Category Archives: Reptiles

Pet Health Check: Body


As a response to a message asking to know more about health checking your pet at home, here is some information… part two:

Last weeks post covered the face, this week will cover health checking the rest of the body – as a continuation from the face/ head…

SPINE:
From feeling for lumps, nicks, cuts, etc. on the head and face of your animal; run your hands gently down the spine, feeling all along for anything out of the ordinary.
– check the spine is straight, not sticking out at any odd angles
– no lumps or swelling around the spine
– check the skin around the spine is not punctured or wounded (open)
– feel gently, slowly, and carefully

TAIL:
– same as above, just continue down the spine to the tail, checking the same things
– if your pet is a tail chaser, check that your pet has not caught its’ tail and done damage (with their teeth)

ABDOMEN:
– gently apply a slight pressure, to check for any pain
– feel for any internal lumps

RIBCAGE:
– check it feels normal for the species, not oddly shaped
– gently apply pressure, checking there is no pain (nothing feels broken)
– no lumps or swelling

LEGS/ WINGS/ HIPS/ SHOULDERS:
– no lumps, swelling, cuts, nicks, etc.
– free from pain when gentle pressure is applied
– joints bend normally; no pain or stiffness

FEET/ NAILS/ HOOVES:
– not too long; curling
– not flaking or split
– clean and free from dirt, debris, stones, etc.

FUR/ FEATHERS/ SCALES/ SKIN:
The fur patterns on your pet tend to match up with the skin colour; i.e. black patches of fur will have dark skin beneath, white fur will have pale skin beneath, brown fur will have brown skin beneath (etc. etc.) so know what your pet looks like all over so you can tell if anything is unusual. Know what is normal for your pet in terms of fur/ skin/ feather/ scale type, note any benign abnormalities so that you are able to ascertain when anything unusual occurs.
– skin: free from dryness/ crusting; fur/feathers: free from dandruff/ debris
– fur free from matting/ knots
– feathers should have a healthy shine
– fur should be soft and shiny
– wire hair/fur should not be brittle
– scales ought to be normal; not raised, or discoloured
– free from parasites, abrasions, lesions, infection

Male Bearded Dragon

Did you know? The 5 Freedoms


Short one this week. As much as we love our pets, not all animals have it as good as our little sweetie’s. Some have it very bad which sucks. It’s lovely to read rescue adoption stories and see animals get a second chance at happiness (they needn’t need a second chance, they should be loved right the first time).

The UK has the best animal welfare laws in the world, but even our laws do very little to help animals that really need it, without hard evidence. There are the 5 Freedom’s that were originally written by farmers for livestock, but have since been applied to domestic animals too. I have also realised that not many people have actually heard of the 5 Freedom’s – so this is merely an informative post to share what the 5 Freedom’s are and what they mean.

1. Freedom from hunger and thirst – fresh water readily available at all times, and a diet to maintain a healthy vigour

2. Freedom from discomfort – providing a suitable environment, including shelter and a comfortable area to rest

3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease – by prevention, or rapid diagnosis and treatment

4. Freedom to express normal behaviour – by providing sufficient space and proper facilities, and the company of the animal’s own kind (suitable socialisation)

5. Freedom from fear and distress – ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering

I firmly believe in providing animals with the highest standard of care and good welfare that is possible. These are a good starting point.

Daisy Dog & myself
Daisy Dog & myself

Smallest Species – Bird, Reptile, Amphibian


Bee Hummingbird – the smallest bird in the world
  • Approximately 5-6 cm in length (from tip of bill to end of tail)
  • This species weighs approximately 1.6-2.6 g
  • Males are smaller than females, on average being 5.5 cm in length and 1.6 g in weight
  • Females are the larger of the species, on average being 6.2 cm in length and 2.6 g in weight
  • Mainly found in Cuba
  • Their wings can beat up to 200 times per second
  • They will visit an average of 1,500 flowers daily
  • These tiny birds must eat half their total body mass (and drink eight times their total body mass) every day to support their high metabolism
  • A solitary species, exceptions made only during breeding times
Jaragua Sphaero a.k.a. Dwarf Gecko – the smallest reptile in the world
  • This little gecko is only 0.6-0.8 inches in length; averaging a length of 0.63 inches
  • It weighs just 0.00455 of an ounce!
  • This species lives in the Caribbean; many in the protected Jaragua National Park
  • This is a very endangered species – threatened with extinction!
  • It is a terrestrial species, spending most of the day on the floor hiding in undergrowth
  • They do, however, spend their nights sleeping off the ground (hopefully away from predators!)
  • The Virgin Islands dwarf gecko is a very similar size measuring an average size of 0.71 inches in length
  • These 2 lizards are the smallest of the 23,000 species in the group Amniotes (all reptiles, birds and mammals)
Paedophryne amauensis (frog) – the smallest amphibian in the world
  • Also the smallest of all vertebrates
  • Has no common name, only the scientific name
  • From Papua New Guinea; lives amongst leaf litter in rainforests
  • Average size is 0.27 inches in length
  • The males are smaller than the females when fully grown
  • Discovered in 2009; officially announced in 2012
  • Discovered by Christopher Austin
  • They fill a small species specific, ecological niche
  • They can jump 30 times longer than their body size

 

Curious About Cross-Breeds!


Cross-Breed or Hybrid

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. A hybrid 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)
Tigon
Tigon (lioness x male tiger)

Cross-Breed Dogs

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.

Chihuahua x Yorkie
Chihuahua x Yorkie

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.

Labradoodle
Labradoodle

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.

Cross-breed
Cross-breed dog (2 breeds crossed)

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.

Cross-breed
Cross-breed dog (Mongrel)
Cross-breed
Cross-breed dog (Mongrel)

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.

Bedlington Terrier
Bedlington Terrier

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.

Cross-breed cat
Cross-breed cat

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)
Cross-breed horse
Cross-breed horse

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).

Mix breed horse (POA)
Mix breed horse (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?
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