Monday, February 28, 2011

Quiz answers are here!

So here are this weeks quiz answers:


The answer is that they typically live for 50 years.


The answer is they can get up to two feet long. Not all of them will get that big but they can.


Answer: This question was my trick question!!!

wanna know why?

Well, a lizards diet depends on the lizard. Each type of lizard is very unique. You have geckos, iguanas, chamelions, monitors, and all kinds of different lizards. Most types of lizards eat live gut loaded crickets and some types of worms. Those kinds of lizards can eat dead bugs but most won't because unless it is alive they won't see it as food. Some lizards are vegetarians so they cannot be fed bugs or mice. Typically most pet lizards don't eat mice, but a few rarer, bigger, and more difficult lizards eat live mice for their diet. Since each type of lizard is different, none of the answers really apply, so that is why this one is my trick question. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

quiz clarification

I was asked in my comments why you should think the quizzes are trick questions. This is because one of the quizzes (this is tricky to explain but will become apparent when I give the answers) is a trick question because none of the answers really work but in a way all of them work. (I know that is kinda confusing). So what you do is vote "this is a trick question!" as your answer on the one quiz that you think is a trick question. And only one of them is. At the end of the week when I post the answers I will tell you guys which one was a trick question and why. And have no fear because next week I will be doing normal quizzes with no tricks. I just thought I would make it interesting this week.

Oh and...

A gut-loaded cricket is just a live cricket that has been either been dusted with or fed a calcium supplements and/or other supplements while it was growing. (They are more nutritious that way) (yum.)

sort of correction/update for my guinea pig breeds post

So some of the breeds I told you about are not "officially recognized" as breeds by the ACBA (american cavy breeders association) and other guinea pig breeding organizations. They are considered "future breeds" so they basically are a breed but they aren't common enough to be officially recognized. These include:

Hairless guinea pigs (skinny pigs)
Self crested


I recently found out that apparently the rex guinea pig (the one similar to a teddy) is no longer considered a breed it is now considered a coat type by most. (I say most because I found a few sources saying it was still a breed) (but most said it is now a coat type). Confusing.

Recommended reading!!! +

So I call my recommended reading, "recommended reading +" now.


I am adding a short and quick book review of a book to the end of it.

So for this weeks recommended reading:

For all new rabbit owners or people who want to learn more about rabbits I recommend:

Yeah, this is a website, not a book, but it is awesome and it has a bunny supply store and the sales go to rabbit rescue! What more could you want! It has a lot of information and was my main source for preparing for owning a rabbit.

And now for the "+" :

I am reviewing the betta book that I just got: Bettas by Robert J. Goldstein.

So I think this was a good book with a lot of cool betta facts but....

It is a "complete pet owner's manual". I wouldn't really say that. I found that in the book it is mostly about breeding bettas. It did not have as much information as I wanted about just taking care of bettas as pets. A large part of the book was just taking care of the fry (baby fish) and genetics. Which was cool to read, but since I am not breeding a betta, that isn't what I wanted to know. I also thought that the "special chapter" on betta tanks was almost confusing and definitely lacking. So if any of you out there want to breed bettas, then get this book. But if you just want to have a pet betta I would suggest finding a different book.

Bonus quiz!

So this week I have a third quiz in addition to my usual pet care quiz and lifespan quiz. This one is about size.


Watch out! One of the quizzes is a trick question!


Under the choices for each quiz there will be a choice that says "this is a trick question!" So if you think that you know which question is the trick question you can choose that as your answer.

Or you could look them up on the internet, but that would spoil all the fun! : )
Hi everyone!

It is the beginning of a new week! So it is time for quiz answers!!!

Here you go:


The answer to this question is 2 to 5 gallons. The bigger the better. They don't really need more than five though, unless they are living with other fish. (you cannot put male bettas together, but you can put females in groups and males can live with different kinds of fish such as neon tetras.) I will be getting into more detail about the controversy over tank size for bettas in my next post.


The answer is 1 to 2 years. They don't typically live for very long, although they might make it to three years. 

Check out the new quizzes!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Guinea Pig Breeds

Hi everyone!

With all of the guinea pigs at the shelter, I got curious about what breeds they were. So I did some research. Right now at the shelter there are four American guinea pigs, one abyssinian, and the rest are all white-crested guinea pigs. While I was researching, I came across a lot of cool and weird-looking guinea pig breeds that I never knew about. Since they are so cool, I thought that I would share with you guys about the guinea pig breeds I found. I have to say, that guinea pig breeds are confusing. The American Cavy Breeders Association only recognizes 13 breeds, however the UK version recognizes many more.

Overall guinea pig breeds include: American, White Crested, Self Crested, Abyssinian, Teddy, Rex, Peruvian, Silkie, Coronet, Texel, Alpaca, Merino, and hairless.

Almost every breed has a "satin" alternative where the fur is shinier. Most breeds can either be "self" or "non-self". Self guinea pigs have fur of all of the same color, while non-self refers to any other type of coloring. Their is a very long list of color combinations for guinea pigs such as tortoiseshell, himalayan, silver agouti, dalmation, etc.

So here is a bit more about the breeds that I mentioned above:

American guinea pig:
This is the most popular guinea pig out there. It is the most commonly seen guinea pig. It is also called the English cavy. This particular breed has fur that lies flat to the body. This guinea pig can be all sorts of colors and patterns and comes in "self" and "non-self" colors.

White Crested:
The white-crested guinea pig is pretty much the same as an american guinea pig with the exception of a white crest of fur on the forehead between the ears.

Self Crested:
This breed is the same as the white crested, with the exception that the crest is the same color as the rest of the fur.

This is one of my favorites. They are medium haired and come in all sorts of colors and patterns like most breeds. Their medium length fur is arranged in all sorts of swirls positioned in a way that makes their fur stick up all over the place and almost give them a mohawk look.

Teddy and Rex:
These are two different breeds but literally look almost the same for the most part. The Teddy has fur that stands straight up at a ninety degree angle giving them a plush look. The Rex is similar but the fur varies from straight to a little curly.

This guinea pig is so weird looking! They have long hair that literally never stops growing. The hair parts down the back and their hair can grow to be incredibly long. They remind me of Shi-Tzu and Lhasa apso dog breeds.

This guinea pig is also called the Sheltie. This particular breed is very similar to the peruvian with extremely long fur. The only difference is that the fur does not grow like the peruvian. The peruvian guinea pigs fur grows to form a part on their back, but the Silkie/sheltie's fur grows from the head back, and does not make a part.

The coronet is a long haired guinea pig like the Silkie and the peruvian, with no part and a rosette/crest on the top of the forehead.

This is a pretty cool guinea pig but grooming it is very difficult. The Texel guinea pig has long very curly and soft hair. This particular pig's fur gets tangled very easily.

Alpaca: This guinea pig has fairly coarse fur that is medium to long. It is not a very common breed.

Merino: This is virtually the same as a Texel, but with a crest on its head.

Hairless: Yes, there are hairless guinea pigs out their. There are a few varieties of hairless guinea pigs. The go by different names including "Skinny pigs". Some varieties of hairless guinea pigs actually do have some furry spots but not much.

Now that I have told you about some of the different guinea pig breeds here are some pictures of them that I made:

Note: You can click on both of these images to make them bigger so that you can read the type.

And lastly, here are a few links to webpages with pictures of some of these breeds and a lot of different colors and patterns:

Note: the last two links are sort of slideshows so you can click the arrow above the picture to see more of that breed or other breeds.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

More about alfalfa hay

I was asked why alfalfa hay is only for baby guinea pigs. It is the same with rabbits and most other small pets. The reason is that alfalfa has a very high protein content and the fiber content is actually relatively low. This is fine for babies because they need more protein since they are growing. Adults however need more fiber and less protein so alfalfa hay does not meet their nutritional needs. It also contains a high calcium content which is too much for adult rabbits and guinea pigs.

More cool betta fish facts

Today I was at Barnes and Noble, and I got a book all about betta fish. I started reading it and learned some pretty cool facts about bettas.

Here they are:

Bettas belong to the group of Asian and African fishes called "Anabantoids". Anabantoids have an organ called a "labyrinth" in their heads which allows them to breathe air. So that when water quality is poor and there is not enough oxygen content in the water, the bettas won't die like most fish because they can swim to the surface to breathe the oxygen in the air.

And here is a little more about where bettas live:

Bettas are native to the Indo-China area, which includes: Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. They are usually found in the warm waters in marshes, ditches, and most commonly flooded rice-fields. They like to live among rice plants because it gives them plenty of hiding places so they can get away from dangers and other betta fish.

And one more fact:

Bettas in the wild look much different from the ones sold in pet stores. The ones in pet stores have been bred to be colorful with long fins. In the wild they can be pretty colorful but they are not as bright and the fins are shorter. Long, trailing fins would not be practical for wild bettas.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Guinea Pig Care: Feeding Your Guinea Pigs

Hi everyone!

Today I am going to talk all about feeding guinea pigs. So, first of all, a guinea pig's diet consists of three main parts: hay, pellets, and vegetables. (I guess their diet consists of four parts if you count treats). 

For hay, guinea pigs should get an unlimited amount every day. The best kinds of hay for guinea pigs are timothy hay and orchard grass. Alfalfa hay should only be fed to baby guinea pigs. All hay can come three different ways: first cut, second cut, and third cut. First cut is very coarse, and the other two are softer and greener. Second cut and third cut are probably the best options for guinea pigs; however, third cut is very hard to find. Hay is one of the most important parts of a guinea pig's diet. It keeps their digestive system healthy and their teeth trim. They also just love hay! At the shelter when I open a bag of hay all the guinea pigs get excited and start squealing and running around. 

Okay, now for pellets. Here is what to look for: 

Look for guinea pig pellets with plenty of vitamin C. Guinea pigs need a lot of vitamin C in their diets because they can't make it themselves. Also look for strictly pellets. There shouldn't be any other ingredients, like seeds, or other bits. It should be just pellets. Another thing to watch out for is what the pellets are made of. Check the ingredients label. The first ingredient should be timothy hay, not alfalfa. Only feed alfalfa-based pellets to baby guinea pigs. The best brand of guinea pig pellets in my experience is Oxbow Cavy Cuisine. Oxbow also makes a special pellet food just for guinea pig babies. Guinea pig babies should get unlimited pellets, while adult guinea pigs should get 1/8 to 1/4 of a cup each day.

And last but not least, guinea pigs need vegetables in their diets. An adult guinea pig should get around one cup of vegetables every day. They should be fed a mix of vegetables. Green leafy vegetables are the best. Here are some guinea pig safe veggies:

Romaine lettuce
carrots (very small amounts)
green bell peppers (guinea pigs LOVE these)
tomatoes (small amounts)
cucumber (not too much because of high water content)
broccoli (small amounts)
celery (be sure to cut into small pieces)

For treats a good idea is to give guinea pigs small amounts of fruit. Two good fruits for guinea pigs are strawberries and apples (without the seeds!). Just remember not to feed them too many treats!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Betta Fish

This is just an introduction about Betta Fish:

Betta Splendens (latin name), or Betta Fish are popular pets. They are also known as Siamese Fighting Fish. The males are known for their bright colors and long, beautiful fins. The males will fight each other so they must be kept as solitary fish (they are called Siamese Fighting Fish for a reason). They like warm waters with plenty of places to hide like their home in rice paddies.

Bettas come in all sorts of colors and they can live for two to four years, and are usually about 2 to 3 inches long. If they live long enough they can even grow to be five inches long.

Here are some cute betta traits:

They will fight with their reflection, they make nests out of bubbles. and they like to rest on leaves close to the waters surface. They can also recognize people and don't like strangers.

Quiz answers!

Okay everyone here are the answers to this weeks quizzes:


The answer is 6 to 10 years, although they have been known to live up to 12+ years.


This is sort of a trick question. I would recommend washing any plastic or ceramic objects in their cage such as their food an water bowls once a week. However most experienced gerbil caretakers only change the bedding every two weeks with some spot cleaning every week. The reason is that gerbils are desert animals so they do not eat and drink very much, which means that they do not produce much waste. They also get stressed if their bedding is changed too often. If it is dirty thought it can be changed once a week, but probably shouldn't be done any more often  than that. For most gerbils though, every two weeks is fine.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Quiz Answers!

Okay, I know this is a day early, but tomorrow I am going to be pretty busy so I am doing them today.
So here are the answers:


The answer is 18 years. There are some cases of a Chinchilla living into it's twenties.


The answer to this question is: Recycled paper bedding

Here is why:
Wood shavings and ferrets do not mix. Cedar and Pine are not good for any small animal, and pretty much all wood shavings irritate ferret's skin.

Corn cob bedding shouldn't even be sold in my opinion. It is not good for most small pets because they might try to eat it and it is rough and is not very absorbent. It also has a reputation of getting moldy quickly which is harmful for your pet and increases how often you would need to clean it out which in turn makes it expensive to use. For  the most part most experience small pet owners and small pet care guides do not recommend corn cob bedding for use with any pet.

Cat litter is debatable. Some people use it for ferrets and they are fine. We have used it at the shelter before, but I generally prefer not to use it with ferrets for two reasons:
Ferrets like to dig everywhere and it makes a mess
When ferrets use the litter box they always back into it and because of how low they are to the ground the litter can get scooped up and lodged in the ferrets rectum. (I know it is kinda gross but it has happened before) 
I have also noticed that the litter tends to get all over the ferrets fur which is kind of a pain in the neck.

For ferret litter I would look for "Marshall's recyled paper litter" or "yesterday's news litter". These are super easy to clean and super absorbent and not too expensive. 

Check out the new quizzes!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Guinea Pig Care: The Great Bedding Debate

Hi everyone! So this post is all about bedding/litter for guinea pigs. I call it the great bedding debate because it basically is a debate. One one side their is traditional wood shavings or paper bedding and on the other side their is fleece bedding.

So here are some safe bedding/litters for guinea pigs:

Aspen wood shavings (do not use pine or cedar, only aspen)
Recycled paper bedding such as Carefresh or Eco bedding
Fleece with towels and or newspaper or puppy training pads underneath

So here is what I like and dislike about each option:

Aspen: pretty much the only thing I like about this is that it is pretty inexpensive. I don't like that it is rough, dusty, and I can't stand the smell at all.

Recycled paper bedding: I love this stuff it is very absorbent and cleaner and softer than wood shavings. However it is pretty expensive and guinea pigs go through it quickly.

Fleece bedding: Because guinea pigs are messy and other bedding or litter costs so much, guinea pig owners have turned to fleece. I like the use of fleece a lot. It is fun and makes the cage look really nice, and after the initial cost you don't really have to purchase anything else for bedding. The fleece is nice because it wicks away moisture to underneath it where you can put towels or something else to absorb it. The only thing about fleece is that it needs to be changed and washed about every three days, but most bedding would need to be changed about that often with guinea pigs too.

Hay: I almost don't even consider this an option for bedding/litter for guinea pigs because of a lot of reasons:
It is super pricey to use for bedding
It is not absorbent AT ALL
It is messy and just doesn't look that nice

So what I like to do with the guinea pigs at the shelter is mix bedding. For most of the cages I prefer to use fleece with towels underneath. Then for their "kitchen area" I put in another type of bedding. At the shelter we use wood shavings because that is the least expensive, but I prefer to use a recycled paper bedding. The reason I do this is because wherever the guinea pigs eat most is where they are most likely to urinate. The fleece stays fresher and cleaner for longer, and the bedding is easy to scoop out an replace.

So that is what I do. If you do use fleece you have to wash and dry it three times without any kind of fabric softener or dryer sheets. This is because fabric softener will prevent the fleece from being able to wick away moisture and the guinea pigs would end up sitting in their own urine. Fleece should also be changed and washed pretty frequently.

And lastly here are some definite no-no's for bedding:
 No pine, no cedar, and absolutely no cat litter.

Friday, February 4, 2011

cockatiel questions

I just got a comment with a question about cockatiels and I will try to answer it as best as I can:

"I have a question from a friend. She had two cockatiels, one just died and the one left is always making a big fuss and squawking loudly all the time. She tried using a mirror which she heard could help and isn't sure if getting another cockatiel would be a good idea. Do you know anything about this or the best source to consult? Do you get them at the shelter or is there a rescue for the birds?"

Well, I don't know a lot about cockatiels, but I did some research and found some good sites and learned a lot about introducing a new cockatiel to a cockatiel you already have. Here are some tips:

Keep the new bird quarantined away from the bird you already have for about thirty days to make sure the new bird is not sick. Cockatiels are very good at hiding illnesses so a quarantine is necessary.

Keep them in separate cages at first and put the cages next to each other to let the birds get used to each other's presence. Eventually you can let them play together and if they react well to each other they can be housed together.

Watch for biting, scratching, hissing, and feather pulling. These are signs that they don't get along.

So those are some tips for introducing cockatiels. Having cockatiels in pairs is a good idea because they keep each other company and it keeps the birds generally happier and healthier.

Here is a good site about introducing a new cockatiel:

As to where to get one, that is tricky. I have never seen one at the shelter before in the almost three years I have volunteered. The shelter gets budgies sometimes but not much. I do know of a bird rescue in maine though. Here is the link to their site:
This place is a bird supply store and a rescued bird refuge. They have parrots, cockatiels, love birds, and parakeets/ budgies.

The Kennebec Valley usually gives the birds that they get to a bird rescue located nearby, so I will ask the staff what the name of that rescue is.

I hope this helps!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Blog stuff

So for anyone who are new to my blogs, I have two. I have this one all about critter care (hence the title Critter Care :) ) but I also have one called Critter Corner and it is all about my pets and the critters that I take care of at the Kennebec Valley Humane Society. If you want to check out Critter Corner I have the link to it on the right under "Critter Care's favorite sites".

Tip of the week

Okay, so here is this weeks tip of the week:

This is for all the pet owners out there that deal with litter and hay.

So since litter and hay are messy and get everywhere and the pets that use this stuff tend to like to make a big mess with it, here are a few tips on cleaning up hay and litter:

For Hay:

Sweeping up doesn't always cut it. The little bits get everywhere and are hard to clean up. Try a damp cloth or paper towel ( I learned that trick from my Dad ). This will catch all the little pieces. The next option is a vacuum. Sucks up little pieces of hay really well, but make sure you sweep up the larger pieces of hay because they tend to just clog up vacuums. I also vacuum off the broom I use to sweep up the hay because they broom gets a lot of little pieces of hay stuck in it.

For Litter:

Any vacuum should do the trick, but if you don't want to haul one out you can just sweep it up and use the same damp cloth trick that you would use with little hay bits.

Recommended Reading

Okay so here is this week's recommended reading:

Dwarf Hamsters: A Complete Pet Owner's Manual by Sharon Vanderlip

This book is a really good book that provides a lot of information about Dwarf Hamsters. Dwarf Hamster are very different from the well-known Syrian Hamsters seen everywhere. Most Hamster books don't teach you very much about dwarf hamsters. This book is full of reliable and important dwarf hamster information.

Guinea Pig Care: Accessorizing the Cage

Okay, so you have a cage... but what do you put in it?

Here is what you need for accessorizing a guinea pig's cage:

1. Water bottles
2. Food dishes for pellets and vegetables
3. Hay racks or feeders
4. A hideaway
5. Bedding to cover the bottom
6. Toys!

Okay, those are all the things you will need in your guinea pigs cage. For the water bottle, pretty much any water bottle meant for small animals will work fine, but make sure it holds a lot of water because guinea pigs drink a lot! For the food dishes I would recommend a ceramic bowl that is not too deep for the pellets. Ceramic holds up very well and it is difficult for them to tip over. A bowl that isn't very deep is best because other wise the guinea pig will want to dump it out to eat. I would recommend a very shallow bowl or plate for the vegetables. Once the guinea pigs eat their veggies you can take this out of the cage. Hay racks that hook on the cage are heroes. Hay is very messy and without a hay rack or something to hold the hay it will get everywhere. Just make sure that the hay rack is attached low enough for the guinea pig to eat comfortably. A hideaway is absolutely necessary for guinea pigs. They a pretty nervous creatures and need a place to hide and feel safe when they are scared. Super Pet Plastic Igloos are probably the most popular and convenient hideaway for guinea pigs. You will need to cover the bottom with some sort of litter or bedding and I will discuss that in my next post. And lastly the cage should have toys. Chew toys, wood toys, plastic toss toys meant for small animals, cardboard tubes, and plastic tunnels are all good toys for guinea pigs.

Next time: The Great Bedding Debate

Guinea Pig Care: The Cage

Okay, we learned a bit about guinea pigs and now I am going to tell you about what they need for a cage. 
Here are two important things to consider when getting your guinea pig a cage:

1 They need plenty of space,
2 They are pretty messy.

Wire cages with plastic bottoms are the best type of cage for a guinea pig. Never use wire bottomed cages because that will irritate your guinea pigs feet. NEVER use a glass tank for guinea pigs. It does not provide enough ventilation for them.

The cage should be pretty big. Typically pet store cages will not meet the recommended size requirements for guinea pigs. For two guinea pigs the minimum size requirements is nine square feet, but the bigger the better! I would recommend about 30 inches by 42 inches or more for two guinea pigs. This size provides them room to sleep, eat, and run around. Bigger cages actually usually require less cleaning as well. A very small cage gets very dirty fast.  

The best kind of cage for a guinea pig is a homemade one. A lot of guinea pig owners make cages out of cubes and coroplast. These are called C and C cages. The cubes are found at stores like Bed, Bath and Beyond. They are used for making shelves and come in packs of square wire grids. They can be attached together using zip ties to create a custom cage. The plastic bottom would be made out of coroplast. This is just corrugated plastic used for signs. It can be found at some home depots, sign shops, or online. If you are more interested in one of these cages, try searching C and C cages on google. There is also a website: that sells c and c cage kits to build a cage. These cages are very cool, because you can make it however you want. You can make upper levels too. If you ever build a cage like this, a top is not actually a requirement because guinea pigs typically don't climb. But if you want a top it is really easy to make one. What I like about these cages is that they are easy to clean, you can make it however you want, and they are not very expensive.

A tip for c and c cages: Make sure that they guinea pig cannot fit through the grids

Another cage to consider is a guinea habitat by midwest. I like these cages. They are very inexpensive compared to pet store cages and they offer more space and you can connect multiple cages to make your guinea pigs space even bigger. The only down side is the bottom. It is made out of leak proof canvas. It really is leak proof but it needs to be cleaned pretty often. 

Next time: Accessorizing the cage