African Pygmy Hedgehog
An interesting pet is the African Pygmy Hedgehog. The Hedgehog is now be considered a truly domesticated animal. An animal whose genes are controlled by man such as size, color and temperament, are known as a domestic animal. Their genes are controlled through a process that is called selective breeding. The first Pygmy Hedgehogs were imported to the United States about fifteen years ago. They have all been born here in the United States since the initial importation.
Hedgehog breeders have bred the Hedgehogs into smaller sizes, friendlier temperaments, and a rainbow of colors. They are truly different from their ancestors that live still in modern day Africa.
Although Hedgehogs do look like rodents, they are in the insectivore family and eat insects in the wild. Their spines are modified hairs but are not barbed like a Porcupine and cannot be released. Hedgehogs lead solitary lives in the wild and have simple needs. A large glass (30+ gal) aquarium. Some good bedding choices include carefresh and vellux liners. Liners are even good for people with allergies, plus they are inexpensive and re-usable. Rabbit/Guinea Pig cages also work well if they have a solid floor, not wire. A water bottle, ceramic food bowl and a secure cover are just about all that you need. Do not use regular Hamster exercise wheels, only used exercise wheels made for Hedgehogs. A good hedgehog food (cat food) needs to have at least 30% protein and approximately 15% fat. Some good examples of this type of food are "Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul Adult Light" "Royal Canin Slim 38" and "Wellness Super 5 Mix Lite".
Since Hedgehogs are solitary animals they are quite content with being left alone, Hedgehogs usually live 3-5 years.
Despite a few misconceptions, ferrets are one of the most popular pets in the United States-and especially valued in Japan. They¹re well suited to smaller spaces, as they¹re quiet and take up very little room. However they can be very destructive since they love to dig. Contrary to popular belief, ferrets are not wild animals: They don¹t exist anywhere in the wild in the United States, and they¹ve been domesticated for three thousand years-just as long as cats.
Like dogs, ferrets have glands that secrete a scent when they¹re worried, but all ferrets sold in this country have had those glands removed and have been spayed or neutered. And they are not vicious animals prone to biting; more people suffer bites from dogs, cats, and even humans than from ferrets. However, it is still illegal to keep them in California, Hawaii, and a number of cities throughout the country (check to see if your local ordinances prohibit ownership).
If you are able to keep a ferret, you¹ll need a large cage made especially for them. You do not keep a ferrets cage lined with anything shredded. You should cover the wires with linoleum, newspaper or bedding (i.e., sheets, towels, tee shirts, etc.), but you should not use any shredded bedding or shavings. Aspen-wood shavings (shavings of other woods are too dusty and contain phenols, which are harmful to ferrets) and outfitted with a water bottle, food dish, sleeping hammock, and litter box.
Ferrets also love to play and require a few ferret toys. A few Ferrets will use corners as toilets, which is why the litter box will be corner shaped. Most prefer to be able to get their entire body in the pan and the smallest I've been able to use are the small cat pans from Wal-Mart for $1.99.
Feeding a ferret is simple: Dry ferret food is sufficient, and you should keep your pet¹s dish constantly full. The dry food can be supplemented with treats made for ferrets, available at your pet store. Never let your ferret run around unsupervised; keep it in its cage if you can't watch it closely, and never take it outside without a leash and harness.
Remember to trim the ferret¹s nails, clean its ears periodically, and give it a bath twice a year with ferret shampoo. If you follow these guidelines and establish a relationship with a vet familiar with these animals, your ferret can be a longtime household companion with a life span ranging up to ten years.
The next two alternative pets are not wild nor are they domesticated, but are wild animals born in captivity. They look the same as their wild ancestors even after many generations spent in captivity. One of these guys is the Sugar Glider that looks very similar to flying squirrel, but is actually a Marsupial Possum, which is native to Indonesia. They are able to glide because of a membrane called the Patagium. The Patagium connects the wrists to the ankles. Sugar Gliders may look so adorable but they are a lot more work than Hedgehogs. Sugar Gliders are very social animals and need to be kept in pairs in order to be happy. To be an exceptional pet a Sugar Glider must be purchased at a very young age or it will always be shy and fearful. Sugar Gliders are very active animals and need a large tall wire cage that has lots of perches, branches, and a sleeping house. In nature Sugar Gliders eat a wide variety of Fruits, Vegetables and Insects.
Captive Sugar Gliders do best on the BML (Bourbon's Modified Leadbeaters) diet supplemented with fruits, veggies, and meal worms. With this kind of care a Sugar Glider can live for ten to fifteen years.
South American Pygmy Possum
The last alternative pet we have here is also a captive bred wild animal and is a marsupial possum and is native to South America. This critter is called the South American Pygmy Possum. They do look like the Virginia Possums that live in our back yards and do also have a prehensile tail. They are gentle, sweet, which make them ideal for children. Their needs are also quite simple. A glass aquarium set up like we have for the Hedgehog is just fine. They also like an exercise wheel that we use for Hamsters. The Pygmy Possums will do well on a pellet food, supplemented with fresh fruit. They make no noise and are quite clean and can live approximately eight years.
So you can see why these friendly interesting animals have become a member of the "Pet Set." They enjoy living with people and they fulfill the urge that someone may have to share their lives with an animal that is different or "Alternative."
Hamsters and Gerbils
Sometimes, it may be impractical or impossible for you to have a dog, cat, or larger pet: An apartment may be too small or may prohibit keeping such a pet, there may be allergies to consider, or it might simply be too much of a responsibility. There are alternatives, however, and pet expert Marc Morrone has several suggestions.
Hamsters and gerbils have gentle temperaments and are available in a variety of colors with different coat lengths. They can be housed in a ten-gallon glass aquarium with a mesh top, which should be secured with spring clips. Use a layer of Aspen-wood bedding or pine shavings on the bottom of the cage (gerbils and hamsters can develop skin irritations from cedar shavings), and clean and wash it once a week. You will also need a water bottle with a holder, a food dish, an exercise wheel, and a wooden chew block to keep their incisors worn down. Diets for gerbils and hamsters are simple: Use a high-quality seed-and-pellet mix formulated especially for rodents, add a vitamin supplement to their water, and offer them cut-up vegetables and nuts.
Hamsters should be kept singly, although same-sex siblings from a common litter will be able to get along. Gerbils prefer to live in pairs; they are monogamous, and a male will aid the female in raising their young. Try to find young animals that have just recently been weaned from their mothers, as they will be easier to bond with. When you first acquire your hamster or gerbil, use a coffee cup to scoop them up and gently stroke them; this prevents the animal from scurrying away and allows you to build up trust. After you and your pet gain a little confidence, you can tip it out of the cup and into your hand. Gerbils
The downside of owning a hamster or gerbil is that it has a short life span--only about three years. But following these guidelines will ensure that your pet lives in health and comfort.
Lovebirds earned their name because of their affectionate behavior, a kindness that isn't extended to any outsider who threatens them. Other birds can find themselves on the receiving end of some aggressive behavior from a piqued lovebird, but a human will discover that care and training transforms the small parrots into ideal pets--especially for those with space limitations. Lovebirds are social and if you're away from your home a lot, you might find it better to have a pair of birds. Owning a single lovebird means you will have to spend a lot of time with it--this is the only way to get the bird to bond with you and show the devotion and affection it would usually reserve for its mate.
If you decide to adopt either a pair or a single lovebird, you'll need to purchase a cage that is at least eighteen inches long. It should have a concrete perch and horizontal bars on either side of the cage to aid the birds in climbing. The bottom of the cage should be lined with newspaper, changed daily, and have a grill to keep the birds separate from their droppings. You'll need to keep the access doors under tight supervision; alligator clips work well to inhibit the lovebirds from jimmying the doors open.
A lovebird's diet should consist of equal parts seeds, pellets or crumbles, and fruits and vegetables. The birds usually prefer crisper foods such as apples, carrots, chicory, or celery to softer fruits like bananas.
Be sure to supplement their water with vitamins and be diligent about cleaning their water source (and food bowls) every day with soap and water. Lovebirds should also be misted each day with warm water.
Because lovebirds' native habitat is near the equator, they're accustomed to twelve hours of darkness at night. Draping a black cover over the cage each night not only ensure that they get twelve hours of sleep, but they won't wake you up with their shrill cries in the morning.
Just about everyone has heard of Tortoises but no one really knows anything about them or even what they are. Tortoises are fast becoming the most endangered of Reptiles and many people will buy them as children's Pets not knowing what they are in for in terms of Tortoise care and commitment.
Exactly what is a Tortoise? Is it a Turtle? Well, a Tortoise is classified as a "Chelonian" or a reptile with a shell that is completely terrestrial. They lack any webbing between their toes and with few exceptions are vegetarians. The upper shell or carapace is highly domed on all but one piece of the tortoise. The lower shell is called a Plastron. Because of shrinking habitats and over-collecting for food and other commercial reasons Tortoises are in trouble all over the world and are protected under international cities regulations. There are about 40 species of Tortoises in the world today but the types that we will look at are the...
1.Sulcata Tortoise from North Africa.
2.Leopard Tortoise from East Africa.
3.Red Foot Tortoise from South America.
4.Star Tortoise from India.
When buying a Tortoise as a pet always, buy a captive bred one born here in the United States. There are still some wild caught Tortoises offered for sale and the general rule is, if it cost less than $200.00 dollars it was caught in the wild. Wild caught Tortoises are almost always carrying internal parasites and bacteria, and are even sometimes dying when you buy them. Plus, for every wild caught Tortoise that is sold in the United States, another one is caught in its native habitat to replace it, thus further putting pressure on the survival of the species. Star Tortoise
Fortunately there are numbers of captive bred tortoises offered for sale in Pet stores. One thing to take into consideration is that some of these guys grow to considerable size. Few people have enough space in their house to hold a full-grown Sulcata Tortoise. You would be better off in this case to get a Red Foot Tortoise as a pet.
The housing of a pet Tortoise is specific yet simple. A large glass aquarium works best with a thick layer of Aspen bedding at the bottom. The bedding is important, as it has to be something that is harmless to the Tortoise if by any chance is eaten.
If you cannot get Aspen bedding you can try Alfalfa pellets or even Newspaper. Stay away from wood chip, gravel, or Astroturf. Tortoises are never in the same place twice and it is important to keep the tank very clean washing it out once a week.
Tortoises drink a lot and they are not really built to be able to crawl up to a water dish and stick their head in and drink. In nature they would crawl into a puddle and drink. So we duplicate this by putting a shallow basin of warm water 3 times a week. After they drink, they will usually defecate in the water so that helps to keep their cage clean.
Tortoises have evolved to consume large quantities of high fiber vegetation and that is what we should give them in captivity. They need lots of calcium to grow strong shells. Vitamin D3 is also needed to their diet.
Sulcata Tortoise Years ago we used to feed a baby Tortoise monkey chow and dog food as per its high protein content, the Tortoise grew rapidly. The rapid growth rate caused deformities. The correct diet should be a combination of at least 3 bitter type greens such as Kale, Chicory, and etc. Cut them up into small pieces and keep them in the refrigerator. Then, before you feed your Tortoise just dust the calcium and vitamin mixture onto the greens. You can give them some fruit as an occasional treat and this Is liked best by forest Tortoise such as a Red Foot. But fruit should not be a major part of their diet.
Another important factor in Tortoises husbandry is light and Heat. Tortoises need Daytime temperatures of 85 degrees Fahrenheit with a cool down period at night. The heat is best provided with special heat lamps that also produce full spectrum lighting. If your house is cool at night you should also invest in an under tank heater that goes on the bottom of the Tortoises tank to keep the bedding warm.
Leopard Tortoise A well cared for Tortoise very rarely gets sick, but if you think your tortoises is sick, then it is and it will not get better on its own. Find a D.V.M. ASAP who knows about reptiles and bring your Tortoise to their office right away. Sick Tortoises can usually be cured if you do not delay in going to a D.V.M..
So you see how Tortoises are fascinating creatures that are very appreciative of our care. In the far East Tortoises are kept as household pets because it is believed that Tortoises will bring good luck and Longevity to a household. This belief is based on the fact that Tortoises can live for as long as 100 years. Also before you buy a Tortoise, take a minute to see if you are prepared to house a very large Reptile for your whole Life? Plan things ahead and do not be an irresponsible pet owner.
Rose Tarantula & Black Emperor Scorpion
It is ironic that we humans feel that we are the supreme controllers of this planet. This is a vain assumption on our part as humans are vertebrate animals and all the vertebrate species on this planet are but a very small fraction of the number of animals on planet earth. The invertebrate animals or animals without internal skeleton win the prize as the true rulers of the planet. They were here long before us and will be here long after we are gone.
Most humans look upon invertebrate animals, with either disgust, as in cockroaches, food such as Shrimps and Lobsters, or admiration as in butterflies. But there are some invertebrate animals that people keep as pets!
An invertebrate animal that has a great deal of economic importance is Crickets. People in the far east will keep a male Cricket in a little Cricket cage as a household pet, as it is believed to bring luck to the house hold. You can also tell the air temperature by counting the number of chirps. They are also used as burglar alarms. If a Cricket is chirping all is well, if the Cricket stops chirping that means that an intruder has come into your house. However, in the United States Crickets are or intensively farmed and used for food for reptiles and birds. Today, the Cricket business is a multi-million dollar industry.
Other invertebrates that people keep are a bit more shocking. Tarantulas and Scorpions have a bad reputation and certainly have not earned it. The two that are most commonly kept as pets are the Rose Tarantula and the Black Emperor Scorpion. Although there are Tarantulas and Scorpions that do have lethal bites, they are by far in the minority. The Rose Tarantulas and Emperor Scorpions are quite gentle and can be safely handled. The Tarantulas are in the Arthropod family and differ from insects like the Crickets, in the fact that they have 8 legs instead of 6. They do spin silk but do not use it to create a web to trap their prey. They are hunters and stalkers that creep up on their prey of small insects and ambush them.
They are fascinating to watch and observe and are quite easy to care for. A ten-gallon tank with a locking screen cover and a layer of Aspen bedding at the bottom is sufficient.
Black Emperor Scorpion They come from tropical areas and need a heat source. They dehydrate rapidly and must always have fresh water available to them in low-lying bowls that have a sponge in it. The sponge makes it easier for them to drink because it allows them to drink by sucking the water. A few Crickets to eat each week is all the food that they need. With this minimal care they can live as long as ten years.
By now most people are thinking, well this is interesting information for a Biology class and I couldn't care less about invertebrate animals, lets learn about puppies instead! However, there is an invertebrate animal that every mother in the United States had tried to keep as a pet and that is the terrestrial Hermit Crab.
Hermit Crab Most of the Hermit Crabs live under water in the ocean but there are some land dwelling species, the make their home on the Southern beaches of the United States and the Caribbean. They cannot be considered 100% land dwelling as they have to lay their eggs in the Ocean, but as adults they live totally on land and extract oxygen from the air as long as they can moisten their gills daily.
Unlike the Tarantulas, they are considered decapods as they have 10 legs, although you never see all 10 at one time because most of the legs are inside the snails' shell that the Hermit Crab calls home. The surge in popularity of Hermit Crabs occurred when the sales of baby turtles was outlawed. Mothers who once would have bought a baby Turtle or two as a pet, mistakenly thinking that they were easy to keep, now buy Hermit Crabs. The nice thing about Hermit Crabs is that they are easy to keep. You have to keep in mind though that these little guys did not ask to be plucked off the tropical beaches that they call home. So it is MUST that we give them the best lifestyle that we can.
Hermit Crab Their needs are simple but important. A glass tank with a glass lid is the basic setup. A layer of sand on the bottom of the cage is the second step. The depth of the sand should be at least twice the height of your largest crab. Some driftwood or coral pieces for them to climb on is next. You also will need food and salt water dishes that are shallow enough for the Hermit Crabs to crawl into. They must be able to wet their gills everyday. Water must be treated with an anti-chloride treatment or aged, chlorine will eventually burn and kill a hermit crab. The salt water is preferred.
The last thing to think about is heat and humidity. Hermit Crabs come from a tropical environment and if you want them to be active and entertaining for your child they must be kept warm. At 80-85 degrees (Fahrenheit) Hermit Crabs are very active, and 70 degrees (Fahrenheit) they hardly even move. It's best to use a heater that is placed under the tank to keep the Hermit Crab at the optimal temperature. Being nocturnal a moon glo bulb is good on top the tank.
Ways to raise humidity include: Larger water dish, a sponge in the dish, an air stone in the deep end of the water bowl, misting the sand and sides of the tank. The Hermit Crabs themselves really do not like to be misted directly.
In nature, Hermit Crabs are omnivorous; they eat everything. But you do not have to feed them everything. There are a great deal of commercial Hermit Crab foods available. Fresh Water all the time is essential, and a light misting from a plant mister everyday is also a must. Every 2 weeks or so you must empty the sand out and replace it with nice fresh sand.
One aspect of the Biology of Hermit Crabs is the molting process. Hermit Crabs can grow in spurts and they cannot grow until they have crawled out of their old skin. Many of us wish we had the same ability. If your Hermit Crab burrows under the sand and looks limp for a few days, do not just throw it in the garbage! Just leave it alone and in about 10 days the new exoskeleton will harden up and the Hermit Crab will be as good as new. You will notice that the size of your Hermit Crab increased, thus it there is a possibility that it might need a new and larger snail shell to crawl into. So be sure it has a few to chose from. Other than the molting process there is very little that can go wrong during the life of the Hermit Crab, and there is also very little that you need to do while taking care of your Hermit Crab. Hermit Crabs suffer from no diseases and can live up to a decade.
I hope that you have acquired enough knowledge so that your little strange critter can live a happy and healthy life.