Creating the Perfect Finches Nest

When creating a finches nest is very important to know what will benefit the birds in terms of size and materials. Creating it can be easy and affordable; you’ve just got to know how. Remember that for a finch building a nest is about safety and shelter.

You can purchase pre-made nests from most retailers, and also on the internet. Some are boxes made out of wood while others are more like circular baskets; they are made of natural materials hand woven. They are popular because they look like what you would see outside.

You can get nests which go on the inside of the cage but to save space it is advised to purchase one that can be attached to the outside and where the top can be opened. This’ll guarantee that the young ones are safe and secure after hatching and also means it can be cleaned and air dried. It’ll be cleaner and more reusable in the future, cleaning also prevents disease.

They are originally tropical birds so you might consider a ‘finch nest box’. It is wooden with a hole on one side which allows enough air in but keeps the adults and young finches warm at night.

A double finch nest is good for saving space. It is a box but with a partition dividing it. Remember though, not to give this kind of nest to two territorial finches.

You can recreate how a finches nest is in the wild by finding a tray and filling it with soil and grass seeds. Wait for them to grow, let the finches build their nest and put it in the cage.

When it comes to materials for the finches nest you can use things collected from home or purchased. By instinct a finch will collect anything when building the interior of its nest so make sure the materials are clean, safe and natural. Synthetics are bad for the health of your finch. Also make sure, if you’re using string or threat to cut it into small pieces with no unwanted excess, so they won’t get tangled up in it.

Make the finches nest sturdy enough on the outside but soft enough on the inside. They like to line their nests with feathers so it’s worthwhile having a good supply available. Feathers of various types can be purchased at affordable prices online and also from pet stores.

All finches have their own unique personalities and this will come through in how they build their nests. Each new nest may be slightly different than the last.

Remember to avoid constant handling of their eggs. They are made with tiny pores that allow the chick enough air. By touching the eggs too much you are cutting down the finches air supply quite a lot which will be bad for their health.

Building your finches nest is easy and affordable. It is possible to create a happy, healthy environment for them, you’ve just got to know the best materials to use, the one’s to avoid, and what will keep your finches happy.

To learn more about keeping finches as pets checkout here.

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How to Take Care of Gerbils

Gerbils, also known as “Meriones unguiculatus” are wildlife animals. Their usual life span is 2- 3 years, and may grow up to 4 inches long. They are small rodents that is furry, with colors that are usually black, off- white, yellow or gray.

Gerbils are social animals. Just like rabbits, they will not survive if they live alone. They are used to be living in colonies in wildlife. You may put them in a cage together with other gerbils. But it is much preferred if this other gerbil is put on the cage at the same time as his since these small rodents are quite territorial. If they meet a new gerbil, it may cause some trouble among them. Though they are quite territorial, they are still very sociable and tame. They only bite when they feel threatened. And let me remind you to never hold them in their tails. It hurts them and they will really bite you.

Wire cages may be the most common cage to put your pets. But for gerbils, using a glass aquarium to place them there is much preferred. Just put a mesh lid so that they cannot escape, yet still gives proper ventilation. You may put deep beddings as thick as 2-3 inches on the aquarium allowing them to burrow. If you use a cage, there is a tendency that the burrow will be destroyed. Gerbils have this chewing habit and they may tend to chew on the wires, leaving their noses injured.

For a couple of gerbils, you may cage them in a minimum size of 12″ in height, a length of 12″ and width of 24″. These gerbils are entertaining and quite active that is why a larger cage is better so that they can move freely.

Gerbils also need nest box in their homes. A nest box allows them to feel secured. They sleep here and this is where they hide. And when you put a nest box, avoid plastics but instead choose a wooden or clay pot nest box. Because of their chewing tendencies, plastics may not seem last long, but the wooden or clay pots will.

For their foods and drinks, hang a metal container on their cages so that they can just drink whenever they want. And for the food, give them food supplements that are of good quality.

To satisfy their active and social life, putting up toys on their cage allow them to move and play. You may put a piece of wood, sturdy rocks or any kind of platforms that are durable so that when they chew it, it will not be destroyed easily.

Kim, 20, inspiring, aspiring

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Maintenance – Freshwater Aquariums

Keeping a freshwater aquarium for home or office, can reduce tension and stress. It somehow provides a soothing affect to the individuals in the room. However, before you run out and buy your freshwater aquarium, you need to know what the proper maintenance is of your aquarium. Proper freshwater aquarium maintenance will give you and your fish a happy environment. In addition, allow your fish to be healthy and live longer.

There are four things you will need to know before you buy your freshwater aquarium:

1. You will need to know how to setup your tank properly. Improper can lead to devastation of your fish.

2. Maintaining proper water quality conditions in your tank is necessary. You will need to know how to keep the proper quality of water. It much more than changing the water in the aquarium periodically.

3. Your fish may fall ill once in awhile, you will need to be able to recognize when they are ill and how to treat them.

4. You will need to keep your Freshwater fish interested in the environment around them. You do not want bored fish do you?

Now if you understand these four steps in maintaining a freshwater aquarium, you will enjoy hours and days of enjoyment of your fish. In addition, they will be happy fish, too.

If you are looking at saltwater aquariums, the same principles apply but the techniques may be different. For example, proper maintenance of water quality, since one consists of saltwater, will be different.

To learn proper aquarium maintenance go to this site to learn more

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Cat Repellent or How to Keep Cats Out of Your Garden

Do cat repellents work? How to stop a cat from using garden as litterbox? Tell me how to keep cats out of my garden. These are common questions of concern to all gardeners but is there a real answer?

The first line of defence is to ensure that your yard boundaries are secure. Any gaps in your fence should be blocked to deny low level access. But cats can jump so fix a taut wire or string some six inches above the top of your fence to deter this approach.

Once inside your garden many people say that the best cat repellent is a dog who will soon see off any feline invader. If you are not a dog lover then you will have to resort to more passive methods. Since cats like to lie on freshly dug soil you should lay mulch on your borders so that no bare soil is left exposed. Seed beds should be covered with wire netting or twigs arranged as a barrier.

Young trees should have plastic guards fitted around their trunks to protect them against use as a scratching pole.
Your garden pond should be covered with netting to keep your fish safe.

Cats are generally known to dislike water so a well aimed bucketful or a squirt with the hose will certainly make an intruder run. After one or two dousings it may learn the lesson and stay away.

To protect plants and borders both mothballs and citrus are said to be effective deterrents. Place the mothballs, orange peel or lemon rind in the borders. Alternatively spray cloths with orange scented air freshener and place the cloths around the plants you wish to protect. Other known cat repellents are cayenne pepper, coffee grounds, pipe tobacco, lavender oil, lemon grass oil, citronella oil, eucalyptus oil and mustard oil.

Certain herbs are said to deter cats. In particular rue but not catmint which has the opposite effect. Coleus canina is another plant which is marketed by one merchant as a cat repellent.

The broadcaster Jerry Baker has suggested treating your yard with a tonic made from chewing tobacco, urine, birth control pills, mouthwash, molasses, detergent and beer. A smallholder has reported success using dried rabbit blood but you may feel that the ingredients listed in the previous paragraph should be tried first.

If you visit your local garden center or hardware store you will find several cat repellent products on sale. These range from electric water sprinklers and ultrasonic devices to sprays and granules.

Motion activated sprinklers act in the same way as a burglar alarm using an infra red detector. When the cat enters the area covered by the detector the sprinkler shoots out a jet of water to scare the animal away. It is claimed that, after one or two encounters with the jet, the cat will learn to avoid the area.

Ultrasonic devices emit a high frequency sound which is annoying to cats (and dogs) but is not audible to humans. There are various different models some of which operate continuously and others which have an infra red detector and only emit a pulse of sound when the cat triggers the device. To be successful you need to ensure that the model is powerful enough to cover the area you wish to protect. In addition make sure that the sound frequency is designed for larger animals since some models are intended to deter insects and so would be no use for cats.

There are also commercial scent cat repellents. Those that use chemicals should be kept away from any food crops but the essential oil based granule varieties act in the same way as orange and lemon peel mentioned above. Another way to keep a cat out if the garden is a repellent evaporator which consists of a container holding puffed rice which has been impregnated with essential oils. These are effective for three to four weeks and can then be refilled for a further period. Another natural product which many people claim really keeps a cat out of the garden is lion’s dung. You may need to visit your local zoo to obtain this although some stores do stock zoo poo.

In Ontario, Canada the local township provides a cat trap service. Once the animal enters the cage it cannot escape but is completely unharmed. The owner has to pay to recover his pet and so should be encouraged not to let the cat stray in future. Apparently few owners bother to reclaim their cats but just obtain another kitten. However this sounds like a good way of dealing with a cat that cannot be deterred by any other method. If there is no such scheme in your area, just buy your own trap.

So, to recap, the first priority is to secure your boundary fences. Then you have the whole selection of suggested cat repellents ranging from homemade recipes to expensive commercial gadgets. I would suggest that you try the orange peel and prickly twigs for a start. If you are around when the intruder appears, try the bucket of water or hose. Even if you miss, the shock may be a sufficient deterrent. If these do not do the trick, then you may have to consider the commercial alternatives.

Hugh Harris-Evans is the owner of The Garden Supplies Advisor where you will find further articles, gardening tips and product reviews.

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Old Dogs 101 – How to Help Your Canine Senior Live As Comfortably As Possible

Reaching old age for a dog is often the result of good luck, good life habits by the dog’s owner, and in the end, just plain good genetics. If you already have an old dog, skip over the next paragraph and read ahead for tips on caring for your senior citizen. But if you’re in the market for a new dog, there is a recipe to help improve your future pet’s odds for longevity.

The list of ingredients starts with a puppy bred by a responsible breeder. Prospective parents should be screened with health tests appropriate for their breed before being bred. Add to that a nurturing and stimulating puppy hood. Next, feed a quality premium food for the life of the dog.These days there are specialty diets for puppies and seniors, giant breeds and toys, food for joint health and for dogs with diabetes or kidney disease. Feed the diet that’s right for your dog. Blend in regular examinations with a veterinarian. Vaccinations are available to prevent 13 different canine diseases and dental check-ups should be as routine as an inoculations. Mix in a safe environment. That means a fenced yard or leashed walks, fenced or covered ponds and swimming pools, an I.D. tag on their collar, and protection from household chemicals, dangerous wildlife and dogs you don’t know. Let this all sit until your dog is old, gray, grizzled and has more love for you than ever before.

When is a dog old? We used to think that every dog year was equivalent to seven human years. Experts now tell us that a dog’s size and breed influence this answer and there are charts to be found on the Internet that are the updated versions of this information.

Once you determine that your dog is “old,” what next? Let’s break down the areas which most immediately impact your old dog:

Nutrition: Energy requirements decrease about 20 – 20% in senior dogs which accounts for the increased percentage of fat content in their bodies Fat dogs die younger than leaner dogs. Keep your oldster trim; It used to be believed that reduced protein spared the kidneys in older dogs. In the book, “Eternal Puppy.” written by Janice Willard, DVM, however, the author shares studies that suggest that older dogs need more high quality protein, not less, to prevent muscle wasting. Optimal protein levels are a controversial topic among nutritionists, but unless your dog has kidney disease, it may not be a good idea to reduce your old dog’s protein intake. Older dogs have decreased intestinal motility which sometimes make them more prone to constipation. Avoid a high fiber diet, but with your vet’s consent, consider increasing soluble and insoluble fibers.Consumption of vegetables, especially leafy greens, correlate with a reduction in certain forms of cancer, so consider adding a few fruit and vegetables to your dog’s diet – very slowly, at first. Give it frequently even if it isn’t eaten. Old dogs don’t always enjoy new things, but if offered routinely or in different form (frozen peas as a crunchy treat vs cooked ones) they may take to it.Add omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) to your dog’s diet; Studies have shown that Fish oil supplementation may be helpful for pets with inflammatory diseases including allergies, arthritis, kidney disease, heart disease, and cancers.You may not notice changes for at least six to eight weeks, so be patient, and be sure to consult your veterinarian when embarking on anything new.

Flooring: Hard flooring is not only hard on a dog’s joints, but offers little traction and puts an old dog at risk for blowing out an ACL or hip. Put down small vinyl-backed rugs for those high traffic spots where the dog is apt to turn a corner or run to go outside.

Bedding: Your senior will spend more time sleeping, so offer the best kind of bedding you can mange. Here are some of your choices:Heated dog beds can be highly therapeutic for dogs with achy joints. They work like heating pads and are especially appreciated by thin and/or tiny dogs Gel filled orthopedic beds offer maximum support, comfort and superior weight distribution. The new Gel foam beds contain heat sensitive memory foam type material that custom forms to pets’ bodies, easing pressure on legs and hips. The gel helps keep pets cool in the summer by maintaining a lower ambient temperature, while the foam helps keep pets warm in the winter with dense insulation. Memory foam beds are made from (ta da!) memory foam which was first developed by NASA years ago. Foam beds are another type of body-conforming bed that reduces pressure on joints. Dog Waterbeds can provide therapeutic benefits for pain, Hip Dysphasia, Cushing’s Disease, Hygromas, Allergies, Calluses, Post Surgery, Senior Canines, Post Chemotherapy, Skin Conditions, Elbow Dysphasia, and Canine Auto-Immune Hemolytic Anemia. Standard orthopedic beds are generally made with a 3″ egg crate. Although these beds are probably the lowest in price, the aforementioned options tend to provide better support and comfort for an old dog.

Incontinence: It happens to the best of us. Don’t get mad since given the choice, your dog would rather not have the problem, either. In many cases of canine incontinence, a hormone deficiency is the source of the problem and these are typically treated through the use of drugs such as Diethylstilbestrol. If your vet determines that there is no medical reason for incontinence other than simple aging, however, there are several solutions to combat everything from periodic “dribbling”to all-out flooding;- Just pick the one best for your dog’s situation: If the problem occurs during crating or in the night when your dog is sleeping and s/he doesn’t move around much, re-usable protective pads will work just fine. There are a mind-numbing array of disposable options which a Google search will display.

If the problem is more “mobile,” there are disposable diapers that feature elastic, no-leak gathers and resealable Velcro tape. You can also make your own “belly bands” for boys and again, a Google search will show you how. For a “no sew” version, insert a sanitary napkin inside the length of a man’s crew sock (the man should be out of the sock when you do this), and attach sticky-backed Velcro at each end. One economical solution to pricey disposables is to purchase two or three washable diapers in which pads can be inserted and disposed of when soiled.We’ve been impressed with the fit and durability of Simple Solutions diapers which can be found at Petsmart.

The Handicapped Dog: Older dogs, or dogs with arthritis, degenerative myelopathy (DM) and spinal problems can sometimes lose the use of their back legs. This is NOT catastrophe. A dog can still walk and get the exercise they need with a sling or dog wheelchair. To see a dog wheelchair in action, check out “Denali” on Google. For some dogs, a sling works perfectly well as it allows the dog’s owner to maneuver medium and large dogs without lifting the entire weight of the dog. If this looks like a solution for you, be sure to get a sling that’s ergonomically designed with adjustable handles that allow you to stand erect and maintain your center of gravity.You can’t very well help your disabled dog if your own back is thrown “out.’

Hearing Loss: By the time an owner notices hearing loss in their dog – usually in the 4th quarter of a dog’s life, it’s probable that the loss has been progressive and has finally passed a threshold where it’s now noticeable. Hearing aids are still impractical for a dog and we are left to do what we can to protect the dog. We should be especially careful when walking a hearing impaired dog off-lead. Such a dog won’t hear his owner call from a distance and may well get lost and become at risk from approaching cars or other animals.

Blindness: The cloudiness we see in our senior dogs’ eyes is usually sclerosis, or hardening of the lens of the eye. The light-transmitting capabilities of the lens is still intact and the dog has lost little of its vision, so think of as looking through a cheap shower curtain. Up close, you can see through the curtain, but at a distance, it’s a bit more opaque. Glaucoma and cataracts do occur in dogs and any changes in vision, discharge, squinting, swelling or redness should be seen by a vet right away. If nothing can be done to reverse blindness, take heart in the fact that blind dogs adjust pretty well by using memorized routes around the house and feel the vibrations from radios, TVs and the floor to gauge where they are.

Taste: A geriatric dog may have only 25% of the taste buds he had at a year old, so if your senior is losing weight for no apparent reason that a vet can determine, food may have become tasteless for your dog. Try increasing the tastiness of food with eggs, seasonings, shredded cheeses (especially the “smelly” kind), a sprinkling of fish bits or a “schmear” of Braunschweiger over the top of the food.

Arthritis:Because cartilage cannot repair itself,it is impossible to heal arthritis once it has begun.At best, we can slow degeneration, reduce inflammation and limit pain. Most of us are familiar with Rimadyl, a steroidal anti-inflammatory drug used for the relief of arthritic symptoms in geriatric dogs. Aspirin, even low dosage or buffered, is NOT a good option for pain management in dogs. Studies show increased risk of stomach bleeding. Don’t do it. Currently, early research looks promising with glucosamine and chondroitin combinations and omega-3 fatty acids. In our own house, each adult dog gets 1,200 mg. of fish oil, and a table that combines 1500 mg of glucosamine with 1200 mg of chondroitin daily. Our veterinarian is fine with this, but always check with your own vet before starting anything new. Substances such as MSM, hyaluronic aci, New Zealand green-lipped mussels and other antioxidents may also benefit cartilage and joint fluid, but the jury is out on how they work and because these substances aren’t regulated by the FDA for dogs, dog owners have to be careful.

Dentistry: By four years of age, 85% of dogs will have some form of periodontal disease. Older dogs are at an increased risk for dental disease because they have reduced salivary production. With a drier mouth, food sticks to teeth more which increases bacteria. Bacteria can enter the bloodstream and travel to places it doesn’t belong. Periodontal disease has been implicated in the development and acceleration of diseases in the kidneys, heart, liver and brain. CLEAN YOUR DOG’S TEETH. If your dog’s teeth have been neglected, a professional cleaning may be in order. Ask your vet about putting the dog on a course of antibiotics before the scheduled cleaning to combat bacteria, and make sure they are aware of the dog’s age. Anesthesia has come a long way and isn’t quite as risky for an old dog as it used to be. But it’s still anesthesia and should be seriously considered before using, particularly if your breed has issues with anesthesia.

IVD or Idiopathic Vestibular Disease is the most common disease on old dogs that you may not be familiar with. Characterized by symptoms that almost resemble a stroke, these signs include a head tilt, nausea and rapid eye movement. To learn more about this syndrome, check out the January 2008 issue of KnobNotes in our archives to read more about IVD, also known as the geriatric disease.

Boredom: Most dogs are active by default, hunting, show and performance dogs even more so. But when physical abilities diminish and a dog becomes less capable of their former tasks, other ways must be found to keep their minds active. Toys are only toys if the dog interacts and plays with them, otherwise they become just more “stuff” on the living room floor. Food puzzles are rewarding because they invite interaction. The Molecuball, Buster Cube,Busy Buddies and Canine Genius all offer interesting food puzzles that help stimulate a dog’s mind as they reward effort.

We’re just scratched the surface of issues that confront senior dogs and their owners. If you are blessed with an “oldster” in your house, you’ll want to investigate some great books that offer additional information:

“Eternal Puppy” by Janice Willard, DVM;
“How To Make An Old Dog Happy” by Olivier Lagalisse;
“Speaking for Spot,” by Dr. Nancy Kay “The Senior Dog” by Heike Schmidt-Roger/ Susanne Blank;

S.E.Szeremy is a writer, breeder/owner/handler of Pulik and creator of [], the Friendly Alternative to Beware of Dog signs that transform every door into a safety billboard for people and pets

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The 5 Hamster Breeds

One thing you might not realize is that there are actually five distinct hamster breeds. It might seem that taking care of one species is probably the same as taking care of another but some of the hamsters have very specific requirements and needs.

Campbell’s Dwarf Hamsters (Phodopus cambellii) are one of the more popular hamster breeds that you might come across. These hamsters are so similar to the Winter Whites or young Syrian hamsters (Phodopus sungorus) that even some pet store associates have trouble telling them apart. Campbell’s have a head that is a bit more triangular and they have a smaller nose than the Syrian. The Syrians also have coats that change colors with the seasons. In the summer their coats are gray and in the winter they turn white.

Campbell’s tend to grow to about 9-11 centimeters while the Winter Whites grow to 8½ -10 centimeters. These little hamsters are all very social so it is acceptable to have them in cages with others. However, it is best to raise them from a young age together and to not bring adults into the mix.

The Roborovski Dwarf Hamsters (Phodopus roborovskii) are the tiniest and the fastest of all the dwarf hamsters. They only grow to about 5 ½ to 7 ½ centimeters. Because of their very small size, they can sometimes escape from wire cages, much like the Chinese Dwarf Hamsters that are very thin.

The Roborovski Hamsters have gray backs and white undersides. They love to groom themselves and spend every waking minute being very active. These little guys are usually too busy for cuddling and handling so they are probably not best for children. They are more fun to watch as they tunnel, burrow, hoard, and groom as fast as they can.

The Chinese Dwarf Hamsters (Cricetulus griseus) are from deserts in China and Northern Mongolia. These are the only dwarf hamsters that have a tail so they sometimes get confused with actual mice or rats. In the males, they tend to have very large scrotums making them pretty easy to identify. The Chinese hamsters are not as common as the other hamster breeds. Usually experienced handlers only own them.

Lastly there are the Syrian Hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus), which are the largest and most common of the hamster breeds growing up to 7 inches long. Due to this, they prefer the larger running wheels that are 35 cm in diameter as opposed to the smaller 23 cm style. The Syrians come in a very wide variety of color variations making them very popular in pet stores where they can be sold with designer labels such as honey bears and panda bears. The most important thing to know about the Syrians is that they must always be housed alone in their cages.

No matter which type of hamster you decide to purchase, keep in mind that the ASPCA (the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) suggests children under 10 should not have any of the hamster types as pets. Also the Humane Society of the United States says that there is no size cage that is considered too large for a hamster. All of the hamster breeds are energetic and inquisitive so they need as much room to roam as possible.

For more information on hamster breeds, check out Liz Andrews has been a hamster enthusiast for nearly 20 years. Her newest book, Dwarf Hamsters In a Nutshell teaches hamster owners absolutely everything they need to know about caring for their pet.

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Having Chickens as Pets – Is That Crazy?

When Stephen, my 5 years old grandson proudly handed me a shoe box with a grin and mumbled “Happy birthday, Nanna”, I thought I was getting something alive and that worried me. I have enough dogs and cats to manage and anymore would be verging on neighbour references of that crazy old woman with all those cats and dogs.

Never, not in a thousand years, would I have expected a chicken. A chicken! You have to be kidding me! I looked at my daughter with a quick flash of frustration and she responded with a sheepish shrug, “Stephen wanted to give you a chicken. He wouldn’t take no for an answer.” I was left wondering about my daughters parenting skills and then feigned my pleasure as best I could with a big hug and thank you. I felt terribly guilty as I started to think about how to get rid of the chicken without hurting a little boys feelings.

Birthday complete and family gone, it was just me and the chicken (and some curious dogs and even more curious cats that had a devilish look in their eyes). Chicken could be dinner and not mine. Yes, I admit, I did consider the thought of cat prey – for a split second. But as the night went on and I heard the ‘cheep cheep’ in a shoe box I knew I had to find out more about chickens – at least what to feed it and how to look after it until I came up with a plan to say goodbye. So I went to the net and started researching.

Just like receiving a chicken from a 5 year old, what I learnt about chickens surprised me. I found out that these fowl are not just chickens…they have qualities I could never have imagined. I decided to make a go of keeping the chicken and I took the plunge of getting a chicken pen and a few more adult birds. I had a flock within two weeks and grandson Stephen was over the moon. I learnt more about keeping chickens in two weeks then I ever thought possible. I had 4 books and endless notes. I became a chicken expert! I told myself that this was for little Stephen but, in truth, as time went on, it became about me and MY chickens.

It wasn’t smooth sailing, I have to tell you – I had run-ins with the local council about having livestock in a suburban area – important that you check that out, by the way – before you get the chickens! They eventually gave me the green light and I was well into the chicken mission.

Raising chickens as pets is fascinating. Chickens are easily tamed if time is spent handling them. In fact, chickens enjoy being stroked. You will also be surprised at their intelligence. Chickens can recognize up to 100 other chickens by their facial features and have over 30 different vocalizations to communicate with each other. People, myself included, who have kept chickens discover that every chicken has its own personality, just as dogs and cats do and I can attest to that. They respond to you when you call their name and ask for treats, like any other pet. Stephens’ chicken is named Nemo (yes, I know that’s a fish – but that’s his favourite character) and Nemo knows its name.

Ok, so I do not eat chicken anymore – that’s just a personal choice – you cannot connect with chickens and then eat them…well, I certainly cannot. My grandson threatened to buy another pet for my birthday. I politely refused and warned my daughter with a fate unmentionable should he arrive with anything that breathes. Nowadays, I think I might be known as that crazy old woman with all those cats and dogs and chickens. In fact I did overhear one of Stephens friends refer to me as the chicken lady to his mother.

Keeping chickens as pets is a wonderful past time and the bonus are the fresh organic eggs I get…oh, and the well-maintained back yard – but I will get to that another time…

Janice Honeyman considers herself an accidental pet chicken lover. For more details about keeping chickens and chicken pens, click here where you can get more information.

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Choosing a Freshwater Aquarium Filter

Whatever kind of fish tank or fish you have, a freshwater aquarium filter is a must have. Fish, just like any other living thing, produce waste in the form of excrement and gases, and because a tank is such a limited environment, this waste accumulates. It will eventually kill off your fish if it’s not removed. A fish tank filter is used to gather up this waste as it is produced. The water in your aquarium will always circulate through the filter and leave behind any waste that’s in it.

The entire filtration process has 3 steps. There is mechanical filtration which will clean up floating debris. There is also biological filtration which ensures that there is biological balance in the tank by releasing good bacteria that convert ammonia waste into nitrites and then nitrates. Chemical filtration will remove dissolved waste from the water.

A freshwater aquarium filter will depend on the kind of tank that you have, and the kind of fish too. Some fish produce more waste than others and may need a more specialized freshwater aquarium filter. Choosing should not be such a problem if you know the different kinds of freshwater aquarium filters available.

1. Corner Filters: They sit in the corner and usually come stuck on the glass wall of the tank. They will be able to do all the three processes mentioned above. They however need frequent maintenance, although all you need to do is change the carbon filter.

2. Under-gravel Filters They are an excellent for those who are starting out in aquarium keeping. They use a combination of a filter and gravel mechanism to keep your aquarium clean. They are not so popular though because the gravel needs frequent vacuuming. This means that as you buy supplies, a gravel vacuum is a must. The gravel also captures air bubbles that can contain poisonous waste gases.

3. Sponge filters These are an excellent choice for a freshwater aquarium filter because of their expert biological filtration. Water will flow through them by a tube and then into a sponge that releases friendly bacteria. They however lack mechanical and chemical filtration, and if you choose them, you’ll have to install along with the other 2 different filters. It’s an excellent way to go for bare-bottomed tanks and those that hold young fish -because they require frequent water changes, young fish tend to thrive.

4. Power Filter This is by far the commonest freshwater aquarium filter. Its maintenance is easy, and it’s preferred because it does all three filtration processes. There is one problem though, and it’s in the way they are designed; the inlet to the filter is right next to the outlet for clean water, so that filtered water immediately gets in contact with unfiltered water. It may labor the filtration process, but the filters are made to cope quite well.

5. Canister Filter They are a bit more expensive, but also highly effective. They come as trays, each filtration process carried out by a different tray. The water will be pushed from the bottom up for some and others will have it the other way around. Make sure you know how each tray works so that you can place them correctly.

Those are 5 great options for a freshwater aquarium filter. Your choice should be based on the size of tank you keep and how often you think you can manage to clean. Remember that whichever kind of filter you get, its going to need cleaning and replacing at some point.

Robert is an experienced aquarist, who owns and maintains his and other people’s aquariums. For more great tips on freshwater aquarium filter, visit

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How to Discipline a Cat?

Cats are cute pets which should be able to look after themselves. However if you wish to have one as your pet, you should know what their needs and wants are apart from just finding them adorable. Though they are pets, they tend to behave like humans at times as they grow and develop.

Studies have shown that kittens are much easier to handle than cats as most are more shy and obedient. It does not protest or throw tantrums but obeys whatever their owners instruct them to do.

Usually kittens that are already sold are already litter-trained. So the only thing you need to do is to guide it as to where it should relieve itself when nature calls.

For a start, your kitten will see you as its guardian, owner and parent. So wherever you go, it will follow. Occasionally it will jump or climb up to kitchen table or fridge for food and drink. To avoid this from happening frequently, you need to know when it is hungry and thirsty so that you can feed as much as it wants.

If your cat has a habit of scratching things, it might be appropriate to buy and install 1 or more scratching posts wherever it is. Otherwise you will have problems seeing your furniture, books and other stuff littered with its claw marks.

Like humans, their claw nails tend to get sharper over time. So you need to trim them in order to avoid getting yourself or others hurt and having your things torn. You can do this by pressing down on each toe which extends its claw. You should inspect this regularly so that they will get used to as their routine as they become older.

Even though kittens do not shed as much hair as their adult counterparts, you still need to comb your pet to make its appearance more presentable whether its hair is long or short.

Just because your cat likes to eat everything, do not spoilt by giving exactly what it wants. You need to make sure its food is of highest quality and preferably be in pet store rather than supermarket. If you are unsure as to which brand contains the most vitamins, minerals and protein, go and ask your vet for recommendations. Other than food, there should be a clean bowl of water to protect your cat from dehydration.

Cats do need regular medical checkups as much as we humans. So if you love your cat and want it to live as long as possible, make it your habit to visit your vet once or twice every month just to ensure its health is fine. They do need injections from time to time too. When they are kittens, they usually are given a few shots. But as they grow older, they are just given one every year.

If your cat grows bigger, you have to make adjustments to its room size. If it protests like teenagers, do not worry as this is perfectly normal. But if it really gets out of hand, you need to visit your vet again for advice.

Get more tips on how you can train your cat effectively without headaches in Cat Traits.

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Dog Mange: Why Bugs are Mean

Mange is a skin disease that may occur on dogs, which are entirely caused by the presence of mites that cause harm and discomfort by being attaching themselves onto your dog to feed; in other words, they are parasites. Pretty similar to fleas, but these little guys are tiny in comparison. They’re no less deadly, though, so let’s get cracking on what makes them tick, and what makes them weep.


There are two types of mites that can cause mange in dogs. They’re both considered ‘mites’, but their appearance and modus operandi (gosh, what a smart phrase) are vastly different from each other. Because the strategies for defeating either subspecies differ slightly due to their characteristics, it’s necessary to discuss both of them in equally great detail. Let’s start with the weaker of the two, first.

Demodex Mites

The first one we’ll talk about is called a ‘Demodex mite’. These things look like microscopic squid or maybe a cigar, and usually cause full-blown mange by reproducing and exponentially multiplying their population on your dog’s fur.

The good news is that Demodex mites are easily beaten by a full-grown dog’s immune system. Meaning, if you have a puppy and he’s getting mange symptoms, it’s very likely that he just doesn’t have a fully developed immune system to combat them yet and that they won’t ever trouble him again once he reaches maturity. However, if you do have a full-grown dog with these things being the cause of it (which will be determined when you visit the vet proper), it means that they’re not entirely healthy. If that happens, make sure to address the underlining problems while you attempt to treat the mange.

Demodex mites are contagious, but remember that unlike puppies and those that already have their immune systems weakened, most adult dogs can handle them with no problems. Transmission from dog to human is also impossible, so don’t worry about having close contact.

Sarcoptic Mites

This is the more dangerous of the two. The Sarcoptic Mite looks like a fat little creep that will dig through the skin to get what it wants. Its ‘excavations’ causes intense itchiness and crusty skin, which will cause your dog to frantically scratch in the affected region. Usually it gets so bad that dogs tend to scratch themselves raw, causing all sorts of secondary skin damage and increasing the chances of an infection.

They are also highly contagious and can affect dogs of all ages, including humans! Therefore, if you suspect that your dog is suffering from sarcoptic mange, do your best to get yourself checked out as well, as there is a chance of you getting hit by the parasite as well.

Sarcoptic mites take extra effort to treat, due to its tendency to burrow under the skin, its contagiousness and the possibility of dog-to-human transmission, but it’s not a complete nightmare.


You’ll know if your dog has mange when he suffers from a loss of fur at some patches of his body, as well as a tendency to scratch or bite furiously at the affected parts. Red blisters may also form within the problem areas. Now granted, those symptoms describe every known dog skin problem known to mankind as well, but at the very least, this should tell you that your dog isn’t just scratching himself idly.

What you need to do next is to be sure that your dog has got mange. In order to do that, you’ll have to determine that your dog has got mites on him. To do that, you will need to get your pet to a vet and take a skin scraping test done for him.

This skin scraping test involves just that – scraping your dog’s skin to get any foreign objects hanging onto it. If your dog has mites, they’ll soon be exposed to you. One thing to note though: scraping the skin will more often than not turn up mites of the Demodex variety, as they live on the skin’s surface. However, if you don’t see any on the initial results, it may not mean that there are no mites. Sarcoptic mites will undoubtedly be harder to find as they go under the skin instead, but it’s still possible to get traces of them if you look hard enough.


So, now that you’ve found mites on your dog, what’s next? Well, it depends on who’s the culprit, because there are different methods and strategies for each type of mite. We’ll start with Demodex mites, first.

The first thing you should know is that Demodex mange in puppies will slowly start to disappear as they grow older, when their immune systems start functioning to their fullest extent. If you want to be sure about getting rid of them, though, a few more skin scrapings from the vet will help to remove more of the parasites. Medicine is also available for older dogs that are inflicted with Demodex mange due to a weakened immune system.

Sarcoptic mange, on the other hand, will most likely be an uphill battle. This will be made all the more so if your dog is in a rather serious condition before starting treatment, so I really hope your dog never gets to experience that. Anyway, Because of the contagiousness of the Sarcoptic mite, you will have to undertake three phases of cleaning: your dog’s surroundings, your dog and yourself.

For your first step, you will need to sterilize your dog’s belongings, including and especially their toys and beds. Give them a good scrubbing, preferably with antibacterial shampoo made for dogs, and soak them in hot water. After that, start your dog on a tight regime of showers at least twice a week using the same shampoo that was also used to clean their stuff, as well as some medication prescribed by your vet.

Your home will also have to go through a good cleaning to be safe, because those mites can appear from anywhere your dog has been lately. Vacuum it, spray something on it, give it a good wipe – whatever it takes to eradicate the bugs. Lastly, have yourself checked out for mites, as they can be transmitted from your dog without you knowing it. They could go back to him just as easily once he’s cleaned up, and you don’t want to have bugs on your body too, do you?


As you may know by now, mange is a pretty ugly symptom when you first see it on your dog, and they cause a lot of harm if left unchecked too. Lucky for you, you’ve got all the information you need here to start fighting those bugs! Hopefully, they’ll know what’s best for them and move out of dog-town before you really get to work on it, but like someone famous once said, life isn’t exactly a bed of roses, is it? Good luck with your bug hunt!

If you like what you just read and are starving for more, don’t fret – there’s more where that came from! Just click on to find out more about other types of dog skin problems and how to help your dog get better. Even if your dog is happy and healthy right now, remember that prevention is always better than cure. After all, you can’t be certain that he won’t ever get them in future, right?

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