Nature Mikey

Nature Mikey

Monday, May 30, 2011

Video of the Day: Spyker C8 Car Review

Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson test drives the super car Spyker C8 and scrutinizes the cool design by the revived Dutch car company.

Species of the Day: Australian King Parrot

Scientific Name: Alisterus scapularis
Adult Size: Over 16 inches long; 195 to 275 grams
Races Including Nominate: 2; A.s. scapularis, A.s. minor
Adult Plumage: A.s. scapularis: Male- red head, neck and underparts; blue band on the base of the neck; back and wings dark green; wing has silver-green band when folded; blue lower back and rump; black tail tinged with blue; upper mandible orange-red with a black tip, lower mandible is black with an orange base; yellow eyes. Female- green head and upperparts; red lower breast and abdomen; silver green wing band is minimal or absent; dark green tail with a pink tip; gray bill; yellow eyes. A.s. minor: Both adults the same as scapularis, but smaller in size.
Call: Flight calls are shrill and somewhat loud. Alarm calls are a harsh and metallic shrieking. Males give high pitched, flute-like notes when perched.

    Captive-bred Australian King parrots make calm and relatively quiet household pets. They have a limited talking ability and normally prefer not to be handled, but they do bond readily to people and can be very sweet and devoted. Will tolerate other species outside of the breeding season.
Captive Status: Fairly common as pets in Australia; less so elsewhere
Longevity: up to 25 years in some captive individuals
Housing: Walk in aviary; minimum length of 10 feet
Diet: Small seed mix such as canary seed, oats, safflower and hemp; spray millet; limited sunflower seed (dry, sprouted or soaked); sprouted or cooked beans and pulses; boiled maize; leafy greens such as Swiss chard, Romaine lettuce, sowthistle, dandelion greens, chickweed; vegetables such as carrots, celery, zucchini, squash, green beans and peas in the pod; fruit such as apple, pear, banana, cactus fruits and oranges; nuts such as lightly cracked hazelnuts, pecans and roasted peanuts; complete kibble.

World Population: over 50,000
Range: A.s. scapularis: Southeastern coast and eastern-central mainland Australia; A.s. minor: Northeastern Australia
Habitat: Occurs up to 5330 feet in elevation. Found in a variety of habitats from high, forested areas to lower, more open spaces. During the breeding season, birds are found in more dense forest such as wet sclerophyll forest, gullies, eucalyptus woodland and savanna woodland bordering with riverine forest. Also, outside of the breeding season, they are found in cultivated lands, parks, orchards and sometimes backyard gardens.
Wild Diet: East fruits, flowers, berries, nuts, seeds, insect larvae, buds and other vegetation. A favorite is a species of mistletoe, Viscum album. May eat some food crops.
Ecology: Seasonally nomadic to a degree. Usually found in pairs or small groups, or post-breeding flocks of up to 50 individuals. Conspicuous when not feeding, weary and quiet while eating. Gathers in groups to feed in the morning, then sits quietly through the heat of the day, becoming active again in the late afternoon.
IUCN Rating: Least Concern
CITES Rating: Appendix II
Threat Summary: Population appears stable but may have been affected by the wild bird trade and habitat loss to some degree

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Video of the Day: Beardie Bath

It's always important to give your bearded dragons a good soak, but some can learn to be adept swimmers.

Breed of the Day: Alapaha Blue-Blood Bulldog

Country of Origin: USA
Group: Working; Unrecognized
Purpose: Cattle herder, livestock guard and companion
Average Life-Span: 10 to 13 years
Color: Blue/grey merle to black or tan to dark brown
Grooming: Brush weekly with a curry comb and wipe down with a wet wash cloth. Bathe as needed.
Height/Weight: Males: 20 to 24 inches at the shoulder; 70 to 90 lbs. Females: 18 to 22 inches at the shoulder; 55 to 75 lbs.

    The Alapaha Blue-Blood Bulldog was developed in the southern enclaves of the United States during the 18th century. The breed originated from crosses of the now extinct White English Bulldog and one or more of the local herding breeds such as the Catahoula Leopard Dog and the Black Mouth Cur. The breed has been known by a series of names such as the Otto, Cow Dog, Silver Dollar and Catahoula Bulldog. It was originally bred for the sole purpose of coursing and catching wild and unruly cattle, afterward establishing itself on many farms, ranches and plantations as an all-around utility dog (guard dog, herder and varmint patrol). It was not bred to put on threat displays or even look a certain way, but it did need the right equipment to take care of its real bulldog duties. It needed to be strong enough to catch and hold ornery cattle and athletic enough to catch feral hogs. The Alapaha Blue-Blood Bulldog is a functional and exaggerated bulldog with a square head, broad chest and prominent muzzle. It is dutiful, highly trainable, possessive and attentive, which makes them eager companions for the family. They are protective of their property and establish territories at a young age. They are not suitable for kennel situations, preferring the role of devoted family companion. These bulldogs are intelligent, athletic and aloof with strangers. Training and socialization are recommended at an early age. The Alapaha Blue-Blood Bulldog is hardy, resistant to disease and requires minimal grooming.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Video of the Day: Tennis Ball Parrot

A male Eclectus parrot loves to play with tennis balls and rough em' up!

Species of the Day: Barking Tree Frog

Scientific Name: Hyla gratiosa
Family: Hylidae
Adult Size: 2 to 2 3/4 inches
Range: Found in the most part in the southeastern United States as far west as extreme eastern Louisiana and as far north as southeastern Virginia
Habitat: Barking tree frogs utilize both arboreal and terrestrial environments. During dry periods they will burrow into the ground or hide under surface cover to avoid dessication.

    Barking tree frogs, one of the larger tree frog species found naturally in the US, are a colorful species, with a predominantly green dorsal coloration that is typically broken up with scattered dark spots. At night or during periods of stress, the color will change from green to a deep purple or brown. Males can be differentiated from females by the presence of a green or yellow throat.
    Barking tree frogs can be kept quite easily in captivity, when provided with a few basic requirements. A variety of substrates will suit the needs of these frogs, including simple paper towels to more natural substrates, such as peat or green moss, ground coconut husks or a mixture of ground coconut husks and orchid bark. It is important to have a drainage layer at the bottom of the enclosure, which can be made using either large-grade pea-gravel or expanded clay pellets, and then covering this with fiberglass window screening to prevent the finer substrate from filling the gaps in the drainage layer. Suitable plants include philodendron, pothos, Aglaonema, dieffenbachia and other large-leaved, sturdy plants. It is also important to provide a large, clean water dish to allow them to soak regularly.
    Crickets make a good staple food item when supplemented with meal worms and small silk moth larvae. Barking tree frogs have a voracious appetite and can become obese if over-fed. Gut loading food items with vegetables and commercial gut-loading food will provide a more nutritious meal for your frogs. Dusting food items with a vitamin/mineral supplement is also a good idea with this species, especially for younger animals still going through periods of rapid growth.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Video of the Day: Sports Bloopers

Sometimes, in the great game of soccer (or football if you live outside of the US), accidents happen, and not everything goes as planned. But you should still always look on the bright side of life!

Species of the Day: Martinique Pinktoe Tarantula

Scientific Name: Avicularia versicolor
Range: Tropical areas of Martinique, Guadeloupe and possible the surrounding Caribbean islands.
Type: Arboreal
Diet: Appropriately sized insects, and the occasional pinky mouse of feeder lizard
Adult Size: 5 to 6 inches
Growth Rate: Moderate to Fast
Preferred Temperature: 75 to 80 degrees F
Preferred Humidity: 75 to 80%
Temperament: Docile but nervous
Housing: Spiderlings can live in a clear plastic deli-cup with holes, and adults can live in a 5 to 10 gallon tank; height is more important than floor space. 2 to 3 inches of peat moss, potting soil or wood chips can be used as a substrate. Branches, live plants, vines, etc. can be used as cover and provide a base for the web.

    The Martinique Pinktoe tarantula has to be one of the most beautiful tarantula species in the world. When the spiderlings hatch out, they are a brilliant blue, and by the time they reach adult size they are a gorgeous combination of greens, blues, reds and even purple. These attractive tarantulas cannot be kept communally like their cousin, the Common Pinktoe. The Martinique Pinktoe tarantula is a docile but skittish species that can be quick to run if disturbed. This still does not eliminate it from the beginner's category, but there are easier species out there. These colorful, fairly large tarantulas create strong webs in tree bark in the wild, and they will do the same in captivity if provided with branches or cork bark. Poor ventilation is a death sentence for the Martinique Pinktoe tarantula, like many other tropical arboreal species. If the air in the tank is damp and stale, it could encourage molds to grow and invade the tarantula's lungs. For good reason, the Martinique Pinktoe tarantula is one of the most sought after tarantulas in the hobby.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Video of the Day: Spoon Parrot

Another video of a parrot "helping" in the kitchen, this time an African Gray Parrot.

Species of the Day: Baird's Rat Snake

Scientific Name: Pantherophis (Elaphe) bairdi
Family: Colubridae
Adult Size: 2 to over 4 feet long
Range: Western region of Texas, south into Mexico
Habitat: Rocky, wooded areas and upland deserts

    The Baird's Rat snake is a colubrid species found in the United States in the Big Bend region of western Texas as well as in northern in Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas. The species is named for American zoologist Spencer Fullerton Baird. There are no subspecies currently recognized. Adults can reach lengths of 25 to 55 inches, with some individuals reaching up to 6 feet in length. The color pattern consists of an orange-yellow, or a darker salmon ground color overlaid with four darker stripes that run from the back of the head to the tail. The belly is generally gray to yellow, darkening near the tail. They are typically the more pleasant tempered of the rat snakes, rarely biting unless improperly handled. Housing for any rat snake is very simple. Cages should be escape-proof, well ventilated and roomy, with a hide box and a large, heavy water crock for drinking and soaking. A 20 to 40 gallon tank is perfect for an adult snakes, with aspen shavings, newspaper or paper towels as a substrate. These snakes do best with ventral heating options, such as under-tank heating pads, placed on one end of the enclosure. Their primary diet in the wild consists of rodents and sometimes birds, with younger individuals feeding on lizards. Captive individuals can be maintained solely on appropriately sized rodents or even feeder chicks.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Video of the Day: Caique Helps with the Dishes

Caiques love to be a part of all family activity, even "helping" clean up after dinner!

Species of the Day: Common Musk Turtle

Scientific Name: Sternotherus odoratus
Family: Kinosternidae
Adult Size: Up to 4 1/2 inches long
Rage: Found throughout the eastern United States and southern Canada (Ontario), stretching from Maine to Florida and west to central Texas
Habitat: Generalist. Found in lakes and ponds with abundant aquatic vegetation. Also frequents rivers and streams. Can occur in permanent wetlands without dry seasons.

    The Common Musk turtle is also known as the "Stink Pot" turtle for the musky odor it emits from glands on its plastron as a defense mechanism. Common Musk turtles can stretch their necks out quite far and can turn their necks around behind then to deliver a pinching bite to the fingers of the person holding them. However, they settle down quite well in captivity, and some captive bred animals can actually become quite friendly toward humans and will stop emitting the foul smell. Because of their small size, they make great pets.
    Common Musk turtles are capable swimmers and do well in aquariums that contain deep water, however be provided with some structure, solidly stacked cinder blocks or submerged logs work very well, so that they may rest with just their hands sticking out of the water. From the thick algae that covers the carapaces of wild individuals, it would seem that they don't bask very frequently, but should still be provided a basking light as well as UVB/UVA lighting. As well as submerged logs, stones and cinder blocks, plants, either real or plastic (non-toxic) should be provided for more cover and hiding places.
    Common Musk turtles are generally carnivorous. In the wild they often crawl along the bottom of a pond or stream in search of aquatic insects, worms and especially snails. Live or dead fish along with other carrion are scavenged when available. Captive individuals will eat various insects, earthworms, and chopped fish. Although a young Musk turtle may be given as much food as they can consume, rationing to a good meal once a week for adults can combat the obesity that some turtles seem to be prone to.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Video of the Day: More Monitor Feeding

Hand-feeding your monitors from babies is one of the best ways to turn them into the tame puppy-dogs that they can be as adults.

Breed of the Day: Belgian Hare

    The Belgian Hare rabbit is the breed responsible for the domestic rabbit movement in the United States. Although the original rabbits can be traced to Belgium, the credit for their perfection must be given to the British. The London Zoological Gardens imported a few rabbits for display as early as 1865, but it was Winter "William" Lumb and Benjamin Greaves who had the greatest impact on the development of the breed after their importation of several animals from Antwerp in early 1873. Some claimed the Belgian Hares were actually a fertile mule (a cross between a rabbit and a European hare), however, Winter Lumb prevailed in his stand that it was a rabbit, pure and simple, that was bred to resemble a wild hare.
    The first Belgian Hares reached America in 1888, when E.M. Hughes, of Albany, New York imported a few animals. Hughes, along with W.N. Richardson of Troy, New York and G.W. Felton of Barre, Massachusetts, sounded the first rabbit club in America, The American Belgian Hare Association. The club only lasted a year and was later replaced by another club, which was organized in 1897. What became known as the "Belgian Hare Boom" took this country by storm. From 1898 to 1901, many thousands of  Belgian Hares were imported into America. The British firm, Sutton & Company, alone "safely conveyed" over 6,000 Belgian Hares to the United States in 1900. Rabbits were changing hands for hundreds and thousands of dollars, with a record price of 5,000 dollars paid for one male in 1900. Large companies dealing with Belgian Hares were established and Belgian Hare clubs could be found in nearly every major city. Millionaires of the day, such as J.P. Morgan, Rockefeller, H.M. Flagler, Dupont and the Guggenheims, saw the money making potential of this popular rabbit. Los Angeles County alone boosted over 60,000 animals in 1900. The market had become so heavily saturated, however, that prices for stock dropped to less than $25.00 for a fine exhibition animal. Despite the fact that Belgian Hare was a common menu fare, the breed continued to decline due to the development of other, more commercial breeds. By the 1940s, Belgian Hares became a scarce animal in the showrooms of this nation, as it had throughout the world. Dedicated fanciers worldwide struggled to keep the breed from extinction.
    Belgian Hares are a very racy and fine-boned breed of rabbit, with a deep rich red color that has a black-waved ticking to the fur. The type and fur qualities are lost when crossed with other breeds. While not considered the hardiest of breeds, they are an active rabbit that typically requires wooden floored hutches heavily bedded shavings and straw. Belgian Hares do not do well with extremely high humidity and temperatures. They are fair mothers and litters will average four to eight kittens. Youngsters are slow to mature. Mature bucks and does will weigh 6 to 9 pounds.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Video of the Day: Tarantula Dance

A common pinktoe tarantula doing its happy dance as it spins it own dinner table out of silk so it can enjoy its cricket

Species of the Day: Beaded Lizard

Scientific Name: Heloderma horridum
Family: Helodermatidae
Adult Size: The various subspecies usually grow between 24 to 30 inches long but occasionally reach 4 feet in length
Range: Western coast of Mexico from southern Sonora, south to an isolated population in central Guatemala
Habitat: Mesic forested hillsides with pronounced wet and dry seasons

    The beaded lizard is a species of venomous lizard found principally in Mexico and southern Guatemala. It is one of two species of lizards, along with the Gila Monster, that has developed an overt venom delivery system. The beaded lizard is larger than the Gila Monster but has duller coloration; black with yellowish bands of differing width depending on the subspecies. A specialized predator that feeds primarily on eggs, nesting animals and their young, the primary use of its venom is still a source of debate among scientists. This venom, however, has been found to contain several enzymes useful for manufacturing drugs in the treatment of diabetes, and the research on the pharmacological use of its venom is ongoing. Threatened throughout its range by illegal poaching for the pet trade and habitat loss, the beaded lizard is a CITES protected animal. The Motagua Valley subspecies (H.h. charlesborgeti) is one of the rarest lizards in the world, with a wild population of fewer than 200 animals. The beaded lizard is also surrounded my myth and superstition in much of its native range. It is incorrectly believed to be more venomous than a rattlesnake, that it can cause lightning strikes with its tail or make a pregnant woman miscarry my simply looking at it, and as a result the local people will kill them on sight.
   As captive animals, their sometimes sour tempers and venom commands respect and they should not be handled casually. The beaded lizards venom is a weak hemotoxin and although deaths in humans are rare, it can cause respiratory failure. Almost all documented bites (8 in the last 100 years), resulted from people harassing the animals by prodding them with a finger or foot. As stated before the their are many pharmacological properties to this venom relating to diabetes, Alzheimer's Disease and even HIV/AIDS. One study done in 1996 revealed that a certain hormone in the saliva binds to cell receptors from breast cancers cells and my stop lung cancer. Long-term captive lizards may become sluggish and seemingly tame, but they should never be trusted to not deliver a lightning fast, bulldog-like bite. Beaded lizards are most active when temperatures are in the 80's F, regardless of what time of the day it is, so a temperature gradient in this range, with a basking bulb at one end of the enclosure works best for these lizards. Now these lizards are semi-arboreal and at the same time prolific diggers, and so can be hard on their environment and need a strong, solidly built enclosure with sturdy climbing branches and a good burrowing substrate mix of untreated soil, gravel and mulch. A heavy ceramic bowl will serve as a good water bowl and a hide box constructed of sturdy wood will complete the set-up. Captive beaded lizards will eat frozen chicks and rodents along with eggs.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Video of the Day: Tortoise at Play

Here is an African Sulcata, actively chasing after his ball to the best of his ability

Breed of the Day: Balinese

    In a nutshell, the graceful Balinese is a Siamese with a a long coat, but they are so much more! The long coat of this affectionate cat flows over the lithe body without obscuring any of its elegant lines. The fine-boned, slim Balinese has the grace of the dancers of Bali and its athletic body is covered with a long, silky ermine coat. Its sapphire blue eyes sparkle with intelligence and curiosity as it surveys its surroundings, but at a moments notice the Balinese discards its regal bearing to engage in clowning around with a favorite toy. It's princely demeanor and fluid grace constantly remind one that its ancestors were considered sacred in Siam, surrounding it with an air or royalty.
    The early history of the Balinese is unknown although sporadic to it occur from very early on. Some say there is an ancient Chinese tapestry depicting a longhair, an 1871 Penny Illustrated magazine contains a reference to a longhaired Siamese and a CFF registration record for one in 1928. While longhaired kittens sporadically, the history of the Balinese starts with the first breeding programs in the 1950s. Two Siamese breeders, Marion Dorsey with her cat Rai-Mar in California, and Helen Smith with MerryMews in New York, both fell in love with the beauty of some of the longhaired kittens that showed up in their litters and decided to develop more of the lovely cats. Helen Smith is responsible for coining the name Balinese to reflect their grace and elegance that reminded her of the Balinese dancers. The Balinese was originally recognized in four colors: seal, blue, chocolate and lilac. In 1979, red and cream along with the tabby pattern were also accepted, rounding out the color palette to include red, cream, tortoiseshells and all color combinations as both solid color points and tabby points. More recently, these colors in combination with white were accepted, widening the color spectrum to include bi-color points. The International Cat Association (TICA) recognized the breed for competition in 1979.
    Balinese have extremely loving temperaments and bond closely to their families. They will be your best friend and want to be involved in everything you do from "helping" you make the bed to joining in on all kinds of games. These gregarious cats a very vocal, although the voice is softer and less insistent than that of the Siamese. They do demand a lot of attention and get into mischief and so should not be left alone for long periods of time. They love to play and can make a toy out of anything and amuse themselves for hours. Balinese get along well with children and other pets, fitting in easily into any home family or home situation.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Video of the Day: Macaw Gets Shot!

Cockatoos dance, Amazons sing, African Grays talk and Macaws seem to be best at learning tricks, making them common preforming or circus birds.

Species of the Day: Austral Conure

Scientific Name: Enicognathus ferrungineus
Adult Size: A little under 13 inches long, weighs 160 grams
Subspecies: E. f. minor 
Adult Plumage: E.f. ferrungineus: Both adults a dull green in color with soft black/gray barring; red/brown forehead and lores; red/brown patch in the center of the abdomen; brown/red tail; dark grey bill; grey eye ring; red/brown eyes. E.f. minor: Both adults a darker green; abdominal patch a darker brown/red and less extensive, sometimes absent; smaller in size.
Call: Shrill calls made in flight; alarm calls more strident/urgent; also some calls harsher and grating. Some melodious cries made as well.

    Quite rare in captivity, the Austral Conure makes a sweet and lovable companion. They have an easy-going disposition and are most active in the evening times, which makes them great for people who are away during the day. They are very friendly, fun-loving, inquisitive and even mischievous. They are only moderately noisy and most aren't very nippy, and they can be kept communally in an aviary type set up.

Average Life-Span: 15 to 25 years
Housing: Large, suspended cage or aviary a minimum of 9 feet long.
Diet: Fruit such as apples, pear, oranges, bananas, pomegranates and cactus fruit; vegetables such as carrots, celery, green beans and peas in the pod; leafy greens such as Swiss chard, Romaine lettuce, sowthistle greens, dandelion greens, chickweed; Seed mix containing canary seed, millet, oats, buckwheat, safflower and hemp seeds; and soaked and sprouted sunflower seeds, cooked beans and pulses, boiled maize, small amounts of cubed hard cheeses and complete commercial bird kibble.
Enrichment: Provide overhead misters or a water bowl for bathing, untreated flowering or budding branches, a variety of perches, untreated wooden toys, vegetable tanned leather toys, puzzle/foraging toys, heat sterilized pine cones, ladders, swings and ropes.

Range: E.f. ferrungineus: Southern Chile in Aisen and Magallanes, and southern Argentina from southwestern Chubut south to Tierra del Fuego. E.f. minor: Central and southern Chile from O'Higgins south to Aisen and the eastern slopes of the Andes to southwest Argentina from Neuquen south to western Chubut.
Habitat: Found up to 2,000 feet in elevation mostly in wooded country, also in more open habitat and cultivated areas. Occurs at sea level in the southern parts of its range
Wild Diet: Mainly a seed eater, but also eats bamboo, nuts, acorns, fruits, berries and leaf buds. Also seen taking pollen and nectar from native plants such as Nothofagus and Araucaria
Ecology: Seen in flocks of 10 to 15 individuals but groups of up to 100 individuals can also be seen. Nests in tree cavities using thin bits of wood and other bird's feathers to line the nest.
Threat Summary: None at present
IUCN Rating: Least Concern
CITES Rating: Appendix II

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Video of the Day: Drinking Leopard Gecko

Many reptiles will suck up a little water at a time and raise their heads, much like a bird, but leopard geckos have the adorable habit of lapping up water like cats and dogs

Breed of the Day: Akbash Dog

Country of Origin: Turkey
Group: Working; unrecognized
Purpose: Livestock guardian  
Average Life-Span: 10 to 11 years
Color: Solid white
Grooming: Brush weekly, bathe only as needed
Height/Weight: Dog- 90 to 140 lbs, 28 to 34 inches at the shoulder; Bitch- 75 to 105 lbs, 27 to 32 inches at the shoulder

    An ancient breed out of Turkey, the Akbash Dog is a striking white flock guard that has recently made a name for itself on American farms and ranches, where it protects its owner's livestock from bears, wolves and coyotes. As with many other white, flock guarding breeds, these dogs were raised with their charges, usually sheep, from puppy-hood. The Akbash breed is well known for their intelligence, bravery, cunning, independence and loyalty to their herds. As such the Akbash Dog is uncommon as a companion dog since they are largely bred to think on their own, and therefore make a sometimes difficult dog when it comes to training and obedience. They prefer large areas and may become discontent and exhibit behavioral problems if relegated to a pen or small yard, and Akbash dogs require tall, secure fencing for best containment. The Akbash is not a breed for everyone. It is a working breed that is happiest when given a herd to guard, or at least when kept mentally engaged.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Video of the Day: Mythbusters Bloopers

Just some outtakes from one of my favorite shows

Species of the Day: Argentine Horned Frog

Scientific Name: Ceratophrys ornata
Family: Leptodactylidae
Adult Size: Rarely larger than 4 to 6 inches
Range: Colombian and Argentine regions of South America
Habitat: Moist grasslands and croplands near semi-permanent bodies of water

    Argentine Horned frogs, also known as Pac-Man frogs, a very common in the pet trade. Horned frogs are named for the fleshy points that some species have over each eye. They are moderately sized, with females being bigger than males. Horned frogs are usually a bright grass-green in color with brownish-red and yellow spots, while some come in different shades of brown markings. Green and brown as well as albinos are all common and easy to find in pet stores. Horned frogs are ambush hunters, so they are generally not very active, preferring to sit and wait for food to come along. A pair of Horned frogs can be kept in a 15 to 20 gallon aquarium, provided that they are the same size and well fed, as these frogs are prone to cannibalism. The set up can be a plain habitat with just half an inch of water in it, a terrestrial habitat or half and half. Because of the sedate nature of these frogs and their enormous appetites, they are also prone to obesity, so it is preferred to provide a terrestrial habitat with a good burrowing substrate for exercise. Coconut husk or potting soil containing no vermiculite, perlite, or fertilizers make good substrates. The substrates should be kept moist with out it getting water-logged or too dried out. If it clumps easily in the hand without squeezing out any water, then its good to go. Feeding these frogs rarely presents any problems. A meal of a few smaller prey items is preferable to just one large one. Juveniles should be fed more frequently than adults, with adults only needing to be fed a good meal once a week. A variety of insects should be offered, along with the occasional pinky mouse.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Video of the Day: Cockatoo Babble

Goffin Cockatoos are well known for the babbling noises they make that sound like they are telling an engaging story

Species of the Day: Common Pinktoe Tarantula

Scientific Name: Avicularia Avicularia
Range: Tropical areas of Brazil, Trinidad, Guyana, French Guyana, Surinam, Venezuela and throughout the Amazon Basin.
Type: Arboreal
Diet: Appropriately sized insects and the occasional feeder lizard or pinky mouse
Adult Size: 4 1/2 to 5 inches
Growth Rate: Moderate
Preferred Temperature: 75 to 85 degrees F
Preferred Humidity: 78 to 82%
Temperament: Docile and active
Housing: Spiderlings can live in a clear plastic container with holes. Adults can live in a 10 to 40 gallon tank; height is more important than floor space. Common Pinktoes can be kept communally if they are provided with adequate space, food and plenty of places to hide and if all the tarantulas are the same size.
Substrate: 2 to 3 inches of peat moss, potting soil or wood chips
Decor: Branches, live plants, vines, etc. make good hiding places and bases for webbing.

    This species of Pinktoe tarantula, known simply as the Common Pinktoe tarantula, is widely available, docile, beautiful and can be a little speedy. Although generally easy to care for, they can become more of a challenge if more than one are kept together in a terrarium. Unlike other tarantulas, the Common Pinktoe may be kept communally if done properly. Ventilation is very important with this species, and many people have lost tarantulas due to poor air quality. These tarantulas need higher humidity than most other species, and if the air in the tank is damp and stale, molds can grow, making it a dangerous environment. Overall, the Common Pinktoe tarantula can be an inexpensive and rewarding tarantula species for beginners and experts alike.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Video of the Day: Jedi Bird

The force is strong in this one...

Species of the Day: Taiwanese Beauty Rat Snake

Scientific Name: Orthriophis taeniurus friesei
Family: Colubridae
Adult Size: Averages 6 feet in length; occasionally exceeds 8 1/2 feet in length
Range: Occurs only in Taiwan
Habitat: Generalist. Occurs in wooded areas, agricultural lands and along water courses. Semi-arboreal.

    The Taiwanese Beauty Rat snake is a species of long, slender, semi-arboreal snakes native to Taiwan. Their average length is about 5 to 7 feet, with an  unofficial record of just under 1 feet. It is a beautiful snake, with a ground color of yellowish-brown to olive, with jet-black patterns throughout the body. The markings on the back almost always consist of two pairs of black, round spots, which join together. From each eye there is a dark stripe, which extends to the corners of the mouth.
    In captivity some individuals tame down to be very nice pets, but others have been known to be quite temperamental even many years after capture. Wild collected specimens are often very defensive and may even injure their snouts by striking against the glass of the terrarium, which means that they will bite the unwary hand that ventures into the enclosure while cleaning or delivering prey items. Wild caught Taiwanese Beauties are also heavily parasitized, dehydrated, emaciated and difficult to acclimate. Many have problems shedding and most will not feed readily at first. Going through the trouble and higher price of captive-bred individuals is a much better choice, and well worth it to have a calmer and pre-acclimated snake. Captive-bred specimens are seasonally available and come in both normally colored snakes and albinos. Captive-bred hatchlings will readily accept pinky mice and grow rapidly. Adult snakes will eat breeder-sized mice and appropriately sized rats.
    This is an active, alert and shy snake. It should be provided a large enclosure containing a hide box and assorted visual barriers such as cork bark or sterilized driftwood. One or two babies can be housed in a 10 gallon terrarium, but due to their rapid growth rates, it will be less expensive to just house them in the adult sized enclosure. A pair of adults can be housed in a 50 to 125 gallon terrarium. If provided with sturdy branches, a well-adjusted snake will climb on them, coil up and rest. Cypress, fir, aspen chips or bark mulch are all excellent choices for substrate. A temperature gradient of 76 to 82 degrees F during the day and as low as 68 degrees F at night is ideal for these snakes. A basking spot of 88 degrees F should be provided during the day periods. A large water bowl kept scrupulously clean should always be provided and should be large enough for the snake to be able to soak in and submerge its whole body.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Video of the Day: Introducing New Chickens to the Flock

An exciting time as new chickens are brought home, but how will the resident hens react?

Species of the Day: Winter White Hamster

Scientific Name: Phodopus sungorus
Size: 3 to 4 inches long
Origin: Southwest Siberia
Average Life-Span: 1 1/2 to 2 years
Temperament: More social than other hamsters. Willing to live in same-sex pairs if the two are brought up together from a young age. Like other hamsters, it is nocturnal, but may be active for brief periods throughout the day. It is a good natured pet, in general and rarely nips, but its small size makes it a little hard to handle and a frequent escapee.

    Often referred to as the Siberian hamster, the Winter White hamster was introduced in the early 1970s. Although currently less common than the Campbell's hamster, they are rapidly increasing in popularity. Because of their unique ability to change colors (from dark grey to white) as winter camouflage in the wild, they have earned the title of Winter White. Around 1988, a mutation appeared in the Winter Whites; a pure white top-coat with black guard hairs, grey ears and black eyes. This variety is now known as the Pearl variety. At about the same time, the Sapphire variety appeared with its smokey grey top coat with a slight blue tinge, with black eyes and soft grey ears. Crossing Sapphires to Pearls will result in Sapphire Pearls. The Winter White hamster is often confused with its very similar cousin, the Campbell's hamster. For many years scientists classed them as the same hamster, then they considered the Winter White a subspecies of the Campbell's hamster, and only recently have they become classified as two distinct separate species. Winter Whites are not often found in pet stores, and if you bought a Winter White it is almost certainly a Campbell's hamster. Winter Whites are best acquired by directly going through a breeder.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Video of the Day: Ferrari Vs. Porsche 911

In this excerpt from the BBC show Top Gear, host Jeremy Clarkson learns that there is a lot to love about the small but speedy Porsche 911 over his favorite Ferrari.

Species of the Day: Bog Turtle

Scientific Name: Glyptemys (Clemmys) muhlenbergii
Family: Emydidae
Adult Size: 3 to 4 inches long
Range: Eastern United States
Habitat: Bogs, swamps, marshes and wooded areas with a combination of wet and dry, open and canopied, with low growing vegetation and soft ground.

    With conspicuous orange blotches on each temple, the diminutive bog turtle is one of the most distinctive turtles in North American. Sometimes referred to as the Muhlenberg's turtle, is also one of the rarest and possibly most endangered. Populations have dwindled greatly due to habitat destruction, collecting for the pet industry and predation. Bog Turtles are now federally protected from collection over virtually all their ranges. Fortunately, there are a handful of captive breeding groups, and their captive-bred Bog Turtles have proven adaptable and hardy. Seldom exceeding four inches in length, the Bog Turtle is one of the smallest species of turtle in the world.
    Adequate space is very important for any aquatic turtle. One or two Bog Turtles can be kept in a 40 gallon tank at the minimum, but the more space you can give them the better. Cleanliness is essential for the health of these turtles, so expect to be spending quite a bit on quality filters and maintenance. A half land half water set-up is best. Male bog turtles may show aggression towards each other and are best kept separately. Soft substrate such as leaf litter or fine mulch, is preferable for the terrestrial portion of the habitat, as well as some sort of cover for hiding and sleeping such as hollow logs or a clay flower pots cut in half. Substrate for the aquatic section is not necessary, but areas of varying water depth should be provided. Any water deeper than the length of the shell should be avoided to prevent drowning. Although some keepers have found it possible to maintain Bog Turtles at constant temperatures year round, it is preferable to replicate seasonal variations for optimum health and fertility. Simulating seasonal fluctuation can be achieved by using adjustable light timers and heaters.
    Additionally, the basking habit is well developed in Bog Turtles, so a basking spot should be provided with unimpeded exposure to a good source of UVB lighting. In general, water temperatures ranging from 65 to 75 degrees F, air temperatures ranging from 75 to 85 degrees F and basking temperatures ranging from 85 to 90 degrees F should result in happy, healthy and active Bog Turtles. The Bog Turtle is an omnivore, with a slight preference for animal matter. Insects are the predominant menu item for wild Bog Turtles, but they will also feed on berries and several plant species. Captive Bog Turtles will readily accept commercial pellets, a variety of insects, earthworms, thawed frozen pinky mice and chopped fish. Additionally they will also consume strawberries, melons, grapes and occasionally green leafy vegetables. A ratio of about 2 to 3 animal matter to 1 to 3 vegetable matter should provide an adequate variety to their diets, with vitamin and calcium supplements can be added in moderation.  

Monday, May 9, 2011

Video of the Day: Two Juvie Bearded Dragons Come Home

It's always exciting getting to bring new pets into your home!

Breed of the Day: American Sable Rabbit

    The American Sable rabbit breed can trace it's roots to colored throwbacks from pure-bred Chinchilla rabbits belonging to Otto Brock of San Gabriel, California in 1924. The American rabbit breed was developed independently from the Sable breed known in England in the early 1900s. The coat of the American Sable is characterized by a rich sepia brown on the ears, face, back, legs and tail. The saddle and underside fur color fades from the sepia brown to a paler shade of brown. Their eyes are brown and show a ruby-red glow in reflected light.
    The American Sable Rabbit Association was formed in early 1929. By December, 1929, a working standard was developed for the breed and by 1931 the breed was recognized by the American Rabbit and Cavy Breeders Association. The American Sable enjoyed popularity until the 1970s after which their population began to decline. By 1981, only one American Sable was shown at the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) conference, painting a bleak future for the breed. Through the efforts of Al Roerdanz of Kingsville, Ohio, seven pure-bred American Sables were located and used to revive the breed and increase the number of animals. In 1982 Mr. Roerdanz along with several American Sable fanciers formed the American Sable Rabbit Society, which included 13 charter members. That year the breed reached the required quota of animals shown to retain recognition of the breed's status in the Standard of Perfection, according to ARBA rules, thus saving the breed from extinction.
    The American Sable is a medium-sized with bucks weighing in at 7 to 9 pounds and does weighing in at 8 to 10 pounds. The body is of medium length, with the top line of the back forming a smooth and continuous curve from the base of the neck to the tail. Their head is well shaped with eyes that are bright and bold. They have silky fur with a fine, soft, dense undercoat. Because of the thickness of their coat, they may require longer than average time to completely shed their fur than many other breeds. American Sables are known to be friendly and likable rabbits that enjoy attention from their owners. According to a 2005 report from ARBA, there are approximately 500 to 800 American Sables in the U.S.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Video of the Day: Eclectus Doesn't Like the Fart Guy

Satchmo, a male Eclectus Parrot, and his reaction to one of those electronic, talking gag-gifts.

Species of the Day: Australian Water Dragon

Scientific Name: Physignathus lesueurii
Family: Agamidae
Adult Size: 2 to 3 1/2 feet
Range: The easternmost third of Australia
Habitat: Forested and grassland regions, particularly near a permanent water source

    The Australian Water Dragon has roughly the same body shape as its cousin, the Chinese Water Dragon, and is mostly brown in color, with a white head and a dark bar extending behind the eyes, with more lighter colored bands over their bodies. Female Water Dragons have a slightly darker head and lack the contrast of a male dragon's patterns. Male dragons tend to be larger than females, with bigger heads and crests. Their crest runs from the base of the head down to the end of the tail. A male's throat and belly is a rusty red in color while these areas tend to be a creamy white in color in the females. Australian Water Dragons are nervous as babies, but will tame down quite well with age and regular handling. They make great starter lizards, their only real problem being that they require a lot of living space.
    Baby Australian Water Dragons can start out in a ten gallon aquarium but will quickly out-grow it, so its usually cheaper to simply start out with the enclosure that they will live in as an adult. An adult enclosure should be 4 feet long and 3 feet wide at the least. Height is also an important feature of any enclosure for an Australian Water Dragon, as they are semi arboreal, spending time in the wild on tree branches overhanging a body of water, where they can beat a hasty retreat by simply dropping into the safety of the water if danger presents itself. A few horizontal branches set up in the enclosure, with one under the basking light will be greatly appreciated. The larger the enclosure the better, since too small an enclosure can stress the animal out and cause it to rub its snout raw against the sides of the enclosure, leading to bacterial infections. As their name suggests, Water Dragons should have access to a pool of water at all times for soaking and swimming. Australian Water Dragons require moderate to high humidity from 60 to 80%, which may require regular misting of the enclosure. Planting non-toxic plants or placing sphagnum moss around the enclosure can also help maintain appropriate humidity levels.
    The substrate or bedding you use is one of the most important parts of your Water Dragon's home. Their are many that can be used, the easiest being a type of astro turf used for mini golf courses, cut to fit the enclosure. Be sure to cut two identical pieces so that they can be easily switched out for cleaning. Naturalistic substrates, like potting soil, orchid bark or ground coconut husks and shells can be used, but require more maintenance. Australian Water Dragons require a daytime heat gradient of  84 to 88 degrees F, with a basking area of 90 to 95 degrees F. Ultraviolet lighting providing UVB and UVA is required for proper absorption of calcium and skeletal growth. Australian Water Dragons are true omnivores. They can be fed appropriately sized insects, pinkie mice, feeder fish and day-old quail chicks. In addition to prey items, Water Dragons also require some greens and vegetables such as Romaine lettuce, dandelion, collard and mustard greens, yellow squash, sweet potato, parsnips, green beans and grated carrots. Fruit should also be given and could include grapes, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, bananas and various types of melons. Baby dragons can be a little stubborn when it comes to eating their fruits and veggies. An easy way to remedy this is to dress up the salad with lots of colors such as purple grapes (which are their favorite) and even some live mealworms.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Video of the Day: Another Scare Compilation

I'm sorry, but I just love these

Breed of the Day: American Wirehair

    The first American Wirehair was found in a litter of 6 kittens born on Council Rock Farm in Verona, New York. The kitten was a red and white male with a sparse, wiry coat; every hair, including his whiskers, was crimped and springy. His parents, Bootsie and Fluffy, were normal coated Domestic Shorthairs who lived on the farm owned by Nathan Mosher. Local cat breeder Joan O'Shea saw the kitten and, recognizing him as unique, was able to acquire him. He was then named Adam and bred to a female belonging to O'Shea's neighbor that had previously lived on Mosher's farm, and produced more kittens with wiry coats. A second breeding to an unrelated female also produced wirehaired kittens, thereby establishing it as a dominant gene.
    O'Shea sent hair samples for analysis to noted British cat geneticists A.G. Searle and Roy Robinson. Robinson reported to her that the samples of Adam's hair showed that the coat was unique and different from the Cornish or Devon Rexes. All three hair types (Down, awn and guard) were twisted and the awn hairs were also hooked at the tip. The cat was closest in physical type to the American Shorthair, and this was the breed used to develop the American Wirehair. The only difference between the two breeds is the hair coat.
    American Wirehairs are good-natured, easy-going cats, and they are known to be very tolerant of children. They are calm but can also be playful into old age. Female cats tend to be busier than males; with the males being more laid-back. In general they are intelligent cats and quite interested in everything around them. Many American Wirehairs retain their hunting instincts with any insects or mice that should have the misfortune of entering your house. They also like to watch birds and other outdoor activities from the windowsill. They enjoy the company of their people but retain their independence. Many are lap cats, while others prefer to be near you than on you.
    The American Wirehair is a medium sized cat with no exaggerated features. Females are smaller than males, and the balance of the cat being of the utmost importance. American Wirehairs do not fully mature until they are around three or four years of age, where they look their best. The wiry coat is much like steel wool and defines the American Wirehair as distinct from all other cat breeds. It comes in all colors and patterns but the wiryness itself has several degrees varying from spiked to curly, with the individual hairs being crimped, hooked or bent. The ideal coat, including the whiskers, is dense, coarse and crimped over the whole body. Some coats are completely wired but very hard and sparse making it break easily, but some coats are relatively soft to the touch but springs back into place when stroked. Some American Wirehairs have sensitive skin that can be susceptible to outside influences resulting in allergies. To reduce any potential problems, the skin and coat should be kept clean with regular bathing to remove loose dead hairs that could cause some irritation. The coat can be a little greasy from the oil secreted by the skin which can also be cleared up with regular baths.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Video of the Day: Dramatic Parrot

I know the title of the video is "Dramatic Parrot", but truthfully, a parrot simply doesn't have the ability to be dramatic, at least not for more than a few seconds as seen in this video.

Species of the Day: Antipodes Island Green Parakeet

Scientific Name: Cyanoramphus unicolor
Adult Size: A little over 11 1/2 inches long
Adult Coloration: Both adults have olive or green plumage, bright emerald green crown and face; breast and abdomen more yellowish; outer-web of the flight feathers are blue, green tail edged with yellow. Bill is silver/grey with a dark grey tip. Red/orange eyes.
Call: Calls are described as resonant and penetrating. Similar to the calls of other Cyanoramphus sp. but much deeper in tone. Also makes a soft chattering noise.

    Apparently not kept outside of New Zealand, the Antipodes Island Green Parakeet is an active, yet rather quiet bird. They are not shy and are quite inquisitive, and will accept new owners readily. They can be kept communally with other compatible species of birds, but are very susceptible to disease during acclimation, so a quarantine for new birds will be necessary.

Housing: 11 1/2 X 3 1/2 X 6 1/2 ft aviary
Diet: Leafy Greens such as Swiss chard, dandelion greens, chickweed, Romaine lettuce and sowthistle; small seed mixes of hemp, millet and canary seed with limited amounts of sprouted sunflower seeds; fruit such as apples, pear, bananas, cactus fruits and oranges; vegetables including carrots, celery, green beans peas in the pod and corn on the cob; small amounts of insects, and commercial kibble.
Enrichment: Provide with un-treated flowering branches with buds and a shallow water bowl for bathing. If possible, soil for digging will be greatly appreciated by the birds.

World Population: 2,000 to 3,000 individuals
Range: Found on the Antipodes Islands in New Zealand.
Habitat: Is found in tall Poa littorosa tussock grasslands, open scrublands and Carex sedge. Also found in areas of prickly ferns and Coprosma antipoda scrublands. Most commonly found on steeper slopes and near a permanent water source.
Wild Diet: Eats leaves, seeds, berries, carrion and the eggs of sea birds.
Ecology: Found singly or in small groups. Feeds mainly in the morning and evenings. The birds are very inquisitive, and seem to have no fear of humans. They enjoy bathing in shallow pools of water and live in burrows.
Threat Summary: The introduction of non-native invasive species and predators have had a huge impact on this species
IUCN Rating: Vulnerable
CITES Rating: Appendix II

Monday, May 2, 2011

Video of the Day: Squeaky Caique

Another playful Caique demonstrating their habit of rolling on their backs to play

Breed of the Day: Alaskan Malamute

Country of Origin: USA/Alaska
Group:Working; recognized by the AKC in 1935
Purpose: Heavy freighting
Average Life-Span: 10 to 14 years
Color: Ranges through light gray to intermediate shades of black, sable, shades of sable to red with white always being the predominant color on the under body, parts of the legs and feet and part of the face.
Grooming: Brush weekly
Height/Weight: Males: 24 to 26 inches tall; 75 to 105 pounds. Females: 22 to 24 inches tall; 65 to 90 pounds

    The largest and oldest of the Arctic sled dogs, the Alaskan Malamute possesses great strength and endurance. He is not designed to race, but rather to carry large loads over long distances. Today, the majority of Malamutes are family pets, but they are still highly athletic and enjoy sledding, weight-pulling, back packing, jogging and swimming with their owners. The Malamute's coat is thick and coarse, with it's plumed tail carried over the back. The coat usually ranges in color from light gray to black or from sable to red. Facial markings, including a cap on the head and a bar (mask) on the face are often distinguishing features. An all American breed, the Alaskan Malamute was named after the native Inuit tribe called the Mahlemuts, who settled in Alaska. They have always been used as sled dogs for heavy freighting in the Arctic. This breed is a cousin to many other Arctic Spitz breeds, such as the Samoyed, Siberian Husky and the American Eskimo Dog. Majestic and dignified, the Malamute is an affectionate and friendly dog. He is highly intelligent and learns very quickly, but can also be strong-willed, so early obedience training is a must. As an athletic breed, and daily exercise for at least an hour a day is a necessity. The Malamute's coat requires regular brushing and occasional bathing.