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.

Company

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.

Research

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. 

Companions

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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Friday, August 5, 2016

Cute Animal Feature - Popcorn Scented Binturong




What strange but cute animal has a face similar to a cat, the build of a small bear, and a long tail like a monkeys? It’s called a binturong, more commonly known as a bearcat. The binturong has captured the hearts of many people because of their adorable face, and their strange scent that smells very similarly to a favorite human snack. They’re native to the rainforest of Southeast Asia and are rarely seen in the wild since they live high above the canopies and hardly ever come down. They’re robust animals, growing to be 2-3 feet long (double that if you include the tail) and between 25 and 50 pounds.

Below are 10 facts about the binturong to get to know this lovable, exotic creature better.
They’re not cats or bears

Although they’re called binturong s, they’re actually no where near related to cats or bears. The binturong  is categorised under the Viverridae family, which is a classification of an ancient group of small to medium sized mammals that are native to the Old World (eastern hemisphere). binturong s are actually more closely related to genets and civets. They’re taxonomy is also one of the most divers of the carnivores, consisting of 66 species found all over Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India, and Southeast Asia.

Fruit loving carnivores

Although the Binturong is a carnivore, its diet is actually mostly composed of fruits. In the wild, the binturong  lives of a diet based on a variety of food, including fruits (especially the strangler fig), small mammals, birds, fish, small invertebrates, leaves and plant shoots, eggs, and carrion. Those living in captivity are often give food like bananas, apples, tomatoes, yams, carrots, leaves, ground meat, and even dog food (you’d think they’d prefer cat food).

What’s in a name?

Where the animal’s name originated is still unknown. Researchers say that the language where the word “binuturong” comes from is now extinct.  However, it’s most likely from one of the native groups who have lived in the Southeast Asian region. We’re just guessing it means something close to “buttered popcorn”.


Popcorn scent

Speaking of buttered popcorn, for some reason, the binturong  actually smells like buttered popcorn. Like the members of the  Viverridae family, binturong s have scent glands which are found right under their tail. They use their scent to mark their territory, and their tails basically act like a mop that spreads their scent as they make their way around. Although they smell the the movies to us, other binturong s actually pick up this scent as a message that another binturong  already owns this territory. Their scents also help female and male binturong s find each other during mating season.

They’re noisy

These little guys actually make a lot of noise to communicate and express themselves. Happy binturongs would chuckle, however an irritated one would make a growl fiercely or high-pitched wail. When they’re hunting, they would periodically make low grunts and hissing sounds. And when a female  binturong  is looking for a mate, she’d purr like a cat.

Tree dwellers

For an animal that can weigh up to 25 and 50 pounds, the binturong actually prefers to stay on top of trees. They’re skilled climbers and move through the forest canopy, moving from one branch to another. Because of their size, they can’t leap. They use their strong feet and semi-retractable claws to get a good hold on tree branches. Their hind legs can even rotate backwards so their claws still have a good grip when climbing down a tree head-first.  Binturongs even sleep high in tree branches, curling up with their heads tucked under their tails.
They have prehensile tails

binturongs are the only Old World mammal that have a prehensile tail. Their tails grow about the same length of their body and act like a fifth limb when climbing. The tip of their tail has a leathery patch that gives extra traction when they use it to hold on to a branch. Their tail might be its most vital climbing tool. When sleeping, they use their tails like anchors, gripping tightly on a branch to stop them from falling off.

Bear walk

Binturongs, like bears, walk flat-footed. When they walk, such as in instances where they have to come down from the canopy,  in an ambling, side-to-side gait. Think pooh bear as he makes his way into the forest, only with four legs.

Planned pregnancy

Here’s a trait that most women would probably want. Female binturongs are about to mathe throughout the whole year, however, most births happen between January and March. Researchers believe that binturongs are one of the only 100 mammal species that have the ability to delay implantation. This means that they can mate anytime they want, but time the birth of their young to a season with favorable environmental conditions.

Strangler figs

These animals actually have a special relationship with strangler fig. They play a big role in spreading the seed of these fruits in their droppings. They’re one of the only two animals that have digestive enzymes capable of softening the tough outer covering of the fig’s seeds, making the binturongs a very important specie in the rainforest.

Through the years, a vast number of the forest lands in Southeast Asia has become threatened by human activity. The main threats to binturongs are habitat destruction, hunting, and the wildlife trade.
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