Can you keep a pygmy goat? 0 40

Pygmy Goat

These little critters are about half the size of a regular, full-sized goat. As you would expect, they are hardy, mischievous and adorable. But before you get excited at the thought of snuggling up to a tiny goat on a couch, make sure you know what you are getting into.

1. Not house pets

Anyone who has ever owned a goat will tell you that they are not house pets. Goats are almost impossible to house train and will eat absolutely everything. Even a half-sized one can do a lot of damage if left indoors. If you want a goat, make sure you have an adequate outside enclosure for them.

2. They are spirited jumpers

Bouncing all over the place, Pygmies are cute bundles of energy. Make sure you build a fence that is high enough to keep them inside and out of your petunias. A fence about a foot high should do the trick. To keep them happy, a grassed area of 10 foot is large enough for two or three goats.

3. They are herd creatures

Being a part of the herd is in their DNA. It is cruel to keep them alone and they probably won’t fare that well. If you want a pygmy goat, then get two for good measure. Of course, building a miniature herd would give you lifelong bragging rights!

4. The females produce milk

Although pygmy goats don’t produce as much milk as their larger counterparts, they have about 180 milk-bearing days a year. The only catch is that you have to breed them at least once a year. Remember that if you choose to do this, you have to care for the new little one or find a suitable home for them.

5. Females in heat are loud

Females go into heat once a month and make a blearing bleating sound. If you have neighbours that hate noise, these little guys are probably not your best choice.

Pygmy goats can make great little outdoor pets if you have the right environment and dedication. Be prepared for loyalty, excited jumping and adorable mayhem. If you don’t have the space for full sized goats, these are a great alternative.

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5 fun ways to play with your pet ferret 0 31

If you’ve got a pet ferret, you’ll know that they’re curious, fun-loving creatures who are always looking for new ways to explore and play. Maybe this is because ferrets are actually a part of the Mustelidae family, which includes otters and seals, two animals known for their love of fun and games.

Below, we’ve listed our top five ways you can play with your ferret:

1. Nip training

One great way to interact with your ferret is to ‘wrestle’ with them (using your hands). To do this without getting bitten, you’ll need to nip train your ferret using a combination of treats and patience. Rather than putting your ferret down when he bites you, try holding onto him for a few seconds, then put him down. When he doesn’t bite you, give him a treat. If your ferret latches onto you using his teeth, hold him by the scruff of the neck and put your finger gently in his mouth until he lets go.

2. Rub their tummy

Ferrets love a good tummy rub. If your ferret grabs hold of you with its arms, then you should rock them gently back and forth, as if they’re in a hammock. You could also try sliding them around the floor, being careful not to move too quickly.

3. Try a sheet

Drape an old sheet or light piece of fabric across the floor and let it billow full of air. Your ferret will like climbing under it to play. You can they try to tickle him or play your own variation of hide and seek.

4. Chasing games

Ferrets adore trying to catch things, so why not try attaching something light to a shoestring and running around the garden with it. Your ferret will soon be on your tail.

5. Create a cardboard castle

This will give your ferret an awesome playhouse to roam around. Make sure you cut holes in the sides so he can slide through them, and fill it with sheets or soft towels so that he can’t hurt himself.

For more pet care advice from Niche Pets, click here.

Photo: Milo by Max Moreau licensed under Creative commons 2

How can you avoid dental problems for chinchillas? 0 37

Chinchilla

Despite looking like a rabbit or squirrel, a chinchilla is actually classified as a rodent. Native to South America, they’re loved for their super soft, highly dense fur, which makes them irresistible to stroke. Unfortunately, this soft fur is also much loved by not only the native people of the Andes mountains, where chinchillas originate, but fur coat fans of the Western world, which has lead to 90% of the wild chinchilla population being wiped out in the last 15 years.

Chinchillas are popular pets, but not a recommended choice for a pet keeping novice, as they’re very sensitive to high temperatures, require a lot of exercise and regular baths in pumice dust.

One of the biggest problems encountered by chinchilla owners is that of their pet’s teeth. Chinchillas have two sets of teeth – the long teeth you can see at the front of their mouths, and the molars which are located further back in the mouth. Chinchilla teeth keep growing throughout their lives, and to combat teeth overgrowth, they like to gnaw on wood and hard surfaces to keep their teeth at a manageable level. Pet shops sell a variety of gnawing stones and toys which encourage chinchillas to gnaw and wear their teeth down.

Another way to keep your chinchilla’s teeth in check is with a good quality hay. A good quality hay, such as Timothy hay, is ideal for this, as it’s a tough grass which means the chinchilla has to really grind their teeth on it, and wear its teeth down as a result. Cheaper hays can be soft, and do not offer the same resistance as Timothy hays, allowing the back teeth to grow without regulation.

If you suspect your chinchilla has overgrown teeth, look out for symptoms such as drooling, and problems with chewing and swallowing food. While it’s easy for anyone to see overgrowth problems with the long front teeth, the molars at the back of the mouth are just as likely to become overgrown, and these are difficult to see without the kind of equipment seen at your veterinarian’s. If you suspect tooth overgrowth, your vet is probably the only person who can give you a definitive answer.