purchase taurine in powder, liquid, or tablets. Taurine should be feed at 200 mg per day. Calcium supplements are also a good idea.  Both can be purchased at a health food store (some pet stores may carry these too).

A skunk's diet should be roughly 65 % meat and dairy products, 30% vegetables, and 5% fruit.

Vegetables can be fresh or frozen (and thawed), canned vegetables tend to be lower in nutritional value.  Skunks should not have asparagus, onions, or iceberg lettuce.

Fruits is safe for skunks except for grapes and avocados. Fruit should be given only two or three times a week, not daily.

Skunks can eat nuts, excluding salted nuts, almonds offer a good source of Vitamin E.

Pet skunks can eat eggs (boiled – shell and all), and most dairy products (including goats milk) except whole milk, cream, and high fat cheeses. You should not feed your skunk yogurt with artificial sweeteners (aspartame), which are often found in low-fat yogurts.

Skunk owners can also purchase crickets, mealworms from pet supply stores. Live crickets may escape so most owners prefer to buy dried crickets.  You can dig up worms for your skunk, but most people prefer to leave the worms in the garden where they are beneficial.

Skunks under 4 months of age should be fed 3-5 small meals a day, do not feed a skunk free choice, it will eat too much and become obese. Adult skunks can have 3 meals a day.  For many skunk owners this means feeding early in the evening, later at night, early in the morning.  Watch to see how much your skunk can eat in 20 minutes time, and remove uneaten food after that.  Monitor your skunk for weight loss or gain and overall signs of eating right.

Skunks are natural foragers, if you leave any food out they will find it, and can open cupboard doors while searching for food.  Keep chocolate of of a skunk's reach it is toxic.

Skunks should have their food and water in stainless steel or ceramic bowls that are built so they do not tip or spill.



Indications of a Skunk with a Diet Problem:

A fat skunk is not a healthy skunk.  You can reduce the amount of food you feed in the winter as they naturally would find less to eat in the winter and this will help reduce the skunk's weight.

A skunk that is skinny and drags its hind legs could be suffering from a lack of calcium.

Hair loss, particularly on the back and tail, indicate an improper diet (or mites).

A skunk with vision problems may be suffering from a lack of taurine.

If a skunk's white fur looks yellow this may be a sign of poor care, or a poor diet.

Further Reading on Feeding and Care for Skunks

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bobcats as Exotic Pets

Many people are looking for more exotic, more unusual, slightly more dangerous, exotic pets; but they still want cute!  As such bobcats and lynxes are now being considered as pets and are slowly entering the exotic pet market.

I personally do not feel a need to own such a creature but did a lot of research on ownership of them which I present to you now. 

In most areas you will require a licence or permit own own a pet bobcat or pet lynx.  Depending on your area this may require getting your property inspected for security.  Your local zoning may be an issue too.  You can only acquire these exotics from licenced breeders who are required to check your permit before selling to you.  Note that you cannot catch and keep a wild bobcat or lynx in most areas as this is illegal, not to mention cruel and dangerous.



Bobcats are about twice the size of a domestic cat, and the Canadian lynx is slightly larger, so you must be sure you can accomodate such a big animal, offering it enough room to play, and as well you must consider the higher costs of feeding and over all care.

Some people breed their own rabbits for the purpose of feeding their pet bobcat or lynx, others use premium commercial diets.  Meat must be the main part of the diet as, like all cats, bobcats are true carnivores. 

You need to be certain you have a veterinarian willing to treat and care for such an exotic pet. 

Keep in mind that a bobcat or lynx is very playful, they will be more destructive than a regular house cat and require plenty of things to climb on.  They may also see any smaller pets as prey.  Like most cats they spend the majority of their day sleeping, but like to be awake in the morning and evening.

If you are intersted in getting a pet bobcat or pet lynx the first thing to check is what licensing and/or permits are needed in your area.  Contact a breeder to see what their requirements are in terms of space and fencing, as most breeders insist on doing home checks before selling to a buyer - they may require a deposit made before they actually have kittens ready to sell.

You should plan on spending $1200 - $1800 USD to purchase a pet bobcat.  Make sure it has been vet checked and vaccinated first.  It should be no younger than 8 weeks of age and should come with health guarantees.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Fainting Goats

Back in 1880 four goats were abandoned by a Canadian man in Tennessee, these goats soon had kids and somebody noticed a peculiar trait among their offspring.  It seemed when they got a sudden scare they fell over as if in a trance.  The condition was recognized as a rare condition that also occurs in humans, myotonia congentia.

When given a sudden scare the muscles in the legs of the goats freeze up, the animal quickly topples over as a result and may lay there frozen for 10 seconds or so.  For many years Myotonic goats were used as meat goats, intentionally scared so they would build up muscle in their leg from repeatedly freezing up.  Now they are more likely to be kept as pets or occasionally for cashmere fiber that some produce in the winter.


Myotonic goats are also called fainting goats and are smaller goats, often black and white, but they can be any color.   They are pretty easy to keep, needing shelter in cold and wet weather, and they are less likely to climb fences than other goats. 

If bred to another goat the fainting gene is recessive.  Younger fainting goats are more likely to fall over as the older ones learn how to brace themselves.  Of course any animal that falls down when frightened may be an easy target for predators, or thieves.  As such it is a good idea to keep your goats well fenced and secure.  


Read here if you wish to learn more about goats and goat care.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pet Spiders

Todays' article is on Keeping Pet Spiders, by Jerry Lee Hall

Spiders' Increasing Popularity As Exotic Pets
Spiders can be really be amusing to observe. They move about quietly and are known to cope well in several types of environments. Maintenance is likewise not very difficult as they are generally clean and don't leave much clutter. These reasons account for the growing popularity of keeping spiders as exotic pets.

However, as spiders are generally seen as low-maintenance pets, owners at times fail to recognize that taking care of them is, in fact, not that straightforward. There are still many things to take into consideration. Thus, having spiders as pets as a result of mere influence of their popularity shouldn't be the case. You must also remember that, just like in taking care of other types of pets, a high level of responsibility is involved.

If you are a first-time owner, it would be wise to choose those which are neither fragile nor treacherous. Tarantulas like Chilean rose, Mexican Redleg, and Costa Rican Zebra are well suited to being pets. Their venom isn't very harmful but is instead similar to that of the bees.

Strength of venom is one of the important things that you have to check at the very start of your search for an exotic pet spider. Mild venom may cause significant pain. Hairs on their abdomen are equally harmful as they may shed it in moments of threat and stress and may cause irritation and great hazard when they get into the eyes. You have several options but, in general, prior to acquiring any type, you have to check with your local government if there are policies regulating such.

To maintain a spider's suitability to become pets, you have to create a habitat that closely mimics their natural living environment. This need not be expensive, or spacious, as a simple terrarium may be enough. You also don't have to worry about giving spiders companions of the same species as they are usually not after socialization. By nature, they are also predatory thus they may just end up eating their companion even if it is a fellow spider. What you have to check is the enclosure as spiders are good climbers and they can easily pass through small holes or crevices. They may escape if their habitat isn't secure enough.

Taking care of spiders indeed isn't that easy. They deserve respect just like any other animal. At the same time, you also have to protect yourself from possible harm that they may inflict. Overall, acquisition must be a result of careful research and consideration.

The Animal Cabin would like to add:
As with buying any pet be sure to buy from a reputable breeder.  Spiders are sometimes sold in pet stores but also are often sold at reptile and herp shows and sales.  Reputable pet spider breeders often advertise in reptile and amphibian shows.
Make sure you are instructed on how to feed your new pet spider as well as how to handle it carefully, dropping a spider can kill it.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

What does a Weasel Look Like?

Have you seen the television commercial where a little girl asks her iPhone "What does a weasel look like?"?  Let's find out more about what weasels are and what they look like.

Although there are 17 types of weasel the one most of us are familiar with is the ferret.  Ferrets are a pretty good example of what all weasels look like, some other weasels may be a bit larger, some may be a bit smaller, but in general all weasels have the same body shape and structure as we see in the ferret.  Weasels are long animals with short legs and a fairly pointed head.  They are carnivores, meat eaters with sharp teeth.


Black Footed Ferret
Some species of weasels have been used for fur, and for hunting, some species (the domestic ferret and polecat) have been kept as pets.  In fact the domestic ferret has been kept for over 2500 years and was commonly used to chase (to "ferret) rabbits, and other vermin, out of their warrens. 

domestic ferret in a playful war dance
Weasels come in different sizes from 5 inches long (12 cm) to 18 inches long (45 cm), with additionally long tails. Their bodies are very streamlined and thin. They have small rounded ears, and pointed noses.   Many weasels are brown in the summer, with a white stomach, and moult to become white in the winter.

If you are considering getting a ferret or polecat as a pet, be warned, they are playful and active.  Ferrets need lots of attention, and if you have other pets, such as rabbits or birds, the weasel's natural prey drive may result in a disaster  Pet ferrets need at least 2 hours out of their cage every morning, and another 2 hours every evening.  As carnivores ferrets need to be feed a food with a high meat content. They can have fruits and vegetables as treats or snacks but only in small amounts. Be sure you have a veterinarian that is familiar with them as well.  Female ferrets must be spayed unless they are to be kept and used for breeding.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Exotic Sphynx Cat

Although not an exotic pet, the Sphynx cat is an exotic looking breed of cat to say the least.  Having only peach fuzz type fur, and very defined features, this cat is sure to catch attention.

photo source

The original breed of Sphynx cats nearly died out in the 1800's but some of there genetics may have remained as recessive genes in other cats.  In 1966 a hairless male kitten was born in Toronto, Canada, named Prune he was bred to his mother in an attempt to produce more animals of this type.  Inbreeding resulted in the deaths of many kittens, and the line never did get established.  Other hairless cats were found, and with some shorter haired Devon Rex cats, the breed finally was able to be considered healthy and viable.

The Sphynx cat is often marketed as a cat ideal for people who suffer from allergies, but they are not truly allergy free, and do require special care.  Sphynx cats should not go outside as they are at risk for sunburn and have poor tolerance for cold weather.  The fact that they lack hair means these cats are particularly fond of curling up on a warm lap, but are otherwise a more playful and active type of cat.
photo source


Due to their relative lack of hair, the Sphynx cat does require regular washing, and should be bathed once a week to prevent body oils from building up on their skin and in the folds of skin.  The cats should also should have their ears cleaned on a weekly basis.  This is because they do not have hair in their ears that would normally draw out the ear wax.  As such the Sphynx cat may require more maintenance than a furry cat.

If you are interested in getting an exotic pet cat, such as the Sphynx you can find breeders at cat shows and in cat magazines, however you should be aware that it is especially risky to bring one of these hairless cats home before it is 12 weeks of age as they are more prone to respiratory problems while young.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Adopt a Less Adoptable Pet Week

How old are you?
I am in my mid fourties.  If I were a cat, or dog, in the middle of my life, I would very likely be euthanized rather than put up for adoption.  Most people want kittens or puppies, a few want year old pets, but very few want senior pets.

Senior pets are nearly impossible for shelters to adopt out.  They sometimes are thought to come with baggage, health issues, and the fact that they will not have many long years left.  Few people bother to even consider adopting such an animal.  Because of this, many shelters do not even keep senior pets and they are euthanized without even being given a chance.



Authors old cat, now deceased.  Ginger Bits.

Senior pets actually do have many benefits and are an ideal companion in certain situations:

Senior pets are ideal for senior owners, they are calmer, and do not need as much exercise.  They are usually well mannered and are less likely to jump on, or claw, their owner, than a playful younger pet.  Senior pets generally fit better into the senior persons life, as a senior person may not be able to make a 15 year commitment to adopting a younger pet.

Senior pets are perfect for people who are only in one place for a short time, such as military people who move every few years.

Senior pets are sometimes great for homes with children.  An older dog may be calmer and safer than a young puppy for example.  An older cat will just wander away from a child if it does not want to be bothered, where as kittens will claw to get away.  It should be noted that not all older pets are good with all children, and the manners of the children should be considered too.

Senior pets are well suited to the type of person who has lots of love to give to a companion who needs, and deserves it.

If you are thinking of adopting a pet, I encourage you to consider adopting an adult, or senior pet.  These animals need homes too!

Petfinder.com has named September 17 - 25 as "Adopt-a-Less-Adoptable-Pet Week" and have asked bloggers to feature some of the types of less adoptable pets, senior pets being the one I have focused on here, but also includes black pets, pit bull dogs, and those with health concerns. 

All pets need loving homes so adopting any pet this week (or at any time) will help, but I urge you to also considering saving the life of a senior animal.

Have a look at PetFinders Gallery of Pets which features only some of the less adoptable pets in shelters today!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

New Monkey Discovered in Brazil

The Brazilian Amazon is one of the few places on the earth that is relatively untouched by man.  Recently explorer, and biologist Julio Dalponte discovered a new species of titi monkey in this area.  This monkey had different markings on its face and tail than other previously know members of the genus, as such it was determined to be a new, previously unknown type of titi monkey.

Titi monkeys have a small body and long tail, which is not prehensile (meaning they do not use their tail to grip).  They travel by jumping from tree to tree and typically sleep at night.

Titi monkeys have been observed to be monogamous, mating for life.  The males have an interesting role in caring for young titi monkeys as they do most of the parenting, bringing the baby to the mother only for feeding.  They tend to live in small family groups.

Of course very little is known about this new species, which is actually one of several discovered since 2000.  Hopefully we can preserve the habitat for this animal, and protect it from being exploited in the pet trade.

You can read more about the discovery of the new titi monkey here at WWF's website.  The site does have a picture which I could not use as it is copyright owned by the photographer. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tips on Selecting a Pet Hamster for a Child


This basic tip guide is titled in regards to selecting a pet hamster for a child, but could also be used for any first time pet owner who is not experienced with hamsters. You will note that although hamsters are fairly common small pets, they are still considered to be exotic pets in most areas.

Before you rush out and get a hamster for your child, or yourself, there are a few facts to keep in mind.

Hamsters are nocturnal, they will be awake in the evening and night. They will want exercise during this time and that might mean running all night on a squeaky wheel, if this does not work for you, then a hamster is probably not a good pet to get.

photo source
The wheel is safe since the hamster cannot get his toes stuck, but it is a bit small.

Hamsters need a lot of exercise, as we mentioned above. They should have a large cage with extensive tunnel systems, or be taken out for a couple hours every evening to get their exercise.

Hamsters should be kept alone. Although some stores will tell you they can be kept in pairs, unless they are in a very large cage there is no guarantee they will not kill each other. Hamsters are typically solitary animals, best kept individually.

Hamsters do bite. If you are afraid of getting bitten, this is not a good pet to get, because at some point the hamster probably will bite. Bites are more likely to occur if the hamster is woken suddenly, but also if it is handled incorrectly, or not handled enough.

Hamsters from the pet store are more likely to bite than one from a breeder, shelter, or home. Pet stores typically get their pets from mass breeders so they are not use to being handled prior to arriving at the store, as such they are not tame.

Males tend to be slightly more docile and friendly than females.

For children it is important to note that the pets must be handled properly or can be hurt. Kids should be shown how to use both hands to hold their pet and never be allowed to pick it up by the scruff of its neck.

Hamsters tend to be fairly healthy when properly cared for, one of the biggest risks is “Wet tail”, which is fatal.

Hamster owners must check to be sure their pet has food, and water daily. The cage should be thoroughly cleaned every week (or less often if its a big cage), however dirty corner areas should be cleaned out more regularly.

The lifespan of a hamster is usually 2 – 4 years depending on the type of hamster, with the larger teddy bear ones tending to live the longest.

Further Reading

Which is a Better Pet, Hamster or Guinea Pig?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Suspected Extinct Rainbow Toad Found

A toad not seen since 1924 has been sighted at last and captured in pictures.  The Borneo Rainbow Toad had not been sighted in 87 years and was on the list of Top 10 Wanted Lost Frogs, when at last 3 individuals were spotted, and photographed by researchers who were specifically looking for new, or endangered, species.

The researchers forwarded their photos of the Borneo Rainbow toad to Robin Moore of Conservation International, who had lauched the campaign to find these little guys, and others, under the name of Global Search for Lost Amphibians.  The discovery is huge, but the location of the find will be kept secret.  There are concerns that the toads will be exploited in the Pet Trade, captured to be sold as extremely rare exotic pets.

The toads were actually discovered August of 2010, but the news was not released until recently.  Scientists had to be sure they had the right toads before making the announcement.  The Borneo Rainbow Toad goes by the scientific name of Ansonia latidisca and measure up to 2 inches long (51 cm).

Ambibians are very much under threat of extinction, with many species listed as Endangered or Threated.  Pollution and habitat loss are major threats to their survival.  Most people around the world are noticing that they are encountering frogs and toads (and other amphibians) in the wild far less than they did even 10 or 20 years ago. 

The pet trade is also responsible for some amphibian disappearances - people should be aware that in most areas it is illegal to catch, and keep, and wild animal, including frogs, toads, and salamanders.  These animals should be kept in the wild.  If you are looking to get a pet toad, frog, or salamander, it is always best to buy from a breeder rather than risk buying from a place that gets them from the wild.

To Read the story on Yahoo!News click here.
To See picures of the Borneo Rainbow Toad click here.

We at the cabin are thrilled at the rediscovery of this tiny being, and hope that their location remain a secret so populations can recover.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Snake Left in Apartment Turns on Water

On the morning of August 6, 2011, in Calgary, AB, basement tenants Christie and Wade Taylor awoke to the sound of running water in the suite above them, a suite they knew was vacant.  They decided to investigate and found a large snake in the bathtub.

Christie said that when Wade opened the shower curtain the "nine-foot snake jumps out at him.", but of course we all know that snakes cannot jump!

It turns out the snake was a very large Boa Constrictor, measuring 2.5 meters long and requiring six people to lift it.  The snake had been left by his owner who was moving out.  Owner Serena Dobmeier says she was on her way back to collect her pet snake when the problem occured.  The problem being that the snake managed to turn on the water in the bathtub.

You can read the full news story here.



photo - not the Boa in the story.

It is not unusual for people to leave unwanted pets behind when they move out.  Although Serena, in the story above, did say she was coming back for the snake, and not abandoning it, other people do leave their pets in this way - never to return.

The tenant assumes the landlord will find the pet and deal with it by taking it to the animal shelter.  Sadly this does not always happen.  Landlords do not always check vacated apartments right after a tenant has left, as such many landlords have found dead, or dying, pets left by their owners.  You may want to note that animal abandonment in this way is a crime in most areas.

Snakes and large lizards are often left simply because the owner has no idea what to do with them, other pets are left because the owner could not find a place that allows pets, or they simply no longer wanted the pet. 

A boa constrictor could certainly live longer in an empty apartment than most other pets, as they do not need to eat as often, however had this snake turned on hot water it could have burned itself very badly.

Learn what to do if you have an Unwanted Pet or Pet you Cannot Take with You

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Information about the Mosasaur

The Mosasaur is often called the T-Rex of the sea, but it was not a dinosaur.  The Mosasaur lived during the late Cretaceous period and rose to become the largest predator of the seas.

There were several subfamilies of Mosasaur, we know of at least four through their fossil evidence.  The largest growing to about 17 meters, or 57 feet, on average.  Their massive jaw was hinged in a snake-like way, so that it could be opened wide to swallow large prey.  It is believed that they used their tail as a propeller pushing them through the water. 

Mosasaur is said to to be the T-Rex of the sea because it was the apex predator at the time.  They were fairly widespread with Mosasaur fossils being found in New Zealand, USA, Denmark, and Canada (a huge find was made recently in Manitoba), as well as in other areas of the world that were once part of the giant sea that covered the planet 85 - 65 million years ago.

We can assume the Mosasaur ate what ever it wanted.  A fossil found in South Dakota showed stomach contents of one Mosasaur containing fish bones, seabird bones, possible shark bones (sharks were alive at this time) and even the remains of an other Mosasaur.  Shark teeth have been found in Mosasaur bones.

photo source

Although Mosasaur was a huge animal, it was not a dinosaur.  Its legs attached to its body at the same angle as those of its nearest living relative today, the monitor lizard, to compare dinosaurs had legs that fit under (or infront) of its body, for example the tyrannosaur had legs that attached in a way we see in most mammals.

It has been suggested that the Mosasaur descended from the prehistoric snakes at the time and is a branch off of the snake classification.

Read More

T-Rex of the Seas Found in Manitoba

Most Prehistoric Animals were Not Dinosaurs

What Animals are Alive Now, and were Alive at the Time of the Dinosaurs

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Myiasis, Pets Being Eaten Alive

In the summer there is a risk to your pets that you may not even be aware of.

If your pets are indoors this is not a common problem, but is a huge risk to outdoor pets, particularly rabbits.

Myiasis is a condition in which fly larvae eat an animal alive, and can kill it.  There are many flies that can cause this problem, the most common being the blowfly.

Myiasis is also called Fly Strike, or Blowfly Strike.

The problem often starts at an open wound, the flies lay their eggs on the flesh, and the larvae hatch out and start eating into the rotting flesh, sometimes feeding on live flesh.  The maggots spread bacteria infection to the bloodstream of the animal and effectively kill it.

In many cases the problem happens around the animals anus (bottom), which when dirty attracts flies even when their is no wound.  The flies lay their eggs on and around the anus of the animal.  The maggots then hatch and start eating the animal while it is still alive.  This is very common in pet rabbits who are kept in outdoor hutches, and in sheep, particularly those in Australia where blowflies are very active in the summer.

You can protect your pet from fly strike by keeping an eye on it, making sure that there are no open sores, and that its rump is always kept clean, and dry.  Cage areas should also be kept clean to prevent flies from being attracted.  People who own pets in areas where blowflies are common can help their pet by keeping it indoors, rabbits in hutches face huge risks.


If you suspect your pet has fly strike veterinarian attention is required immediately to control the bacterial infection from killing the pet.  Maggots can be removed if possible, but this alone is not enough.  In many cases by the time the owner discovers that the pet is infected with Myiasis it is too late.

Further Reading

Fly Strike, a Deadly Killer of Pets
Mulesing, Australias Cruel Way of Dealing with Fly Strike

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Right Cage for a Pet Finch

Finches are small birds often kept as house pets.  Sadly some people make bad mistakes when selecting the cage for their finch. 

Today in the Animal Cabin, we feature an article by Georgina Dawes, who writes about the importance of selecting the right cage for pet finches.

"Whether you are breeding or taking in a bird as your pet, choose a shelter accordingly. There are two cages that you can provide for finches, a regular cage or an aviary.
If you have only one or two finches, then you have the option of using a regular cage but one that is spacious. The smallest that the cage should be is 12x18 inches, and that is recommended for only one finch; but it isn’t suggested that you have only one finch. These are birds that do better in pairs and with each other. They are not interactive with people only with other finches and that makes them happy. That is unless you raise one and take the time to finger train them. The more finches the merrier, but only in even numbers! At times if there is an odd number of finches, two of them will begin to pick on one that is either smaller, weaker or of the opposite gender. They will begin to de-feather them, and at times can kill the odd bird out.

The small cage should obtain everything that an aviary would: feeder, water cup a bath and perches. Make sure that the cage is in a room that is used often, and is at room temperature. Place the cage at eye level so that the finch can see everything that is going on their environment, and make sure that there is a constant air circulation. Finches are very sensitive to temperature and if the room is too hot or too cold they can catch an illness. It isn’t recommended that the cage is outside unless you have an aviary, or the spot where it’s at can be temperature controlled. Any degrees that is over 90 or any weather that is deliberately cold will can be very deadly. Take extra precaution!

art by Mark Gordon Brown


Aviaries are the best choice if you wish to have a group of finches together. Aviaries are very large cages for finches and are similar to the size of a walk in closet. These are most commonly used for breeding birds or for owners who purchase birds often. It’s easier for the finches to breed in these room-sized cages, because they don’t feel as constricted. In one you have more options: you can set up more greenery, more perches, more feeders and baths, and you can separate the birds within the aviary if you’d like. With one of these you are able to walk in to change their food and water. This makes it easier for you and it doesn’t alarm the birds.

In the aviary you can include multiple misters which makes keeping finches outside when it’s warm not as risky to them. If the weather is cold there are always heaters that you can buy for these and most of them come with a protective roof; keeping out rain and other bird feces. It’s essential that these come with a mesh covering, or you attach one to it. There are more insects and small critters that can crawl into the aviary outside of your house. Buy an aviary that fits your needs and your location’s common weather conditions.

Finches can be great pets for a single pet owner or a family. They are effective pets to have in apartments because they don’t make too much of a mess, and aren’t overly loud. Depending on which breed of the finch you purchase, some of them may sing more often than others. The Society finch is one of the breeds where only the male is vocal, and more often when he is mating. If you wish to have an extremely vibrant and colorful bird that sings more often, take a look at the Zebra finch (as in the drawing). Be sure you have time to provide the birds’ basic needs, then you won’t have any problems owning one. Cages, food, temperature, activity and bird interaction are the finches basic needs.

It is important that you know what the finch looks like when they aren’t feeling well. Their feathers tend to fall out, their eyes are droopy and they do not look attentive. It’s best to research or ask your doctor if your finch has odd behavior. It’s better to be safe than sorry! Enjoy the wild and lively birds for what they have to offer, and choose one that fits your personality; it’s not like you have hundreds to choose from!"

Article Source

Read also this article by Mark Gordon Brown, in regards to building a large starplate aviary.  You will need different wire for an aviary for finches, you will note Mark used stucco wire which is fine for large birds, but a finch can easily get through, however the design is excellent where weather allows such aviaries.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Pet Pigs

One of the most recent, trendy pets, is the pet pig. Make no mistake though, pigs are super smart pets, and should not be purchased on a whim. A pig is comparable to a dog in terms of intelligence so a person who thinks a dog is too much work for them, will not want to get a pet pig, in fact, some pig owners find the pig to be more demanding than a pet dog.

photo source

Pigs grow slowly, this sets the stage for some unscrupulous sellers who market small pigs telling the buyers the pigs do not get very big... two years later, however, the pig is big and the new owners are angry. Some breeders intentionally stunt a pigs growth through poor breeding practices and poor food early in life. Eventually these pigs either grow normally or they suffer from health problems because their outsides, and skeletal structure, stops growing, but their insides keep growing, causing a huge “pot belly” and sometimes resulting in considerable pain and discomfort for the animal.

Above is a pig that showed up in my yard one day, we found out from a neighbor that it's owner let it go and doesn't want it back - of course releasing an unwanted pet this way is illegal, it also goes to show that people need to think a lot more before getting a pet pig.

Pigs need to be fed pig food but can be given some people foods in addition, as such they are not cheap pets as some people might think.

Pigs need regular exercise or become bored and destructive, just like a dog would. They love to have mud baths and actually need these to keep their skin in good shape. They are curious and should be considered somewhat to be like having a child in the home.. they love to stick things in their mouth so a home must be “pig proof”. When outside pigs need shelter from the sun, and cold weather.

Pet pigs can live 10 to 15 years, which is a serious consideration when getting a pet. Anyone thinking about getting a pet pig should do more thorough research including checking to be sure they are legal as pets in a specific area.  As well it is a good idea to check into the different breeds and to only buy from a reputable breeder.

More Links on Pigs!




Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cheetahs as Exotic Pets

Recently in the United Arab Emerates there have been some stories of Cheetahs suffering as exotic pets.  These tales should serve as a warning for anyone considering getting such a wild cat for a pet.

In the UAE, Cheetahs, and other exotic pets, are often kept on the rooftops of buildings, often on chains.  In a recent story which made news May 29, 2011, a Cheetah cub, about seven months old, was found wandering the streets with an injured front paw.  The Al Rahma Animal Welfare and Resuce Society speculates that the big cat's paw was injured in a fall, or jump, from its roof top home.  Additionally it had a metal chain around its neck.  Very likely the cat had been on a chain, which may have broken, or been cut, when the animal fell, or broke some other way.

At any rate the cheetah cub was found in the Karama district of Abu Dhabi, and later sent to a wildlife rescue place.

This cheetah was not the first exotic pet, or big cat, to make news in the area, sadly it is only one of many, including cases where smugglers have been caught with kittens, and and even worse recent case where officials saved two lions from a home where both were suffering in horrid condition as the result of neglect, and abuse.  Both lions had been declawed, as well their teeth had been filed down and had become infected.

Read More on the Cheetah's Rescue and see a Picture.
Al Rahma Animal Rescue in Abu Dhabi - Facebook Page

Over all if you are thinking that a big cat is a good pet... think again.  These cats require a lot of meat, they need a lot of space, and they are dangerous.  Even if well handled they have a potential to harm, as well the human lifestyle is not at all natural for such an animal.  Cheetahs, need to run, they were made to stretch their limbs and run.  They are not status symbols.  A far more suitable pet would be a greyhound, or Bengal Cat.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Tiger Mom and the Piglets

Sometime in 2006 an e-mail circulated about a female tiger nursing piglets to overcome her depression at the loss of her tiger cubs. 

I remember seeing this in 2007 and later did a search on it only to discover the whole thing was a fake.  The truth was a little depressing.

The tiger mom and the piglets were part of an entertainment feature at the Sriracha Zoo in Thailand.  This zoo is noted for having a tiger breeding program in which cubs are raised to be used in circuses or for sale to other zoos.  As such the cubs are probably taken from their mothers at a very young age and raised by people - or placed with a sow for equal entertainment value, at least for the hours people visit the zoo. 

The zoo went so far as to dress the piglets like tigers, but apparently this was also just for show, as the tiger skins were removed after the zoo closed.

one of the pictures from the circulated e-mail
To say if this is cruel or not is a person's own opinion.  It certainlly is not natural, although there have been some true stories where animals of one species raise young of an other (rarely a dog may raise a kitten, or young squirrels).  Nutritionally one would have to assume both the piglets and the tiger cubs were also fed special formula for their species.  In some cases visitors were allowed to bottle feed the young animals.  The Srirahca Tiger zoo would not be a place I would have on the top of my list to visit. 

It is interesting to note that there are currently more tigers in captivity than in the wild, yet many of the captive tigers are inbred to the point they have health issues, and short lifespans.

Further Reading On Pet Tigers and Zoos

Facts on Pet Tigers

So... You want a Pet Tiger... Other ways of having a Pet

Issues of Zoos

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Slow Loris is an Illegal Pet

The slow loris is a primate that has gained attention through a few YouTube videos.  As so often happens when "cute animal" videos come out, somebody insists they want to obtain that animal as a pet.  The slow loris, however, should not be kept as a pet. 

Slow loris are native to southeast Asia where it is illegal to capture them from the wild; owning them, and selling them, is also illegal.   Many slow loris are poached from the wild for the purpose of resale in bird and pet markets, or are shipped to other countries for sale in pet stores.  In these stores they are often listed as being "captive bred" however this is usually not the case, but nearly impossible to prove.  Even if they were captive bred, the parent animals were stolen illegally from the wild.

File:Myanmar Illicit Endangered Wildlife Market 06.jpg

photo source

The real cruelty is the fact that slow loris are put at risk by having their teeth pulled, or cut, before they become part of the exotic pet trade.  If rescued from markets they cannot be returned to the wild because without teeth survival is difficult.

The slow loris has a poisonous bite.  To deal with this the poachers will cut their teeth with pliers or nail clippers, or yank them out.  Veterinarians are not involved because aiding the poachers would be illegal.  The poor little animals are given no pain killers, and nothing to fight infection.  Many slow loris stop eating as a result of the pain, or die from infection.  There is no way of knowing just how many slow loris die, but estimates suggest that many get infections which are often fatal and others die of stress or malnutrition.

photo source

Make no mistake, the slow loris, although cute, should not be part of the exotic pet trade. If you happen to see a slow loris for sale in an illegal pet market, DO NOT buy it, this only rewards the seller.  Rather you are suggested to call police or other animal welfare authorities, who will take the animal and place it in a rescue.  This hurts the seller and hopefully they will stop their involvement in the cruel trade of this beautiful animal.

Please read more about the Slow Loris .

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mothers Day, Pictures of Cute Baby Animals

Mother's Day is celebrated on different days all over the world, here in Canada, Mother's day is the first Sunday in May.  To celebrate this day I wanted so share with you some pictures of cute baby animals and their mothers.

photo source
A baby horse is called a foal, it is either a filly, if female, or colt, if male.  Learn more about Horses and Foaling


A baby llama is called a cria. Learn more about Llamas


photo source
Baby hamsters are called pups,  you can read more about Hamsters as Pets



photo source
Baby cats are called kittens, their mother is a queen.  Read more about How Cats have Kittens.


photo source
This is a mother dog,  her babies are called puppies, the act of giving birth in dogs is called whelping.  Read more on Whelping


Happy Mothers Day!


Note:  Although baby animals are cute, you should not let your pet breed unless you have qualified people looking to take the off spring.  This is particularly true of cats and dogs, as in the United States over 4 million excess pets are produced every year, and are euthanized.  Keep in mind that not every female animal wants to be a mother, and some will not survive the pregnancy or giving birth.  Sometimes mother animals will not care for their young, and you have to be a foster parent.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mules, Donkeys, Burros, and Horses

Horses, Donkeys, and Mules have so many things the same, but are actually very different when you get right down to it. 

Most people only think of the ears, donkeys have big ears, horses have relatively small ears, and mules have ears that are in between.  There are many other differences between horses, donkeys, and mules... which you can read about by following the link at the bottom of the page.

Oh wait, did we forget to mention Burros?  Not Really!  Burro is just another name for a donkey.  In some places "Burro" is the term  used for the smaller donkeys.  Just as horses come in different sizes, including miniatures and ponies, so too do donkeys, from the large, mammoth donkeys, to the smaller, miniature donkeys.

A mule is a cross between a male donkey, a jack, and a female horse, a mare.  Mules are hybrid animals and they have an odd number of chromosomes (63) and as such they are typically sterile, although a few female mules (jennys) have been known to have foals, it is very rare.

Horses on the left, a standard donkey on the right.

One of the reasons why people breed horses and donkeys together to make mules is because while horses are strong, they do not have the endurance of a donkey and require more food.  Donkeys are smarter than horses and will be safer when travelling on dangerous ground.  Mules make excellent work animals as a result of this combination.

Read More (and see more pictures) about the Differences between Horses, Donkeys, and Mules.

Read More about Pet Donkeys.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Innisfail Odd and Unusual Animal and Bird Auction

If you are in Alberta and looking for an odd or unusual exotic pet, the Innisfail Odd and Unusual Animal and Bird Auction is not to be missed.  This is a three day event that happens twice a year, Easter weekend, and Thanksgiving weekend.

As seen at the Innisfail Auction
The Easter sale will begin on Good Friday, with goats and sheep selling in the day.  Later in the evening Aniques, Collectables, and most caged pets will sell (sometimes including some caged birds), this is often hedgehogs, sugar gliders, guinea pigs, and a few reptiles, but can be animals such as wallabies.  Many exotic pets sell at this time - different every auction!

On Saturday, the other birds will sell, these being exotic chickens, pheasants, peafowl, emus, and who-knows-what!  Rabbits will also sell on Saturday.  Many caged birds also sell on Saturday.

On Easter Sunday, the miniature horses, exotic cattle, llamas, and other large mammals (bison, elk) will sell. 

The Thanksgiving weekend sales run the same way, Friday to Sunday.

Pheasant we purchased at the Innisfail auction.

Anything is possible - it all depends what sellers bring.  I have attended many of these sales, we have seen many exotic pets and animals at this sale, every thing from tiny baby snakes, to a halter trained bison.  We  have seen rare breeds of livestock, and a few regular ones!



Zebu seen at the Innisfail Auction
Some exotic pets that are auctioned off require special permits to own, (such as migratory birds, or primates) so make sure you bring your permits if you plan on buying certain exotics.  Come early to have a look around, get your bidder number, and find a seat.  If you are selling - come even earlier!


Innisfail is just south of Red Deer, Alberta, on highway 2, about an hour north of Calgary.  The auction market is just off the highway at the south end of town. 

To see Other Sales Dates - click here.

Further Reading

Buying and Selling at Exotic Animal Auctions
Starting a Petting Zoo
How to get a Better Price for your Horse, when Selling at Auction

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Walking Stick Insects as Pets

A few years ago my husband, daughter, and I, attended an Odd and Unusual Action (in Innsfail, Alberta) in which exotic livestock and pets are sold.  We came home with 3 jars of Northern Walking Stick insects, with 3 in each jar for a total of 9 new pet bugs.  After almost three years, we had more than 300 of the little creatures. 

Walking stick insects are great pets for people with limited space (we kept ours in a 10 gallon tank), or who have allergies to furry pets, or who want a cheap and easy pet.

Discount Reptile Supplies at www.thatpetplace.com
click for pet supplies


In the summer we fed our pet insects leaves off our apple trees, in the winter we fed them leaves of romaine lettuce (other lettuce does not have enough nutrition).  We only had two bad experiences - once when we forgot to wash the store bought leaves and all the adults died, however a few weeks later we notice little ones in the tank, so clearly there were some unhatched eggs.  The other bad experience was when the mesh lid was not shut tight enough and a few insects escaped.  We found them on the walls and curtains for the following few days.

In addition to food they also require a water source, such as a wet sponge or damp soil.  We misted the tank several times a day.  In the picture you can see a larger adult on an apple leaf and a smaller adult on a stick.  They do require sticks so they can shed their skin.

Read more about Care for Walking Stick Insects

And another on Care of Walking Stick Insects

Read more about Cheap and Easy Pets


* Please Note in most areas it is illegal to set any unwanted walking stick insects loose into the wild.  If you have found you have more than you can care for you must dispose of them, by selling them, freezing them, or feeding them to lizards.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Exotic Pet Trade and Wildlife Trafficking

When buying an exotic pet it is very important that you buy from a reputable breeder. Unfortunately many people simply want an exotic pet and do not check where it came from. In some cases exotic pets are obtained illegally and smuggled into areas where they are offered for sale.

Buying pets that were caught in the wild is never a good idea for the following reasons:

Disease - Wild caught animals could be riddled with disease, even if they appear healthy they could be carrying a disease which could risk their health, or spread to other pets.
Parasites – It is just as likely that a wild caught animal would be full of parasites. These might not even be a problem when the animal is living naturally, but when introduced to the stress of capture and confinement the parasites can easily take over.
Stress – Stress in itself is a huge health risk to an animal. The stress of being captured is enough to kill some animals, as well it lowers their immunity, as does the stress of being confined. Stressed animals do not thrive, many die either from the stress itself, or from not being able to eat as the result of being stressed.
Removal from Natural Breeding Population – In some areas certain exotic animals are at risk, when healthy breeding animals are removed it lowers the genetic pool and the population's ability to sustain itself in a healthy manner.
Habitat Destruction – In some cases habitats are destroyed intentionally to collect certain animals. One of the most common examples of this is pouring cyanide on a coral reef. Many fish, and corals die, while only a few are knocked out and collected to be sold to pet stores.
Poorly Cared For – Animals that are caught wild for the purpose of resale are generally not properly cared for by their captor, other than with the interest of getting them to the store, or point of sale, quickly. Some animals, such as snakes, can go for a while without eating, but need to be kept warm, and this lack of care often leads to some dying before making it to the point of sale, or leaving them stressed when they are resold.

You want a healthy pet, one that came from somebody who knows what they are doing, not from somebody who captured it for profit.  Sadly many people who want exotic pets unknowingly support the cruel industry of wildlife trafficking.


Never Support Unknown Sources– Overall when you buy from anyone that is not a breeder you truly do not know the animals origins. If you buy from a pet store and the pet store bought from a broker, and the broker bought from a wildlife smuggler, you have just supported the wildlife smuggling industry.

A breeder will know more information about the real care needed for such animals, and will provide you with genuine help.

The only other way of being sure your exotic pet purchase does not support illegal wildlife smuggling is by adopting your exotic pet from a pet rescue. The rescues do not make any money, and simply want the pets to get a good home. The people they get the pets from also did not profit when they gave their pet to the shelter – so adopting a pet from an animal shelter does not contribute to illegal animal trafficking.

Further Reading

Snakes on a Bus - hundreds of illegally caught snakes, 186 endangered tortoises, 40 lizards, and an armidillo.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Chicks are Not Appropriate Easter Gifts

Pets are, or should be, a lifetime commitment, sadly many people get chicks for their children at Easter time.  These chicks are brought home on a whim, an impluse, purchased because they were "cute" with no other thought. 

Chicks are living animals, just like kittens or pups.  Most Easter chicks are not prepared for, not cared for, and most die within days, or a few weeks, or the owner simply comes to the realization that they now have a baby chicken... and what do they do with it!?!

Most people who get Easter chicks do not keep them as pets, and do not provide proper care for them (for example they need heating lamps), even though they are living animals, purchased as pets.  Chicks are at risk for stress, and can be hurt if held too tight by a child.

To make matters worse some of these chicks have been dyed.  While this is sometimes done safely and humanely, it is sometimes done with toxic dyes, the sellers knowing that the chicks are probably not going to live anyhow.  As the chicks are often dyed while still in their eggs, mistakes can occur.


There is no reason to bring home a chick as an Easter gift.  Pets are not novelty items, toys for kids, they are lifetime commitments, this applies to chicks too!

Read More

Chicks and Bunnies are Not Easter Gifts

Keeping Pet Chickens

Which Breeds of Chickens are Best as Pets

How to Raise Baby Chicks

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ferrets as Exotic Pets

Ferrets are a different kind of pet, playful like a cat, but clever like a Jack Russell Terrier, these are not a pet for a first time pet owner.

Ferrets are small carnivorous mammals, they are not rodents, but rather are weasels and would happily eat most rodents if they should encounter them, in fact they are often used for hunting rabbits.  They will also feast on bird eggs, and as such are illegal as pets in many areas due to the risk of them escaping (or being turned loose) and endangering local wildlife species. 

Ferrets are awake in the morning and evening hours and are quite active when awake.  They should have large, interesting, cages, and be given at least 4 hours out of their cage every day.  They are very curious, playful, pets.

One of the biggest concerns with keeping pet ferrets is their smell.  Ferrets have a scent gland near their anus and can release their anal glands at will (usually when scared).  For this reason many people in the USA and Canada have them descented, in fact this is often done to young ferrets before they arrive in pet stores for sale.  Other countries consider this inhumane, for example descenting is not generally done to ferrets in the UK.



Ferrets are obligate (true) carnivores, they need a proper meat source in their diet.  Cats are also obligate carnivores, and good quality cat food can be fed to a ferret in an emergency, however proper ferret food is always preferred, and in either case a meat source must be the first ingredient (eg.  Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Lamb Meal).

It is always best to buy a pet ferret from a breeder, or adopt from a shelter rather than buying from a pet store as the pet store ferrets typically come from mass breeders - are generally less social, and may have genetic concerns as the result of being poorly bred.

Take 5% OFF ANY SIZE ORDER at Ferret.com. Use coupon code CJFE5OFF at checkout.

Read More Information About Pet Ferrets:

Fast Ferret Facts

Unusual Pets:  Ferrets

Friday, March 25, 2011

Teacup and Miniature Pets

Many people think it is cute to have a miniature pet, these are also known as “teacup” pets. Sadly this trend is generally considered cruel, the pets are stunted through poor nutrition, poor genetics, and generally have shorter lifespans riddled with health problems.


Many people who own “teacup” pets become defensive, insisting that their pet is in the best of health. In truth they do not know what is going on with their pet internally (liver and heart problems are common) and many health problems related to being stunted do not show up until later in life – and most owners simply attribute these problems to old age, rather than poor breeding or a lack of proper nutrition in the animals growing stages.

As mentioned teacup pets are intentionally stunted in many ways, breeding genetically small animals, to genetically small animals, is one of these ways, as well many unscrupulous breeders cheat on feeding, giving the growing animals less food than they should have, and often wean the animals early to sell them extra young.

Buyers should be aware that buying extremely stunted animals supports these cruel practices, and may leave them with a pet that has huge veterinarian bills later in life.

“Teacup” dogs are probably the best example of this breeding practice, but it does occur in the exotic pet industry too, most often with pigs. Many people are fooled, unaware that pigs grow slowly, and their stunted animal will still get quite large.



photo source - These miniature horses are at a show, they are not as small as some breeders are striving for - and are being shown to prove they are healthy and worthy of being bred.  The extremely stunted miniature animals would never be able to win a ribbon in a conformation class (most have leg deformities).

Miniature horses have been so grossly stunted that many die when foaling (giving birth) and many cannot give birth without human help.



photo source - In contrast to the miniature horses further above, we see Thumbelina - and by looking at her you can see the deformities in her joints, and head.  Thankfully her owners are not planning on breeding her. She is actually a dwarf as opposed to being a miniature.

In general it is advisable to stay away from anyone marketing or selling “teacup” pets of any variety. If you want a small pet – get a hamster! 

Further Reading

Creatures Great and Small - breeding to extremes - a list of health problems

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How to Find Adoptable Exotic Pets

Pet Stores are the worst places to get a pet!  Why?  Because stores by 95% of their pets from mass breeders - mills -that breed pets for no other reason than profit.  They breed cheap to make the most money.  In most cases the pets have never even been handled prior to the day they are taken to the store and as such tend to be unfriendly.


As such buying from a reputable breeder is one of the best ways go get an exotic pet, but they can be hard to find and may be pricey, so the best option is to adopt an exotic pet from an SPCA, humane society, or other pet rescue group.

Adopt a Pet and Save a Life
A vast array of adoptable exotics can be found at most animal shelters, (although the small and furry ones are most common) it is just a matter of being in the right place at the right time, because many exotic pets are adopted within days of going up for adoption.  Others sadly wait for weeks, or months, before finding a loving owner.

Petfinder.com has a listing of many adoptable exotic pets, from snakes to skinny pigs (hairless guinea pigs).  We decided to look for adoptable exotic pets in our area of Alberta, and found many rabbits and guinea pigs, including Sherona who is up for adoption in Red Deer, Alberta.

You can see Sherona's Page here.

Adoption is a great way to "Save a Life", as well you often save money, and the adoptable pets sometimes even come with their cage and supplies.

Further Reading

The Advantages of Adopting a Pet rather than Buying One

How to Adopt a Pet from an Animal Shelter

Guinea Pigs as Pets