Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Adopting A Dog

Caring For Your Adopted Dog
Essential Care Items
Food & Water
Food Bowls
Collar & Leash
Toys
Brushes & Nail Trimmers
Vitamins
Kennel or Crate for Potty Training and Travel

Special Care - Dogs that are adopted from shelters or rescue organizations may suffer from some form of behavioral problem due to the stress of these situations.  Some of these behavioral problems include separation anxiety, barking, digging, chewing, and inappropriate elimination. With lots of love, patience and training most dogs can overcome these problems.  Please see below for the tip sheets on how to correct these behavioral problems. 
 Feeding – Adoptive dogs may have trouble transferring to a new food at first and may experience bouts with diarrhea.  Be sure to find out what food your pet has been fed in the shelter.  Mix the shelter food with the food you plan to feed for about one week to help your pet's digestive system adjust to the change. 

Feed your dog the best quality food you can afford. Poorly balanced diets can result in obesity and a shortened life span. High quality food is more easily digestible.  Therefore, you use less and it also helps to decrease the amount of times your pet goes to the bathroom. Young dogs should be feed a growth formula until they are at least a year old. Growth formulas have more protein than the maintenance formulas, essential for growing puppies.  Mature dogs should be fed a maintenance formula to maintain a healthy weight.
Young puppies should be feed three times per day until they are at least six months old and then feed twice daily thereafter.  Vitamins are great for growing puppies and adult dogs.  They are a good way to treat your dog instead of giving table scraps.  Your pet should always have access to clean, fresh water.
Grooming – Grooming is a great way to bond with your adoptive dog. Your dog should be brushed frequently (at least once daily). This helps distribute the oils in your dog's skin making his coat shiny and healthy. Bathing should be done as needed with a mild dog (baby shampoo works great!). Your pet's nails should be trimmed monthly, taking just the sharp tips off. Be careful not to trim to short or bleeding will occur. If this happens, apply pressure to the nail tip until bleeding stops. 
Collars - There are many types of collars on the market, making decisions difficult. We do not recommend training collars. They can injure your dog unless you are properly trained to use them.  A collar is necessary to identify your pet with tags and for walking on a leash. Therefore, a simple nylon or leather collar is sufficient. A collar should be no tighter than to allow two fingers between neck and collar.  If you need more control for walking your dog, we recommend a harness style collar. This prevents choking and gives you better control of your dog's body.                                                                                
Potty Training – Dogs adopted from shelters may require a short retraining period for potty training.  Remember dogs are a lot like children... as soon as they wake, eat or are done playing they have to go to the bathroom. Therefore, put them outside as soon as they have done any of these three things. It is also a good idea to have your puppy on a schedule so they can learn when they will be going out for potty time.  Watch for circling and sniffing as this is a sign they are looking for the right spot. Praise them as soon they have done it correctly. Never punish them for doing it wrong. Try not to leave your puppy outside to play while on a potty mission.  If your puppy does not potty within a few minutes take him back inside.  This will help him associate outside time as potty time.  If they have an accident, be sure to show them the accident and with a stern no put them directly outside (do not rub their nose in it). Clean up any accidents thoroughly to get rid of the smell. If the smell lingers this can attract them for more accidents.
Crate Training - Crate training is good for a variety of training problems such as potty training, chewing and anxiety.   The premise behind crate training is to keep your dog in its' crate whenever you are unable to supervise its' activities.  This teaches your dog that he is safe and can count on you to come back and take care of his needs. 
Dog/Crate Introduction:   Start by playing games and leaving treats allowing him to enter but not shutting the door.  When he is comfortable, shut the door for short intervals and do not leave the crate, always taking softly and calmly.  Eventually work up to longer periods of time with you leaving the room.

Crate for ChewingDuring the training period, if you can’t supervise your dog’s activities, you should have him in a crate with approved chew toys.  The crate will help your dog deal with his sense of anxiety when you are away by creating a safehaven.  When your dog is out of the crate, interrupt and redirect any bad chewing behavior by giving an approved chew toy from out of a “toy bag”.  Approved chew toys should be kept in this toy bag during the training period, giving you the authority over the toys.  Your dog will soon learn that he is only allowed to play with these toys on your terms.  The toys will then become a reward for your dog to use when you are not home.  An additional training aide is lots of exercise.  A tired dog will be less likely to have the energy to chew on things.

Crate for Anxietyteach your dog that he will be safe in the crate.  Start by playing games and leaving treats allowing him to enter but not shutting the door.  When he is comfortable, shut the door for short intervals and do not leave the crate, always taking softly and calmly.  Eventually work up to longer periods of time with you leaving the room.
Check out this video for more information:
Toys - Toys allow your dog to exercise, play and entertain itself.   Use a “toy box” to hold you dogs toys and allow your dog to play with the toys on special occasions such as play time, when you leave the house, etc.  This teaches your dog that he gets a special treat when you leave, toys are for playing (not shoes) and that you are the controller of the toys (boss).  You will find that your dog has more interest in his toys when he doesn’t have constant access to them.  Puppies like children go through a teething stage where they loose their baby teeth and get their adult teeth.  The chewing stage will get better after six months but can last until they are over a year old.   Be sure that you provide a chew toy such as rawhide bones and hard rubber teethers during the teething stage.   A rope toy soaked in chicken broth and then frozen makes a great treat for sore gums!  

Barking Problems

A dog that barks continuously and for prolonged periods of time has a behavioral problem that can be corrected with time and patience.  Generally, barking problems start from loneliness and can become an obsessive condition.  When barking develops into an obsession, the barking is harder to stop because it has become a way for the dog to soothe itself.  Dogs that are prone to obsessive barking are also experiencing separation anxiety.   
The first step towards stopping barking is to understand separation anxiety.  Dogs that have been in shelters or abused are more apt to suffer from separation anxiety or a fear of being left alone.  Obviously, our dogs would like to be around us all day, therefore, when we are gone for prolonged periods of time, they get lonely and can develop bad behaviors.   To combat separation anxiety do not make a big deal about leaving or arriving home.  This means no excited hellos or goodbyes.  Ignore your dog for about 5-10 minutes before leaving or arriving.  Prolonged goodbyes only signal the dog that you are leaving and heightens their anxiety.    Below is a link with more information about separation anxiety associated with barking.

The next step is to break the cycle of obsessive barking and soothing.  Get a soda can, fill it with some rocks or pennies.  Plan a training session by letting your dog know you are leaving.    Sneak back into the house and stay hidden.  When your dog starts the barking, shake the can vigorously to distract him.  Distract him every time he barks, until you are ready to "return" (return when not barking).  You can even have a neighbor participate with another can, or noise maker.   When you are home, use the terms "no bark" when training.   Give this command when leaving the house.   Leave for short periods at first, slowly extending the time away.   Try leaving a radio on or tape with soothing sounds of your voice.
The third step is to keep your dog occupied when you are gone for long periods of time.  Give them something to do when you leave such as a special toy and special treats that are only given when you leave.  Treats should be something that occupies their time.  Try a game such as hide-n-seek with toys and treats or have a surprise visit scheduled from a neighbor or friend (a walk) to break-up the day.   Exercise is also a great way to keep your dog from barking.  A tired dog is a sleepy dog.  Go for an extended walk or run prior to leaving the house.

Watch this video on barking tips:

Digging
Dogs dig for coolness, boredom, anxiety and smells.  If your dog only digs during the hot months of summer, try supplying a shaded area or a child sized pool to cool off in.  Try making sure there are no odors attracting your dog such as animal odors (gophers, cat feces, etc.) or gas lines.   To deter your dog from a favorite spot, you can purchase dog and cat repellent spray at your local pet store.  We have also heard of putting dog poop in the favorite hole.   Exercise is a great deterrent because a tired dog does not have the energy to dig holes.  If you would like to try distracting your dog from bad behavior, shake a soda can filled with rocks to get his attention and then redirect his attention elsewhere.  
If you have a breed that is a natural digger, try building a sandbox or mudbox for playtime!  Hide various treasures such as bones, chew toys, balls, and treats.  Be sure to use a specific word for the approved digging box such as “dig”.  This creates an "approved" digging spot for your dog and keeps him challenged and exercised.    This can also help dogs with "separation anxiety" problems giving your pet something to do when you are not available.  Be sure to monitor his digging so he is aware that this is the acceptable play area and not to dig in some other place in the yard.
New Pet Introductions
When introducing a new pet, slowly make the introductions through a door, kennel, etc.  Let the new pet sleep or play in the other pets sleeping area (when they are not around) prior to bringing them together.  Another good idea is to let the new pet play or sleep on some of your dirty clothes to make the new pet smell like you.  This will help the established pets understand the new pet is part of the family.  Dogs are pack animals and if you are the leader and make it clear that they are not to harm the new pet, they will understand and respect your rules.  This means when introducing them, you hold the new pet and set the rules about when they can come over to visit and for how long.  Try making them sit and stay far enough away to see and smell each other and then ask them to come when you are ready.  Be in control of their play by making them back off when play becomes rough or excited.  Keep pets separated whenever they are not closely supervised for about two weeks.

Most pets will work out their pecking order.  Generally, older pets won't attack younger pets and different sexes will get along better than same sexes.  It will probably only take a couple of days to a week to work out who is boss.



Remember the best place to find a great mutt is at your local shelter.


Enjoy your new friend and thank you for adopting a shelter dog in need!

Disclaimer:  Petinfo4u.com is provided as a free pet care resource and is not intended to replace veterinary care, advice or treatment.  Your first resource should always be your veterinarian. 

 
Copyright Petinfo4u.com 1999 - 2025

Horse Care Sheet

Caring For Your New Horse

Essential Care Items:
Water and Food Drums
Saddle & Saddle Pads
Hoof Pick
Hoof Ointment
Halter & Lead Rope
Horseback Riding Helmet
Curry Comb, Brush, & Mane Comb
First Aid Kit
Bridle & Bit
Fly Repellent
Horse Shampoo
Shovel & Rake

horse01.gif (299 bytes) Housing - Horses don't necessarily need to live in a fancy barn.  The simplest structure made out of pipe corral and with a cover will do nicely.  It is important that the corral has a cover to shield your horse from the weather.  The smaller the corral...the more exercise your horse will require.  The smallest we recommend is 20 feet by 30 feet.   This allows your horse ample room to move around and to have areas away from the "potty corner".  Keep in mind when housing your horse at home, some states require that you have at least one acre per horse.  Be sure to check the corral on a regular basis for bolts sticking out, loose wires, and other potential cutting hazards.
horse01.gif (299 bytes) Most horses do well on a diet of Alfalfa and Timothy Hay.  Horses are grazers and should be fed twice per day.  A healthy adult horse should eat a "flake" of hay twice per day.  A bale of hay has about 8 healthy flakes.  Therefore, one bale of hay should last you for about 4 days.   Hay should be fed in a drum up off the ground to prevent your horse from inhaling and ingesting dust and dirt.  We recommend that you give your horse bran at least once per week to help with their digestive system.  During winter months, you can supplement your horse's diet with grain to help keep your horse warm.  Grains are considered "warm" food because they give your horse more energy.  If you feed grain, you will notice that your horse may sweat a lot more and may even act differently.  If this becomes a problem, cut back on the grain that you are feeding.   Water must be available at all times in a trash can sized drum (30 gallons).   The water should be topped daily and completely changed once per week.  We do not recommend automatic watering systems unless sit is monitored daily to be sure it is working properly.
horse01.gif (299 bytes) Grooming is a daily chore that can be therapeutic.   A good, long brush-down is relaxing for both you and your horse.  Start with a curry comb (hard rubber comb with ridges) and work in a circular motion.  This type of comb loosens dead hair and dirt.  After you have loosened the dirt, completely go over your horse whit a soft brush.  A regular old hair brush works just fine as a mane and tail comb.  Use a soft wet cloth to clean around your horse's eyes.   For your horse's comfort, finish off with a Fly Repellent.  Last but not least, don't forget your horse's hooves. Cleaning your horse's hooves is an important part in keeping them healthy.  Be sure to pick the hooves clean at least once per day and always before and after riding.  To help the hooves stay healthy, you can apply a hoof ointment to the tops and bottoms of the hoof.  This ointment works like a hand lotion by keeping the hooves from drying and cracking.  Baths can be given as often as necessary.  Be sure to use a horse shampoo.  Human shampoo can dry out your horse's skin.
horse01.gif (299 bytes) Riding a horse requires the horse and rider to work together in tandem.  If you are a newcomer to horses, we suggest you take some riding lessons.  You will need to learn the movements and pressures that are the universal language between horse and rider.  Horse need regular exercise and bonding with their owners.  Lack of exercise can lead to health and handling problems.  If you are able, your horse should be exercised once per day or, at least, once per week.  This does not mean at a full gallop.  Especially if you do not ride frequently.   Horses, like people, need to build their stamina and need to have a warm-up period.   It is also equally important to have a cool-down period.  This entails a non-rider walk for about 10-15 minutes (longer if you have worked up a lather).  You can also run cool water on your horse's legs.  This method cools the blood being pumped through the legs and throughout the body.  Be sure to brush your horse after riding to remove the dirt and sweat.  Most horses love a good roll in the dirt after they are done exercising.
horse01.gif (299 bytes) A must for a responsible horse owner is a good farrier and veterinarian.  You will need to have the farrier out at least every 8 weeks to reshoe your horse.  If you do not have shoes on your horse, then you will need to have the hooves filed and shaped.  It is a good idea to pick a veterinarian prior to having an emergency.  common calls to the vet include cuts and abrasions, lameness, and bouts with colds and viruses.  Below are a couple of common problems that can be easily treated:
  • Teeth - In older horses, the vet may have to file the back teeth at least once per year to prevent weight loss due to improper chewing of food.
  • Worming - You will need to establish a regular worming schedule to keep your horse healthy.  Worms can cause malnutrition that can lead to weight loss.  Worm your horse with an over the counter dewormer at least every six months.  We recommend that you change brands every other worming due to the fact that each brand of dewormer kills a variety of different kinds of worms.
  • Thrush - This is a condition of the hoof that is cause by wet or moist bedding.  This is easily diagnosed by just smelling your horse's hoof to see if there is an overwhelming foul smell.  A hoof with thrush is also tender for the horse to walk on and can have a black color.  There are many over the counter ointments you can use to prevent and treat this condition.
  • Lameness - This condition is usually cause by a rock in the frog (triangular cushion on the bottom of the hoof), a bump t the legs or improper riding conditions.  The treatment is always lots of rest and can last from days to weeks.  You can also apply ice and ointments to the affected areas to help the healing process.
  • Always check with your veterinarian if you have any problems with your horse!

Disclaimer:  Petinfo4u.com is provided as a free pet care resource and is not intended to replace veterinary care, advice or treatment.  Your first resource should always be your veterinarian. 

 
Copyright Petinfo4u.com 1999 - 2025

Rough Green Snake

Rough Green Snake

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The picture on the left is a picture of our Rough Green Snake in the grass of our backyard.

Caring For Your New Green Snake
Essential Care Items:
  • 10 gallon aquarium with locking mesh screen
  • Food - Waxworms and crickets
  • Rock Water Bowl
  • Hide log
  • Plant
  • Repti-Turf
  • Water bottle mister
  • Under-tank heater
  • Full-spectrum bulb lighting
The beautiful rough green snake may just be a perfect starter snake and are good for older children.  Their bright coloration of neon green with a pale yellow underbelly make them perfectly camouflaged in their native environment of grass and small shrubs where they hunt for food.  These snakes are native to southeastern areas of the United States.  They are small, inexpensive, exciting to watch feed, tame easily, and fun! These gentle snakes do not bite and have no teeth.  Rough green snakes are pencil thin and do not get much thicker.  They can reach a size of about 2 - 3 feet.  They are diurnal; meaning that they are active during the day and early evening when they feed.

Our observations - Our snake "Zoe" is a little timid but does not mind being handled.  She hides out in her plant and usually comes out when she is looking for food.  We can tell she is hungry when she sticks her head out holding perfectly still waiting for the next meal to happen by.  One of her neatest characteristics is how she sways to look like the foliage around her.  When we put her in the backyard grass, she sits very still with her head slightly elevated (as if she is a blade of grass) and sways in the breeze.  She took a little time getting used to her enclosure and did not eat for two weeks.  However, once settled in, she eats every 3 to 4 days.  She also comes out at night and poops in her water bowl.  Therefore, we clean it daily to keep it fresh.  We spritz the cage daily to keep it humid and have noticed that Zoe likes to drink from the droplets rather than the water bowl (it is still important to have a water bowl).

Food - They eat mostly waxworms and small crickets as their main staple, unlike their larger relatives who eat small animals.  Rough green snakes can be fed 3-4 waxworms or crickets every 3 to 4 days.  Be sure the crickets you feed are the small size because the larger crickets have a hard and sharp exoskeleton.  They can also be fed small moths, non-hairy caterpillars and earthworms.   Try not to feed anything bigger around than they are.  To provide necessary vitamins and skin protection we recommend supplementing your snake with a bi-weekly shower of Four Paws - Nature's Reptile Vita-Spray.  Be sure to gut load any crickets before feeding to provide plenty of calcium and vitamins.  

Housing -  An appropriate house is a 10- 20 gallon aquarium which they never outgrow.  The aquarium should come with a mesh top for air circulation and locking clips to prevent escape.  Rough green snakes are thin enough to escape if not locked down.  We recommend you also put a couple of bricks on top.  In the wild, these snakes are often found around lakes, ponds and marshes.  Therefore, they should always have access to a shallow rock bowl with clean water for soaking in.  The bottom of the aquarium should be lined with any appropriate snake substrate, however, we recommend Repti-turf.  Repti-turf can be easily cleaned by rinsing with warm water and can be moistened to provide moisture.  Decorations in the aquarium should include some foliage for hiding, bark tunnel for hiding and warmth, and a stick for rubbing against to remove skin.  To provide warmth for your snake, we recommend an undertank heater.  Heat helps your snake to digest it's food properly.  The heater should only cover about a 1/4 of the cage bottom (underneathe the tank).  Do not cover the whole bottom with the heater.  Your snake needs to be able to get away from heat when necessary.  Put the bark tunnel over the area where the heat is located.  You will see your snake hang-out in there when it is digesting it's food.  Your rough green snake will need some access sunlight to prevent bone malformations.  Keeping them in a room that has lots of sunlight is sufficient (not direct sunlight).  You can also carry your snake outside for 15 minutes per week.  Although rough green snakes are not baskers and do not require a basking light, we recommend providing a full-spectrum light for additional warmth during the day.  

Health - Your rough green snake will shed its skin about every 2 months.  This is an indication of health and growth.  Health problems in snakes include stomach and skin infections that can be life threatening.  Be sure to provide a clean environment.  Cages should be cleaned weekly, especially after eating when the snake goes to potty.
We recommend you keep your snake in an active area of your house.  You will notice your snake is curious about the goings on in the house, especially when they are hungry.  If left in a quite room, they will do nothing but hide.

Watch this video and link for more info:
http://lllreptile.com/info/library/animal-care-sheets/snakes/-/rough-green-snakes/

Disclaimer:  Petinfo4u.com is provided as a free pet care resource and is not intended to replace veterinary care, advice or treatment.  Your first resource should always be your veterinarian. 

 
Copyright Petinfo4u.com 1999 - 2025

Garter Snake

GARTER SNAKE

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A garter snake may just be a perfect starter pet for a child older than 6 years of age.  They are small, inexpensive, exciting to watch feed, tame easily, and fun! These gentle snakes eat only fish (minnows or small feeders), unlike their larger relatives who eat small animals.  A garter snakes lifespan is around 10 years under good living conditions.

Food - Garter snakes will eat about 10-15 feeder fish once per week.  They can also eat small frogs and earthworms.  To provide necessary vitamins and skin protection we recommend supplementing your snake with a bi-weekly shower of Four Paws - Nature's Reptile Vita-Spray.  

Housing - An appropriate house is a 20 gallon aquarium which they never outgrow.  The aquarium should come with a mesh top for air circulation and locking clips to prevent escape.  We recommend you also put a couple of bricks on top.  They are known for escaping.  In the wild, these snakes are often found around lakes, ponds and marshes.  Therefore, they should always have access to a shallow rock bowl with clean water for soaking in.  The bottom of the aquarium should be lined with any appropriate snake substrate, however, we recommend Repti-turf.  Repti-turf can be easily cleaned by rinsing with warm water and can be moistened to provide moisture.  Decorations in the aquarium should include some foliage for hiding, bark tunnel for hiding and warmth, and a stick for rubbing against to remove skin.  To provide warmth for your snake, we recommend an undertank heater.  Heat helps your snake to digest it's food properly.  The heater should only cover about a 1/4 of the cage bottom (underneath the tank).  Do not cover the whole bottom with the heater.  Your snake needs to be able to get away from heat when necessary.  Put the bark tunnel over the area where the heat is located.  You will see your snake hang-out in there when it is digesting it's food.  Your garter snake will need some access sunlight to prevent bone malformations.  Keeping them in a room that has lots of sunlight is sufficient (not direct sunlight).  You can also carry your snake outside for 15 minutes per week. 

Tips - Your garter snake will shed its skin about every 1-2 months if healthy.  This is an indication of health and growth.  You can tell when your garter is about to shed by the skin color covering the eyes....it will start to look cloudy.  Your garter will also not show an interest in food until after the shed.  It should only take a day or two for the skin to come completely off.  If you notice that your garter is having trouble...skin is not coming off in one piece...it is a sign of not enough moisture.  Try spritzing your garter with water to help the process.

We recommend you keep your snake in an active area of your house.  You will notice your snake is curious about the goings on in the house, especially when they are hungry and looking for food.  If left in a quite room, they will do nothing but hide.

Health - Health problems in snakes include stomach and skin infections that can be life threatening.  Be sure to provide a clean environment.  Cages should be cleaned weekly, especially after eating when the snake goes to potty.  They usually potty directly after eating.

For more information on garter snakes:

 http://www.anapsid.org:80/gartcare.html

Disclaimer:  Petinfo4u.com is provided as a free pet care resource and is not intended to replace veterinary care, advice or treatment.  Your first resource should always be your veterinarian. 

 
Copyright Petinfo4u.com 1999 - 2025


Ball Python

Ball Python

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Owner Review - Information supplied by Boanet
Royal or Ball Python (python regius). From the image, you can see why they are commonly called ball pythons. When a ball python is threatened, it takes a defensive posture by curling itself up in a ball while hiding it's head inside of the ball. A beautiful snake with solid markings ranging from greenish gold, and black. They are usually extremely docile. From what I've seen, the ball python has become the most collected snake in the trade. Unfortunately, many choose this snake for their first snake without realizing the extreme care that goes into one of these animals. Many Balls are wild caught, infested with many parasites, and will almost always be very bad feeders when they arrive at their final destination. the first time buyer does not realize what he or she has bought. They do not understand that as soon as they get their new ball that they need veterinary care to rid these animals of the many parasites that they are more likely than not, harboring. That $15 - $60 that the buyer has spent will easily double, triple, or more when the wild caught ball acclimates, if it ever acclimates.  If you want a ball python, get a hatchling or juvenile that has been captive bred. Not only will they acclimate, but they will be good feeders. After a while their feeding habits will get a little unpredictable, but still better than a wild caught animal. Also, they will not go into the defensive position as much as a wild caught one will. It is my wish that the ball python have some restrictions placed upon it as an imported snake.

Size
Adult ball pythons will grow up to be anywhere between 4 - 6 ft. I've never seen one bigger than 6', although I'm sure there are some stories of one achieving greater lengths. They also become very body-thick when they are full grown.

Feeding
Ball pythons in captivity are fed appropriately-sized mice and rats at the rate of 1-2 every week (I feed them one every 5 days). This means, you shouldn't feed it a rodent greater than the width of the body for danger of regurgitation. Do NOT throw a live mouse or rat in the cage!!! Balls can be very bad feeders and sometimes will not even acknowledge that there is food in the cage for them. The rodent can and usually will attack out of defense.  When this happens, the snake might just get bitten. ***ALWAYS FEED BALL PYTHONS PRE-KILLED FOOD ITEMS!!!***If your snake insists on killing it's prey, get yourself a pair of tongs ( my tongs cost me $1.50, I use a pair that you would use for turning food around on a grill.  Grab the mouse by it's tail with the tongs and move it slowly to simulate movement.  Don't use your hand unless you want to get bit.  Your snake won't know the difference, I promise! All you need to do is dangle the mouse about  foot away from the snake. Let the snake hunt it. PATIENCE! When it grabs the mouse, let go and let your snake enjoy it's meal.  It is always a good idea to supplement your reptiles with vitamins.  You can find vitamin powders to coat the mice or vitamin drops for addition to water bowls.

Housing
A good sized cage for your ball python would be about 4 ft long, 2 ft high, and 2 ft deep for an adult ball python. A 55 gallon aquariuum works good as well, but all glass enclosures lose heat quickly.  Be sure to provide an undertank heater in a corner of the tank.  A hide log over the heating pad works great to encourage use.

Temperature and Humidity
You will need to retain your ball python at temperatures between 82 - 88 degrees during the day (14 - 16 hours) never going over 90 in basking areas, and 72 - 78 degrees at night. Under tank heaters such as heating pads are very useful in keeping the heat up. Heat rocks are ok if you have them hooked up to a thermostat. Other good heating elements are heat strips, Cobra Mats, pig blankets, and many others. I also use a little lighting to keep the heat up. I put it on a timer for 14 hour days. This I feel is a great method because you don't have to constantly readjust your heating elements. What you do is set the cage up for nighttime temperatures, then when it is time for day time temps, BOOM, light kicks on and temperature goes up. Simple huh? Always make sure that you have a spot where the snake can get to where there is no heat source, that way it can regulate it's own temperature. Make sure that it has no direct contact with heat lamps or you may one day find your snake wrapped around a lit light bulb. 

I also put a water dish under the heat lamp to increase the water evaporation, thus increasing humidity. I also lightly spray the cage every day and night. Wooden enclosures may keep heat better, but the humidity levels should be monitored frequently. I also recommend that you keep the humidity between 60-80 percent, that way you will not have problems with retained shed or other respiratory or skin problems.

General maintenance
Clean the cage once a week. Wipe down the walls and glass with a mild soap and water mixture.
Fresh water every other day.
Once a week, thoroughly clean the water dish or dishes with a 10 percent bleach to water solution. Thoroughly rinse and then wash with a mild soap and water solution. Make sure that there is no soap left in the dishes.
Every 3 months, replace or thoroughly wash the substrate (bedding, if any).
Every 6 months, Completely clean the cage with a 10% bleach solution. Completely rinse. Replace all substrate.
Yearly, take your snake to a qualified veterinarian, along with a stool sample. Many people do not do this, but in my opinion, it is better to be safe than sorry. After all, you'd take your dog to the vet every year (I hope) right?

Watch these videos for care on Ball Pythons:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXsSSUTAgFE

Disclaimer:  Petinfo4u.com is provided as a free pet care resource and is not intended to replace veterinary care, advice or treatment.  Your first resource should always be your veterinarian. 

 
Copyright Petinfo4u.com 1999 - 2025

Snake Care Sheet


Caring For Your New Snake
Essential Care Items:
  • Aquarium
  • Food
  • Substrate
  • Heater
  • Hide Logs
  • Water Holder
  • Foliage
  • Vitamins
  • Thermometer
Welcome to the cool world of Snakes!  This is a basic care sheet for starting out in the snake world.

Feeding - There are many types of snakes and a variety of ways to feed them.  Some snakes eat only fish and crickets (Garter snakes) while most snakes eat mice and rats (Boas, Pythons, etc.).  It is best to feed non-live mice and rats to keep your snake from being injured during feeding.  Snakes can require feeding weekly, monthly or every other month.  Generally, the smaller they are the more frequently they eat (i.e Garter = weekly and Boas = monthly).  Snakes can go through a "hibernation" period in the winter where they will not require feeding for up two months.  We suggest that you also supplement your snakes diet with vitamins.  Vitamins come in the form a spray which can be sprayed directly on your snake and also in their water. 

Housing - There are lots of fancy types of Terrariums and Vivariums on the market today.  However, if you are just starting out we recommend a regular aquarium.  When picking an aquarium remember to keep in mind the size your snake will reach at maturity.  Be sure to purchase a reptile proof hood for the top.  These are usually mesh with some metal hooks to keep it in place.   Snakes are great escape artists!  The flooring of the aquarium should be a reptile substrate such as; sand, gravel, repti-turf (fake grass), pine shavings, etc.   A great starter is the repti-turf.  It is easy to keep clean and inexpensive.   Your snake will require access to a heating source necessary for digestion.   It is best to have a heating pad under one corner of the cage so that the snake can get away from the heat if needed.  These heating pads should be placed on the underneath side of the cage (never inside the cage).  You can also purchase an inexpensive tape thermometer to be sure your aquarium is a constant temperature. These can be stuck directly to the inside of the cage.   Snakes require temperatures no lower than 68 degrees and no higher than 80 degrees.  Access to water is essential and can be easily provided by any type of heavy bowl.  Most popular are the ones that look like rock pools.  You can make your snake aquarium into a virtual forest with the many types of decorations on the market.  Do get a hide log so your snake can have a quiet place. Another necessity is some type of climbing branch or foliage that can help your snake shed its skin.  When your snake is ready to shed you will see it rubbing along the rough surfaces to help aide in the skin removal.  Cleaning the cage is very important.  Most snakes will go "potty" soon after eating, therefore, clean the cage at least weekly.  This means changing the substrate or cleaning the repti-turf and washing down the inside of the cage.

Exercise - Your snake does not require any vigorous exercise, however, it will be more tame the more you handle it.  Do not let your snake on the floor unless you are sure it will be safe from disappearing.   Snakes are very quick!  Most snakes are very happy just hanging around on your arm (it's warm).

Health - Most illnesses in snakes can be attributed to a lack of heating or of a regular thermal regimen.  This means keeping a constant temperature of around 72 degrees is important.  Regurgitating food can be a sign of improper digestion due to thermal problems.  Snakes can also be susceptible to respiratory and intestinal infections.  These can be eliminated by thoroughly cleaning the cage on a regular basis.  Snakes can also get skin mites.  These can be treated with a shampoo or powder.

Enjoy your new slithery friend!


Disclaimer:  Petinfo4u.com is provided as a free pet care resource and is not intended to replace veterinary care, advice or treatment.  Your first resource should always be your veterinarian. 

 

Copyright Petinfo4u.com 1999 - 2025


Monday, September 22, 2014

Rats

Rats

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The Disney hit Ratatouille has increased interest in rats as pets, similar to the dalmation and nemo craze.  We want to be sure people interested in rats get the proper information so that they can be responsible caretakers.  Rats are a very misunderstood animal throughout history.  In some countries they are only thought of as pest and disease carriers, while in others, they are thought to be spiritual and respected.  Contrary to popular belief, rats as pets are meticulous cleaners, one of the most intelligent pets and are extremely social and friendly.  Rats can even be potty trained!  If you want a pet who can learn all kinds of tricks, live in a small apartment and not require expensive upkeep, then a rat may just be the perfect pet for you.

When choosing a rat, look for one that has been properly socialized or hand raised.  By this, we mean a rat that is eager to come to your hand and enjoys being held.  Even unsocialized rats can quickly become tame.  A healthy rat is solid, active and alert.  Keep away from rats that are bony, have pot bellies, runny eyes, nose or are sneezing.  One of the downsides to owning a rat is their short lifespan.  Rats with optimum care live only about 3 years.  When choosing your rat, try to choose a younger rat.  Males also mark territory and can smell a little more than females.  You can have males neutered to reduce the marking.
Rats come in all sorts of colors ranging from solid colors of albino, black, beige, and multi-colored agouti (a mixture or brown, black and grey hair).  You can also find some fancy colors of blue, siamese, himalayan, chocolate, fawn, etc.  They have lots of different color patterns too.  The most common is the hooded where the color covers the head, neck and shoulders.
micewheel.gif (2435 bytes) Feeding
Your local pet store will have many varieties of rodent food that is a balanced mix made just for rodents and can be supplemented with fresh vegetables and fruit.  Do not feed food not intended for rats...in the wild rats eat many things but in captivity, they need food formulated and enriched for their specific needs.  Treats can include;  rice, tortillas, beans, peas, corn on the cob, spinach, banana chips, uncooked pasta, cheerios, etc.  Please be sure to wash all fresh food to remove any traces of insecticides.  Fresh water must be available at all times and is best in a water bottle to avoid spillage and mixing with food.  Feeding bowls should be cleaned regularly because rats like to sit in their food bowls and sometimes go to the bathroom.  Ceramic bowls work best because of chewing and easy cleaning.  

micewheel.gif (2435 bytes) Housing
A 10 gallon aquarium with mesh top works best for housing a rat.  The mesh top is important for air circulation.  The larger the aquarium the better.  We recommend over 20 gallons per rat.  Rats are very active and like to have plenty of room to run around.  We do not recommend wire cages because these can cause serious foot injuries to your rat.    If you choose a wire ferret or rabbit cage, be sure to cover at least half the floor with wood to prevent foot problems.  Do not use bare wire floors because a rat's foot can easily be caught in the wires.  We recommend Care Fresh bedding made from recycled paper which helps keep odors to a minimum with regular cleaning.  Bedding should be replaced and the cage cleaned weekly.  Rats also love to build nests...you can provide shredding material and a nest box for sleeping areas.  Pet stores have fun sleeping/play hammocks and edible hide boxes for your rat.  Don't forget the litter box because rats can be potty trained.  This also helps reduce the amount of litter changes.  To clean any unwanted smells or stains, use vinegar to help with urine crystals.  Never use household cleaning supplies.  Soap and water work great.

micewheel.gif (2435 bytes) Exercise
Rats love to run on a wheel for exercise.  Providing a sturdy wheel for their entertainment will keep them happy.   Be sure to purchase a wheel that has a solid base (no rungs or wires) to prevent your rat's foot from being caught.  For your entertainment and greater freedom for your rat, you can also purchase a clear plastic ball that your rat can run in around the house.  Be sure that your rat does not use the ball in direct sunlight as it can overheat and it is best not to let your mouse roam in the ball for more than 10 or 15 minutes.

micewheel.gif (2435 bytes) Toys
Rats a very intelligent and need lots of stimulation to keep them happy.  Their favorite thing to do is play and be around you.  However, there are many hours in the day when they have to entertain themselves.  Provide your rat with lots of chewing and activities such as toilet paper rolls for shredding, bake a bread house, chew logs, lava stones, etc.  Bird toys make excellent rat toys.  Look for bird toys that require some thinking to get the treat out.  They also love to climb...simple paper roll tubes or longer lasting pvc pipes work well.  Look for ladders in the bird or ferret isle at your pet store.  Be sure your rat cannot escape when adding ladders.

Below are links to sites that have additional information on rats:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSrzNq1YXNI

Disclaimer:  Petinfo4u.com is provided as a free pet care resource and is not intended to replace veterinary care, advice or treatment.  Your first resource should always be your veterinarian. 


Copyright Petinfo4u.com 1999 - 2025