Saturday the 25th of January 2020 marked the begin...
Saturday the 25th of January 2020 marked the beginning of the Year of the Rat according to the Chinese New Year. To celebrate this, here are some of the reasons why I believe rats to be one of the best companion animals you could ever wish for.
Now, rats have always suffered a bad rap, seen as unclean spreaders of disease and in some cultures they are even thought of to be the harbingers of death and disaster. If you have ever had the pleasure of owning a rat, you know too well the looks of disgust and concern when you let others know about your choice of pet.
Here are some reasons why you should consider these wonderful creatures to be the next addition to your family, and if you already have one, here are some handy pointers which you can use to defend your furry friends.
1. Rats “laugh” when they are having fun.
When rats are playing with one another or their humans they vocalise a rather sweet and happy sound which resembles a squeaky chuckle. Just try giving one a tickle!
2. They recognise when another rat in their group is injured or sick and care for them.
If a rat falls ill or injures themselves in the group the other rats will take it upon themselves to protect and care for the rat just like humans would do for one another. They are compassionate and social animals.
3. Rats are incredibly hygienic.
The stigma rats have suffered after the Bubonic Plague has been a hard one to shake. However, contrary to popular belief they spend several hours every day grooming and cleaning themselves and each other. You can also tell your cat and dog loving friends that rats are far less likely to contract viruses and parasites than these more traditional pets.
4. The Chinese regard the rat to be cheerful, intelligent, honest, generous and creative.
It is believed that people who fall under the zodiac of the rat share certain characteristics with the small rodents. These are the most recent years which have fallen under the zodiac of the Rat: 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020.
5. Rats are intelligent, resilient and resourceful.
Rats actually have a higher IQ than cats. They are known for being able to survive against the odds, finding food incredibly quickly in difficult mazes and lasting longer without water than a camel.
6. They succumb to peer pressure.
Even rats ignore their better judgement and copy the behaviour of their group members in order to fit in. If this doesn’t help you to relate to them, then I don’t know what will!
7. Rats have incredible memories and recognise different humans.
They are fast learners and will remember specific shortcuts, tricks and even recognise their owner over other humans. This makes them very easy to train to do tricks, such as jumping over hurdles, scurrying through tunnels or even clearing their toys away into a basket.
8. Some species of rats are avid swimmers.
The domestic rat is capable of becoming a very strong swimmer, if introduced to it responsibly they can easily learn to love this form of exercise. This can be a lovely activity for you to do with your pet rat and keeps them fit and enriched.
9. They each have their own unique personality.
Every rat differs from the other, some can be playful and cheeky, others are shy and some are caring and thoughtful. No two rats should be treated exactly the same, it is important to get to know your companions; what makes them happy and what makes them nervous. This is part of the magic that is owning rats.
10. They can be very easy to look after.
As long as you do your proper research before adopting a rat into your home, they can be very low maintenance. However they do deserve a responsible owner who devotes enough time to keep their minds stimulated and bodies healthy. They require enrichment, socialisation, a healthy diet, clean water and a suitable environment to live in. It is also important to point out that female rats can have a litter of up to 10 pups every 3 weeks so it is paramount that you neuter your pets if you are housing males and females together.
I hope I have helped to change a few opinions of these beautiful critters. Remember to do your research before adopting or purchasing any animals and be a responsible and loving carer. Now, celebrate the Year of the Rat by sharing some of these facts with friends and family and maybe even giving a rat in need a loving home.
Many of you have probably never heard the term “Catio”, it is a play on the words cat and patio… you see where this is going. It is essentially an enclosed outdoor space designed to allow domestic cats to enjoy the outside world in a controlled and safe environment. Now, you may be wondering “why would I ever need one of these? My cats venture out every day and return safe and sound.” Our feline friends are more than capable of looking after themselves but do you really know what they’re up to during their little expeditions?
The Mammal Society conducted a study which estimates that 275 million animals are killed annually by our domestic cats, 55 million of these are birds. These numbers are incredibly alarming, I know. Many cat owners decide to keep house cats who never get to experience the outside world to combat this issue. However, it is proven that cats who are housed solely indoors suffer from boredom and obesity, amongst other health and mental repercussions. A catio, usually attached to the outside of the house in the back garden, is a closed off area which can be utilised by cats to get fresh air, exercise and watch the wildlife without causing any detrimental impact to the surrounding ecosystems. Another benefit is that it eliminates the risk of your cats being involved in traffic accidents which happen far too often.
These can be purchased online or from pet shops across the UK and installed by professionals at your home. If you have a knack for DIY, they can be easily built using cheap materials such as wood and chicken wire. They resemble an aviary, although they are designed to keep the birds out rather than in. You can include different levels for the cat to climb, bridges, hanging baskets, living plants, trees to scratch, shaded areas as well as spots for sunbathing, all accessible through a cat flap into your home.
If this is out of your budget or if you don’t have the ability to take on such a project there is no need to despair. It has been proven that a large portion of the wildlife that are killed by cats are animals who are already injured or sick, meaning that they would likely perish regardless. The bird species that are suffering the most rapid population declines in the UK rarely come into contact with cats, some of these are: tree sparrows, skylarks and corn buntings. The blame for their numbers depleting fall on habitat loss. So any work you can contribute to saving and increasing habitats for our native birds will be just as important. Although it is crucial to point out that if you have cats in your area to avoid setting up habitats for these species nearby as they will likely encounter each other.
We must also appreciate that every cat is different and some breeds are better suited to catios than others, your number one concern should always be that of the welfare of your companion animal. By no means am I suggesting that every cat needs to be housed in this way, but if this is a viable option for you it can prove to be beneficial for our native wildlife. Speak to your vet and ask their opinion on catios for your particular animal before embarking on installing one. A lot of people who have taken on the project, through research and experience have become more knowledgeable of cat behavior and have improved the welfare of their feline friends by taking more time to provide suitable enrichment to their pets.
I hope I have sparked your interest into the world of catios and that you consider researching this as a possibility for your cats or any cats you may adopt in the future.
Having a pet is a huge responsibility. They are your family and like anything in life it can be difficult to get it right all the time. So we’ve listed a few common mistakes and how you can rectify them!
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Deciding what pet is right for you can be a difficult decision, but it is one that should be considered carefully.
Knowing the needs of the animal before you commit to taking care of them is important, making sure they are the right fit for your lifestyle, budget and long term plans.
Don’t get a tortoise unless you are prepared for the next 100 years!
Be sure to do lots of research before bringing the animal home and remember, different breeds of all animals- have different needs.
The traditional way to get a pet would be to head to the local pet shop.
However pets found in larger stores are often bred with profit in mind, this means inbreeding and welfare compromisation can occur. Seeing where the animal has been housed originally is important and this can be difficult when purchasing from a pet store. To prevent you supporting puppy mills and rodent farms, be sure to ask the pet shop about their breeders. But kittens and puppies will soon be illegal in pet shops anyway, called ‘Lucy’s Law’, named after a King Charles Spaniel that was repeatedly forced to breed.
When getting any pet from fish to dog, going to see where the animals are kept is a must. This means that buying over the Internet is a big no-no.
Also there are so many animals out there needing a second chance at love so don’t forget to #adoptdontshop
A balanced diet
The wrong diet is a common mistake and understandably! Negotaiting nutritional needs as well as calorie counting, can be a minefield. Exotic pets need supplements, fish need careful measurements and cats need lots of protein.
One of the best ways to control weight is calculating their ‘maintenance level’, this includes health conditions, breed, activity levels and age. Nutrition is also hard to get right, but once you find the food that’s right for them it can be a great way to prevent diseases and health conditions. Feed them high quality ingredients, as freshly prepared as possible and be sure to talk to your vet about creating a diet plan.
Spoiling them rotten
Treats are good in moderation and with the right consideration. Without proper care they can become dangerous. When you treat your pooch for example, it is easy to throw down a hide treat and let them knaw away for an hour or so. However, raw hide can be lethal, the processing of the hide can cause the treat to splinter, becoming a choking hazard. If you plan to leave your dog unsupervised, opt for the safer treats, such as Tuber Root, Nylabones and Splinter Free Antlers.
Treats are also one of the largest contributors to pet obesity. Giving healthy treats, in moderation will ensure a balanced diet- the more natural and unprocessed the better!
Getting the enclosure right is everything! Your animal is going to be spending a lot of time here, so you want to make sure they’ve got all they need. Many pets are commonly kept in incorrect environments, for example, rabbits aren’t happy spending their lives in hutches, the traditional goldfish bowl is far from an ideal aquatic environment and birds will quickly get bored in a cage.
The amount of space you have to house your pet should be a big influence on what you decide to get.
It can be easy to underestimate how much time is needed for grooming. Even animals without fur need a little bath now and again. Safe to say, if you can’t spare some time every day to give your pet a quick once over, long haired dogs or cats are not for you!
Not only is grooming a great way to build a solid relationship with your pets but failing to do so regularly can affect their mental and physical wellbeing.
Schedules at the ready!
Keeping up with a daily, weekly, monthly and 6 monthly schedules can be difficult in day-to-day life. Some pets need more attention than others but all of them need somewhere clean to live, happily, with lots of good food and love.
When you first get your animal they will need more of your time to settle in and begin training, be prepared! After they are happy in their new home, creating a schedule to keep up with everything should save you some time.
Pretty much all animals are ragamuffins, not as much as goats! Make sure your pet is safe at all times, this includes microchipping, correctly fitting their collars, choosing the right collars and harnesses, providing them with a safe enclosure and keeping them away from poisons.
These all seem like fairly obvious points but they are really important to get right. One of the easiest mistakes is household poisons- many common garden plants can be dangerous.
Training can be one of the most time consuming elements of being a pet owner… even fish can be trained!
Starting early on in their life can be advantageous but this isn’t always a luxury you have. Adopted animals may be slightly later on in life and have picked up some bad habits along the way.
Some pet owners will use negative enforcement to train their animals but this is not half as affective as positive reinforcement. Using punishments collars or pushing their face into their mess are all damaging techniques.
Praise, tone and eye contact are all that are needed, also the use of routine can help them understand and create consistency.
Aquatics are no joke!
For generations the Goldfish bowl has overshadowed fish welfare. The ‘Three Second Memory’ myth has meant that for years, fish have been kept in unsuitable conditions.
It is important that fish keeping is seen as a science. One that requires a lot of careful observation, PH levels, temperatures and oxidisation are all part of this intricate system. Fish have recently been found to have a lot more sentience than originally thought so making sure you keep them happy is more important than ever!
Hopefully this Top 10 has helped bust some myths and keep your pets a little safer. They can be a pain but you can’t put a price on unconditional love! If you are concerned about anything animal then be sure to reach out to us on Instagram or our website. JOIN THE PROJECT!