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.
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. 
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.
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 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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.


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.


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.


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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Monday, August 29, 2016

Before You Get A Pet Octopus - What You Should Consider

A pet dog or cat sounds too boring and common to most, so they apt to get an exotic pet to really liven up their home. Amongst the many exotic pets on the list, an octopus is something even the most adventurous exotic pet lover would have second thoughts of taking care of.

Keeping an octopus is definitely fun and interesting, but it’s not the easiest pet to care for. It’s important that you have a good understanding of saltwater aquariums, as well as knowledge on  cephalopods to be a good octopus owner.

Below is a short guide to help you get ready before getting a pet octo.

Know what species you want to get

There are a number of octopus species available and sold as pets. Keep in mind that different species grow to different sizes once they mature and they have different tank requirements. Also, how cold or warm the water in the talk also varies from specie to specie. One of the more popular species in the U.S. is the Octopus bimaculoides (bimac) or two-spot octopus. In fact they’re now commonly being bred in captivity and sold in local fish stores and pet stores. They’re diurnal, so they’re awake during most of the day, and don't grow too big. They’ll also interact with you, so you can form some sort of bond with them. 

Get your new pet from a reputable place

Some pet shops sell octopuses without even informing you where they came from and even what type of octopus it is. They’ll claim that it’s a “dwarf” or “common” or “brown” octopus that comes from places in the Pacific or Bali, but don’t be fooled. You might end up buying one that will grow into a huge octo in weeks. When buying a pet octo, make sure you get it from a place that actually knows what they’re talking about. Do your research on local fish stores in your area and ask questions like where the octo came from and the conditions they need to be kept in. if they give you a shady answer, you might want to look for another shop.

Stay far away from some species

Ok, so having a blue ring octopus as a pet might sound cool, but really, don’t do it. Although you might see these in shops, shipping success is usually very small, meaning many of these octopuses might have  died just to get a few of them alive. Also, they don’t do well in captivity. Other than being very tedious to take care of, did we mention that these things are one of the most poisonous animals on the planet, and that they could actually kill you if you don’t handle them properly? So if you’re not an expert and experienced cephalopod keeper, don’t attempt to care for a blue ring octopus.

Tank size and equipment

As mentioned, different breeds call for different tank sizes. There’s no way for you to care for an octopus in a small fish bowl, so don’t even get that idea. The most common sized tanks for octos are that ones that can store 50 gallons, and the larger the better. But again, different breeds have different tank needs, so it’s best to figure this out first before getting an octo. Also octopus can produce nearly 3 times as much waste compared to fishes, so go for something bigger than recommended for a fish-only setup. A big protein skimmer is strongly recommended.


Keeping two octos in a single tank is a no-no. Keeping fish in the same tank is also a no-no. Octopuses prefer to stay alone in their tanks, and keeping fishes might just turn them into dinner. You can place starfishes and pencil type sea urchins in the same tank as your octo, but that’s about it for company. Other octopuses and cuttlefishes should never be kept together, one octopus will eventually kill and eat the other one.

Tank environment

Octos live to have places where they can hide. You need to create a good environment for them to live in by placing live rocks, PVC pipes, and other materials that they can use as hiding places, caves, and hidden passages. Never place your octopus in an empty tank because they’ll end up being unhappy. The more caves and hiding places the tank has, the better and the more likely you are to see your octopus behave normally. 

Keep your talk closed

Many horror stories from octo owners have been told about how their pets would climb out and escape from their tanks and appear in random places in the house. Octopuses are very intelligent animals, and they can escape through holes that are about the same size as their beaks. After all, they don’t have bones so it must be really easy for them to escape. Some octo owners would go as far as using duct tape to seal their tanks. Pay particular attention to where the wires and pipes enter the tank since this is where your pet octo would most likely escape.


As mentioned before, you’re going to need a good amount of research before you should get a pet octo. Go online and read forums and sites that have information on keeping captive octopuses. Talk to octo owners and ask questions about any issues they came across while caring for their octo. Ready up on cephalopods to understand these animals better and to get yourself ready to care for one.

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Friday, August 26, 2016

Axolotl - Real Life Pokemon

All this talk about Pokemon Go has gotten people going crazy about wanting to care for real pokemons. Since these pocket monsters are actually based on real, and at times exotic, animals, the want to care for these one of a kind creatures has blown off the roof. Take for example, Axolotls.

Who’s that pokemon?

An axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) is a salamander native to Mexico. What makes it really interesting is that it looks exactly like a Mudkip. The term axolotl is a common name for a number of Ambystoma species in Mexico, but the common pet or laboratory axolotl refers to the A. mexicanum.
Unlike most salamanders, axolotls are neotenic. This means that they don’t routinely go through metamorphosis, from larva to adult form. Instead, they retain their gills as they sexually mature and reproduce. They stay in this aquatic state throughout their lifespan. Although axolotls are able to go through metamorphosis, it’s very stressful for them.
These animals have amazing  regenerative abilities. If they get injured, even to the point where they lose a body part, they’ll fully heal and even regenerate the body part that got cut off. This ability gives these creatures a pretty long lifespan, lasting to about 10 to 15 years (for something this small, that’s a long lifespan) when given the right care, particularly with water quality. This quality makes them an ideal subject for cell regeneration and healing studies.

Housing Axolotls

As cute as they may look, they should never be handled. They have very soft and sensitive skin and gills which could be damaged if you hold them. Axolotls can grow quite big. You’ll need a 15 to 20 gallon fish tank to house one. The axolotl only needs enough water to keep it submerged, so you don't have to fill the tank up. It’s best to place a filtering system in the tank so the water stays clean, and it’s also less hassle to maintain. Keep in mind though that the filtering system needs to be slow to avoid any strong currents happening in the tank.The filter should not be in a position to trap the gills of the axolotl. When cleaning the tank, never do a full water change as this creates a situation where the water chemistry changes too drastically for the axolotl.
Water Temperature and pH

The tank needs to be placed inside a cool area, away from direct sunlight. The water should be kept consistent, between 57-68 degrees Fahrenheit (14-20 degrees Celsius). Tap water should have any chlorine or chloramines (added during the water treatment process) removed using commercially available solutions. Never use distilled water and the pH of the water should be 6.5-7.5 (neutral).

Tank Content

If you’re planning to place gravel in their tanks, make sure that it’s coarse gravel. axolotls might ingest  fine gravel when eating. Some owners keep the bottom of the tank empty, but some believe that it’s best to add some gravel since it can help the axolotl to walk around. The glass bottom might stress them out since they can’t get a hold of the tank’s bottom and slip while they walk around. The gravel is also said to help mimic their natural habitat. Adding aquarium figures like caves, castles, or a terracotta plant pot broken in half can help give them a space to hide. 


Juvenile axolotls may become cannibalistic, so it’s best to raise them together in separate enclosures. As they mature and become adults, they may be housed in one tank, but be watchful of any cannibalistic behaviour. Safely take the other axolotl out right away if they start biting each other. If a body part does get bitten off, it will grow back over time.

Feeding Axolotls

Wild axolotls live off eating small amphibians, small fish, crustaceans, worms, and snails. In captivity, they can be given small strips of meat (usually beef or liver), brine shrimp, cultured earthworms, tubifex worms, bloodworms, or commercial fish pellets (such as trout or salmon pellets). The best thing to do is to give them a variety, so as to give them a balanced diet. Remember, it’s important that uneaten food should be cleaned from the tank daily to avoid getting the water dirty and contaminated.

Terrestrial Axolotls

As mentioned, axolotls are occasionally able to go through metamorphosis and take a terrestrial form. What causes this to happen naturally is still not that well understood. In the event that the axolotl does change to a terrestrial form, owners will have to be very watchful about their pet’s state. Some owners actually force this change to happen by changing the water characteristics and giving the Axolotl a supplement. Care for terrestrial axolotls is very different compared to aquatic axolotls. Also, since the animal actually goes through a lot of stress during the transformation, inducing metamorphosis is not recommended and it can significantly lower the axolotl’s lifespan.

As pets, axolotls are relatively easy to care for. Although they are easy to breed in captivity, wild axolotls are actually considered as critically endangered because of the effects of pollution, exploitation, shrinking habitat, and introduction of non-native predators. If you’re planning to get an axolotl for a pet, make sure that i comes from a reliable breeder and do a lot of research on a axolotls to get a good idea on what to expect when keeping one. Just remember that it’s not going to evolve into a Marshtomp.  

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Top 10 questions asked about rabbits

A pet bunny is one of the cutest and easiest animals to take care of. Which is why many parents apt to get their kids rabbits as a first pet. If you’re a new rabbit owner, or if you’re planning to get a pet rabbit, below are the 10 most common questions about caring for your furry little friend.

Will I need a pair or can they live happily solo?
Rabbits are social animals, so it’s better to get them in pairs rather than having a single rabbit. However, solo rabbits might do well in homes with other pets. Keep in mind though that rabbits are territorial creatures so they might get into trouble with their housemates if they get too close to their territory. Some animals, such as Guinea pigs, are susceptible to respiratory disease from bacteria which rabbits carry. Rabbits are also known to bully smaller rodents sharing territory.

Can it live outside?
Rabbits are actually pretty active creatures. They need a good amount of space to run and hop around, so placing them outside may be a great idea. You can create a fenced area with a hutch that your rabbit can use for cover in case of rain and really hot days. Place large pipes that the bunnies can use as a makeshift burrow. If you will be placing the rabbit outside, make sure their pen is protected from any predators like foxes or stray cats. The best place to set up a pen for them is in the shady part of the lawn or backyard. Bunnies don’t like high temperatures, so keep them in a shady area.

What about indoors?

Yes, rabbits actually make good indoor pets. Most people don’t know that rabbits, like dogs, can actually be toilet trained. In the wild, rabbits use latrines, so you can use a cat litter tray lined with news papers and some hay on top will suffice. Rabbits actually like to eat where they poop (sound nasty, i know), so the hay will help encourage them to do their business in the tray. The rabbit should also be given a place where they can run and hide in if they ever feel threatened. A cage is a big help, unless you want your rabbit to roam free, but never keep the rabbit in the cage all the time. They as mentioned, they do need to move around. Bunnies are also notorious when it comes to chewing, so make sure they don’t get access to household plants, electrical cables, and other things that could harm them.

What do they eat?

They’re herbivores so they love to eat everything from fruits, vegetables, grass, and hay. Fiber is important in their diet, so give them food that’s rich in this. They should be given grass and meadow hay, but it’s important that there are no chemicals in them. Mixed vegetables should be added to their diets, but these must be introduced to their daily meals slowly to minimize the chance of an upset stomach. There are high fiber rabbit pellets available in most pet stores, which makes a good, day to day meal for them. However, it’s important that they still be given vegetation to help keep their stomach and teeth healthy. Water bottles are a must since bowls can easily be tipped over and the water spilled. Keep their water supply fresh and clean by changing it every day.

When should I clean their enclosure?

Their enclosure and hutch must be cleaned regularly. Faeces and soiled bedding must be removed and replaced with fresh, cleaned bedding. Their litter box should always be cleaned out and the lining replaced with clean lining and new hay. The hutch can be cleaned using a 5% concentration of diluted water and bleach. Nothing stronger than this though since any residue could harm the rabbit. Cleaning the enclosure and replace the bedding once should be good enough.

Do they need treatments for parasites

Yes, they can acquire parasites like mites and fleas. You might need to talk to your vet about this to know what treatment is the best for your pet. If you’re worried about your rabbit getting these parasites from other animals, like pet dogs and cats in your home, it’s important that they be given treatment as well to avoid these pests from spreading.

Will rabbits need vaccinations?

They should be vaccinated for diseases such as viral haemorrhagic disease (VHD) and myxomatosis. Schedule a session with your vet so you can get your rabbit these vaccinations at the right time. These shots are done annually, so you’ll need to discuss with the vet a vaccination regime that is best suited for your rabbit. Keep a record of their shots with you to ensure they don’t miss it.

Can I have it neutered?

We all know how fast rabbits can reproduce. Rabbits can become sexually mature from the age of six weeks and can successfully reproduce from this age. Neutering your rabbit is a great idea. It can help in preventing territorial, sexual aggression, and unwanted pregnancies. In female rabbits, neutering helps prevent uterine cancer. Call your vet and ask if you can have your rabbit neutered and what are the possible risk associated with the procedure.

Do they need their teeth clipped?

Rabbits have open rooted teeth, which means that their teeth continuously grow. With the right diet, this shouldn't be a problem since their constant chewing should give plenty of abrasion that naturally wears their teeth down. However, if they don’t get to chew enough, their teeth could grow very large, and they might start chewing on things they shouldn’t be chewing on. If your rabbit starts drooling, eats less, starts losing weight, and doesn’t groom itself as often as it use to, these could be signs that their teeth are overgrowing and you’ll need to visit the vet right away.

How should I hold a rabbit?

Rabbits, contrary to how cute and fuzzy they are, are actually not the sweetest creatures in the planet. Most rabbits don’t like to be handled. Those that do, often don’t like it when you handle them for too long. They have very strong hind leg that let them run, kick, and jump. When you hold a rabbit, it’s important that you support its entire body, particularly the hind limbs, by placing one hand under the tummy and the other under the tail while holding them close to your body. They need to feel secure when you hold them, and holding them close will also stop them from kicking themselves free and end up injuring themselves from the fall. Never hold a rabbit by the ears. That’s the last thing it wants you to do. 
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