Nature Mikey

Nature Mikey

Friday, April 29, 2011

Video of the Day: Beware of Tortoise

Male tortoises can actually make excellent guard animals, unless of course they decide they don't want you in their yard either.

Species of the Day: American Toad

Scientific Name: Bufo americanus
Family: Bufonidae
Adult Size: 2 to 4 inches long
Range: Primarily in the northeastern US, ranging westward to the eastern edge of the Dakotas and southward to the northern areas of the Gulf Coast states.
Habitat: Occurs primarily in forest and prairie habitats, in both rural and urban areas near a semi-permanent water source.

    American toads are one of the most common amphibians in the northern United States and Canada. They can be a number of colors, ranging from light tan to brown-red to a dark olive-green. Their backs are covered in brown and black pebble-like growths or "warts", and their undersides are almost always a light tan color. There are two separate subspecies of American toads. They are both completely identical except for their adult size. The dwarf subspecies rarely ever grows over two inches long, while the main species will measure up to four inches long. Both subspecies are very easy to keep and are not hard to find either in the wild or at a pet store, and require the same care.
    As with most Bufonid species, a low aquarium with ample floor space works well. A pair can be maintained in a standard 10 gallon aquarium so long as they are of equal size. Although it is unlikely that this species would be able to escape from an enclosure of this size, it is a good idea to provide a tight fitting screen lid to allow for ventilation and the prevent the intrusion of other pets. A substrate that allows American toads the possibility of burrowing is also a good idea for the successful maintenance of this species. A mix of sand, vermiculite and ground coconut husk or potting soil works best. The substrate should be kept somewhat damp in order to prevent dessication . A handful of the substrate should clump when the appropriate level of moisture has been attained. If the clump disintegrates in your hand, it may need a little more water; if water oozes out when squeezed, you may need to let it dry out a bit. A shallow water bowl should be provided at all times for soaking.
    The American toad is diurnally active at times, and it is a good idea to provide artificial lighting to simulate a natural photoperiod and allow for proper metabolic activity. A fluorescent light, for instance the ZooMed ReptiSun 2.0 is an excellent choice, as it provides both a UVA and UVB light source, but does not produce excessive heat. It is imperitive to not let the enclosure get too hot, as these animals are extremely susceptible to overheating. As such, an undertank heater under one side of the enclosure works well to provide a little supplemental heat, never letting it get over 80 degrees F. Feeding American toads in captivity rarely presents any difficulties. A staple diet of crickets works very well for this species, with mealworms, wax worms, earthworms and small tomato hornworms can be used to proved and healthy and varied diet.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Video of the Day: Touchy Tarantula

A tarantula's feet are extremely sensitive to the surfaces that they walk on, as demonstrated by this Common Pink-toe Tarantula, who definitely does not like the feel of these cotton bedsheets.

Species of the Day: Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula

Scientific Name: Aphonopelma seemani
Range: Southern United States to Costa Rica, Nicaragua and possibly in areas of Guatemala, and Panama in tropical forests on the Pacific coast with secondary cleared land and hillside highland tropical forests.
Type: Terrestrial
Diet: Appropriately sized insects and the occasional pinky mouse
Adult Size: 4 to 4 1/2 inches
Growth Rate: Moderate
Preferred Temperature: 70 to 85 degrees F
Preferred Humidity: 75 to 80%
Temperament: Docile but can be nervous
Housing: Spiderlings can be kept in a clear-plastic deli cup and adults can live in a 2 1/2 to 5 gallon tank; floor space is more important than height. Substrate: 4 to 5 inches of peat moss or potting soil. No decorations needed. A log or cork bark can serve as a hiding place.

    The Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula is a great pet tarantula. It is a a hardy, inexpensive spider with wonderful coloration. Even though it is a generally docile species, you should take care if you are going to handle it. Costa Rican Zebra Tarantulas can display incredible speed if startled. Although it is known as the Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula, there is a different color phase to this species that is not found in Costa Rica. This color phase is dark brown with tan striping on the legs and is from Nicaragua, as opposed to the usual black form with white striping on the legs. Both color phases of the Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula have the same care requirements and make great choices for a beginner or the expert hobbyist.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Video of the Day: Monitor Memories

Many don't realize the cherished pets that reptiles can be, shown in this nice memoir of a beloved Savannah monitor that has now moved on to that big lizard buffet in the sky.

Species of the Day: Arizona Mountain Kingsnake

Scientific Name: Lampropeltis pyromelana
Family: Colubridae
Adult Size: Up to 42 inches in length 
Range: Wooded areas of Chihuahua and Sonora in Mexico, southwestern New Mexico, north through central Arizona and in mountains in Utah 
Habitat: Usually a rock-dwelling species, rarely going far from their dens in rocky crevices, usually found on the edge of wooded areas near a permanent water source.

    The Arizona Mountain Kingsnake is found in several distinct populations in the mountains of Utah, Arizona, southwestern New Mexico and adjacent areas of northern Mexico. Three subspecies are currently recognized, with a fourth subspecies (L.p. woodini) recently being synonymized with the nominate species. This fourth form is still maintained in pure lineage my many breeders and hobbyists. Currently accepted subspecies include:
L.p. pyromelana (Arizona Mountain Kingsnake)
L.p. infralabialis (Utah Mountain Kingsnake)
L.p. knoblochi (Chihuahua or Tarahumara Mountain Kingsnake)
L.p. pyromelana var. "woodini" (Huachuca Mountain Kingsnake)
    Due to their ease of care and calm temperaments, the Arizona Mountain Kingsnake makes a great starter snake for people just getting into the hobby. These snakes rarely attempt to bite, but may nip if handled improperly. Handle gently, without pinching or squeezing, supporting the body and letting the snake to move through your hands. Any typical aquarium with a good sturdy top will do just fine for them, with a 15 to 20 gallon tank being adequate for an adult. Hatchlings are quite sensitive to dehydration and will do best in smaller "critter keepers". Due to their secretive natures, they need adequate hiding areas to feel secure. Rock cracks and crevices are preferred over the more spacious hide boxes. Many keepers use the clay plant pot drainage saucers with great success. A variety of substrates can be used; aspen bedding, newspaper and Care Fresh being the most popular with keepers. Paper towels may be used with hatchling snakes. The substrate should be spot cleaned every day and changed completely with a full disinfection of the tank every week. As with all reptiles, avoid cedar or pine shavings.
     Hatchling Arizona Mountain Kingsnakes have a reputation for being difficult feeders. In truth, they are easy feeders, we just offer them the wrong food. Frequently, a stubborn hatchling will require a pinkie mouse scented with a lizard (skinks or fence lizards tend to work best) before accepting it. More rarely, they will refuse to eat anything but the lizard itself. After a few lizards, you can move them on to scented pinkies and then wean them off on regular pinkies, but keep in mind that this process will take some patience. Once they are on an all rodent diet, hatchlings can be fed once a week, increasing the size of the meal as the snake grows. One or two juvenile mice every ten to fourteen days will maintain the largest adults. Investing in a captive bred specimen can help in avoiding all the difficulties in feeding. After several generations of captive breeding, these feeding problems are have for the most part disappeared. Fresh water in a tub large enough for the snake to completely submerge itself should be provided at all times. Thermal gradients can be provided by a simple heating pad over one half of the cage so that the snake can properly regulate its temperature. A gradient of 70 to 80 degrees F is best, letting the temperatures get into the high 60s at night. These snakes need no special lighting. Many specimens will refuse food during the winter months and go into hibernation. They can be kept at 50 to 55 degrees F for two to three months and then resume feeding in the spring.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Video of the Day: Macaw Want a Yum-Yum

Boy, this greenwing macaw sure loves his Mike and Ike's!

Species of the Day: Syrian Hamster

Scientific Name: Mesocricetus auratus
Size: 6 to 7 inches long
Origin: Syria
Average Life-Span: 2 1/2 to 3 years
Temperament: Nocturnal; enjoys being handled and is easily tamed, but can be nippy if disturbed during the day when it's trying to sleep. Prefers to live on its own rather than in the company of other hamsters.
Varieties: Short-haired (fancy), long-haired ("teddy bear"), rex, golden ("natural" or "wild"), piebald, banded, dominant spot, calico (tri-color or tortoiseshell), light-gray, anopthalmic white ("eyeless white" or "blind white").

    The first recording of the golden, or Syrian hamster, appeared in the Natural History of Aleppo. Although Alexander Russel published the first edition in 1797, it is unknown he or his brother Patrick published and discovered the Syrian hamster. Whatever the case, the Syrian hamster was not recorded as a new species at that time, and further more, there doesn't appear to be a first recording of the Syrian hamster anywhere as a new species. George Robert Waterhouse, curator of the London Zoological Society, eventually named the Syrian (or golden hamster at the time) in the year 1839. Originally the Syrian was called Cricetus auratus, but was later changed to Mesocricetus auratus.
    The majority of Syrian hamsters in captivity were captured by Israel Aharoni, a zoologist, at the request of Saul Alder, a researcher on leishmaniasis who required hamsters that would breed more readily than the Chinese hamsters he'd been working with. On April 12, 1930, Aharoni found a female Syrian hamster with 11 young. Several problems occurred with the little family, including cannibalism of one of the litter by the mother which led to the mother being destroyed by its captors. The remaining pups were hand-reared with some losses and two of the hamsters escaping. Four of the litter remained and survived into adulthood and were later successfully bred in the laboratory. The resulting hamster line was used extensively in laboratories until they were introduced into the British pet market in the 1940's.
     The first British hamster club was formed in 1945. The species Mesocricetus auratus is frequently referred to as either the Syrian or golden hamster. Syrian is perhaps the more proper term as "golden" is usually used to describe one of the Syrians many coat colors (often referred to as the "natural" or "wild" coat color). Due to the length of time that the Syrian has spent as a popular pet, it has emerged with several coat colors and varieties. In the wild, Syrian hamsters live deep underground in burrows often several feet in length. Like most hamsters, the Syrian is nocturnal, and spends most of it's day sleeping. This has a lot to do with the hot climate during the day in their native Syria. Syrian hamsters are solitary animals and should not be kept together with other hamsters, the result would likely be aggression and conflicts that could result in serious injury and possibly even death of one of the hamsters. Additionally, Syrians have scent glands located on each hip, sometimes referred to as "hip spots". Like other mammals, the Syrian uses its scent glands as a means of marking their territory by rubbing these glands against vertical objects. Another use for these scent glands is to let other hamsters know that the resident hamster is ready to mate. Occasionally the glands will secret a sticky substance, which is more prominent on the males; this is normal and should not be any cause for alarm. On rare occasions, however, these glands may become blocked, creating a sore and inflamed area. Should this happen, the hamster will need to be taken to a veterinarian familiar with hamsters immediately.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Video of the Day: Leopard Gecko vs. Garden Spider

Leopard geckos aren't just named for their spots, they are also ruthless hunters!

Species of the Day: Bell's Hingeback Tortoise

Scientific Name: Kinixys belliana
Family: Testudinidae
Adult size: 7 to 8 1/2 inches; 2 to 4 pounds
Range: Central and southern Africa from southern Senegal to Mozambique and the eastern corner of South Africa. Introduced in northern Madagascar
Habitat: Moist woodlands to dry savannah grasslands

    The Bell's hingeback tortoise has become quite a popular species in captivity, unfortunately the vast majority of specimens available for sale are imported and wild-caught animals have proven difficult to establish in captivity, making for very few captive breeders of these tortoises. So called for the hinge in the rear third of the carapace, it is the smaller of the African tortoises, with adults measuring up to 8 1/2 inches and weighing in at up to 4 pounds. Adult males have a much longer tail than females. The preferred habitat of a Bell's tortoise is savannah and grasslands, although they can sometimes be found in moister forests. As these areas may exhibit strong seasonal changes in precipitation and temperatures, the activity of the tortoises may be restricted to particular times of the year. In South Africa, for example, the Bell's hingeback may become during the cool winter months of May through September. Such seasonal patterns are likely important for the fertility and life-span of the species.
    A healthy hingeback should feel heavy and solid; a tortoise that feels hollow or light is likely dehydrated and malnourished. Hingebacks may be very shy so patience and gentle handling is necessary to allow inspection of the head and limbs. They eyes should be open and clear, or should open within seconds of being picked up. Eyes that are swollen or sealed shut may indicate dehydration or conjunctivitis; the nostrils should also be clear. Any nasal discharge should raise suspicion of a possible respiratory infection. Because most will be wild-caught specimens, Bell's hingebacks are often highly parasitized and as such, should have its feces evaluated by a veterinarian and put on a good de-parasitizing program. Hingebacks often need prolonged and repeated treatments to completely eradicate parasite infestations. The skin should be thoroughly inspected for ticks, mites, swellings or lacerations. The shell may have a variety of injuries, some of which may be old and healed and others being active areas for infection. If possible the tortoises mouth should be opened and the tongue and palate should be inspected for lesions and signs of infection. Of all the areas indicative of the tortoises health, appetite is most important. A healthy tortoise should have a huge appetite and eagerly accept pretty much anything offered.
     After acquisition, hingebacks may take weeks or even months to become acclimated. It is best to house new hingebacks in simple setups; aquariums or plastic tubs work very well, and should be at least four times the length and twice as wide as the length of the animal. A simple substrate such as paper towel and newspaper is best, and a hide box should be provided for security. Basking spot temperatures should range fro 85 to 95 degrees during the day and be allowed to fall between 70 and 80 at night. UV light will also be of benefit to the proper growth and health of the tortoise. Bell's hingebacks seem most active and have fewer eye and respiratory ailments if kept between 60 to 90% humidity, which can be maintained with misting the enclosure.
    The natural diet of the Bell's hingebacks includes both plant and animal matter such as fallen fruits, grasses, snails and other invertebrates. New tortoises often accept strawberries, cantaloupe and earthworms as their first food items. It may take several weeks for a new arrival to begin eating regularly. Fresh water should be provided at all times in a water dish big enough for the tortoise to soak in. Once the tortoise is accepting one or two food items regularly, it should be gradually converted to a more varied diet. By thoroughly mixing new foods with previously accepted items, even stubborn specimens can be encouraged to eat them. A complete diet for a Bell's hingeback should include high-calcium, leafy greens such as dandelion, clover, escarole, chicory, kale, etc.; a good fiber source such as lawn clippings (no pesticides), alfalfa or timothy hay; a variety of fruits and vegetables, and animal protein such as earthworms and other insects. A powdered calcium supplement should be applied to the food everyday, and a powdered multivitamin once a week.
    Once established on a good diet and free of parasites, Bell's hingebacks may be set up in a more naturalistic environment. If kept in groups, several hide boxes will be needed. A mixture of soil and bark mulch is visually appealing as a substrate, and the tortoises will enjoy burrowing in it. The substrate should be changed weekly. Take care that feeding stations should be set up to where there will be no accidental ingestion of the substrate. Alternatively and preferentially, outdoor enclosures may be used if you live in temperate climates. It must be appropriately built as Bell's hingebacks are great climbers and burrowers. When outdoors the tortoises are most active during the dawn and dusk hours, retreating to shady areas during the hot parts of the day. The only mid-day activity has been seen after or during spring rainfalls.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Video of the Day: A Few Funnies

Today's Video of the Day features a few funny clips for giggles

Breed of the Day: American Fuzzy Lop

    The American fuzzy lop is a medium sized, woolen rabbit resembling the Holland lop in body shape and temperament. Their coats are much easier to care for than that of the angoras; great for someone looking for a longer haired rabbit who may not have the time to dedicate to grooming. Acceptable varieties include agouti (chestnut, chinchilla, lynx, opal and squirrel), broken (any color), pointed white (black, blue, chocolate and lilac), self (black, blue, blue-eyed white, chocolate, lilac and ruby-eyed white), shaded (sable point, Siamese sable, Siamese smoke pearl and tortoiseshell) and wide-band (fawn and orange).
    The background of the American fuzzy lop is interwoven with the history of the Holland lop. When first introduced, the Holland lop was only available in solid colors, and some breeders wanted to add the broken pattern to the Holland lop gene pool. To do this, they bred their Holland lops to English spot rabbits. While they achieved the goal of producing broken patterned rabbits, they failed to keep the rollback fur that the Holland must have. The offspring instead had the flyback fur of the English spot. The breeders then bred Holland lops to French angoras, a breed that has a very gentle rollback coat. The result of these breedings was that the wool gene was also introduced into the Holland lop gene pool and a Holland lop with long wool was occasionally found in Holland lop litters. These were generally sold to people were enchanted with a small, woolen and lop-eared rabbit.
    The pioneer American fuzzy lop breeders, including Patty Greene-Karl and Gary Fellers of the east coast of the US and Kim Landry and Margaret Miller of the west coast, noted the marketability of the fuzzy Hollands. Patty Greene-Karl is credited with realizing that the fuzzy gene was recessive, so that breeding two Holland carrying this gene resulted in a percentage of the offspring (theoretically 25%) with wool. Patty decided to develop these rabbits as a new breed, named the American fuzzy lop. After working for four years on the development of fuzzies, she presented her rabbits to the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) for the first showing of the breed at the 1985 ARBA convention in Huston, Texas. Three separate standards for woolen lops were recieved from three different individuals, but only the American fuzzy lop presented by Patty was granted a working standard.
    The original standard called for a maximum weight of 4 3/4 pounds with the ideal weight being 3 3/4 pounds, and a rabbit designed to have the body type, ear carriage and size of a Holland lop combined with short, easily maintained wool. At the 1986 ARBA convention in Columbus, Ohio, the American fuzzy lop was presented for its second showing, and again passed. However, at its third showing a the 1987 ARBA convention in Portland, Oregon, the ARBA standards committee did not approve the breed because of a lack of uniformity from one animal to another. A new working standard. A new working standard was written by Jeff Hardin at the request of Patty, which was accepted. The revised standard basically described a woolen Holland, calling for a maximum weight of four pounds, and an ideal weight of 3 1/2. In 1988, ARBA requested only the breed's sponsor be allowed to bring fuzzy lops to a convention in Madison, Wisconsin because of limited cage space. The American fuzzy lop had to pass that year to become a recognized breed or else its proponents would have to start the procedure all over again. Fortunately, Patty's presentation passed at the convention, and the American fuzzy lop became a new recognized breeds. In 1989 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Helen McKie's "Herbie" was selected for the Best of Breed (BOB) American fuzzy lop at that years ARBA convention. Herbie's picture graced the ARBA's Standard of Perfection book from 1991 to 1995, representing the fuzzies well.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Video of the Day: Dogs and Robots Don't Mix

A doberman voices his displeasure and fear of a toy robot dog.

Species of the Day: Asian Water Monitor

Scientific Name: Varanus salvator
Family: Veranidae
Adult Size: Average 3 to 5 feet in length. Maximum lengths of 8 1/2 to 9 feet
Average Life-Span: about 25 years
Range: Eastern India and Sri Lanka, eastward throughout south-east Asia, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines
Habitat: Permanent water sources including rivers, lakes and streams in tropical forests

    The Asian water monitor is the 3rd largest species of lizard in the world, with the largest specimen recorded being over 10 feet in length and weighing in at a whopping 125 pounds. These are formidable animals and should never be taken lightly, however with proper care and socialization I've seen quite a few individuals that were quite easy going and tame. Because of their huge size, Asian water monitors require spacious, well-constructed enclosures; preferably outdoors if you live in a warm climate, if not, it may be best to convert a small bedroom into an enclosure. As their name implies, water monitors are semi-aquatic and captive specimens need to be provided with an area of water large enough for them to be able to submerge their entire bodies in, along with sturdy climbing branches for exercise and basking.
    Asian water monitors are indiscriminate feeders, meaning that they will consume anything they deem edible that they come across in the wild, including rodents, insects, fish, refuse from landfills, beached whales and even the toxic marine cane toad, from which they seem to get no ill effects from. Now, this doesn't mean to just go ahead and feed them garbage and toads, but to try and provide them a varied diet which should include rodents, fish, crustaceans and large insects. Water monitors require moderate to high temperatures in the range of 82 and 90 degrees F with a warmer basking spot up to 95 or 97 degrees. Not in any way for the beginner but I've seen many experienced keepers turn these giant lizards into cherished family pets, and you can expect them to be with you for quite a while.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Video of the Day: Posessed Cockatoo

The long-billed cockatoo in the front may be talking, laughing and doing its best to entertain its people, but the one you should really be paying attention to is the one in the back spinning its head around.

Breed of the Day: American Shorthair

    The American shorthair, our native shorthair breed, is one of the most adaptable breeds for any type of household. For a single person living alone, the American shorthair is an excellent companion; for a senior citizen, it is a calm and devoted pet; for a family with children, the good natured, playful American shorthair fits right in. Apartment living suits the American shorthair just as well as well as a house. It is the ultimate starter for anyone who has never owned a cat. One of the natural breeds, the American shorthair is a medium sized cat; muscular with a firm, well balanced body. They have an easy to care for short, lustrous coat that can come in a range of colors and patterns.
     Although not listed on ship's rosters, the American shorthair came with the early settlers to this country , bringing their diverse backgrounds to form our own American cat. They were "working" cats protecting the ship's stores from rodents on long journeys. These early American cats were strong, hardy cats that earned their living status here with their hunting skills, but were soon noticed for their intelligence and interesting coat colors and patterns. In early cat exhibitions in the 1900s the short-haired cats, then known as domestic shorthairs, were presented. As more shorthair breeds were imported into the country, dedicated breeders of the domestic shorthair began selective breeding to develop a cat of a specific type. Although the American shorthair is a natural breed, it is the process of selective breeding that has developed the American shorthair as we know it today. It was not until the early 1960s that the breed was re-named the American shorthair and began its rise in recognition and as a contender in the show circuit.
    American shorthairs are good natured, easy-going cats popular with families, as they are very tolerant of children. They are mellow, but can still remain playful into old age. Queens tend to be more active than toms,
with the toms being more easy-going. In general they are intelligent cats and quite interested in everything around them. Many American shorthairs retain their hunting instincts with rodents or even any insects that should venture into or around the house. They love to watch birds from a comfy window sill. They enjoy the company of their people, but are not demanding and can be independent and entertain themselves. Many are lap cats, with some preferring to be near you rather than on you.
    The breed standard for the American shorthair relies heavily on the term "medium"; it is not as large or heavily boned as the British shorthair. It is a very balanced, medium sized, medium boned cat, with a firm muscular feel to the body, and well proportioned in all parts. The skull is slightly longer than it is wide with an open, sweet expression. They eyes are wide set medium to large in size in proportion to the head and rounded, meaning that the upper lid is like the curvature of an almond and the lower lid is a fully rounded curve. The eyes should not be as round as the exotic shorthair. The muzzle is medium-short with a full, strong chin giving it a squarish appearance. The ears are medium in size and slightly rounded at the tip, and are set twice the width of the distance between the eyes. There are a number of different looks found in the American shorthair that are acceptable by the standard. Queens are smaller than toms with the balance of the cat being of the utmost importance.
    The coat is short, hard in texture, lustrous and dense enough to give natural protection against the elements. the color of the cat appears to affect the texture to some degree with the ideal coat often being found in the brown tabbies. Color and pattern are weighed equally with the clarity of the markings in the patterns the most desirable. Tabby and tabby with a white belly, usually with the classic pattern, have been most popular in the show ring. The coat requires little extra care so unless being shown, a bath is rarely necessary; a weekly combing to remove shed hairs will suffice. When bathed for a show, care must be taken or the coat will end up too soft or fluffy. American shorthairs do not really mature until they are about three or four years of age and look their best at this point in their lives.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Video of the Day: Chicken Police

Two rabbits get in a spat and upset the order and safety of the yard, so two chickens come in to break up the activity that could easily attract predators.

Species of the Day: Andean Parakeet

Scientific Name: Bolborhynchus orbygnesius
Adult Size: A little over 6 1/2 inches
Adult Plumage: Both adults are green in general; yellow tinge to the forehead and lores that is less evident in females; blue-green greater underwing coverts and undertail flight coverts. Pale yellow green beak with a gray base; dark brown eyes with blue eye-rings
Call: Flight calls are a series of rapid notes and sharp chattering.

Quite rare in captivity, Andean parakeets are shy and quiet birds. They are extremely susceptible to cold, stress and infections, and are also known to die for no apparent reason. They will do best if housed communally with other Andean parakeets.

Housing: Indoor or outdoor (if in a warm climate) aviary type housing (16 X 9 X 6 ft dimensions).
Diet: Seed mixes such as millet, canary, hemp, oats and niger; wild bird food; fruits such as apple, pear, orange, banana, dried rowan berries, pomegranate and cactus fruits; vegetables such as carrot, celery, green beans and peas in the pod; leafy greens such as Swiss chard, romaine lettuce, dandelion greens, chickweed, sow thistle; vitamin C and other supplements, rearing food and complete kibble.
Enrichment: Fresh, untreated tree branches for chewing; employ a variety of perches and chewing toys

Range: Northern Peru and central and western Bolivia
Habitat: Found in 9840 - 13,120 ft in elevation in semi-arid upland woods in subtropical and temperate zones including drier cloud forests, bushy habitats in ravines in open country, elfin woodlands and grassy slopes with bromeliads and scattered woodland patches. May also visit rural areas and farmlands.
Wild Diet: Consists of seeds, buds and berries
Ecology: Gregarious; often seen in pairs, small groups and occasionally large flocks of up to 300 individuals. Feeds in bamboo, brambles and leguminaceous trees. Forages in vegetation or on the ground.
Threat Summary: None at present:
IUCN Rating: Least Concern
CITES Rating: Appendix II

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Video of the Day: Prosche 928 Review

A short review of my favorite car in the whole world, the Porsche 928. The best of the Porsches in my opinion.

Breed of the Day: Akita Inu

Country of Origin: Japan
Group: Working Group; recognized by the AKC in 1972
Purpose: Bear hunting; guard dog
Average Life-Span: About 12 years
Color: Any color including solid white, pinto or brindle.
Grooming: Heavy shedder two to three times out of the year. Requires frequent and vigorous brushing.
Size: Males 26 to 28 inches at the shoulder, females 24 to 26 inches; most weigh between 70 and 110 pounds

    Large, powerful and alert, with much substance and heavy bone, the Akita Inu's broad head, forming a blunt triangle, with deep muzzle, small eyes and erect ears carried forward inline with the back of its neck are characteristics of the breed along with its plush tail that is curled over the back, balancing the head. The Akita is a working breed that originated in Japan as a bear hunter and guard dog. Dignified and courageous, the Akita is popular in the show ring and also participates in performance and therapy work. The breed's thick double coat can be any color including white, pinto and brindle. Colors should be rich, brilliant and clear. Markings should be well balanced, with or without a mask or blaze. The undercoat may be a different color from the outer coat.
    One of the seven breeds designated with a national monument in its native Japan, the Akita Inu has been used as a versatile hunting dog there for many, many years. There is even a spiritual significance attached to the breed, for when a child is born in Japan, the family will receive an Akita statue to bring health, happiness and a long life. The Akita Inu first arrived in the United States when Hellen Keller brought one over in 1937. Although known to be a quiet dog (they are known as "the silent hunter" in Japan), the Akita Inu has strong guarding instincts and will sound the alarm if it senses intruders. The Akita's temperament can range from calm to bouncy and aggressive so they need an experienced dog owner with firm but fair obedience training to keep a harmonious household. The breed will groom itself like a cat, but daily brushing will still be necessary, as is exercise in the form of a good run for at least an hour a day.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Video of the Day: Bearded Dragons; Then and Now

Here we have the legendary Bob Maillouxs of Sandfire Dragon Ranch telling the story of how he started breeding bearded dragons in 1982, where the world of bearded dragons as pet started and where it's headed.

Species of the Day: North American Bullfrog

Scientific Name: Lithobates catesbeianus
Family: Ranidae
Adult Size: 10 to 16 inches long including the legs
Range: Found in Canada and Mexico; native to the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. Introduced in much of the western United States
Habitat: Usually found in or near a permanent water source, including rivers, streams and ponds.

    The North American bullfrog is a member of the Ranidae family. The bullfrog is named as such because of their deep loud croaks, which make them seem much larger than they are. These croaks are used to keep rival frogs at bay in territorial disputes. The bullfrog is already a humongous species on its own without the booming calls. The bullfrogs body length ranges from around 3 to 6 inches with the legs adding on another 7 to 10 inches. They use these powerful legs of theirs to propel them forward an astonishing length of up to 6 feet. Bullfrogs can weigh up to 2 pounds, with females being larger than their male counterparts. Bullfrogs generally sport earth colors such as brown, green and yellow, with black or brown blotches accenting the legs. The males tend to aggregate in ponds and croak simultaneously to attract mates, with females choosing partners based upon the amount of food in a male's territory.
    If the proper environment is provided, the North American bullfrog will thrive under captive conditions. The ideal situation is a large outdoor pond so that the animal cannot escape and invade the surrounding habitat. These frogs need huge amounts of space, and if kept indoors will need an aquarium a minimum of 55 gallons. Large stock tanks and tubs available from hydroponics outlets are also acceptable. The enclosure should contain a large aquatic area and a land area to bask in. Also integral in an indoor design is the use of UVA and UVB light sources. In the wild these animals will spend a lot time basking and the use of these lights will be helpful in keeping them healthy in the long term. Aquatic and terrestrial vegetation is helpful in providing security to these secretive frogs with a place to hide. Ambient temperatures of 75 to 80 degrees F are considered ideal for the maintenance of this species. Remember that these frogs can jump great distances and a good sturdy cage top should be employed.
     The North American bullfrog is a rapacious feeder. Large insects and small rodents will make up the bulk of their diets in captivity. Because of their huge appetites, they are prone to obesity and as such, should be fed rodents sparingly to prevent them from becoming overweight and getting secondary metabolic issues. Gut loading food items with fresh vegetables and commercial gut-loading food is a great way to improve the nutritional quality of the insects. A vitamin and mineral supplement is also a good idea for this species, especially for younger animals still undergoing periods of rapid growth. This will ensure proper bone development .

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Video of the Day: Pick-Me-Up

If you're ever sad or feeling down, just think of a shrimp running on a treadmill to the Benny Hill theme and all your troubles will just melt away!

Species of the Day: Mexican Bloodleg Tarantula

Scientific Name: Aphonopelma bicoloratum
Range: Scrub lands and deserts of the Pacific side of southern Mexico
Type: Terrestrial
Diet: Crickets and other insects
Adult Size: 3 1/2 to 4 inches
Growth Rate: Slow
Preferred Temperature: 75 to 90 degrees F
Preferred Humidity: 70 to 75%
Temperament: Docile and calm
Housing: Spiderlings can live in clear plastic deli cups with air holes; adults can live in a 10 to 15 gallon aquarium. Floor space is more important than height.
Substrate: 4 to 5 inches of potting soil or peat moss mixed with vermiculite. Be sure to provide something for the tarantula to hide in

    The Mexican bloodleg tarantula is easily one of the best beginner tarantulas on the market. A combination of color and a gentle disposition makes the Mexican bloodleg tarantula a great display and pet species. These tarantulas are docile and they wont flick urticating hairs very often. Due to their extremely slow growth rates, Mexican bloodleg tarantulas are also one of the longest lived tarantula species. Unfortunately this species is still quite rare, and isn't a species that you can find in any pet shop. Also, captive breedings are not very frequent and it's still a new species to the hobby, so when a Mexican bloodleg is available for sale, the price can be high. A unique thing about this species is that upon maturity the males lose all the orange and gold that you see in the picture and become completely black. This tarantula does not get very large, but it makes up for it with its beauty. Mexican bloodleg tarantulas can be expensive and hard to find, but for a beginner or an expert, they are well worth the money and will be with you for a long time.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Video of the Day: Flight of the Human Sling-Shot

Second only to scare videos, watching people willing subjecting themselves to terror on thrill rides are some of my favorites. This one features the new craze in thrill rides, the Human Sling-Shot.

Species of the Day: Andean Milk Snake

Scientific Name: Lampropeltis triangulum andesiana
Family: Colubridae
Adult Size: Up to five feet long
Range: Elevations from 700 to 9,000 feet in the Andes Mountain range in Columbia
Habitat: Mountain forests and rocky grasslands

    The Andean milk snake is an Alpine subspecies of milk snake. These colorful snakes are covered in stripes of red, black and yellow, often with black speckling on each scale. Their beauty, calm dispositions and ease of care make them excellent starter snakes for beginner hobbyists. The Andean milk snake occurs in the Andes mountains of Columbia and Venezuela. Andean milk snakes inhabit high altitude forests and grasslands up to 9,000 feet in elevation, and as mountain-dwellers, they can tolerate much lower temperatures than most snakes. They spend much of their time in burrows and under rocks and logs, where they are safe from predators and the cold weather, and come out between the afternoon and evenings to hunt.
     Cages should be escape-escape proof, with a heavy ceramic crock filled with fresh water and a few hiding places being essential cage furniture. Milk snakes are close cousins of king snakes, which means that they can be cannibalistic and should be kept separately. Lots of hobbyists keep their milk snakes in inexpensive commercially available plastic tubs for keeping snakes in a rack arrangement, but if you want to display these gorgeous snakes, a 20 to 40 gallon aquarium works well. A variety of substrates may be used (aspen shavings, rodent bedding or newspaper) to keep the snake clean, warm and dry. Temperature control is important for maintaining the feeding response and proper digestion. Heat is best supplied through an undertank heating pad. Andean milk snakes prefer temperatures between 80 to 85 degrees F, and you can let it drop in to the 60s at night. It has not been proven whether or not these snakes require UV lighting, the choice is yours whether or not to employ it. Andean milk snakes will feed on just about anything including warm-blooded prey such as rodents and birds, and even cold-blooded prey such as frogs and lizards.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Video of the Day: Swinging Parrot

This African gray parrot just loves her swing, and even makes her own wind sound effects!

Species of the Day: Roborovski Hamster

Scientific Name: Phodopus roborovskii
Size: 1 1/2 to 2 inches long
Origin: Mongolia and northern China
Average Life-Span: 1 1/2 to 3 years
Temperament: The little Roborovski hamster is crepuscular, preferring to play and forage during the morning and evening times. Lively and quick, it can be difficult to handle, especially for a young child, but it is entertaining to watch as it goes about its business. The Roborovski hamster rarely bites and is known to get along well with other Roborovskis of the same sex if they are brought up together from a young age.

    Named after the Roborovsky and Koslov expedition, when in July of 1894 a specimen of this hamster was captured. The Roborovski's natural habitat is the desert dunes of the western and eastern regions of Mongolia and parts of Manchuria and northern China. Roborovskis, or Robos, are the smallest of all the hamster species, with adults reaching approximately 2 inches in length. Unlike other dwarf species, the Robo doesn't have a dorsal stripe and their legs are slightly longer. The top coat is a sandy brown with a slate gray undercoat, and the belly and side arches are white. Their large black eyes are emphasized with a white facial marking which slightly resemble eyebrows. Robos are extremely active, making them somewhat difficult to handle, but certainly entertaining. In addition to an exercise wheel, they like several places to hide and things to climb on. Due to their small size they do much better in glass aquariums rather than wire cages that they can easily escape from. They love to dig and burrow, and in the wild their burrows can reach as deep as 6 feet, so keep them happy with some extra bedding. The Robo is a very clean animal and spends much of its time grooming itself. A Roborovski hamster will be very pleased to be able to have dust baths. The dust baths available for chinchillas is a little too fine for the Robos, but commercial hamster litter is inexpensive and works just as good. Just put some in a bowl and they will happily crawl in and go to work!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Video of the Day: Playful Caique

White-bellied Caiques just love toys! Especially foot-toys as demonstrated by this playful individual.

Species of the Day: Alligator Snapping Turtle

Scientific Name: Macroclemys temminckii
Family: Chelydridae
Adult Size: 15 to 26 inches long; 35 to 150 pounds
Range: Primarily along the Mississippi river in the mid- to southwest United States
Habitat: Inhabits the deep waters of large rivers, canals, lakes, swamps and bayous

    The alligator snapping turtle has a grotesque appearance and a terrible attitude. With its huge size, roughened muddy-brown carapace, grossly over-sized head, spiked tail the length of the carapace and hooked, gaping jaws surely make it an intimidating sight. One of the largest species of freshwater turtles in the world, adults weighing over 150 pounds with carapace lengths of over 25 inches are well-documented. The world record holder is a male weighing in at 316 pounds and is 31 1/2 inches long. Despite many large adults being housed communally with other species of turtles in zoo exhibits, Alligator snapping turtles are best kept alone. These turtles are not for everybody and especially not for beginner turtle keepers. Their space requirements, maintenance and appetites make them very expensive and hard to care for.
    Alligator snapping turtles need enormous amounts of space to be happy. Hatchlings require no less than a 20 to 50 gallon tank, which will last them about a year as they grow very fast. Outdoor ponds are recommended above all else for adults, with 800 gallon stock tanks being the only alternative. Alligator snapping turtles are ambush predators, and so blend in with their surroundings to keep hidden and feel safe. Logs, driftwood, river rocks, tree stumps and other similar features will help the turtle feel secure in its home. A safe and secure turtle is also a less defensive turtle. Filtration needs to be of the highest caliber, or else costly and difficult 100% water changes are required every week. Alligator snapping turtles will gladly gobble up anything offered. Commercial turtle food, live freshwater minnows, live guppies, live crayfish, cooked chicken, chopped bluegill, bass, or other game fish (which can be fed whole and live to larger turtles), mice chicks, and rats are all fair game. In the wild, they will also munch some vegetable matter, so it is important to also offer things such as water hyacinth, water lettuce, grapes, cherries, bananas, apples and carrots.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Video of the Day: First Impressions

The introduction of a new tortoise is shaky as the resident tortoise bullies the newcomer incessantly, but then gets his just-desserts as a lesson is learned to pick on someone his own size next time.

Breed of the Day: American Chinchilla Rabbit

    The first chinchillas were created by French engineer M.J. Dybowski and were shown for the first time in April 1913 at Saint-Maur, France. The new breed took the rabbit world by storm as the ideal fur rabbit, which so greatly resembled the fur of the South American Chinchilla lanigera. A Mrs. Haidee Lacy-Hulbert of Mitcham Surrey, imported the breed to England in the summer of 1917. A British exhibitor presented a shipment at the New York state fair in 1919. After the show, he sold all of the stock to Edward H. Stahl and Jack Harris. The original chinchillas were rather small at only 5 to 7 1/2 pounds, and American breeders set out to produce a larger animal that would be better suited for meat and fur. Through selective breeding for larger size but fine bones and a good dress-out percentage, a breed standard was issued for the heavy-weight chinchilla. It was a larger form of the standard chinchilla; the same shape, color and general make-up. In 1924, both chinchilla breeds were adopted into the standards book and shortly there after, the heavy-weight chinchilla was renamed the American chinchilla.
    There is no single person that can be credited with the development of the American chinchilla, though the breed itself can be credited with making a large impact with rabbit keepers and other rabbit breeds. Between November 1928 to November 1929, no less than 17, 328 chinchillas were registered through the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA); a record that has yet to be broken. The chinchilla rabbit has contributed to the development of more breeds and varieties of rabbits world wide than any other breed. Sports from the chinchilla have created the silver martens and American sables in the United States, and the Siamese sable and sallander breeds abroad.
    The American chinchilla is the rarest of the chinchilla breeds. Its small population is largely due to the demise of the rabbit fur industry of the late 1940's . Despite the breed's fine meat-producing qualities, the producers of today prefer an all white rabbit for the meat market. The American chinchilla is a large, hardy and gentle animal, with mature bucks weighing in at 9 to 11 pounds and does at 10 to 12 pounds. At first glance the American chinchilla is salt and pepper colored, but once the fur is parted, fours distinct bands of color appear on the hair shaft. They produce large litters, have good mothering instincts and fryers reach market weight fairly quickly.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Video of the Day: Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula

Here's a nice video of a Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula (Aphonoplema seemani) calmly allowing itself to be handled by its owner.

Species of the Day: Argus Monitor

Scientific Name: Varanus panoptes hornii
Family: Varanidae
Adult Size: 2 1/2 to 4 1/2 feet long with some rare instances of individuals growing to 6 feet in length
Range: Northern Australia
Habitat: Semid-arid to arid environments, also at home in moist forests

     Argus monitors are large, diurnal lizards from Northern Australia. These lizards are well-muscled and very attractive with their black and white/yellow patterned skin. Often seen basking near road ways or rapidly running across them, they are easily the Velociraptors of the monitor world for their surprising speed when chasing down prey and their habit of standing up on their back legs to survey their surroundings. In the wild, insects, fish, amphibians, snakes, birds or anything else it could overpower are on the menu for this powerful lizard. However, captive Argus monitors can easily adapt to pre-killed prey. Because of their large size, they can be difficult to handle and the sharp claws of this monitor are nothing to be taken lightly as they squirm if they are not properly supported. It's not advisable to keep Argus monitors as completely free-range pets as they are very fast and have a tendency to bolt if alarmed and could escape.
    Argus monitors just love to eat! For proper growth and bone health, babies should be free-fed as many appropriately-sized insects as they will eat, along with about an ounce of ground turkey or one or two pinky mice. You can alternate the days they receive these treats to keep variety in their diets. After the first six months of life you should start rationing out food items as obesity is very common among captive monitors. At the sixth month mark, they will start refusing insect prey for a steady diet of rodents, eggs or baby chicks given every other day, again alternating for a healthy variety. Be prepared though, as an adult Argus monitor can easily consume up to $100 in food every month.
    Argus monitors require a huge amount of space, with the best type of caging being a converted small bedroom or walk-in closet. An appropriately sized enclosure for an adult Argus monitor should be 8 feet in length, 4 feet wide and 4 feet high. Because of their fast growth rates, it is advised to simply start with an adult sized cage for them to grow into instead of constantly having to buy new cages every month. A good place to bask is definitely required for these cold-blooded lizards, and they like it very hot. They are from Australia after all and basking temperatures of up to 120 degrees F are the best for them. Fresh water in the form of being in a large soaking tub that allows for them to completely submerge their bodies should be provided at all times, along with a good place to shelter and hide to regulate their body temperatures when not basking. Now, Argus monitors love to dig, so a substrate mix of sand, untreated mulch and untreated potting soil kept slightly moist should be used. The depth of substrate should be 4 to 6 inches deep for babies, 8 to 12 inches deep for juveniles and at least 25 inches deep for adults to allow for digging, which can serve as good exercise for them. Although it has not been proven that monitors need UV lighting, it never hurts to keep one in the enclosure as long as it's on a 12 hour timer.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Video of the Day: Monitors in the House

A free-ranging savanna monitor exploring his owners house with the family dog

Breed of the Day: American Curl

    Another of America's native breeds, the American curl is a medium sized cat with unique ears that curl out and back in a graceful arc, giving an bright and alert appearance to the cat. The swept-back ears give the cat a happy, perky expression that quickly brings a smile to everyone who sees them. The sophisticated head combined with a graceful body provide the American curl with a stylish and dynamic presence.
     The American curl's story begins on a hot sunny day in June 1981 in Lakewood, California when Joe and Grace Ruga found a stray black kitten with a long silky coat and unusual ears on their doorstep. The affectionate kitty quickly endeared herself to the Ruga's and was named Shulamith. In December 1981, Shulamith had her first litter of kittens and two of the four kittens had the same curled ears as their mother, beginning a world-wide discussion on the genetics of the unusual ears. 1983 saw cat-fanciers developing selective breeding programs to conserve the gene and develop a breed based on it. At the same time, the unique cats were presented to the cat fancy to showcase this rare new addition to the feline world.
    Roy Robinson, the renowned English feline geneticist, worked with the breeders and analyzed the data on 383 kittens from 81 litters. He confirmed the ear-curling gene was unique and that it was an autosomal dominant gene; that mean any cat with even one copy of the gene will show the trait. In an article published in the December 1989 Journal of Heredity, he reported that he had found no defects in any of the crosses that he had analyzed and this laid the foundation for a new and healthy breed.
    American curls are curious, exuberant and loving that greet each day with joy as they look for new challenges and adventures. They are exceedingly people-oriented and will head-butt you to get your attention as they want to include you in all of their activities. They want to be with you all the time whether sleeping in your bed at night or curled up on your lap as you watch your favorite tv shows. They adore children and adapt well to other pets and new situations. When introduced to their new homes, they are alert and inquisitive but will respect the resident occupants. These even-tempered, intelligent companions are devoted to their owners and follow them around to be sure they don't miss anything in your daily routines. Expect their help with all of your projects around the house! They have quiet voices and are not overly talkative however they make their wants known with gentle trilling and cooing sounds. Their kitten-like personalities have earned them the nick-name of the Peter-Pan of cats.
     American curls come in long-haired and short-haired versions and a myriad of colors. The coat is a silky, flat-lying coat with little undercoat. Consequently there is little shedding and the coat requires little grooming. While the curled ears are the major feature of this breed, other key characteristic of the American curl are its large, walnut-shaped eyes and medium-sized rectangular bodies.
    All American curls are born with straight ears. They start to curl back into a rosebud position at 3-5 days old, gently unfolding like a rose petal until they reach their final shape at about 16 weeks old. The degree of curl in the ear can vary greatly ranging from almost straight to an arc of 90 to 180 degrees. To ensure the health and genetic diversity of the breed, breeders do out-cross breeding to cats without curled ears. At least 50% of the kittens from these breedings will have curled ears. 100% of the kittens in a curl to curl breeding will have curled ears. The straight eared cats still have the personality of their curled-eared counterparts and make equally delightful pets. The gene that curls the ear affects the cartilage of the ear which remains firm to the touch; it should never be stiff or floppy. However, care should be taken with the ears so as to not break the cartilage and the ears should never be forced to curl.
    American curls are well-balanced, medium-sized cats with a rounded head, a substantial muzzle and distinct whisker pads. They have an elegant, alert appearance with a sweet, open expression with their remarkable ears. While both the long-haired and short-haired versions have soft-silky coats, the long-haired American curl also has a beautifully plumed tail.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Video of the Day: The Great Escape

A parrot's strong beak and high-intelligence are the perfect tools for escaping and causing mischief. Prospective owners beware!

Species of the Day: Amazonian Parrotlet

Scientific Name: Nannopsittaca dachilleae
Adult Size: A little over 4 1/2 inches
Adult Coloration: Both adults are mainly yellow/green in color; light-blue lores and crown; yellow-green cheeks and chin; olive wash to the mantle and lesser wing coverts. Pale pink beak and brown eyes.
Call: Described as high-pitched and piping, sounding very much like domesticated fowl chicks.

Not Found in Captivity

Range: Western Amazon river basin, eastern Peru, Loreto, drainages of  Rio Ucayali, Ucayali and Rio Manu, Madre de Dios, and along Rio Heath, La Paz and north-west Bolivia
Habitat: Found up to 984 ft in elevation in lowland forests near rivers and streams; tends to inhabit areas with high numbers of Calycophyllum sp. and Cecropia sp. trees and bamboo groves.
Wild Diet: Feeds on seeds of bushes, trees and bamboo plants; also eats fruits, Cecropia catkins and seeds of Vernonia and bamboo Guadua
Ecology: Social and active; forms small flocks of up to 12 individuals. Frequents mineral-rich river banks with other parrots. Nests in large arboreal bromeliads and epiphytes.
Threat Summary: Habitat has been subjugated to oil exploration , mining and some logging, and the resulting human encroachment
IUCN Rating: Near-threatened
CITES Rating: Appendix II

Friday, April 1, 2011

Video of the Day: Two Leopard Geckos and One Cricket

Leopard geckos are enthusiastic eaters, but what happens when there's only one cricket left? Adorable happens!

Breed of the Day: Airedale Terrier

Country of Origin: Great Britain
Group:Terrier group; recognized by the AKC in 1888
Purpose: Badger/water rat hunter
Average Life-Span: 10 to 14 years
Color: Tan head, ears, legs, chest and belly, sides and upper body are black, dark gray or black with a red mixture
Grooming: Brush Daily. Should be clipped every two months and hand-striped three times a year.
Size: Approximately 23 inches tall at the shoulder

     The undisputed "King of the Terriers", the Airedale terrier is the largest and hardiest of all the terriers, and an all-around useful dog. The breed's coat is hard, dense and wiry with a softer undercoat, and comes in both black and tan and grizzle and tan. This breed was actually one of the first used for police work in Germany and Great Britain and has also been popular with a few U.S. presidents, including Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge.
    The Airedale terrier is thought to have originated in the Valley of Aire in England, descended from the now extinct black and tan terrier. The first Airedales looked completely different from how they appear today, and were known as working, waterside and Bingley terriers. Eventually, the Airedale became known as the dog that could do it all, and was used for war-time guard and messenger duty, rodent control and hunting birds and other game.
    The Airedale has a sweet disposition, but when challenged, is not afraid to stand up for himself. Obedience training is important for these fast-learning, intelligent dogs. That being said, be sure to keep training interesting- they can get bored easily. They are also very active dogs and a good run and ball-chase for at least an hour a day is recommended. Although relatively easy to maintain, their coats need regular brushing and hand-stripping of the outer coat, which, unless you have the know-how yourself, will need to be done by a professional groomer.