Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Degus

WOODY -  Male. Approx 2-2.5 years old when we adopted him on April 30th, 2011. He's a cute interesting little guy. Definitely entertaining. Has come out of his shell more now that he has a cage mate.
WENDY - Female. She was only a couple months old when we got her on November 7th, 2011. Very cute and semi friendly. She made friends with her cage mate quickly. Once they both had their own wheels they were content.

My Dogs

 JENNA - Born May 12th, 2008. AKC Purebred Yellow Lab. Got her July 12th, 2008. Came from Palmyra, Maine.
 PEPE - Born November 20th, 2009. Purebred Longhair Chihuahua. Got him on March 1st, 2010. Came from Monroe, Maine.
TANGO - Born November 23rd, 2010. Red nose Chocolate Brindle Pit Mix. Got him March 2nd, 2011. Came from Gainesville, Georgia.

My Male Rats

BRIAN - Male. Got April 5th, 2010. Brownish gray. Related to many of our rats. He came from the same feeder/breeder in Lewiston. He had a identical twin that has gone onto the rainbow bridge already. This one is semi friendly but mostly sticks with his rattie friends versus humans. Old age has really caught up to him.

SIMON - Male. Got April 26th, 2010. PEW/Siamese. The bigger bully of the trio we adopted. Also the one that has outlived them.When he was young he was going to be used as snake food. His rescued brothers and him were semi friendly but preferred ratties to humans. Now that he's gotten on in age he is not very accepting to even ratties.

COCOA aka "Scoop Stealer" - Male. Got June 21st, 2010. Was approx 7 months old when we got him. Tannish hooded. Friendly quirky personality. Got him from the same feeder/breeder family tree in Lewiston.

HUNTER - Male. Got August 2nd, 2010. Grayish and white. Almost a spitting image of his mother Gypsy. Friendly and an overall good rattie. Shares same family line with a majority of the rats, especially the males.

CHASE - Male. Got August 2nd, 2010. He's a litter mate and buddy of Hunter. Grayish with a tiny white dot on his forehead. His fur reminds me of a Rex. Very curious and friendly rattie.

PATCHES - Male. Got August 6th, 2010. Gray with white patches hence the name he came with. Several months old when we got him. Part of the family line. Believe he is the daddy to Hunter and Chase. He's a little feisty and prefers his rattie friends to humans most of the time.

STUART LITTLE - Male. Got December 22nd, 2010. PEW. He is only a few weeks older then Hunter and Chase. Most likely the father of Rizzo and the other young PEW boys. He was adopted out when he started to not like his former cage mates. He does just fine with his family of ratties now. In fact he is now getting used to humans and the biggest rattie we have.

RIZZO - Male. Got December 22nd, 2010. Brownish gray with white. One of the most friendly ratties we have. Has his mother Gypsy's personality. He's been a wonderful boy towards both rats and humans. He is the ideal example of what a pet rat is or should be.

GONZO - Male. Got January 31st, 2011. PEW. Shy does better with ratties then humans. Not sure but believe he and his brother are offspring of Gypsy/Stuart Little.

FOZZI - Male. Got January 31st, 2011. PEW. Cage and litter mate to Gonzo. Also not crazy about humans. He much prefers his small rattie family.

LOKI - Male. Got November 22nd, 2011. He came with his "girlfriend" Faye. He's a blue Russian Rex. No worries about him living with the girls since he's already neutered. Little shy and seems to prefer his rattie friends to humans. I can't seem to get him to bond with me but he has taken to Scott a little bit. Perhaps he just prefers males. His former family had to rehome due to allergies. Originally came from Pet Quarters in Auburn before it closed.

JAX - Male. Got December 11th, 2011. He's the darer of the two hairless males. He is a little less shy then his brother. Seemed to bond with me quite quickly. Doesn't do too bad with other ratties. He is smaller then the other one though.  

CHIBS - Male. Got December 11th, 2011. Pinker hairless. Larger and less friendly. He is still kind of shy. Doesn't seem to mind his rattie friends. Still going to take time to get him used to humans. He and his brother came from Whitefield, Maine.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Female Rats

BRIAR ROSE aka ROSIE - Female. Got May 3rd, 2010. Cream or Tan self colored. Approx 5 wks old when adopted. Got her from a feeder breeder in Lewiston. Sweet and friendly.  
PINKY - Female. Got July 1st, 2010. Hairless, Got her from PetSmart in Augusta. Few weeks old. The friendlier one in the tank. Kind of shy but inquisitive.  

GYPSY - Female. Got January 31st, 2011. Brownish gray coloring with white. Retired breeder from Lewiston. Had several litters before we took her in. One of the most friendliest rats ever. Small from being too young when she had numerous back to back litters.
DIAMOND - Female. Got February 18th, 2011. Gray and white. She was shy when she first arrived. Now she is quite friendly and curious. Got her from a "busy" family in Washington, Maine that needed to find her a new home.
FAYE - Female. Got November 22nd, 2011. Himi. Retired breeder that former family got from Kennel Shop in Lewiston. They had to find her a home with the woman began having severe allergies. She's a very friendly girl. Always greeting anyone at the cage door. Loves to be petted.

LILY - Female. Got December 17th, 2011. PEW. Shy but allows petting. Former family in Auburn was needing to downsize their pets. She wasn't getting enough attention.

My Bearded Dragons

DIVA - Female Lemon Fire. Three years old. Got her at two years old. Adopted May 22nd, 2010. Missing front left leg. Former family said it was a "shedding" issue at the pet store. She's a friendly dragon. Nothing at all like her former family described her and definitely not at all like her given name. Seems she just needed a different home environment. Came from here in Maine.

ARAIK - Male. Hatched late summer/early fall. Got her at about five weeks on October 20th, 2010. Originally named Kiara since it was assumed he was a "she". Has several nipped toes and a nipped tail. He's a friendly guy. As he has aged and many sheds lately the coloring has really brightened. Came from West Virginia.

Mother's Bloodlines - Peach Snowflake Hypo

Father's Bloodlines - Florida Orange X Red/GoldXNormal X Sandfire Red Burst Red X Flaming Red Tiger.

Grandfather (on dad's side) Florida Orange
Grandmother (on dad's side) Red/Gold X Normal X Sandfire Red Sunburst X Flaming Red Tiger
Great Grandfather (on dad's side) - Sand Fire RedX
Great Grandmother (on dad's side) - RGxNorm

ZAZU - Female. Hatched few weeks after her cage mate. They share the same parents. Arrived January 20th, 2011.She has always been very bright in coloring. Doesn't have any nipped toes or tail. Very awesome coloring. From West Virginia.

ISIS - Female. Translucent. Unsure of exact age. She's probably almost 2 years age. Arrived on January 20th, 2011. Feisty and friendly. Has a few nips but overall in excellent condition. Also came from West Virginia.
OSIRIS - Male. Hatched May 21st, 2011. Gold eyes wih beautiful lavender side bars. Het Hypo. Nipped tail but toes intact. Blood line is very good. HypoSnow X Snow Leather Back. From Old School Dragon Den Snow Bloodlines. Arrived from Caliente Dragons in California on December 6th, 2011. Feisty young male.

ATHENA - Female. Citrus X Orange. Gold eyes. Amazing colors. Hatched in August of 2011. Arrived December 11th, 2011. Very pretty dragon with a lively personality. Doesn't seem to have an nips on the toes or tail. From a young breeder here in Maine.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Domestic rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus ) are descendants of the wild rabbits living in Western Europe and Northern Africa. In a rabbit’s natural environment they are completely herbivorous. This means that they eat only plant matter. In the twilight and night hours are when they most actively forage for their food. Their claws are used to help them dig and burrow into the ground for protection and shelter. Their speed and maneuverability helps them escape from their predators in the wild. Both in the wild and in captivity they are known to be successful breeders.

Domesticated rabbits are typically docile and quiet in nature making them a popular pet. However, they do need more care then many originally think and sadly the end result is not always a happy one. Too many are drawn in by their cuteness especially when still young. Be sure that you do research before deciding if these adorable balls of fur are right for you,

10 or more years.

Can be a bit tricky on some types of rabbits. Generally it’s not until they are to the age of sexual maturity that it’s much easier to tell. With practice you can sex your rabbits pretty accurately. However, even breeders make the occasional mistake. Often the females have a fold of skin that develops under the neck. This is called a dewlap. Females have slit opening where the males have cylindrical tubes. Males will have external testicles but like many small animals they can withdraw them into the body. This can make sexing younger rabbits difficult. There’s many websites out there that go into more details on how to sex correctly. If you still aren’t sure and don’t want any oops litters be sure to consult a breeder or vet that specializes in rabbits.

Multiple Rabbits
Males usually fight especially once they reach maturity. If a male has been bred it can fight to the death and kill another male if he sees them as competition. It’s generally not a good idea to house males together at all. Even ones that get along in the beginning often change later on and you’ll end up having to separate them.

Females are generally easier to pair up and often do okay together. The bigger the cage the better so that they don’t get stressed and feel over crowded.
The other pairing that usually works is a neutered/spayed pair.

Of course every rabbit is different and some prefer to live solo. Others may play well together outside of a cage but prefer not having any cage mates.

Many recommend that your rabbits are housed indoors. However, given the proper shelter and following certain precautions rabbits and do live well outdoors as well.

The cage whether indoors or out should be at least as large as possible. The bigger the cage the better. Plus you’ll find you won’t have to purchase or change cages as much as they grow. There’s a debate on whether solid or wire bottom cages are better. Either type can be used. Some larger breeds tend to have issues wire cages. If you give your rabbit some solid surfaces or a good bedding this should help prevent any issues.

Food dish - often the best the type is metal or ceramic and something heavy that won’t be easily tipped over. Many love to toss their dishes around so another way to go is the type that attach to the cage. There’s many different styles on the market these days so you can find something that works best for you and your rabbit.

Water bottle - be sure to use either a plastic or glass water bottle. Each have their pros and cons. However, both are much safer and more practical then using a water dish. Dishes of water not only get spilled too easily but harbor germs and bacteria when food and waste get kicked into them.

Litter box - typically this is a preference thing. Many rabbits can be litter trained. They tend to pick a corner to do their business and are usually pretty adamant about always returning to that area. You can place a litter box in their chosen corner. Many do pick up on the concept, especially younger rabbits. Owners find it makes clean up a lot easier. Time between full cage clean outs can be extended leaving you only having to maintain the litter box regularly.

Hides - many rabbits enjoy a quiet, warm, dark place to hang out in. Many outdoor and some indoor styles provide a hutch for this purpose. You can also purchase different rabbits houses or make your own. Another handy way is using boxes and then as they get soiled or chewed up you can always replace them.

Toys - Be sure they have something to entertain themselves. They often enjoy tossing things around, pouncing, and yes even chewing. You can get creative and make your own toys by using things around the house or check out the wide variety that many stores have now. It’s usually cheaper in the long run to find and make your own toys that way you know what your rabbits does and doesn’t like and you’re not out a ton of money on a forgotten toy.

Chew treats - Rabbit teeth constantly grow throughout it’s life. It’s important that you provide them with items to help wear them down. You can specially made chew toys and treats. Untreated pinewood or fruit tree branches are also a good things to gnaw on.

Hay - should be their primary source of food. Unlimited amounts of timothy or Bermuda are the best choice. Though some alfalfa hay okay on occasion. Do limit the amount of alfalfa as it’s been proven to cause urinary stones.

Mixed leafy greens - can and should be a daily food as well. At least one cup a day.

Pellets - are best if used in addition to the hay and greens. It shouldn’t be their primary diet but is a good source of nutrition if that is all that is available.

Fruits - Only in small amounts since the high sugar content may cause diarrhea.

Remember always introduce new foods, especially vegetables and fruit slowly.

Safe Vegetables, Fruits & Weeds
Peppermint leaves
Apple (no seeds)
Mustard Greens
Lemon Balm
Honeydew Melon
Kohl Rabi
Nettles (small dried)
Radish tops & sprouts
Strawberry and leaves
Sweet Potato
Wheat Grass
Carrots (tops & root)
Alfalfa Sprouts
Artichoke (Jerusalem)
Asian Greens
Collard Greens
Shepherds Purse
Silver beet
Papaya (no seeds)
Autumn Leaves (dry)
Chives (moderation)
Bok Choy
Brussels Sprouts
Pak Choi
Lettuce (dark leaf varieties)
Blackberry (leaves, stems & fruit)
Dandelion (leaves, stem & flower),
Raspberry (leaves, stems, fruit)
Tomato (fruit only, leaves are toxic)
Rose petals & leaves

Nicotine, Biscuits, Salty Foods, Sweet Foods,
House Plants, Peas, Cedar Chips, Chocolate,
Avocado, Beans, Onions, Potatoes, Rhubarb, 
Pesticide treated foods

Never pick them up by the ears or neck. Also never allow them to dangle in midair. It they jerk around it can crack their spine, neck, or other bones. Always carefully support their hindquarters by sliding your hand under it’s hind legs. Then lift them up and brace them close to you with both arms. Another option is lifting it using it’s underbelly and carefully holding it that way.
Never chase your rabbits to catch them.
When you need to put your rabbit back into it’s cage herd it by walking behind it.
Don’t pick the rabbit up allow it to back in on it’s own.

Spot check the cage daily. Remove any soiled bedding or litter. Also be sure that the dishes are clean. At least weekly (depending on the rabbit’s size, how many are inhabiting the cage, and the time of year) you’ll want to clean the entire cage. Be sure to only use a safe cleaning product and be sure it’s fully rinsed and dried before returning the rabbit to the cage. Warm soapy water, vinegar water mix, or peroxide mixtures are quite popular and generally quite safe for rabbits. Use extreme caution when using anything with a bleach or ammonia base and be sure it’s rinsed very well. Like many small animals rabbits tend to be quite sensitive to strong smells.

It’s recommended that any rabbits not being used to breed should be spayed or neutered.
If done properly and by vet that has experience with this procedure on small animals there’s many health benefits. Having your rabbit “fixed” may also extend it’s life as well. Males that are neutered will not “mark” their area and are usually less aggressive. Most females will also calm down as well. An unsprayed rabbit is more likely to get ovarian cancer when they are older.

Health Concerns 
Dental Disease
Gastrointestinal Disease
Organ Disease
Respiratory Disease
Hair balls
Fly strike
Heat Stroke

Intestinal blockage
Common in rabbits. They can swallow hair while they’re grooming. The best way to prevent this is regular grooming. However, if you see any of the following symptoms you should contact your vet.
Lack of appetite
change in droppings
runny nose
labored breathing
urinary problems
bloated abdomen lumps bumps

Rabbits can be very sensitive to heat. Be sure that the temps are less then 80 degrees. Sometimes moving them to a basement or cooler room in the house is best in the summer. They do better in cooler temps.

Antibiotics from the Penicillin family - like Amoxicillin - are TOXIC to rabbits and should be NEVER be administered.

What your rabbit is trying to say

  • Rabbit Noises: In protest, or fear.
  • Thumping: Thumps hind leg when it's either frustrated or upset about something. Perhaps it senses the presence of something foreign,
  • Sideways Hop: Running at full speed, they’ll jump in midair, and slightly kick their legs out sideways. They are pleased or happy about something. 
  • Ears Perked Up: Senses something unusual.
  • Licking: Will lick and gently nip you when being affectionate.
  • Humping and Nipping: Annoying trait when in heat. When they’re ready to mate, they’ll start humping more than its toys, even its owners (by the way, they can be aggressive since it humps and bites hard at the same time. 

Note - There’s many opinions, conflicting information, and care sheets out there for the way to care for rabbits. As with any animal it’s important to always do your research. Be sure to check out many sources. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011


The wild brown rat is a descendent of the domesticated rats you see today. They have been bred for approx one hundred years.

2.5 - 3 yrs (varies)

Average Size
14 - 16 inches including the 7 inch tail.

Living Arrangements 
Being social animals it’s crucial that they are housed in groups. At the very minimum they should have at least one buddy. However, it’s recommended they have several friends in their colonies. When their friends die they go through a mourning process so it’s important that they have many friends.

The easiest pairing is usually females. Males can tend to fight unless they are introduced at a young age. Females tend to be more accepting of new rats in their colonies throughout their life. Of course this is a generalization and it can vary depending on the rats.

Gender differences
Besides the obvious physical differences they often act differently as well. Females tend to be busier and on the go all through their lives. Males tend to be calmer and more social with their humans. This varies depending on the rats and their ages but in general that is typically the main difference between the personalities.

Keep your rats out of drafty areas as they are prone to colds. Also extreme heat or direct sunlight should be avoided since heat stroke is can be an issue. Temps between about 60-80 is about the right range for your rat to be comfortable.

While many house their rodents in aquariums it’s recommended that cages are used. Not only does this give them better ventilation but allows them room to climb and play. The larger the house the better. You want them to have a lot of room to play and live. Also if they want alone time a bigger cage can provide that.

It’s recommended that the flooring be solid. If you do use a cage with a wired bottom be sure to provide solid surfaces so that they can get off the wires on occasion. This helps prevent sores and other issues causes by hard surfaces under their delicate feet.

Many different products can be used. Each have their pros and cons. The general consensus among rat owners though is NEVER use Cedar and when at all possible you should avoid Pine as well. While Pine isn’t as harmful on their lungs and doesn’t cause the burning Cedar can it can still causing breathing issues.

Many experts recommend aspen, care fresh, or recycled paper pellets such as Yesterday’s news. Paper towels, newspaper, and flannel cloth can also be used.

Cage Accessories
You can buy products especially designed for rats, small animals, or even birds. However, it can be just as fun if you get creative and use things around your home. Not only do they enjoy it just as much but it can save you a lot of money as well.

Boxes, flower pots, dishes, pvc or cardboard tubes can be used for awesome hiding places. No need to purchase those high priced hammocks. Get creative and make your own with flannel, towels, baby blankets, old tshirts, or whatever else you have around.

Some rats may enjoy wheels but not all of them do. Generally it’s the females and usually when they’re young. Be sure to purchase one that is safe for your furry friends. A solid running surface without wire is best. This can help prevent a tail or foot from being caught while they’re playing on it.

Rats love a variety of things to play with. It’s fun to experiment and see what they prefer.

Chew toys
Rats like other rodents have teeth that grow continuously throughout their lives. It’s important that they are provided with something safe to chew on. Wood that hasn’t been painted or treated, cardboard, dog biscuits, store bought rat safe chew toys are all various things you can provide.

Basic Care
Remove any uneaten food, soiled bedding, and dropping daily. At least once a week the cage should be completely cleaned out. This schedule may vary depending on what you’re using for bedding, the amount of rats, and the time of year. Different cleaners can be used but be sure they are not harmful to the rats and are completely rinsed and dried off everything before coming in contact with the animals again. It’s generally recommended that warm soapy water, vinegar with water, or peroxide mixture be used. Avoid any strong bleach or ammonia based products.

Hand taming
Generally curious and friendly by nature they usually don’t take long to trust you. However, they do need to get used to you before they’ll allow handling. You can build trust by offering them small treats. Once you’ve begun to establish trust with that move on to the next step. Begin picking them up. Be sure one hand is supporting their bottom and the other is gently holding their backside. If they are squirming and want to immediately dart back into their cage give them time. Don’t restrain them against their will but only put them back in their cage when they have calmed down. If you put them back in immediately they’ll do that each time they want back in the cage. A little trick that many do is simply walk away from the cage. They now have to rely on and trust you. Allow them time to calm down. Try the hand walking method. It almost looks as though they are running in place. They begin trusting you and often they find that to be a fun game. Eventually you shouldn’t have any problems convincing them to join you outside the cage. Often the opposite tends to happen. You’ll have problems convincing them playtime outside the cage is over. Of course every rat is different so some may or may not take to things as quickly. The key is being patient and building trust.

Once you’re bonded you can and should provide a lot of out of cage time. Provide them with a safe area where they can play, explore, and get exercise. Be sure they’re always supervised during these out of cage playtimes.

Things to remember
Always move slowly when approaching your rats
Let them first smell you by offering the back of your hand
Be sure hands are washed or else they may want to sample them
Don’t stick your fingers through the cage as they think that’s a snack
Never pick a rat up by it’s tail or squeeze them

Many rat owners use a high quality pellet known as rat blocks or “lab blocks”. There’s a few versions on the market. Be sure to look for a brand that lists a soy meal base versus corn. Dried corn and alfalfa type products are hard for rats to digest.

The other alternative is making your own rat food mixes. There’s many websites that show how to go about doing this. You can try different methods until you know what works best for you and your rats. The advantage of making your own is not only knowing what is put in your rat’s food but you can cater it to your rat’s needs better.

Small amounts of fresh vegetables and fruits are also recommended. Foods such as peas, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, corn on the cob, sweet peppers, carrots, fresh leafy greens, pears, strawberries, blueberries,  bananas, apples seedless grapes, pineapple, mango, are all great things to start out with. Small amounts of melon can also e given but should be limited as they can cause diarrhea.  You can mix it up and try various things to see what your rats favor.

Some grains and seeds can be given as well. Oats, barley, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, millet, unsalted peanuts, shelled nuts,

Occasionally it’s okay to share some of your “people food” with your little friends. Table scraps such as cooked pasta, chicken, mashed potato, squash, small pieces of egg, pieces of whole grain bread or pizza crust can also be given. Treats should be limited to prevent health issues especially obesity.

Of course fresh, clean water should be provided at all times. Water bottles should be used versus bowls as they stay cleaner.

Ceramic crock type or metal dishes are best for keeping the food. Plastic may end up being a chew toy.

Foods to avoid
Onions, Chocolate, Coffee, Tea, Soda, Lemonade, Citrus,
Foods with high acid, fat, or sugar content.

Symptoms of sickness
The following symptoms can indicate a problem. Be sure to contact your vet if you notice any of these.
Hair loss
Visible parasites (lice, mites, ticks, fleas etc.)
Lack of energy
scratching, rubbing, or chewing that causes bleeding
Limping or favoring their leg
Eyes bulging from their sockets
Dull eyes
Excessive sneezing (rats sneeze occasionally)
Rattling or congested sound when breathing,
Labored breathing
Red discharge from eyes or nose (pigmented secretion, not blood)
Reddish brown staining around the eyes
Head tilted to one side
Lack of appetite
Weight loss
Constipation or diarrhea
Blood in urine

Note - There’s many opinions, conflicting information, and care sheets out there for the way to care for rats. As with any animal it’s important to always do your research. Be sure to check out many sources.