Which reptiles make good pets? 0 47

While some people might consider reptiles to be unusual pets, many people see them as a more practical and attractive option to cats, dogs and other mammals. The fact they have no fur means that people with dust mite allergies can enjoy caring for them. Here we take a look at three of the more popular types of reptile pets.

Tortoises

Known for being cute, tortoises can appeal to people who wouldn’t traditionally like reptiles.

There are a number of pros to owning a tortoise. In terms of pet care, they’re very low maintenance and compared to cats and dogs they are a lot more harmless. This means that the whole family can enjoy having a tortoise as a pet. Lastly, tortoises can live for 30 years or more, meaning that you can enjoy their company for a lot longer than mammals.

One challenge of owning a tortoise is dealing with hibernation which can last up to 6 months at a time. Depending on where you live this may be a big consideration as the temperature of their hibernation habitat must be monitored and the area will also need to be ventilated.

Terrapins

Like tortoises, terrapins can also appeal to people who wouldn’t normally consider a reptile as a pet. However, terrapins need a bit more pet care. They can be very timid creatures and may become frightened when you pick them up. This is why it’s essential to take your time and give it time to trust you. Hand feeding is the best way to gain the trust of a pet terrapin. It learns to associate you with its food and will eventually lose its fear. Although it can take time to earn a terrapin’s trust, it is well worth it as it will probably begin swimming over to reach you once it becomes used to you.

Bearded Dragons

Named as it is because of its ability to “puff out” its throat until it resembles a beard, the bearded dragon is considered one of the most docile and friendly of all reptiles. With a mild temperament, they will typically allow handling more than most other reptiles.

Once a bearded dragon gets used to its new home, he’ll take pleasure in your company and even scamper to the front of the tank to welcome you.

Photo: Terrapin by Neil T licensed under Creative commons 2
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6 tips for feeding hedgehogs 0 57

How to feed hedgehogs

When looked after properly, hedgehogs can make great pets. But if you’ve decided to start feeding the hedgehogs in your garden, there are a few things you should know.

1. Commit to feeding hedgehogs

If you’re lucky enough to have hedgehogs in your garden, this isn’t a very common occurrence! They are sadly endangered, so it’s especially important that, if they get used to finding a food source in your garden, it doesn’t get cut off.

2. Get to know a hedgehog’s diet

In the wild, hedgehogs are insectivores. Over 70% of their natural diet will be insects and beetles, some worms and the occasional slug or snail. Brush up on your hedgehog facts, so you know what to feed them and what to avoid. Which brings us on to our next point…

3. Know what to avoid when feeding hedgehogs

It’s very important to avoid bread and milk. Hedgehogs cannot digest bread, and cow’s milk will give them very bad diarrhoea. This can even be a cause of death, so we can’t stress that one enough.

Salty foods like bacon and corned beef will also give them health issues, so stay away from those.

While raisins and sultanas are generally bad for hedgehogs on account of the sugar content, one or two that have dropped from a bird table won’t do any harm. Just don’t make a point to feed them sugary foods like this.

4. Put out the right hedgehog food

Hedgehogs love:

• Spike’s Dinner hedgehog food. You can serve either the tinned or dry versions, and will find them in large pet shops.
• Ark Wildlife Hedgehog food
• Wildthings Hedgehog food
• Tinned cat, dog, puppy or kitten food. If you choose the chicken flavour, you’ll be popular!
• Meat flavoured biscuits for cats and kittens. Cheaper brands tend to have a higher density of cereal and aren’t quite so nutritious.

5. Share your leftovers (but only some)

Leftover meat like chicken or mince will go down a treat with a garden hedgehog. Chop the meat into very small pieces, as their teeth are too small to tear big pieces.

You can also put down some grated cheese for them, but nothing fancy: just mild or medium cheddar.

6. Know the difference between a winter feed and a summer feed

If you’re feeding tinned meat to your hedgehog, it’ll freeze quickly on a winter’s night. Biscuits are better for wintertime, and when the sun comes out, you can go back to feeding them tinned foods.

Find out more about hedgehogs, including whether a hedgehog is the right pet for you.

3 surprising behaviours of pet rats 0 49

Pet rat behaviour

Rats have been given a bad name by decades of bad press. Far from the dirty, disease-filled pests that are portrayed on our screens, these sociable, clean animals have a few surprising perks to owning them.

These sociable, friendly pets are highly trainable animals who show affection for their owners and have many cute little quirks that make them great companions. They also have a very strange way of showing they’re happy!

With that in mind, here are three surprising behaviours of pet rats.

1. They are incredibly playful animals

This one will be no surprise to those who will have seen the boxing, chasing and excited jumps with their own eyes, but many are unaware that rats spend lots of time playing with each other and their owners. One scientific study actually showed that rats giggle when they are tickled. It’s highly recommended that you fill your pet rat’s cage with lots of enrichment toys and interact with them daily. Many owners report that their pet rats love being chased or to wrestle their hands!

2. They are incredibly social animals and love to show affection

Rats are incredibly social creatures. While of course every animal has its own personality and there are exceptions to the rule, they need to live with at least one other rat and most enjoy lots of daily interaction with their owners. It is not a rare sight to see pet rats snuggled up in the laps, pockets and sleeves of their humans. They will also nibble and lick them, as they would other rats, in a show of affection.

3. They boggle their eyes when they are happy

Surprising when first witnessed, one of the most peculiar aspects of rats is the way they display their contentment. While cats purr and dogs wag their tails, when a rat is very happy or relaxed they will brux and boggle – which is a sort of teeth grinding and very fast bulging of the eyes.

Rats are brilliant pets for all ages and there are many positives that come from owning these friendly, misunderstood animals.