Thursday, October 6, 2016

Top Ten Facts About Domestic Animals

These are some simple facts about some domestic animals that everyone really should know, but not everyone does.

1.  You do not need a rooster to get eggs.  Hens (and other female birds) can, and will, lay eggs even when no male is present.  Without a male the eggs will not be fertile.  Some birds lay more eggs than others.  Eggs only hatch if fertile and if incubated for the required period of days.

2.  "Pitbull" is not a breed of dog.  The term pitbull (also written as pit bull) is a term that refers to a type of dog for which many breeds fit.  The term comes from the fact that certain dogs were bred to be used for blood sport, often being "pitted" against bulls, mules, or other animals, for entertainment.

3.  Pigs are as intelligent as dogs.  Pigs can be trained to walk on a leash (usually with a harness) and can be house trained.  They can learn basic commands and enjoy human company.  They like to wallow in mud to keep themselves cool, to control pests, and just to have fun.

4.  Most cats are lactose intolerant and can get diarrhea or tummy cramps from having dairy.  Goat's milk is usually somewhat more gentle on a cat's stomach than cow's milk, but either way the calcium level can also contribute to urinary tract problems.  Another food commonly given to cats, but one they really should not have is tuna, especially if the tuna was canned in oil for people.

5.  Not all sheep have wool.  Primitive sheep did not have the thick wool coats we associate with sheep now.  Selective breeding produced woolly sheep.  Hair sheep are still popular in parts of the world and only grow a thicker coat for winter, shedding it in the summer.  Hair sheep are also popular among hobby farmers who want sheep but don't want to have to shear them.
The brown sheep pictured above are hair sheep.

6.  Dogs with docked tails suffer a social disadvantage compared to dogs with tails.  Dogs communicate though scent.  They spread their scent by wagging their tail.  If scared they sometimes clamp their tail.  From a distance a dog can wag its tail to spread its scent to dogs it sees before it gets too close, thus offering an early greeting or signalling "stay away".  A dog with a docked tail cannot spread its scent as effectively and this could concern another dog that sees.

7.  Guinea pigs are social animals and do best in pairs, or in small groups.  They find it hard to make new friends when older so should be purchased as pairs when young.  In some areas it is illegal to own only one guinea pig.

8.  Rabbits are not rodents they are lagomorphs.  They have two pairs of upper incisors (teeth).  Some owners are surprised to see their pet rabbit eating its own feces but they actually produce special feces (often in the morning) which they do eat.  This is normal and part of their diet.

9.  The betta fish typically sold in stores are males.  Some times female fish are offered for sale but the males are the more colorful ones.  Males will attack other males and will also attack females unless she is in her breeding phase.  They do not need air filters because they get their air from the surface.  Although often kept in tiny tanks they should really have at least 3 gallons of space.

10.  This last fact is not about a specific type of domestic animal at all but is a fact about what you should do if you happen to find an animal and have taken it into your home or yard.  The animal is not yours to keep or sell, you must first contact the local animal shelter or whomever deals with lost and found pets in your area (sometimes this is a veterinarian or police in areas where a proper shelter does not exist).  You can take it to a veterinarian who will check it (for free) for a tattoo or microchip.  You can also try to find the pet's owner by posting its picture on Facebook or other websites, but make sure you contact the proper authorities in your area as mentioned. 

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