Archive for the ‘Pets’ Category

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Ramsey says hello !

Ramsey is the latest addition to the family, my beautiful pet rat! No doubt some of you just cringed; well let me assure you he is disease free and just as good (if not better) a companion then a dog or a cat. I got Ramsey just before Christmas 2013 from a friend who works in a local pet shop. He was the last of a litter and getting old and he knew I was on the lookout for a new furry friend so asked if I was on for giving him a home. I couldn’t leave the poor boy on his own so didn’t hesitate to say yes!

Rats should always be housed in pairs or groups as they are very social animals and can get lonely. I give Ramsey lots of attention every day and whenever I am home he gets free run of my bedroom and sometimes gets the chance to explore the other rooms as well. He will usually spend half an hour at a time running around, climbing, playing and trouble making before retreating back to his bed for one of several naps a day.

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Up to no good, looking for the sweets I had in my handbag 😛

Rats are extremely intelligent animals and they form strong bonds with their companions be it other rats or humans. With pet rats you have to really earn their trust. When I first got Ramsey he was very shy, he would hide in his bed whenever I approached and when the cage was open he would look out for a while before going back into hiding. With time and patience he began to get more curious and brave. Now I can’t open his cage quick enough, he is already waiting to be let out to play. He is still a little shy when it comes to handling, but he knows who his mammy is and is starting to trust me more each day.

Enrichment is very important when keeping rats as they get bored easily. Ramsey isn’t too interested in toys but he does love to climb and explore. I hide treats for him around the room and even in a shallow tub of water, he doesn’t mind getting wet. Most rats love to swim but need to be introduced slowly to water as they will be cautious of new experiences. Gradually I am filling the tub with more water and will get him a larger tub soon. You can also teach rats a whole range of fun tricks, which can be as fun for them as it is for you. Just make sure that trust is established first and be patient with them.

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Cleaning his face 🙂

Rats get a lot of bad press, but trust me they make great companions and are very clean animals, much more so then dogs. I wouldn’t trade my little guy in for the world. Remember as with all pets make 100% sure you can offer them a forever home, no excuses later on down the line.

 

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As with dogs, owners need to take care with what food their cats get their paws on. It is important to become familiar with what might be harmful to your cat’s health and avoid giving them anything that might be a risk. Here is a quick list of what should be avoided:

1. Chocolate:

Theobromine, that nasty substance present in chocolate is deadly if ingested by cats. Luckily cats are not too keen on chocolate but if hungry or curious they may still eat it so make sure and keep it away from reach.

2. Dog food:

Despite a common misconception that dog and cat food are pretty much the same, this is not the case. Cat food contains many nutrients, which are not present in dog food, which are an essential part of their diet.

3. Onion:

Onions when consumed in even small quantities can damage red blood cells and lead to anaemia in cats. It is important to remember that onion powder is in a number of products such as gravy and baby food so these need to be avoided along with other onion based foods.

4. Raw Egg:

Avidin, an enzyme which can decrease the absorption of vitamin B, is found in raw egg whites. This can lead to skin and hair problems in cats.

5. Raw Fish:

Raw fish also contains a harmful enzyme; this one’s called thiaminase which breaks down thiamine (Vitamin B). The lack of thiamine in a cat’s diet can lead to neurological disorders.

6. Milk:

Some cats have it worse then others, but better to be safe than sorry, so unless your cat has been raised on cow milk and never had any problems with diarrhoea or dehydration, then it should be avoided.

7. Mouldy or spoilt foods:

Don’t throw it away, the cat will eat it”. Bad idea. Mould and rotten foods can contain a whole string of toxins which can harm your cat. You wouldn’t eat it yourself, so why feed it to the cat?

8. Bones:

Be careful with meats that can contain bones as they can easily splinter and cause serious internal damage and cats can choke on smaller bones hidden in meat. Remove all bones from foods.

9. Grapes or raisins:

As with dogs, they contain unknown harmful toxins that can damage the liver.

10. Liver:

In small amounts liver can be good for cats but given too often can lead to vitamin a toxicity so be very careful.

 

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Bailey - Authors Own

While the urge to hand your dog leftover food and throw them down a scrap or two from your plate at dinner time is not uncommon , it is important to take note that as well as this increasing chances of obesity and undesirable begging behaviours from your pet, a number of food substances can be toxic to your dog. Here is a short list outlining just some of the risk foods:

1.Grapes & Raisins:
In recent years these have been found to be toxic to dogs and lead to kidney failure, all though the reasons why are not yet known.

2.Onions and Garlic:
The toxins present in these break down red blood cells in dogs and in turn can lead to anaemia. These are ingredients found in a lot of foods including gravy so it is vital to keep them away from your pet.

3.Dairy products:
As with cats, dairy products when given to dogs can cause diarrhoea and dehydration so you should always be careful with this.

4.Fatty meats & bones:
It is vital to take care with meat as dogs can easily choke on bits of bone and in addition the bone can splinter inside their digestive tract causing serious harm. The fat and grizzle on meat in large quantities can lead to pancreatitis so if you wish to give your dog leftover meat ensure it is cooked properly, bone free and fat free.

5.Chocolate, Candy and gums:
These are all very harmful to dogs and in large quantities can be lethal. Xylitol, and ingredient found in many sweets can disturb insulin levels in dogs leading to liver failure. Theobromine found in chocolate is poisonous to dogs and this is why chocolate should always be avoided.

6.Caffeine:
Caffeine is like poison to a dog and should at all times be avoided. It is present in coffee, tea, chocolate and a number of soft drinks.

7.Alcohol:
While this one may seem obvious there are still pet owners that slip their dogs a bit of alcohol now and again. Due to their lower body weight and different metabolisms this should be avoided as it doesn’t take much to cause alcohol poisoning in dogs.

8.Yeast dough:
When digested by animals yeast dough can expand in their stomach and cause unease and digestive issues. In turn the yeast can produce alcohol in the dog’s stomach leading to a possibility of alcohol poisoning. Bread is ok to give to dogs in very small quantities as a treat.

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When I was younger I remember just how common it was for me to find a smooth newt when out exploring the fields. It was on recently reading about the National Newt Survey that I began to wonder if these fascinating little creatures where still as common on our land as they had once been.

I set off this afternoon, wellies on and raincoat zipped, into the fields with my trusted partner by my side to see if I could find us some newts. The first call of course the small stream marking the break between our upper and lower fields. I never failed as a child to find newts sitting on rocks or dipping their toes in the water here so figured it would be the best place to start. Unfortunately after much patience and muddy boots no newts where to be seen.

The small stream

Garfield my trusted companion enjoying the walk

Just up the bank behind the stream there is a bed of rocks and this was once Newt city so easing up quietly towards the rocks eyes peeled was the first success.

Smooth Newt

A female smooth Newt sitting amongst the moss on top of a large rock, she stayed still as a statue with my approach hoping I had not spotted her which was great where my camera was concerned. I was very excited by this find as it was good to know that the smooth newts still resided here, however I was disappointed that I could only find one.

I will try again in a few weeks better when newt finding conditions improve and hopefully this time I will be more successful. On returning it was time to let the dog out for a game of “Just you try and get this toy of me”. She never did get the hang of fetch . . .

come and get me . . .

"don't like fetch, would much rather just roll around and chew it thanks"

Bearded dragons have become increasingly popular over the years due to their mini dinosaur looks and mega laid back personalities. They make wonderful pets and as with your average furry pets love attention.

Bearded dragon at Blijdorp Zoo

Due to their habitat in the wild it is a common assumption that the best substrate to house a bearded dragon on is sand, this however is not the case. While many people experience no problems with housing their beardies on sand, others are not so lucky. It is a common behaviour for bearded dragons, especially the young, to lick rocks, decorations and sand in their enclosures. When swallowed the sand can build up and cause gut impaction, a serious and frequently fatal disorder.

Some dragon owners would suggest sand is fine so long as they are fed food in bowls and refrain from feeding live animals so as not to increase accidental intake of sand. Crickets and other insects are great enrichment and nutritionally valuable to the bearded dragon so best not left out of the diet. In addition the sand licking problem will also be present.

The other theory is that so long as the bearded dragon is fully matured, sand should be ok as this curious licking behaviour is hardly present, still the same feeding problems exist and surely it is better not left to risk?

There are many different types of sand but the most dangerous is calci-sand, sometimes beardies can grow to like the taste and when the calcium carbonate in the sand gets wet it can solidify in the animal’s stomach and gut. The other dodgy sand type is normal play sand, play sand contains silica which is harmful to the lungs and the dust it gives of has been found to be harmful to bearded dragons.
So long as they have plenty of places to hide, bask, climb and a small area to express digging behaviour (using safe large particle substrates) then while it may seem bare, a simple tiled enclosure is probably the safest option.

This is all of course open to debate however from my research it is definitely better to be safe then sorry and avoid sand!

Meet the Family

Posted: January 20, 2012 in Pets
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At home I have 3 wonderful furry members in my family, Garfield , Tango and Bailey ! Here’s an introduction to the amazing trio !

Garfield is the love of my life (sorry Mike), had him from the day he was born, his mum sadly passed away a few years ago. She was found in a local farmers yard with no obvious indication of what caused her death so poison is the most likely option there 😦 RIP Willow !

He loves to laze around and go for little excursions to the old cottage across the fields , but as soon as he’s called he’ll come running (usually for food). He’s almost 10 years old now so is slowing down but occasionally you’ll catch him chasing leaves and he still keeps the mice and rats at bay. Would do anything for my baby. Here’s some photo’s of the man himself !

Garfield

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Tango is our other cat, a playful girl barely a year old ! Our neighbour had too many cats running around on her farmyard (remember to get your pets neutered fokes!) so we decided to take in one of the kittens to keep Garfield company in his old age. She was very wild to begin with but with time and love she got better. She is still a bit skittish to this day but has come a long way.

Tango

Tango and Garfield

As well as our two cats we have an beautiful terrier cross , Bailey ! She is a right character ! Whenever you are in need of a hug she’ll be there wagging tail and full off kisses but other then that she just wants to play. As with a lot of terriers she loves a good barking session and at times can be very stubborn but we always forgive her. How could you not with a face like hers ? :

Bailey

So that was three of my best friends, I’m sure you’ll hear plenty more about them in the future! don’t forget to comment 😉