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
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