Lizards and snakes and geckos, oh my!
Lizards and snakes and geckos, oh my!
Are you ready for a reptile?
Lizards and snakes are among the more popular reptilian pets. Do some research before you make one your roommate. Here are a few things to consider.
• Space, lighting, heating and humidity requirements. Tanks or cages need to be big enough to provide a proper environment. For instance, some midsize snakes require tanks that are larger than 100 gallons.
• What do they eat and how often, do they need supplements and where can you buy supplies? Some lizards are herbivores and can eat vegetables such as lettuce and zucchini, but they may need supplements to complete their diet. Most snakes, on the other hand, eat live rodents -- for instance, one small one per week.
• Temperament (theirs). Some, such as leopard geckos (a type of lizard) or corn snakes, are docile, gentle animals that can be readily handled and make excellent pets. Others, such as the larger pythons, can be nervous or aggressive and don't make good pets.
• Commitment (yours). Most geckos and smaller species can live between 10 and 15 years. Some lizards and snakes can live more than 30 years. Be prepared for a long commitment, and if you ever find you can't keep a reptile, never release it to the wild. Call a reptile rescue group instead.
• Be sure to find a veterinarian who can treat reptiles.
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Books for pet lovers
If you're looking for good advice, or even just pretty pics of pets, here are some recommended reads.
• Complete Care for your Aging Cat, Complete Care for your Aging Dog (New American Library, 2003) by Amy D. Shojai. These easy-to-read guides include information and advice about health conditions that cats and dogs can develop with age, as well as anecdotes from pet owners about coping with their aging pets.
• Patricia B. McConnell, an applied animal behaviourist and dog trainer, explains how dogs might interpret our behaviour in The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs (Ballantine, 2002). Dogs send us signals all the time, but we often don't understand what they're communicating. This informative and fun book, which lets us see ourselves from the dog's point of view, attempts to bridge the species gap.
• Pets are not always a welcome sight in gardens, but they are in these books: Cats in Their Gardens and Dogs in Their Gardens (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, distributed in Canada by Canadian Media Group, 2002). Writer-photographer Page Dickey takes us on a tour of beautiful (and often famously owned) gardens all sharing one feature: cats or dogs who call the gardens home.
• Moderndog magazine is a Canadian magazine for trendy urban dogs and their human fashion hounds. Articles range from advice on behaviour to cool doggy fashions. For more information, visit www.moderndog.ca.
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Does your pet have diabetes?
Excessive thirst and need to urinate? Excessive appetite but still losing weight? These signs could mean that your dog or cat has diabetes.
As with humans, genetics and obesity are the most common factors associated with diabetes, but it can also occur as a result of other problems, such as kidney failure or liver disease.
Although diabetes is not curable, type 2 may be controlled with a food prescribed by your vet as well as a feeding regime prescribed by her. Veterinarians can advise the best course of action for your pet, once diagnosed. Consider having annual urinalysis screening tests to check for diabetes, rather than waiting for symptoms to occur. Plus, keep your pet at a healthy weight; it could help protect against diabetes.
Volunteering: A pet project
Maybe your lifestyle doesn't suit having a pet of your own, or perhaps someone in your family is allergic to dogs or cats. You might still be able to spend time with dogs, cats, bunnies, hamsters and other pets by volunteering at your local animal shelter.
Many animal shelters and humane societies allow you to walk a dog, groom a cat or bunny or help out with special promotional events or other activities. Training is offered to those volunteers accepted into their programs. There are usually age restrictions and you'll probably need an up-to-date tetanus shot as a precaution. It all helps keep shelter animals better cared for and socialized and lets people who can't have pets care for some for a few hours each week. To find out more, contact your local shelter or humane society.
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