Best Pet For You

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

SQUEAK! The Adorable Guinea Pig

No, guinea pigs are NOT pigs! In fact, they are rodents, relatives of rats and mice. They are called pigs because of the interesting “pig-like” sounds that they make. The guinea pig is a sturdy pet that can become very tame if handled often and with tender loving care. Once comfortable and familiar with their owner they will squeal and squeak for food. I had a guinea pig when I was a child (his name was Hamlet). He was fun pet, though he didn’t do much. I will say that he was great first pet as he taught me responsibility and the joy of pet ownership. I do remember Hamlet being very messy and yes, stinky (sorry, Hamlet…may you rest in peace). Cleaning his cage was not fun…but a definite necessity.

Basic Guinea Pig Facts
Housing: Homemade or commercial hutch (can be purchased at most pet supply stores), food dish and water bottle, chew toys
Diet: Guinea pig pellets, vitamin supplements, raw vegetables (such as lettuce)
Care: Provide fresh food and water on a daily basis, clean hutch twice per week or as needed (depending on how dirty your pig is!), if you have a long-haired guinea pig – weekly grooming is a necessity
Training: Don’t get your hopes up, your guinea pig will never learn to play dead, or sit on command, however, they will squeal with delight when you enter a room (that is, if he likes you!).
Life Span: Five to seven years

Guinea pigs truly are pigs! They love to eat and will devour just about any vegetation that you put in front of them. Favorite veggies of the guinea pig include: apples, spinach, lettuce, cauliflower, corn, and cabbage. In nature, the guinea pig will chew on twigs to keep its teeth short and sharp. It is important that you provide chew toys for your pig or their teeth will become unhealthy and long. The most common health problem of the guinea pig is vitamin deficiency, therefore, it is important to feed your pig properly and give it vitamin supplements.

Guinea pigs are great first pets! They are adorable and easy to care for. Hamsters, gerbils and rats are also rodents but in my opinion, don't come close to the cuddly and cute guinea pig.

Tweet Tweet! Caged Birds at a Glance

Birds are popular pets. While not as demanding as dogs, they do require a lot of care, and yes, companionship! There are many different types of birds for you to consider. Just remember, birds are inexpensive to keep but not to buy! The cost of some birds can easily drain your bank account. The most common birds sold as pets are parakeets, canaries, small parrots, and large parrots. In this post, I will give you some quick facts and information about the most common birds available in local pet stores or sold by breeders. It is important to remember that birds can live a VERY long time. Buying a bird is a huge commitment (some live 50 years or more!). Birds also become VERY attached to their owners and do not do well when left alone for long periods of time. Before you purchase a bird, please do your homework. It is important that you know how to properly care for your new pet BEFORE you actually bring it home.

Life Span: Canaries live approximately 10 to 15 years but with excellent care, have been known to live 20 to 25 years (that is the huge commitment thing I was talking about earlier!)
Housing: Small to medium commercial birdcage or a large, homemade cake-pan cage with seed and water containers, dowel perches and toys
Special Requirements: Canaries can easily become ill if left in a cold or drafty area. They need special protection from drafts and direct sunlight
General Care: Feed and provide fresh water daily, clean droppings from cage floor once or twice per week (depending on how messy), provide fresh water to bathe in two times per week, complete cage and perch washing once per month.
Diet: Basic boxed canary seed, supplemented with fresh greens or sprouted seeds
Training: Canaries can be quite hyper. After they get to know their owner and become comfortable, it is possible to get them to eat from your hand or perch on your finger

Small Parrots
The following birds fall into the “Small Parrot” category: Green, blue, yellow or white parakeet, Gray Cockatiel, Bee Bee Parrot (Tovi or Orange-Chinned Parakeet), Peach-Faced Lovebird, Fischer’s Lovebird
Life Span: Parakeets live 15 to 18 years, Cockatiels live 15 to 20 years, Lovebirds and Bee Bee Parrots live 10 to 15 years
Diet: Bird pellets (can be purchased at local pet stores), fresh raw greens and fruits, seed snacks (purchased from local pet or specialty store) and bones and twigs to chew on.
Housing: Medium to large sized commercial birdcage or large, homemade cake-pan cage with seed and water containers, dowel perches and toys
Special Requirements: Protection from drafts and direct sunlight, possible wing clipping
General Care: Feed and replenish water on a daily basis, provide bath water two times per week, clean cage floor once or twice per week depending on how messy, complete cleaning of cage and perches once per month
Training: Parrots usually become very attached to their owners. Once they have adjusted to their environment and become calm and comfortable, they will whistle, mimic sounds, and sometimes (if you are lucky!) mimic human speech. They will also become quite affectionate with their main care-taker.

Large Parrots
The following birds fall into the “Large Parrot” category: African Gray, Ringneck Parakeet, Amazon Parrot
Life Span: The Ringneck Parakeet lives approximately 25 years, while other large parrots can live up to 50 years
Housing: Large commercial birdcage
Diet: Parrot pellets (can be purchased at pet supply or bird specialty stores), fresh, raw greens and fruits, seed treats, bones and twigs to chew on
General Care: Feed and replenish water on a daily basis. Clean bottom of cage once or twice per week depending upon how messy, complete cleaning of cage (including perches) once per month, provide water to bathe in two times per week.
Training: Just like small parrots, these birds, once comfortable, will mimic human voices and whistles. They are extremely devoted to their owners and become quite affectionate and loving.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Pet Snakes - Quick Facts!

Snakes are not for everyone. It takes a special person to love and care for a pet snake. Many people I know are too afraid to even hold a snake…much less raise one as a pet. Snakes are not ideal pets for children…especially small ones. They require a lot of specialized care and the feeding habits of these fascinating reptiles can be quite upsetting. After all, it is hard not to feel sorry for the mice, rats and crickets that end up as lunch or dinner. If you are interested in snakes and are trying to figure out if they would be the best pet for you, then take a look at the quick snake facts below. Have a slithering good time…and here’s to finding the perfect pet that fits your lifestyle!

Quick Snake Facts

Most Common Pet Snakes:
Common Boa, Rosy Boa, Corn Snake, Rat Snake, Indigo Snake

Type of housing: Snakes up to three feet require a 15 or 20 gallon tank with a mesh top. They will also need incandescent lighting and a six inch water dish. Snakes over three feet will require a commercial or homemade wood and plexi-glass cage, appropriate lighting and an eight inch water dish. Believe it or not, snakes are extremely clean…this means that you must keep their enclosure clean if you want a happy and healthy reptile. You must also monitor the temperature of their enclosure and provide extra heat when necessary. Owning a snake means doing your homework! It is important that you find out the exact needs of the specific snake you own in order to care for it properly.

Diet: This is the part I don’t care for. Most snakes eat live mice and other small rodents. You can buy these at pet stores or raise your own. Smaller snakes eat a variety of insects. If you don't like the idea of keeping a container of crickets in your home, then you might want to consider a different type of pet!

Care: Clean and refill the water dish on a daily basis. Feed once or twice per week depending on the type, age and size of snake that you have. Clean cage when soiled and do a thorough cage cleaning with chlorine bleach at least four times per year.

Training: Don’t get your hopes up, you will not be able to teach your snake to retrieve a ball or play dead. The most you can hope for is a little bonding time with your pet snake. Over time, your snake will enjoy being held by you and will like the warmth of your skin. You can tell if your snake is happy by how calm he is when you are handling him. Snakes are not affectionate like cats and dogs can be…so don’t expect hugs and kisses!

Life Span: Snakes are a huge commitment!!! They can live up to 30 years depending on the species. It is a sad fact that many pet snakes die before their time due to lack of care.

Snakes are special pets that require special care. If you are interested in snakes, I suggest learning more about them before you actually purchase one. Knowledge is power and the more you know the better!

Hermit Crabs - Another Great First Pet!

As a child, I LOVED going to the beach. It was something I looked forward to each and every year. I couldn’t wait for summer to come and would count down the days until it was finally time to pack up the family station wagon and head to the shore. On one particular trip, I was allowed to pick out a hermit crab to bring home with me. I can still remember standing in front of the large wire cage staring at all of the beautiful shells…which of course, had crabs living within them. To this day I can clearly remember the excitement as I picked out my pet…which, by the way, I named Herman. I know…not very original! Hermit crabs are great pets for young children. They are easy to care for (can you say…low maintenance) and don’t cost a fortune.

Hermit Crab Information
Behind the hermit crab’s hard-shelled head and claws, its body is completely soft. It is shaped in a spiral so that it can fit snuggly within its shell. Hermit crabs are quite common and can be found at most pet stores…especially those within beach communities. They cost approximately three to ten dollars depending on the type of crab you choose. Hermit crabs will outgrow their shells so it is important that you provide an assortment of new shells for them to grow into. Hermit crabs enjoy climbing (it is their favorite past-time) so a wire-mesh cage is best. If you house your crab in a glass tank, place some bark in the cage so that he has something to climb on. No matter what type of container you use, make sure you use a lid! Remember, crabs are climbers and will climb out of their enclosure if given the opportunity.

My Hermit Crab is Hungry!
Like most crabs, hermits are scavengers….which means they are NOT picky about their diets and are known to eat just about anything. They love raw hamburger and fish and will even eat dog and/or cat food. Meow! Though hermit crabs love meat…don’t deprive them of vegetables! Bits of lettuce, spinach, and seaweed are just a few of this little crabs favorites! It is important to note that you should clean out uneaten food at the end of each day. You should also provide fresh, clean water on daily basis.

Hermit crabs are fun, easy pets that can teach a young child responsibility when it comes to pet care. If you are searching for a low maintenance pet that won’t cost a fortune then don’t be shy….come out of your shell and consider the hermit crab! Hermits are GREAT first pets for boys and girls alike!

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Goldfish - A Great First Pet!

My four year old niece Molly is constantly asking my sister for a pet. The problem is, my sister has two other children (a two year old and a three month old) and as you can imagine, doesn't have much time to add a pet to the mix! Molly isn't quite old enough to properly care for a dog or cat and though hamsters and gerbils are also an option, they still need more care than a four year old can handle. Enter the goldfish....a great first pet for a young child!

Ok, a goldfish to an older child may seem boring. However, to a four year old, they can be quite fascinating and dare I say, easy to care for!

General Information:

Housing: Ten gallon tank (more or less depending on how many fish you plan on having), filter system (which is optional but good for the fish), gravel and plants
Special Requirements: None (see, I told you goldfish are easy pets!)
Diet: Inexpensive commercial granular or flake goldfish food
Care: Feed once or twice per day, refresh water four to six times per year or as needed, clean filter (if you have one)
Training: You probably won't be able to teach your goldfish to sit or stay, however, you may teach them to eat from your fingers or come for food when signaled
Life Span: Three to four years but can live up to ten years

Types of Goldfish

There are several types of goldfish to choose from and they are all relatively inexpensive! The common goldfish that you see in most pet stores is also known as the Comet. The next, fancier model, is the fantail (which is sometimes called a Veiltail). This type of goldfish has two tails which is the result of mutation. Fantails have a shorter, plumper body than their sibling, the Comet. Both types come in several colors including common gold, rare silver, orange, red, white, black and speckled or spotted. When goldfish are speckled or spotted in orange, white and black they are called calicos.

The Black Moor goldfish is fat, bugged eyed and has a fan like tail. They only come in black but have a tendency to look metallic in certain light. There are still fancier breeds of goldfish; however, the fish previously mentioned would be best for a young child.

Time to Pick Your Pet!

So, you are standing in front of the goldfish tank and there are hundreds of fish staring back at you. Which one is best? Are they all the same? When picking out your child's goldfish you can get a good idea of the overall health of the tank by looking for dead or dying fish. If the tank is dirty and has several dead fish floating in it, you might want to move on to a different tank or a new store. If the tank looks clean and healthy, look for a goldfish that is larger in size. Larger fish tend to be heartier, therefore, probably healthier. Look at the fins for signs of splitting or shredding as this may be a sign of disease. Also check the scales. The scales should be shiny and injuries or discolored patches. The fish you should choose should also swim well. When I say well, I mean at a normal speed...not to slow and upward. A fish that swims in a tilted or downward manner has health issues. Once you choose your fish...keep your eye on it so that you can tell the clerk exactly which one you want to take home.

So there you have it...some basic goldfish information. Goldfish are perfect first pets for young children. They will teach your child responsibility but will not turn the household upside-down as a new puppy or kitten might. That’s it for now...I’m off to watch Finding Nemo. I know, I know, Nemo is not a goldfish…but he is still cute!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


If you have a child then you have most likely heard the words, "Can I have a pet...PLEASE!!!" Pets are a wonderful way to teach children responsibility, compassion, friendship and loyalty. The big question is...what pet is right for your child?

The purpose of this blog is to help you choose what pet is right, not only for your child, but for your family as a whole. After all, pets often become a family responsibility. Good luck with your pet search...and remember, no matter whether you choose a hamster, snake or even a parrot...all animals deserve the proper care and a forever, loving home!