Sunday, October 2, 2016

Keeping Chinchillas As Pets


If you’re looking for a cute, perky, little pet, a chinchilla may be the perfect companion for you. Chinchillas are crepuscular rodents, slightly bigger than the common ground squirrels. They are native to the Andes mountains in South America and have become a popular pet over the past few years. These little furballs have a number of characteristics which make them great pets. However, chinchillas are not for everyone. Below are a few things you should know about chinchillas.
Chinchilla
Where do they come from?

Chinchillas originated from the Andes mountains and are named after the Chincha people of the Andes who use to hunt them for their dense, velvet-like fur. There are two species, Chinchilla lanigera and Chinchilla chinchilla. Domesticated chinchillas are thought to have come from the C. lanigera species since these animal are actually considered Critically Endangered on the  the IUCN Red List. so if you ever do get a chinchilla, make sure they come from a reputable breeder and not from the wild. 
Chinchilla
Pros and Cons

Chinchillas are covered with soft fur and are naturally curious. They make very little noise and are low-maintenance pets. They’re perfect for a small home, like an apartment or a condo, since they really don’t need a lot of space, as long as you give them enough exercise. On the down side, they can be high-strung, and they have relatively short attention spans. They also can’t tolerate places with hot weather or high humidity well, so you need to keep them cool if you’re living in a warm place.
Chinchilla
Buying A Chinchilla

Most pet stores often times sell chinchillas that are not well-bred and are unhealthy. And since these animals are considered critically endangered in the wild, you need to be very careful about where you get the chinchilla. Your best bet is to find a reputable breeder in or close to your area, such as those that are members of The Chinchilla Club. Never hesitate to ask questions about what type of chinchilla it is and ask for reference to previous clients. If possible, check both the parents and the youngster for any health problems before you buy the Chinchilla. Be watchful of pasty or watery eyes, drooling (which indicates tooth alignment problems), wool pulling or missing areas of fur. Common problems see in pet store purchased chinchillas are wool pulling due to boredom and stress and malocclusion due to improper diet and genetics.

Chinchilla Personalities and Characteristics

These cute animals have their own personalities, much like cats and dogs. Since they live in groups in the wild, they’re naturally social creatures. They go along well with other animals, as long as they are socialized at a young age. You need to handle them and pet them regularly so they’ll get used to you, or they’ll end up becoming aggressive and skittish. An ideal age to purchase your chinchilla is 10 weeks of age. Adult female chinchillas weight about a pound-and-a-half and are a bit bigger than males. Chinchillas can live 12 to 20 years, which is an exceptionally long lifespan for a rodent. They have an exceptionally long pregnancy which last about 111 days. Babies come out covered in fur with eyes already open, like their distant cousins the guinea pigs.

Do's for maintenance
Keep a chinchilla in a mesh cage that’s pretty spacious for their size. To help keep it clean, a dripping pan should be inserted under the cage to catch the chinchilla’s poo and pee. As much as possible, you don’t want your chinchilla to run free since they could end up chewing on furniture, as well as be exposed to household toxins. Chinchillas love cardboard boxes to hide in, as well as ledge shelves to bask on. They also love dust bathing so give them a shallow dish or crock with cornstarch or cornmeal.

Place shavings on the bottom of their cage. They don't need a special bedding. The usual hamster or gerbil bedding you find in most pet stores will do. Their cage needs to be cleaned regularly. You can use baking soda and sprinkle it on the corner where the chinchilla eliminates to help reduce odor, but compared to other pet rodents, chinchillas are not that smelly. Place your cage out of drafts and strong direct sunlight. But keep in mind that you have to keep the chinchillas in a cool place since they don’t do well in heat.

They should have a food bowl (avoid plastic) and water bottle with a ball bearing sipper tube. Placing a metal shielding for plastic water bottles is advisable as chinchillas quickly chew through the bottles. Adding toys and an activity wheel helps keep your chinchilla happy. Chewing blocks help keep their jaws healthy and their teeth worn down. You can also give theme vegetables like carrots or fruits like apples to chew  and gnaw on.
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Saturday, October 1, 2016

10 Human Foods That You Can Give To Your Cat


Tired of giving your cat the same can of cat food? Or do you want to give kitty something else to give them a better diet? Cats, like dogs, can also be given human food to help provide them with better nourishment, and to stop them from getting sick of the same thing.  If you’re looking for a healthy snack for your cat, you don’t have to look any further than your own pantry. Here are 10 expert recommended, cat-friendly human foods the you can try to feed to snowball.

Keep in mind that you have to limit their intake of these food items as treats or as meals to 20 calories  (of a single food or of a mixture of food) per pound of their weight a day to avoid over-feeding them. For example, If your indoor cat weighs 10 pounds, then they should only be eating approximately 200 calories per day, so mind the portions you give them.
Salmon

Salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and protein. It’s a common ingredient in commercial canned cat food, but serving it fresh assures you that your cat is getting all the vital vitamins and minerals found in the fish. You might think serving salmon raw is the best way to feed it to your cat, but it’s best to cook it. Just to make sure there are not parasites in the fish that could cause health problems.
Spinach

Make your cat’s regular meals more nutritious by adding some spinach to it. This leafy green vegetable is packed with vitamins A, C and K, iron and calcium. Chop up some spinach leaves and cook it for a few minutes to wilt it down. Mix it into their usual can of cat food and you’re good to go. However, if your cat has history of calcium oxalate bladder stones, you should avoid giving them spinach.
Fish Oils

Many vets actually advice cat, as well as dog, owners to give their pets fish oil. This can be bought in most pharmacies and health-food stores. There are many different types of fish oil, including salmon and cod liver oil. The omega 3s found in fish oil can help prevent your pet’s skin from getting dry during the colder months and keep their coat healthy throughout the year.
Eggs

Eggs are another good source of B vitamins and protein. Believe it or not, eggs are a common ingredient found in cat food and are safe for cats to eat. To prevent the risk of any food-borne diseases, be sure to cook any eggs you feed your cat. You can boil them or scramble them and cook them in a pan without any oil or salt.
Chicken

Since cats are  obligate carnivores, they require a diet that mostly contains meat (unlike dogs which are omnivores and can live off different foods). Their bodies are not built to digest foods that are fibrous, so they need very little of this in their diet. However, any type of meat, like chicken, is right up their alley. Since chicken is a good source of lean protein, it’s a great choice for your cat’s diet. It needs to be cooked thoroughly and the skin removed to get rid of excess fat.
Turkey

Like chicken, turkey can be a great source of protein for your cat’s diet. Cooked turkey breast or even sliced deli meat are cat-friendly snacks. Boil or steam some turkey breast, cut them up into little cubes, and give them to your cat as a treat.
Cantaloupe

Giving fruit to your cat? Sure, why not? Cantaloupe is one of several cat-safe fruits.
Cantaloupes are high in High in antioxidants and beta-carotene, which helps maintain healthy skin and eye health.
Bananas

These fruits are high in potassium (which is very difficult to integrate to any pet’s diet) and soluble fiber. This sweet fruit makes a great snack or a healthy treat. You can mash it up or give them to your cat in chunk.
Blueberries

Blueberries are a great source of vitamin A and C. some commercial cat food use blueberries as an ingredient, but you can definitely give them fresh blueberries for a treat. Frozen Blueberries can be given as a treat to keep them cool during those hot days. Keep in mind that you’ll want to limit the amount of treats you give your cat each day, even if they’re healthy.
Apples

These contain a good amount of vitamin C and fiber. Give your cat fresh apples cut into small chunks. Remember, it should be fresh apples, not apple pie filling or preserved apples. These might contain seasonings and your cat may experience digestive problems because of these. 

Keep your feline friends healthy and strong with these everyday food items.  Got any pet questions you want us to answer? Leave us a comment or a suggestion. Don’t forget to share this article to fellow cat lovers.
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Hispaniolan Solenodon - Giant Shrews


Deep in the heart of the island of Hispaniola is a weird, but cute, animal called the Hispaniolan solenodon, also known as the Dominican solenodon. You most likely have never heard of this animal before. It was first described by Johann Friedrich von Brandt, a German naturalist, in 1833. A similar but smaller species, Marcano's solenodon (S. marcanoi), had once lived on the island, but was wiped out after European colonization. In a nutshell, the Hispaniolan solenodon looks like giant shrew. This short article is about this strange animal and how it lives in the wild.
Description

With its elongated snout, many would mistake the hispaniolan solenodon for a shew. However, it’s actually a totally different mammal. They do, however, belong to the same order (Eulipotyphla). Unlike most animals, female and male hispaniolan solenodon grow to be about the same size. Adults can measure up to an average of 49 to 72 cm (19 to 28 in) in total length, including a tail 20 to 25 cm (7.9 to 9.8 in), and weigh about 800 g (28 oz). Although they vary in color, they usually come in a dusky brown all over their body, with a pale underside and brick red to reddish brown fur on the sides of their heads, upper chest, and throat. Their legs, tails, snout, and eyelids are hairless.

Their forelegs are stronger and are noticeably more developed compared to their hind legs, but they use both for digging. Its head ratio is bigger than its body, with tiny eyes and ears that are partially hidden under their fur and a long rostrum. Their shout has around a dozen long whiskers and their nostrils open to the side. One of the unique features that this animal has is the os proboscidis, which is a bone extending forward from the nasal opening to support the snout cartilage. The hispaniolan solenodon is one of the few mammals that are actually venomous. Venomous saliva is secreted by their submaxillary gland and flows through a thin tube their second lower incisor. The venom is quite fatal, but its exact chemical composition is unknown. They also have small apocrine glands on their thighs. The secretion from these glands are used to communication between individuals.
Habitat and Distribution

These specific solenodonas are only found in Hispaniola, an island in the Dominican Republic, as well as in some parts of southern Haiti. These animals live in moist forest and burrow in the right soil. Two subspecies, the Solenodon paradoxus paradoxus (found in the northern Dominican Republic) and the Solenodon paradoxus woodi (found far southern Dominican Republic, Tiburon Peninsula) are recognized. They appear to have a patchy distribution and are found within and outside protected areas.
Behaviour

They are nocturnal animals, spending most of their time hunting and moving around at night. During the day, they hide in their burrows or in small caves and hollowed-out logs and trees, staying out of view. Burrows often contain multiple tunnels and chambers that are usually inhabited by a pair, together with younger family members. When they emerge into the open air, they run on the soles of their feet, following an erratic, zigzag pattern.

Diet

Hispaniolan solenodons mainly feed on arthropods, but they also eat small reptiles, snails, worms, and even mice. They’re also known to eat leaves, grains, and fruits in small amounts. To find food, they use their snouts to sniff out any insects and other small animals under the earth and use their claws to dig or rip open rotten logs. They have also been reported to make echolocation clicks so they could possible use this to locate prey as well.

Communication

Other than their scent gland, the hispaniolan solenodons have been reported to make a number of vocalisations, including a loud defensive "chirp", an aggressive "squeal", a soft "squeak" when encountering familiar conspecifics, and a high-pitched "clic" when encountering strangers and other of its kind.

Reproduction

Mating happens throughout the whole year, although females are only receptive for short periods once every ten days or so. Gestation period last over 84 days and litters consist of one to three young. If there are more than two offsprings, the others usually have a hard time surviving since female hispaniolan solenodons only have one pair of teats. The young are born hairless and blind, completely dependent to their mother’s care. They are carried around by their mother for their first two months, although it is unknown how long it takes for them to be fully weaned. In captivity, hispaniolan solenodons can live up to eleven years.
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