I have been thinking about sleep this week, and how with longer days and more sunlight during summer, often we rise earlier and stay up later. This is because of serotonin released in your brain (the waking hormone) caused by sunlight (you can counter this with heavy curtains that block out most light). Melatonin is the hormone that causes sleep. Obviously these hormones work differently depending on what species you are, and whether you are diurnal, nocturnal or a crepuscular species.
Anyway – with all that technical nonsense floating around my brain I decided to share some random things about animals and sleep, with a few pictures for your enjoyment too!
Fish and snake need darkness to help them sleep due to not having eyelids – snakes may bury in substrate but fish do not, so remember to turn off tank lights
Some species of snails can sleep for as long as 3 years!
Elephants sleep only 3 and a half hours per day, usually standing
Horses and cows cannot dream unless they sleep lying down
Giraffes need less than 2 hours of sleep per day, often getting no more than half an hour of sleep daily – broken into several intervals of between 5-10 minutes – they sleep the least of of all mammals
When dogs sleep on their back, with their paws up, they are in a deep sleep
The little brown bat sleeps up to 12-20 hours a day
Cats (big & small) need a minimum of 12 hours sleep per day, on average sleep for 14 hours daily
Sharks must keep moving whilst they sleep, often covering great distances
Birds have a locking system to stabilize them whilst they sleep, perched
Dolphins and ducks can half sleep – where only half their brain is asleep at a time, the other half stays awake!
Flamingo’s also sleep half their brain at a time, whilst on one leg
Walruses can go up to 3 days without sleep, but when they do sleep they get on average of 14 hours (just like cats!) daily
Koala’s sleep approximately 18 hours daily
Sloth’s sleep 15-18 hours daily (not as much as you may have thought)
Bats sleep (and rest) hanging upside-down as their wings are not strong enough to take off from standing – they need to drop into flight
The green tree-frog turns a tan colour during sleep
Prey species tend to sleep little and often in safe (often high) places, or stood up – whereas predator species sleep for long periods and where they like
I hope that you found that interesting – if you want any more information or have any questions, about anything animal related, please feel free to ask in the ‘thoughts’ box below or on the comments page, or via social media sites
– Facebook, Google+, Twitter or LinkedIn.
So it’s meant to be summer (at least soon), but apparently Britain hasn’t got the memo yet!
Even though it’s raining outside, I was thinking of all the things people do to keep cool – air conditioning, going to swimming pools/ parks, ice cream and ice lollies, wearing summer clothes… Often animals are left to fend for themselves; aside from ensuring water is topped up and coats are trimmed.
So here are some other idea to help you keep your pet cool…
take off collars in your home and garden – these get sweaty and hot rubbing on the neck of your pet
paddling pools on the garden (or smaller pools for smaller pets)
ice blocks in water or frozen water (in water bottles) – ensuring fresh water is still available to drink whilst the ice melts
partially frozen veggies for your herbivorous pets (partially so their tongues don’t stick to the veggies)
frozen peas are good to drop into your fish tank (especially cold water tanks) for your herbivorous fish
frozen (raw) meat for your carnivorous pets
providing shade indoors and outdoors – close blinds/ curtains, moving outside enclosures to shaded areas, providing shade at all times of the day
keep you pet off hot ground – shoes don’t protect your pets’ paws! – hot pavement is uncomfortable and potentially painful/ damaging to furry feet
provide a cool area for your pet to hide from the sun – whether this is ensuring your dog or cat can access the house, or ensuring your rabbit and guinea pig enclosure has a dark, hidden area for them to retreat into
avoid metal bowls outside! – porcelain bowls keep water cooler and do not retain heat like metal bowls do (thus keeping the water warm)
do not leave your pet shut in a hot car (or room)
Unless you and your pet are living in the same part of Britain as me and you are both unsure of what heat is 😉
If you have any other suggestions, that may be of help to others, please leave a comment below or on one of Ali’s Answers social media pages.
Cross-breed means the animal is of mixed blood; the animal is often a mix of two different breeds, or a mix of several breeds. These are often referred to as mongrels for dogs, or moggies for cats, mules in sheep, or just known as a cross-breed with other species. Cross-breeds often display traits from all the breeds that make up the mix. Cross-breeds can reproduce, as they are just different types of the same species.
A cross-breed is different to what is referred to as a hybrid. Ahybrid is cross between different species, as with cross-breeds, hybrids often display both physical and personality traits from both parents species. However, hybrids tend to be infertile (they cannot reproduce their own young) and therefore the only way to get the particular hybrid is to cross the 2 original species. A few hybrid animal examples are:
Mule (female donkey x male horse)
Hinny (male donkey x female horse)
Liger (male lion x tigress)
Tigon (lioness x male tiger)
Leopon (lion x leopard)
Beefalo (buffalo x domestic cow)
Dzo (yak x domestic cow)
Cama (camel x llama)
Zorse (zebra x horse)
Donkra (zebra x donkey)
It is important to think about this when acquiring a cross-breed as a pet; if the mix of breeds is known, you can research into them to see the likely physical characteristics, as well as the likely personality traits you may see in your pet.
Cross-breeds are becoming increasingly popular with dogs, and cross-bred dogs are being sold as designer breeds. Some of the more popular designer dog breeds are:
Labradoodle (Labrador x Poodle)
Cockapoo (Cocker Spaniel x Poodle)
Chorkie (Chihuahua x Yorkshire Terrier)
Puggle (Pug x Beagle)
As you may have noticed, these deisgner breeds have been given their own, new name that combines the 2 breeds they have been crossed with.
Due to the fact that cross-breeds have ability to reproduce, there is dispute about designer breeds and what makes them up. Take the Labradoodle for example, most breeders will only accept a dog as being a Labradoodle if it is the first generation; i.e. one parent is a Poodle, the other parent is a Labrador. If 2 Labradoodles have offspring, most breeders do not class the puppies as Labradoodles, but rather as mongrels. If one parent is a Labradoodle, and the other is either a Poodle or a Labrador, the offspring is also termed as being mongrels along most breeders of the designer breed.
Aside from the designer cross-breeds, most cross-breeds are not recognised as “breeds”, but rather just referred to as crosses. The crosses from just 2 different breeds that are not designer dogs are easily differentiated by the fact they are referred to as cross-breeds, and do not have their own “breed name”.
Often cross-breeds are similar breeds that have been mated, such as the Scottish Terrier and the West Highland Terrier. These are 2 similar looking breeds; similar height, coat, ears, face, as well as having a similar temperament.
However, due to the ability to reproduce, cross-breeds become more and more diluted in breed terms and eventually just get termed as a mongrel. A lot of mongrels are so mixed with breeds that a similarity to any one breed is very hard to see, others have a distinct breed that stands out; such as the Alsatian mix and the Tibetan Terrier mix, pictured below.
All breeds, including the ones that are now classified as pedigree breeds, have come about from mixing different kinds of canines to get the desired appearance and/ or personality out of the animal that the breeder desired. The Bedlington Terrier for example, is thought to be a mix of; the Rothbury Terrier, Kerry Blue Terrier, Wheaten Terrier, Otterhound, Poodle and the Dandie Dinmont Terrier… so basically a mongrel with a lot of breeds mixed in! However, nowadays it is its own recognised breed, a pedigree.
Other Cross-Breed Animals
Dogs may be the most popular animals to mix breeds, but they are certainly not the only ones! Cats, birds, fish, rabbits, rodents, reptiles, sheep, cows, pigs, horses and ponies can all be cross bred; but some species cross-breeds are more common than others. For example, cross-breed rabbits are fairly common, often due to un-neutered pets having accidental litters!
Cats cross-breed often too, however in one litter there can be a different father for each kitten, so the crosses cannot always be determined and may not be known – unless the cross-breeding was intentional and artificially selected. Cats are usually bred via artificial selection for their pedigree, so in the way we get designer dog breeds, it is not the same with cats. Some cat crosses can be seen clearly, but most are unsure and just get termed as a moggie.
Just to clarify – the terms horse and pony refers to the height of the same animal. They are measure in hands high (hh) – horses are 14.2hh+, whereas ponies are up to (and including) 14.1hh. Horses and ponies are usually selected for their pedigree too, due to needing pure bloodlines for race and show animals. However, there are a few recognised cross-breeds:
Welera (Welsh pony x Arabian horse)
National Show Horse (American Saddlebred x Arabian horse)
Morab (Morgan x Arabian horse)
Appendix Quarter Horse (Quarter horse x Thoroughbred)
Quarab (Quarter horse x Arabian horse)
Walkaloosa (Tennessee walking horse x Appaloosa)
There is also a mongrel of horses – a mix breed of many breeds that has come to be recognised as a breed, the Pony of the Americas (POA).
A lot of people do not believe birds and fish can be cross bred, however this is just due to the occurrence of this being very low (lower in fish than birds). Birds can cross breed as long as they belong to the same sub-species; for example, 2 of the same type (such as 2 conures, or 2 cockatoos) of parrot can have offspring, 2 of the same type of aviary bird (such as a pair of different finch types) can have offspring, 2 different chicken types can have offspring… And the list goes on. It is just uncommon, but the ability is there.
So really… they’re all mongrels and moggies and mixed breeds, our pets! But whatever we have, we love them regardless!
Any questions or comments?
Please use either contact page, thoughts comment box below, or social media site (Facebook, Google+, Twitter or LinkedIn).
This is a follow-up post to “Something Fishy! (1)” – inspired by my Comet Goldfish (see image, below)
In this part I give a bit more information on fish, tanks, husbandry, and more! Following on from fish diseases and foodstuffs, I have decided to talk about the tank and what goes into it, in this; part 2…
Hygiene and Husbandry
Water changes should be done 10% weekly or 50% monthly. More than a 50% water change should not be done at any one time, unless a new tank is being set up – this can cause an imbalance in the chemicals in the tank, which is quite likely to lead to problems!
A siphon is used for suctioning out dirt and debris from the gravel and décor. It also sucks out water so a bucket is needed to put the dirty water in. This dirty water is the water the filter sponges and the décor, should be cleaned in.
Tap water, at the correct temperature, with “Tap Safe” – the chemical that is added to the water to make it safe for fish – should be used to refill the tank. Chlorine and chloramines are strong chemicals which are added to drinking water, this kills bacteria and makes tap water safe for humans to drink. Untreated (without “Tap Safe”) tap water contains these chemicals, which can strip the protective mucus coating (what makes fish ‘slimy’) off the fish making them susceptible to disease and infections, and can lead to the death of your fish. Putting “Tap Safe” or “Safe Guard” makes the water safe and comfortable for your fish to live in, and must be done EVERY time you do a water change.
ELECTRICS SHOULD BE TURNED OFF BEFORE YOU PUT YOUR HAND INTO THE TANK!! – Due to the filter (and heater) and light, there is electricity dangerously close to the water. If the water becomes electric due to a fault, the fish will be unaffected as they are unearthed – meaning you will not see it. You will know about it though, if you put your hand into the tank as you will get electrocuted. So be safe rather than sorry – especially if there is nobody else around to help you if you do get hurt!
Housing and Environment
Tanks and Location
Fish should be housed in a decent sized fish tank – bowls are insufficient in space and are a poor home for your pet. Ensure your tank is big enough for how big your fish will grow, and the amount of stock in the tank. Never overstock your tank; this could lead to aggression, fighting and even death. Remember when you buy your tank that the space will be lessened with the décor added, so remember to account for this.
Put your tank in a quiet place as too many vibrations; from noise from TV or people walking past often, will cause stress to the fish. Fish have something called the lateral line, which detects vibrations; over-stimulation of this causes excess stress to fish, thinning the mucus coating, which can lead to ill health in your fish. Ensure that you put the tank away from windows, as excessive sunlight promotes algae growth; algae upsets the chemical balance in the water as well as mucking up your tank.
Depending on what species you want to keep will determine the water in the tank – cold, tropical or marine. No matter what temperature, or water type you have you will always need “Tap Safe” in the water to make it safe for your fish to live in. The chlorine in tap water is unsafe for your pet fish and will cause very poor health, and even death; however, there are treatments to add to the water to make it safe. Depending on brand of the product, the name will be different – “Tap Safe” and “Fresh Start” and “Safe Guard” (not “Safe Water”) are 3 of these treatments; differently named as they are manufactured by different companies, however do the same job. Always ask advice from the pet shop staff if you are unsure about which one to buy – if shop staff are unsure, go to a different shop!
Décor needs to be added to the tank for enrichment – natural is always best, however some people do prefer funny décor such as; sunken pirate ships, fake plants, characters (see image, below), and “No Fishing” signs. Fish however, prefer natural rocks, pieces of wood, and live plants.
Live plants also add oxygen into the tank making it a better environment for the fish. Although, it can become and expensive upkeep to have live plants if, like my fish, they just eat the plants resulting in the necessity to buy more… and more… and more! So I keep false plants in my tank – one larger and one smaller (see image, below) – to provide a hiding place, as well as a bit of colour in the tank.
For extra oxygen you could put an aerator in the tank (or as the Yellow Tang in Finding Nemo calls them, “MY BUBBLES!”) – which can be in standard form, or in the form of décor such as; an opening/ closing treasure chest, a scuba diver, or other items. Another option (as mentioned in part 1) is to position your internal filter high enough to keep the surface of the water moving (see image, below).
Fish like somewhere to hide, in case they feel threatened and need to get away. Large, leafy plants and tunnels are common hide-away’s; as are castles, houses, and sunken pirate ships! Natural looking, artificial hide-away’s are longer lasting than real bits of wood, etc. – and are easier to clean! An example of a hide-away is my tank’s natural looking, hollow of wood (see image, below).
A substrate needs to be provided – gravel is the most common, but sand or bark can also be used. Ensure that the gravel is bigger than your fish’s mouth, as during foraging fish often pick up bits of gravel, and are likely to choke if the gravel is small enough for silly fish swallow!
Backing paper is optional, it is for the owners benefit only – it hides wires at the back of the tank, and makes the tank look nice. Backing paper is fitted onto the outside of the tank on the back ‘wall’; image facing the inside of the tank. When a person looks into the tank from the front, the backing paper image can be seen.
A filter is necessary in all tanks; to filter the dirt, bad chemicals and faces from the water – leaving clean water. This could be an internal, external, or under-gravel filter. Filters need to be cleaned out regularly and thoroughly, in ‘dirty’ tank water – not tap water.
These go on the inside of your tank are best for single tanks of standard sizes (best for your everyday fish tank). Internal filters come in a range of sizes to fit with most standard tanks and even some smaller ones, and are very easy to clean.
These are larger than internal filters, and sit on the outside of the tank, with a bit attached to the inside – these are great for large tanks where the filter size needed is just too big to put in the tank.
These are often found in small, starter tanks and are unseen, because (as the name states) it hidden under the gravel. The gravel being on top of the filter can cause issues with the filtration, and under-gravel filter performance is not great (not recommended – even for starter tanks).
Filters need to be cleaned out weekly or fortnightly (at least). The filter has a sponge (or sponges) inside which need to be cleaned in the tank water itself – not tap water – because the chlorine will get into the filter and get into the water rendering your “Tape Safe” or “Safe Guard” useless.
In tropical and marine water type tanks; a heater needs to be placed, as well as a thermometer on the outside of the tank to ensure the optimum temperature is regularly maintained. Ensure the temperature is not too hot or cold for your species – research into the species you will house before you get them. Ensure, in multi-species tanks, that the temperature is suitable for all species of fish that are in your tank.
Lights are also a fixture beneficial to the tank. The light can be turned on to see the fish in the evening, and can be on during the day – but lights should be turned off at night so the fish can sleep. Fish lack eyelids so need complete darkness to enable the to get a good night sleep! Different light types can be purchased – daytime and night-time lights; night lights usually being a blue colour and not as bright as day lights. Day lights can be standard tank bulbs, or UV bulbs which imitate sunlight by providing vitamin D. Preference is down to you when picking a bulb, however if you choose to go with a UV bulb – ensure you remember to turn them off for a minimum of 10 hours each night as too much vitamin D can also cause health problems.
One of my Comet Goldfish was not too pleased with me for photographing him, his tank-mates, and his tank! I thought I would share with you the photographic evidence of this, in the form of a meme… enjoy!
After doing my dissertation on goldfish nutrition, bringing the fish back home with me, and them surviving the long journey from university, I am quite impressed at how well my goldfish are still doing after 2 years! I also maintain my dad’s tropical fish tank with somewhat smaller and different species to my Comet goldfish (pictured below). This tank has been going since I was a kid, just replacing stock as required.
There are some key factors in well maintaining a fish tank, which I have decided to cover in 2 parts so that I avoid writing an essay! So here it goes…
Food varies with species. There a many forms on the market. Flakes are the most common/ popular, as are pellets. Live and frozen food are also popular choices for meals and/or treats – again, this depends on the fish species and dietary requirements.
Flakes and Pellets
The brighter coloured the flakes are, the worse they are for the fish as they are filled with additives and colourings! Pellets are harder to tell by colour, however, the best kind you can get is from a reputable brand, not a supermarket’s own brand (this goes for flakes too).
Ensure that you feed the correct flakes for your tank species – fish from different climates, habitats and water-types have different dietary requirements – according to what they would eat in the wild. Tropical flakes for tropical species, cold-water flakes for cold-water species, and marine flakes for marine species. Pellet-wise they can be more species specific than just water-type, for example; Catfish pellets specifically designed for catfish, sinking pellets for general bottom feeder species, and another example being cichlid pellets designed specifically for the diet of cichlid’s.
Mealworms: live mealworms need their heads crushing to prevent them eating their way out of the fish’s stomach). These may also need cutting up if they are too large for your fish – do not feed anything too big for your fish to swallow, as fish can choke too! It’s difficult to do the Heimlich-manoeuvre on your fish!
Brine Shrimp: these can be purchased in many aquariums and pet stores in a bag of water. They will live approximately 5-7 days (slightly longer if they are refrigerated), but ought to be fed to your fish A.S.A.P to prevent them from dying before your fish get their dinner! Do not feed dead brine shrimp to your fish as it could cause stomach upset.
*Interesting fact – this is what your first “pet” was if your first “pet” were Sea Monkey’s!*
Blood Worm: these can also be purchased in aquariums and pet stores, and come in a bag of water. Again they live approximately 1 weeks, a day or 2 longer if they are refrigerated. However, with blood worm you may wish to drain the water out as it can turn your tank water red! This can be done by pouring most of the water out; carefully keeping the blood worm in a small amount of water at the bottom, and then pouring that into you tank.
Beef heart, blood worm, and brine shrimp are the most common forms of frozen food sold. These can all be defrosted for feeding to your pet fish, for marine or tropical tanks. Cold-water tanks can have the frozen blocks defrosted, or dropped straight into the tank – as it shouldn’t affect the water temperature too much, and is a great and tasty way for your cold-water fish to cool down on a particularly warm day.
These types of food can be the main diet, in the place of pellets or flakes. They can be fed as a treat or supplement weekly or every-so-often, again to replace a flake/ pellet meal or as half-half with flakes/ pellets.
If you have larger carnivorous species of fish (such as an Oscar Fish) frozen mice are often fed, defrosted, via long forceps to avoid bitten fingers! Depending on the quantity and size of the fish, determines the quantity and size of the frozen mice fed.
Depending on if your fish is a cold water, tropical or marine fish; and whether they are herbivores, carnivores or omnivores, will depend on what it needs feeding.
Vegetables (not for carnivorous species!):
Zucchini (sliced to appropriate size)
Lettuce and Swiss chard (shredded to appropriate size)
Cucumber (sliced to appropriate size)
Peas (boiled or fresh, or frozen for Cold-Water)
Broccoli (boiled or fresh, chopped to appropriate size)
Split green beans(boiled and cooled)
Fish treats can be purchased that stick to the side of the tank, and can be nibbled at throughout the day. These need to be suitable for your tank – tropical, cold-water or marine – just like flakes need to be specific to your tank type. These can be a good way of health checking your fish as the treats can be stuck to the front of the tank, and you can see a lot more of your fish when they come up for a nibble!
When checking your fish out for signs of ill-health, bear in mind some common fish diseases to look out for…
Common Fish Diseases and Treatments
White Spot > Characteristic white spots covering body; white spot treatment
Ich > Small white or grey spots on body; ich treatment
Rot – Fin, Mouth, Tail, Gill > Fungus rotting various parts of the body – fluffy grey or white patches; fungal treatment
Parasites – Gill fluke, Nematoda, Anchor worm, Internal Parasites > There are, as with most species, too many to name individually – both internal and external parasites; various parasitic treatments
Velvet > White/ yellow ‘peppered’ spots all over body; ich treatment
Head and Lateral Line Disease (a.k.a Hole-in-the-head) > visible holes in the head and along lateral line – at first pin prick size, and then get larger. Swollen lateral line; various “Hole-in-Head” treatments
Tuberculosis (Fish TB) > hollow belly, weight loss, possibly sores; no known cure – very contagious to other fish, zoonotic (can be transferred to humans) if a human puts bare, wounded/ broken skin into infected tank
Oxygen Deficiency > Water problem – more oxygen needed in water. Gasping for air at the top of tank can be seen, water tests can be done; possible solutions – 50% water change, add aeration, add real plants (naturally put O2 into tank), put filter closer to the water surface to keep the water flowing/moving (adds O2) – see image below.
The majority of these treatments can be purchased in a pet shop, if not the treatments can be found online.