Monday, July 28, 2014

Beware of Offering Large Rewards for a Lost Pet

A woman in the city of Edmonton recently had her small dog go missing. She put up posters offering a reward.

A man called her and asked how much the reward was. She told him $200.00. He said he had her dog and to transfer half the money via e-mail. She did, and then he demanded the other half. At that point she questioned him to prove he really had her dog. He threatened to hurt the dog. She sent the other half, and needless to say, did not get her dog.

At that point she called the police.  Here is the actual news article.

Offering a reward for a missing pet is good, if a person found the pet and was thinking of keeping it, this can motivate them to do the right thing. Sadly, offering rewards has also created a problem of dog-napping; where people intentionally steal dogs for the purpose of collecting a reward.  Note of course that it is illegal to just keep a pet you have found, you are suppose to call the local animal shelter and report finding it or can bring it to them. 

author's pet cat

If you have lost a pet and do offer a reward it should be small and never give the reward to anyone until you actually get your pet back. If somebody contacts you about your missing pet and demands a higher reward, or seems suspicious, call the police.

I do hope the dog, named Piper, is found and returned to his owner, and I also hope the man who scammed this woman is caught too.

This article was originally published by me on Bubblews.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

How to Care for a Scared Pet Cat

If you have adopted a new cat and it is scared you need to realize that this is perfectly normal, especially for older cats.  Kittens tend to accept change a little easier, but adult cats are often concerned; cats bond to places rather than to people so a sudden change of environment can be hard for them.  This also applies to current cat owners who move into a new home.

Try to keep the noise level down if possible, this means controlling screaming kids, and keeping music low too.  If you are moving into a new home keeping quiet can be tough as furniture moving is generally loud.

One of author's cats
The cat really should be kept confined in a bathroom, or small bedroom, for a few days while it adjusts to the new environment.  Plopping a cat into the middle of a big house (or even into a small apartment) can be too much for the cat to take, particularly if it was adopted from an animal shelter where it mostly stayed in a small room or cage.

The cat will need its litter box in the room for it as well as its dry cat food and water, which should be placed far from the litter box.  The cat should also have a bed, which can be as simple as a box with a towel.

Make sure to visit the cat from time to time, talking to it softly, patting it, and offering it small amounts of canned cat food or cat treats.  If the cat accepts being held you can do that too but watch for body signals that the cat has had enough.  Here is a link to help you find cool toys and treats for your new cat!

If the cat hides the first few days go ahead and leave it hiding - noting that it is coming out and eating/drinking and using the litter box when all is quiet, but if it continues to hide after three days you may need to bring it out of the hiding area and hold it for a few minutes just to let it know you will not hurt it, offer it the canned food or treat, so that it associates these goodies with you.

It can take up to two weeks for a scared cat to over come its fears and accept you and the new home.  Just take things slowly and do not rush or overwhelm the cat, allowing it to overcome its fear or shyness on its own time is best.

Friday, May 16, 2014

About Breeding Rabbits

Although rabbits are quite easy to breed there are some considerations to keep in mind before breeding your rabbits.

First be sure there is a need for more rabbits in your area.  If you are breeding them for pets make sure the local animal shelter does not already have a population of rabbits looking for homes.  If the animal shelter has several rabbits for adoption it means selling your litter may be harder than you think.

If you are breeding for meat or fur, make sure you have buyers.

Rabbits should not be bred by somebody who does not have space to keep them, while it may be assumed the male can be left with the pregnant female, he really should be removed and kept in an adjacent cage one week before she gives birth.  The female should be in a large hutch indoors so she can be monitored closely.

Rabbits who are not registered/purebreds should not be bred. Although the problem has not reached the level of concern of cats and dogs, there are more rabbits produced yearly than there are homes for. There is no practical reason for producing more common, or mixed breed, rabbits.

Rabbits should not be bred by people who do not have additional funding for emergencies. Although rabbit breeding is often considered easy, there are sometimes problems that may occur.

Note that it is not uncommon for the first litter to die.

A doe who is over the age of a year when she has her first litter will have a very difficult time, and in fact this can be life threatening, so never breed an older doe unless she has had a litter previously.  Usually she would be first bred when she is between 6 and 8 months of age.

Two female rabbits, photo by author.

Reasons for Breeding Rabbits:

There really are only two reasons for breeding; production for meat and fur, or to improve the breed as a whole.

If you are considering breeding your rabbits, ask yourself these questions:
  • Is my rabbit worthy of passing on its genetics?
  • Do I have the time/space to devote to caring for the kits until they are ready to go to their new homes?
  • Do I have homes, or a market, that will take them?
  • Do I have funding for veterinarian care if an emergency situation arises?
  • Why am I doing this? Is it for me, or because I want to improve the breed?
With rabbits being discarded in shelters, or abandoned outdoors, there is no reason to to let your rabbit reproduce just so you can see how cute her kits will be.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

How to Care for a Cria

A cria is a baby llama or alpaca. They are born after an eleven to twelve-month gestation. Generally no special care is needed, the young cria stands and drinks on its own and can be left with its mother. Often delivery happens in the daytime and with the mother in a standing position, always alert to danger.  Here are steps on how to care for the mother and cria.

Newborn Crias

Supervise to see that the newborn cria is breathing and is able to stand and nurse on its own. Try not to interfere as this can be stressful to both animals, however if the cria is unable to nurse after two hours you may want to assist.
The newborn's naval should be dipped in seven percent iodine.
Be sure mother and cria are not in the hot sun, or bad weather. Ideally they should be kept in a large, clean, stall or small pen for the first few days.
You may want to weight it to monitor growth and condition, however this is not necessary, and most people simply leave the mother and cria on the pasture.
The baby should pass meconium (first stool), but if it is straining may require a enema (rarely needed).

If there are problems

If the mother refuses to allow the cria to nurse she may need to be restrained to allow the cria to suck, and monitored to see if she will accept it. If she does not, the cria should be removed and bottle fed.
If the cria is too weak to drink on its own it should be given something to drink to boost its energy. This should be its own mother's milk (llamas can be tricky to milk) or goat colostrum. Goat colostrum may be purchased from a goat farmer, veterinarian, or livestock feed store.
If the mother does not accept the cria, or has died, the young one will need to be bottle fed regularly. In addition to the goat colostrum for its first day, the following meals should be of goat replacement formula. In the first day it should be fed every three hours, and every six hours over night. The following day meals can be every four hours with a six hour stretch overnight. It will need to be kept in a stall for the first few days to enable catching and to keep it safe.

Author's llama and young cria

General care for mother and cria

The mother llama, or alpaca, should be fed a healthy diet, and given plenty of water. She will probably need a good drink especially after giving birth. After delivering, her grain should be reduced for the first 12 hours to reduce risk of her developing mastitis.
The mother and cria should be checked several times a day, signs of a weak cria (sleeping, standing hunched) should be investigated as it may not be getting enough to drink.
Female llamas and alpacas do not produce a lot of milk, you will not see a large udder on the mother, as such the cria must drink several times during the day.
After the first couple of days try to handle the cria for short periods of time each day as this will help it with social skills towards people.
Do not hesitate to call a veterinarian if there are any other concerns.

Weaning can take place around six months of age.  Gelding/castration can take place anytime after 4 months of age, and ideally before 2 years of age.  The age at which a male llama, or alpaca, is castrated will affect his further development.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Drawings of Tigers

Tigers are beautiful, but sadly they are also an animal who is headed for extinction unless we do something drastic.  I am not really sure how to save the tigers other than to control our own population growth to prevent people from needing more land and taking it from natural areas where tigers live.  Housing more and more tigers is not really the answer either, while it may preserve a species, it really does so in an unnatural manner.  Keeping tigers as "pets" is selfish and does not really benefit tigers as a species.

At any rate, tigers are beautiful and are an animal that is often captured in art.  I have done several drawings of tigers and want to show some of them to you.
Snarling tiger.  © Brenda Nelson

This is my first drawing of a tiger.  If you look a the image you probably do not immediately notice that I added a man's face on the tiger's forehead, if you look at the picture upside down you can see it better.  I thought it was clever at the time but now I sort of wish I had not done that.

Snoozing tiger.  © Brenda Nelson

This is my second drawing of a tiger.  I like how this turned out.  While I did it from a picture of a sleeping tiger it could also be a dead tiger and could be a statement against hunting or extinction in general. 

I do hope we can preserve natural areas for tigers and not wipe them out.  We need to have proper breeding programs for the captive tigers and not allow inbreeding or hybrid breeding between species unless it is to improve the bloodlines.  Breeding white tigers should be illegal as they are inbred and suffer from genetic eye conditions.

Hopefully we can prevent tigers from going extinct in the wild or all we will have left one day is images of tigers in photos and art, which is very sad.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Do Animal Shelters Have Exotic Pets For Adoption

If you are looking to adopt an exotic pet you should check your local animal shelter first.  Animal shelters often have exotic pets up for adoption at prices much lower than they would be sold for in pet stores.

An exotic pet is anything other than a cat, dog, fish, or livestock.  In some areas all birds are considered as exotic pets, while in other areas budgies and finches are not "exotic" but parrots and toucans (for example) are.  Either way animal shelters are likely to have exotic pets for adoption, especially in larger cities where exotic pets are more common.

Rabbits, hamsters, and guinea pigs, are the most common exotic pets for a shelter to receive on a regular basis.  Depending on where you live you might also find ferrets, sugar gliders, hedgehogs, chinchillas, pot bellied pigs, as well as lizards and reptiles.

two bunnies, photo by author

Do not expect to find pet wolves or pet tigers for adoption at a local animal shelter, these larger predators usually go to special rescue centers just for those species.

Some animal shelters also deal with livestock.  Many rescue horses and have horses for adoption, or worth with another group who has these other animals for adoption.

One of the benefits of adopting an exotic pet from an animal shelter is that the price is considerably lower than if buying the same pet from a pet store.

Additionally the exotic pets that are at the animal shelter for adoption often come with their cage and supplies if these were brought in by the owner who was surrendering their pet.

If you are looking for an exotic pet check your local animal shelter's website, but note these are not updated regularly so you should really try to call or visit and see what pets they have for adoption.  Petfinder is a good site to use if you are in Canada, the USA, or Mexico and are looking for an exotic pet to adopt but not every animal shelter lists with them.