Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Peruvian Pasos, Exotic Horses

For as long as I can remember I have been a horse crazy girl. Neither of my parents were horse people so it was rather hard to convince them to buy me a horse, however I did manage to convince them to get me riding lessons. The riding lessons were your typical English riding lessons, done in groups on lesson horses.


One year the stable, which was in Edmonton, hosted a showcase of different horse breeds. One of the breeds that attended were Peruvian Pasos. While horses are not really “exotic pets” the Peruvian Paso certainly qualifies as an exotic type of horse.

The Peruvian Paso not only looks exotic but has two very unique gaits for which it was bred. These gaits are the Paso Llano and the Sobreando. Both are four beat lateral gaits, left hind, left front, right hind, right front. The Sobreando is slightly faster with a pause between the second and third step.

At the showcase of the breeds there were a few Peruvians, the one I remember best (this was almost 30 years ago) was a Palomino named Gato del Sol, cat of the sun. I remember him because I actually got to ride him. As part of the breed showcase people were allowed to ride some of the horses. I rode him (this being only for a few minutes) but wow I can honestly say he was smooth like silk. He also had a beautiful thick mane and tail; characteristics of the breed. They do not even cut a bridal path.

photo source - The gaits of the Peruvian Paso are natural and foals perform them from a young age, it almost looks like a trot here, but is not.

All in all these are very showy, beautiful, horses which, I think, qualifies them as exotic!

Peruvian Pasos are fairly rare, with less than 30,000 worldwide. Peruvian Paso horses originated in Peru but there are several breeders in the States and Canada (at least two breeders right here in Alberta). Some breeders have been criticized for trying to change the breed. Horses should stand between 14.1 and 15.2 hands but some people want to make them taller, others try to make them faster and have altered the gait too much in the opinion of other purist breeders. If you are looking for a Peruvian Paso try to familiarize yourself with the breed and only buy from a breeder who is sticking with correct breed standard.

To see more pictures and learn more about the Peruvian Paso, Read Here.

If you are a kid and want to try to convince your parents to buy you a horse (good luck) you can Read Here.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Basic Introduction to Toucans, Toucanets and Aracaris

When I was young, growing up in Edmonton, Alberta, I remember often visiting Meadowlark Mall, yes it was a thriving mall in those days, before West Edmonton Mall was developed. Anyhow, there was a department store in the mall, Zellers, and in the back left corner was their pet section. For the longest time I remember they had a Toucan for sale.

The toucan sat in a small cage, not much bigger than the cages we now see finches in. It was a beautiful bird. This was almost 40 years ago. I do not know if that bird ever sold, or what became of it. At some time Zellers stopped selling pets (yeah!), and eventually the mall itself changed. Today I was reminded of that bird when answering a question on WebAnswers about Toucans.

As Toucans, and their smaller relatives, the Toucanets, are favorite birds of my husband I was inspired to write about them and learn more about them than I had in the past.

©Art work by my husband, Mark Gordon Brown - Emerald Toucanet.

Toucans, toucanets, and a smaller relative the aracaris, are softbills, birds that use their bills for eating soft fruit and berries. They will also eat insects, small lizards, and in the wild have been know to eat eggs and baby birds of other species.  The term "soft-bill" refers to their diet of soft foods.

As pets they have some advantages over parrots although they may be considerably harder to find in stores.

Toucans are generally quieter than parrots.

Toucans do not have the ability to bite as hard as a parrot.

Because they eat fruit and berries, toucans are less messy than parrots who eat nuts and seeds.

© Art work by Brenda Nelson Keel-billed Toucan

The biggest disadvantage is that toucans really need proper flying space, so they need larger cages (tell that to the people who housed the toucan at the mall department store earlier mentioned). Where as a parrot can sit on top of its cage and play with toys, toucans really thrive when they can stretch their wings and fly.

Toucans are not as common as pets as parrots, even now I seldom see them in pet stores. Of course if you were looking to buy one I would not suggest a pet store anyhow, but would recommend you look for a proper breeder or avian enthusiast.

I hope you have enjoyed learning a little bit about toucans, toucanets, and aracaris.  If you wish to learn more about them as exotic pets please read:  Information on Toucans and Toucanets as Pets