Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Pygmy Hedgehog!

My friend and neighbor is adopting a South African Pygmy Hedgehog soon and I thought it would be nice and informative to write a post about them for her! I'm sure my readers will enjoy it too!

What is a Pygmy Hedgehog?
It's a cuddly little animal, burdened with swords! The South African Pygmy Hedgehog, also known as the four-toed hedgehog, is a creature that has been on our Earth since the time of the dinosaurs! They range in size from 6 to ten inches in length and have quills on their backs, but soft fur on their faces and stomachs. They have a long pointed snout, making for a very cute face.

Pygmy Hedgehogs are solitary, nocturnal creatures that are capable of climbing and swimming. They are highly energetic in the night and can cover miles of ground at night searching for food in the wild. (In captivity they run for miles on a wheel.) In the wild they consume insects, plant matter, and even some very small vertebrates.

When threatened or scared, they tend to roll up into a small ball hiding the face and soft belly and exposing the quills. They are capable of making sounds. They most common are snorts, hisses, and small twittering sounds.When attacked or threatened, they are capable of making a loud screaming noise.

A female Pygmy Hedgehog typically only gives birth once a year to a littler consisting of 2 to ten baby hedgehogs called pups, though 4 to 5 is most typical. Their lifespan is typically 4 to 6 years.
Is a Hedgehog the right pet for me?
Well there are a few big factors that will help answer this question.
*What city/state you you live in? In some cities/states it is illegal to own a hedgehog. In some cities/states you may own a hedgehog but must have one or more permits for them. Some cities/states don't require a permit but may have anti-breeding laws are laws against how many you are allowed to own. In most cases, failure to obey these laws can result in large fines, and the confiscation and possible euthanasia of your pet. (For any younger readers, this means they can take your hedgehog away and put him/her to sleep.) Make sure hedgehogs are legal in your city/state before considering one as a pet. If they are legal, but one or more permits are required, I suggest picking those up first. Lawa are always changing, so keep up with them!
*Do you live in a rent house or an apartment where you have a landlord? If so, check with them first to make sure small animals are allowed in your home. There may be a security deposit and/or additional rent required. Make sure your budget will allow for this.
*Do you have time in your schedule to properly care for this little bundle of joy? Do you have room in your budget for all of it's expenses?
*Do you have a safe area in your home for a roomy cage?
*Do you have any other pets or small children that may harm or scare the hedgehog?

Hedgehog Must-Haves:
The African Pygmy Hedgehog is the most widely kept pet of all they hedgehog species. I's small size and calm temper make them great pets, but there are some things you must have!

Cage/Habitat: Hedgehogs are highly active and need plenty of space to run around. Because of this, a large cage is necessary, one preferably 2 to 3 feet long. A twenty gallon tank is ideal. Hedgehogs can be housed in either tanks with screen lids, or large wire/plastic cages.

Food: Food is essential to life for everything! Hedgehog food is available in some pet stores, but may be hard to find. If this is the case, you can also feed hedgies high-quality cat food that is high in protein and low in fat. Treats can also be fed up to four times a week. These treats include high-quality canned cat food with meat, cooked chicken, cooked turkey, cooked lamb, meal worms, beetles, Caterpillars, fruits and vegetables. Offer these supplements for up to 15 minutes and then remove whatever is left uneaten as they will spoil. Make sure all cooked foods are cooled before feeding.

Food Bowl and Water Bowl/Bottle: Hedehogs like to tip over bowls, so a heavy glass one with low edges is ideal. You can also use one that bolts to the side of the cage. Make sure food and water is provided fresh daily. If your hedgie tips over the water bowl or you refer a bottle, then that is acceptable too. Whatever makes your hedgie more comfortable.

Bedding: Many people use small fleece blankets to cover the bottom of their hedgehog's cage, and while there is nothing wrong with this, I also recommend using some bedding materials as well to promote burrowing and give nesting materials. Aspen is the only wood based bedding that should be used so any small animal or a paper based bedding such a Carefresh will work just fine too. There are also mixed beddings available, or you can mix your own.

Running Wheel: Hedgehogs are very active little creatures that need a wheel to run on. The wheel should be large enough so they can run on it without arching their back. Both free standing wheels and wheels that attach to the wall of a cage are available in all sizes and colors. A solid surface is better than one with spokes as they may get caught in the openings.

House: When tired, stressed, or scared, hedgies will want a place to feel secure or just someplace dark to go to sleep! Be sure to supply them with adequate housing. A cardboard box, flower pot, or store bought home will work nicely.

Now your all set to bring home your Pygmy Hedgehog! Good luck and have fun! I hope all my readers and my friend found this helpful.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Dirty Tank? Clean It up!

Many people keep their small animals in aquariums with screen lids. These work as excellent habitats, but can be a bit expensive. In order to save money, you could conciser buying a used one or using one you had laying around. But what? It's dirty? Well clean it!

Does the tank have a white chalky or powdery substance on it? That' a calcium mineral deposit caused when hard water evaporates. The minerals are left behind and cling to the walls of the tank leaving a big ugly mess.

So let me guess. You tried every cleaning solution known to man and none of them worked? Thinking of giving up? Well try one more thing! I promise it will work!

What you'll need:
*White vinegar
*Spray bottle
*Scouring pad

How to make the solution:
Mix 2 cups water with 1 cup white vinegar. Pour solution into spray bottle

What to do:
Spray the tank with the solution you just mixed. Using the scouring pad, scrub the entire tank down until there is no more white mineral build up anywhere. Once the entire tank has been scrubbed, rinse thoroughly with clean water. Repeat for any missed areas.

I recently used this solution to clean a tank and it worked very well. My friend and across the hall neighbor is adopting a pygmy hedgehog and had tank that was left outside and covered in mineral buildup. It was a wreck. We mixed the simple solution and scrubbed until our arms felt like they were going to fall off! We rinsed it off in her sink and spilled water everywhere....But now the tank looks like new!

I hope this helps!

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Big Move!

Hello all! Ah, I'm so tired! The past few weeks have been hectic. My boyfriend and I moved into an apartment with a close friend of mine and lately all we've been doing is organizing things and working. But we are finally settled in and I have a new thing to blog about for my fans!

Moving is a very big deal, even for a pet! The move can stress out your furry friend so keep in mind these things when moving with a small animal.

Where are you moving to?
When moving to a new house or apartment keep these things in mind:
*Does your landlord apartment complex allow small animals? If so is there a security deposit and/or extra rent you will need to pay and can you afford it?
*Will you be living with other people? Do they have allergies to your pet? Do they have any other problems with them?
*Will your new home be safe and comfortable for your small animal? Will you have sufficient space for them in your new home?
*Is there a pet store in your area? You'll need to buy supplies somewhere! (Although there is always the internet. and are excellent places to find pet supplies on the web.)
*Is there a veterinarian in your area that sees small animals? Find the nearest one and make a note of their location and phone number. If possible, ask your previous vet to send over your records.

The journey to your new home!
How will you be transporting your furry friend to your destination?
*Do you have a sturdy carrier?
*Will they be safe in the vehicle on the trip?
*If traveling by plane will you be able to take them with you?

How do I pack this?
When packing your belongings keep in mind that your hamster has belongings too!
*I recommend packing all of your hammie supplies together so you can find them all easily.
*Don't forget the essentials! Remember to pack a travel bag of essentials in case something comes up. This bag or box should have extra food, treats, bedding, and depending on how long the trip is, some water.

Arranging the new home!
Moving furniture and boxes in and arranging everything can be stressful and even dangerous to any animal!
*If you know someone trustworthy who can keep your little friend at their place for a bit while you get settled in, then do it! The sounds and sight of everything being rearranged can be very stressful for something so tiny.
*If you don't have anyone who can pet sit for you, then try to place them in s safe area with minimal traffic for the time being. Once everything is set up they can be placed on their table or whatever they will be placed on.

"I'm so stressed I'm going to bite you!" said the hamster.
Remember that the stress and fear from the move can upset your ham ham! He/she may try to bite you or may not want to be held.
*Give them some space! Remember when you first brought them home after adoption and you had to let them adjust to their new environment before you could handle them? The same rules may apply.

Sasha's moving experience!
Our move wasn't too far, but I still made sure to take it very seriously. Sasha rode over in her pet carrier in my lap and I quickly set up her cage. I'm lucky enough to live across the hall from a close friend now (We went to middle and high school together and now work at the same place. Small world!) who let Sasha stay with her and her boyfriend for a few days while we moved furniture around and got everything set up. Last night was her first night in the new apartment with us and I gave her some space, but she took everything rather well. I'm proud of my baby girl for being so brave! :))

See you later!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Giant Gerbil!

So awhile back I was wandering through a small family owned pet shop in my city called Papa Jim's Tropical Fish and I came across a very interesting little critter that I just have to tell you guys about!

Despite the pet shop's name, they do not only sell tropical fish. They have a variety of fish, aquatic creatures, both big and tiny, lizards, hermit crabs, snakes, scorpions, birds, puppies, kittens, and small animals. And by small animals I mean everything from hamsters and mice to bunnies and ferrets! While I was checking out a really cool iguana, I overheard these two boys from around the corner talking. "Check it out!" One kept saying. "I've never seen a gerbil that big!" The other exclaimed. So I made my way to the small animal area just in time to see the two boys leaving. I walked up to a tank and instantly knew what they were talking about! It was an animal I'd only ever read about. A South American Degu! I had never seen one in person before, and was hypnotized by it's adorableness. It scurried around the cage and burrowed into the bedding to show off it's cuteness.
South American Degu
The South American Degu
The South American Degu is a small animal that originated in the lowland areas of Chile in South America. They are brown in color and have long thin tails. They closely resemble gerbils-well, if gerbils grew up to five to seven inches long that is. Degus are very social, inquisitive animals, and they can be very vocal, just as Guinea Pigs. The South American Degu has something very unique about it: when threatened  it can disconnect it's tail as a distraction letting it escape predators. Kinda sounds like a lizard, huh? Only, the Degu isn't as lucky as a lizard, and does not grow it's tail back, so this is a one time thing.

Degu Care
Degus are unique little creatures that require special care. When handling them, the handler must be genlt, as their tails are delicate and can be shed. Unless you want a tailless little Degu, you should be cautious when around one.

Feeding: A Degu's diet consists of a combination of hay and pellets. Since they are so closely related to Guinea Pigs, they can be fed Guinea Pig  food. They typically like corn, carrots, and sweet potatoes, but these should only be fed on occasion. Sunflower seeds, peanuts, and raisins make for good treats. Fruits should rarely or never be offered as they can lead to diarrhea and/or diabetes. Small amounts of fresh grass can be provided as well, though the Degu may just use it as nesting materials. Degu's teeth never stop growing so untreated wood blocks should be provided for them to chew on.

Housing: The South American Degu is a small animal that loves to climb, so wired cages are better for them than tanks. They are very active so they require plenty of space to move around. They enjoy playing in PVC pipes, clay pots, cardboard boxes and tubes, and brown paper bags. The bottom of their cage should be filled with a thick layer of aspen wood shavings.

Cleaning: Degus are naturally clean animals and have little odor. Their cage should be cleaned at least once a week and spot cleaned throughout the week when needed. Degus keep themselves clean but enjoy sand baths. Sand baths consist of an inch or so of Chinchilla sand in a shoe box or bath house.

Breeding: Degus should only be bred by an experienced handler. They have a gestation period of 90 days and usually produce up to two litters a year, that may consist of one to ten offspring. Baby Degus are called pups, and are born with fur, and their eyes open.

I hope you all found this interesting! :)) Until next time!