Mammal, Egg Layer or Both? (1)

Mammal, Egg Layer or Both? (1)

By definition, a mammal is an animal that is warm-blooded and a vertebrate (animal with a backbone), which nourishes their young with milk from mammary glands. Mammals, by and large, produce live young – however, there are two exceptions to this!

These exceptions are egg-laying mammals – these are called monotremes! This post will cover the more well-known species, and a following post will cover the lesser known of the two.

It would seem that a lot of people tend to be aware of the first on my list:

Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus)

Native to Australia (including Tasmania), the Platypus is a unique looking mammal, which has been described as looking like a Frankenstein creation! When it was first sent back to England from Australia, in 1943, to British Naturalist George Shaw, he was looking for stitches as he believed it was a hoax by his colleagues, who had stitched together their own Frankenstein animal creation!

I don’t think we can blame him, to be honest; sometimes referred to as the Duck-Billed Platypus, due to having a duck-like bill (beak), the Platypus also has a beaver-like body and tail, with claws on their webbed (otter-like) feet! Something you may not know, however, is that, on the back legs, the males of this species have venomous spurs/ spikes! They also have cheek pouches (like your pet hamster) in which they store food that they catch under water to bring to the surface to eat.

They can hold their breath for up to 10 minutes at a time. However, they tend to hunt under the water for only a couple of minutes before coming up for air (or dinner).

Platypus, open source image

Another anomaly with this mammal is that they do not feed their young via nipples – instead they ‘sweat’ milk through specialised glands in their skin, which pools on their bellies, for their young (known as Puggles) to drink.

The weirdness doesn’t stop there, though! The Platypus does not have a stomach – their oesophagus connects directly to their intestines, and food is digested in the intestines by digestive enzymes.

Stay tuned for the second species…

All images are either open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use by the pet owners.

If you have any questions or comments; please post a comment below or contact Ali’s Answers via one of the social media pages:

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Once upon a time… dog breeds (2)

Once upon a time… dog breeds (2)

Once upon a time, there lived different types of animals – in addition to or the ancestors of the ones we know know and love today… 

So we all know animal species become extinct and I’ve written many posts about threatened/ endangered species; but what about those species that are still around but have just lost some types/ breeds along the way?

Focusing, for a few posts, on dog breeds that once were but now no longer exist; here are the a few in our exploration of extinct dog breeds…

Click here for Once upon a time… dog breeds (1)


A Polynesian dog breed, named from the Māori language, “Kurī Māori” meaning “ordinary dog”. The word “kurī” meaning “dog” or “four-legged animal”.

The Kurī was used alongside pigs and chickens as a protein food source; thought to have been bred for food as well as companionship.

It is thought to have gone extinct in the 1860’s when European settlers came to New Zealand; seemingly unable to survive interbreeding with European dog breeds that had been introduced with the settlers.

In Māori mythology, the first dog was made by the demigod, Māui (yes, I thought of Moana too). It is said that Māui, annoyed with his brother-in-law, Irawaru, turned him into the first dog or kurī.

Said to be approximately 20-30cm to the shoulder, in height, and weighting in at 13-15kg. Compared to the modern-day Border Collie in size, with terrier features, stumpy legs and a bushy tail. The Kurī breed was said to have howled in a similar way to that if a fox, as opposed to have stereotypically barked like most modern dog breeds today.

The last known specimen was taxidermied for display in The New Zealand Museum Te Papa Tongarewa in 1924.

Open source image of the Kurī on display at The New Zealand Museum from 1924

Further images of the Kurī on display at The New Zealand Museum can be found on their website, here.

Bullenbeißer (Bullenbeisser)

Bullenbeißer or Bullenbeisser meaning “bull biter” was also known as the German Bulldog. It is said to have been like the modern-day Dogo Argentino (banned in the UK under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 despite the breed not being in the UK at the time) in appearance and usage. As the name suggests, this dog was bred for bull fighting and other similar usage.

The Bullenbeißer was bred in two sizes (being two regional varieties), the larger Danziger Bullenbeißer and the smaller Brabanter Bullenbeißer; varying between 40-70cm to the shoulder in height.

Open source image of both verified of the Bullenbeißer dog

The Brabanter is said to have been used for cross breeding, to create new types of dog, and is thought to be an ancestor of the modern-day Boxer – three German breeders are said to have crossed them with Bulldog breeds from Great Britain, in the late 1870’s.

Turnspit Dog

Also known as the Kitchen Dog, Underdog, Cooking Dog or Wheeling Dog – sometimes known as the Vernepater Cur (meaning “the dog that spins the wheel”), this little dog breed was employed to work in kitchen, to run around on a wheel to keep the spit turning, to cook the meat. The wheel, not dissimilar (in my opinion) to a hamster wheel, was connected to the spit. These dogs would be used in shifts to avoid the over-exertion of one dog – often used in pairs to share the work.

Not too much is known about this dog breed due to a lack of record keeping, likely due to it being of low ranking as it was only used for kitchen/ cooking assistance. There are different speculations around the ancestor of this little dog; some believe it is the ancestor of the Dachshund, whilst others believe it is the ancestor of the Welsh Corgi’s, and others believe it to be the ancestor of the Glen of Imaal Terrier.

The breed declined and eventually became extinct, following advancements in the kitchen, making these little dogs redundant in their job role. By the early 1900’s, mechanical turnspits had replaced these dogs.

The last known specimen of this breed, “Whiskey”, is taxidermied and on display in the Abergavenny Museum in Wales.

Open source image of “Whiskey” the Turnspit Dog

All images are either open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use by the pet owners.

If you have any questions or comments; please post a comment below or contact Ali’s Answers via one of the social media pages:

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Toxic Houseplants (Dogs)

Toxic Houseplants (Dogs)

Apologies to any regular readers, that may be out there, for not posting in a couple of months. I recently suffered the loss of a friend so life was all over the place for a while.

Speaking to various friends with newly acquired dogs or pups has made me realise how little information first time dog owners can have about their new pet.

If you buy a budgie, a rabbit, a hamster, a goldfish, etc. from a pet shop, you should be sent home with some information about your new pet – how to care for it, dangers to avoid, and so on. Even if it’s just the pet shop staff encouraging you to buy an informative book relating to your new pet, or if they are good and prepared with their own informative leaflets, you will get recommendations for housing, food, treats, food bowls/ bottles, toys – the lot! Then they send you away with at least a basic understanding of how to care for your new animal.

But buying a dog in the UK is not always the same experience. There is a lot of conflicting information online, and whilst some people are knowledgeable and helpful, you can’t be guaranteed that the person you’re buying the dog from has correct information. Rescuing s dog from a shelter comes with its own challenges, especially if the dog has suffered in some form before arriving at the shelter – however, staff at a rescue centre will do due diligence to ensure you and your prospective pet are compatible, that you can care for that individual, and help you in doing so with information and recommendations.

One thing that seems to be on the unknown list when it comes to a lot of dog owners is toxic plants. A lot of people know the basics of toxic foodstuffs (onion, garlic, tomato, chocolate, etc. – I most recently covered the basics in my 2021 Christmas Post) but toxic plants are a whole other ballpark.

In this post, I’m going to specifically cover common houseplants, which are toxic to dogs. Please note that this is by no means an exhaustive list, but just some common houseplants to be careful of if you have dogs.

1. Aloe Vera

Possible effects: diarrhoea, vomiting, depression, loss of appetite, lethargy, urinary problems.

Aloe Vera

2. Philodendron and Cheese Plant (similar but not a true philodendron)

Possible effects: diarrhoea, vomiting, excessive drooling, loss of appetite, laboured breathing, swelling of mouth (lips, tongue, surrounding area), cardiac arrhythmia.

3. Corn (House) Plant

Possible effects: vomiting (possibly with blood), appetite loss, increased drooling, depression.

Corn Plant, open source image

4. Asparagus Fern

Possible effects: If ingested – diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal pain. External exposure – skin irritation.

Asparagus Fern, open source image

5. Lily of the Valley

Possible effects: diarrhoea, vomiting, cardiac arrhythmia, reduced heart rate, seizures, death.

Lily of the Valley, open source image

6. Mother in Law’s Tongue

Possible effects: diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, decreased appetite, increased drooling, lethargy, depression.

Mother in law’s tongue, open source image

7. Kalanchoe

Possible effects: diarrhoea, vomiting, abnormal heart rhythm.

Kalanchoe, open source image

8. Sago Palm

Possible effects: diarrhoea (with or without blood), vomiting (with or without blood), lack of appetite, increased drooling, lethargy, weakness, tremors, stumbling/ collapsing, seizures, coma, liver failure – potentially fatal.

Sago Palm, open source image

NB: if you think your dogs may have been affected by any of the above please do not hesitate to contact your vet or the Animal Poison Line (UK), Pet Poison Helpline (USA), or relevant Poison Helpline in your area.

All images are either open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use by the pet owners.

If you have any questions or comments; please post a comment below or contact Ali’s Answers via one of the social media pages:

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Remembering Tilly

Remembering Tilly

You can find my two previous Tilly posts here:

1. Titbit

2. Follow Up

When I first met Tilly, she was 10 years old and had recently had a negative experience with a dog friend behaving aggressively toward her, which shook her up and affected her behaviour.

I had the pleasure of walking, training, and rehabilitating Tilly, and eventually being able to socialise her with many other dogs (the way she was prior to meeting me, according to her owner). It is always a joy to help a dog back to who they were before a traumatic event – once trauma has happened you can’t undo it, but you can help them overcome it, and I am happy I was able to do this for Tilly.

Tilly and Rollo:

Tilly was the first doggo interaction our Rollo had as a pup, and he followed her around, bugging her for attention and loving being around her.

Tilly took a liking to some local dogs we met, out with their dog walker – she even seemed to have a sweet spot for a grumpy old male Yorkie mix, who seemed to like her sufficiently too! Dogs she was unsure of she soon settled around and was happy to roam within her friendship groups whilst out and about.

Tilly and friends:

Tilly and Rollo even made friends with a lovely rescue dog from Romania, who didn’t usually accept outsiders into her family pack; Rollo seemed to hit it off well with her, and Tilly (being the other dog in Rollo’s pack) was welcomed in too.

Tilly did have a habit of seeing a pair of (human) legs and just following blindly, nose to the ground, assuming it was the human/ one of the humans she was with! My husband and I had to backtrack on more than one occasion to stop her stalking off, distracted, after a stranger!

Despite Tilly getting older and a bit stiffer, and with her eyesight and hearing deteriorating slightly, she was still keen to get out for walkies most days, albeit at a slower pace. She was such a happy dog and loving to all who came across her.

Tilly sadly crossed the rainbow bridge earlier this month and will be missed by all who knew her, and most of all, by her owner. Our Rollo still recognises the name “Tilly” when we’ve recently mentioned it, and I like to think he remembers something of her (even though he was so young when they were together). We will always treasure the memories of our tike with her, and we are grateful to have known her.

R.I.P. sweet girl 💕🐾🌈

Puppy Tails (6)

Puppy Tails (6)

It’s been a while since I last did a pupdate for my doggos.

So, Rollo turned 2yo in January this year, and Brina turned 2yo in July (last month). In the last post (Puppy Tails (5)) I mentioned that Brina had come into her first heat/ season – despite being neutered, Rollo was a handful! We managed through and had had to separate them at times (to give her peace from him, and him a break from all the exciting pheromones) but we all managed!

Happy doggos

Brina has been neutered now, as we do not plan to breed from her, we were waiting for her to get through a couple of heats/ seasons, before booking her in for a spay. She had her umbilical hernia fixed at the same time – this would have needed to be fixed before breeding, if we had decided to breed from her. As a result, she had a bodysuit on, along with the buster collar (a.k.a. Cone of Shame) so that she left the stitches alone.The largest size the vet had fit her okay, aside from being tight round the front legs; I noticed that the bodysuit was cutting into her front legs! I cut bigger leg holes at the front, cleaned up the wounds (daily) and raised the issue with our vet at the follow up appointment – the action I had already taken seemed to be correct as the vet was happy with the fit if the suit (with the bigger leg holes) and happy the leg wounds were healing nicely.

Having never used a bodysuit for an injured/ recovering dog before, this isn’t something that I would have thought to be an issue – being too tight in just one area. If I ever use one again, I will be sure to check the fit of the bodysuit when I put it on and after the dog has moved around a bit, and make adjustments accordingly, to prevent injury.

Brina in her (modified) body suit

Having moved house a year ago, the dogs are well established now in their new home and environment. I think Rollo misses seeing the cows in the various fields every day (Brina doesn’t), as he used to like to interact with the cows. But they have some new friends locally – my student pup, Bailey the Golden Retriever, and another Lurcher (he is more greyhound like than Rollo) called Kodey. Having a big garden is great as they can run around and play to their hearts’ content (weather permitting), just the two of them or with their friends. We also now have the option of occasionally nipping down the road to my uncle’s farm so the dogs can have a run in one of the fields (if there is an empty one) – this is fab as I don’t think Rollo can quite reach full speed and stretch in our garden, but he can in a field!

As for the teenage behaviour of my dogs:

• Brina has developed a dislike for cats and barks at every last one she can find… she often wants to chase, too! So, we are very much working on this behaviour as it seems very unwarranted from her. Rollo had some experiences with nasty cats back in England, so you may expect a dislike of cats from him – he does sometimes bark at them, but Brina has had no experience with cats, aside from with the cats on the farm where she was born (likely forgotten). I have speculated that the behaviour from her is due to the lack of exposure to cats, prey drive or just a GSD thing – either way, it’s an undesirable behaviour from a 30+KG dog in an area with a lot of cats. She has much improved on this since she started the behaviour, but we have a way to go yet.

Brina is walking on a martingale collar now, instead of the Gentle Leader. We got both dogs the martingale collars for different reasons from Dog House Collars and Coats (they can also be found on the website Supporting Small Businesses page). This works for Brina in the same way a half check collar would work, but it’s all fabric with no chain. The collar, on its tightest, is how tight a normal collar should be. When she walks nicely, it’s a bit in the loose side, but when she pulls she can feel the tightening of the collar, without the size reduction causing any harm. She is learning with this, and walking a lot better. We stopped with the Gentle Leader as she had begun to pull against it and it was resulting in a bald patch on her muzzle.

Rollo showing off his martingale collar

• Rollo, since turning 2yo, has simmered down considerably. He still loves to play fight Brina, and he is still a cheeky boyo, but he is much better at listening again and obeying commands. We still get the odd teenage behaviour show through, where he chooses to ignore a command or act like he didn’t hear, or that we were talking to Brina, not him… but in the whole, I feel he is well on his way to becoming a well-behaved, good adult dog. But time will tell 😜

Rollo walks well on the martingale collar, but he walks well on a normal collar. The reason we got the martingale collar for him was more for his own safety – he has the typical Lurcher big head with slim neck, and the talent for slipping out of a regular collar! As with Brina, Rollo’s collar is fitted so it is the size a normal collar should be, when it’s on its tightest. He can walk normally, but if there is any pulling or indication he may want to remove himself from the collar, it is just pulled to its smallest size (normal collar fitting) and he can’t slip out of it. As Rollo isn’t really a puller, it isn’t often used for the same reason Brina’s is. But both dogs have benefitted greatly from these collars .

Cheeky Rollo

In summary, they’re both still cheeky teenagers, but we are getting there with their training. Patience and consistency is yielding positive results.

Bunny Food

Bunny Food

It’s often said that salad is “rabbit food” or “bunny food” – but how much of a salad can you actually feed to your pet rabbit? What other foods often thought of as “bunny food” should you avoid giving to your pet rabbit? What should be fed as “bunny food”?

* This is not an extensive list – check with your vet if you’re unsure or if the foodstuff is not included in this post. Be sure to check safe amounts for your age/ breed/ size of rabbit and their personal dietary requirements. Be sure to wash all fresh foodstuffs before feeding. *


I feel like most people are surprised when I suggest keeping iceberg lettuce and other light coloured lettuces away from rabbits, as people often think of lettuce as “bunny food”.

Iceberg lettuce and other light coloured lettuces may contain a fluid known as lactucarium, which causes diarrhoea in rabbits. Being so high in water content, these also add very little nutritional value to their diet.

Some darker lettuces are safe to feed your rabbit but always in reasonable quantities. If in doubt, check with your vet what lettuces are safe to feed your pet and suitable serving size for your pets’ age, weight, and breed.

Lupin (left) & Thumper (right)

Not to say that carrots are bad for rabbits, but they are high in sugar and should only be fed in small amounts as a treat. Rabbits in the wild don’t naturally dig up root vegetables for dinner, much to the contrary of Bugs Bunny, who can often be seen munching on a carrot!

Fed in small quantities and certainly not every day, carrots can be a tasty treat for your long eared friend!

Avoid feeding any part of a potato to your rabbit. Being high in starch and carb’s, they do not really provide any health benefit to your bunny – as this can cause digestive issues, I would steer clear.


Bell peppers (no seeds), curly kale, bok choy, asparagus, parsnips, carrots (see above), cauliflower (including the leaves), celery, swede, courgette, peas, fennel, and mange tout are all safe “bunny foods”.

In small doeses: too much can cause gas to build up – brussel sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage.

Sliced carrots & red bell pepper

No seeds – apples, melon, pumpkin, oranges, pears, kiwi, and grapes (not whole, (and raisins) as an occasional sweet treat) are all safe for your bunny.

Raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, peaches (no stone), and pineapples (small quantities) are also safe for your bunny to eat.


Basil, mint, parsley, coriander, dill, and thyme are all bunny safe herbs (fed fresh).


Grass is the obvious one here, but be sure this is fresh grass and never cut grass – particularly from a lawn mower. Avoid allowing you rabbit access to grass that has been treated with anything (pesticides, weedkiller, etc.) that could make your pet ill.

Nettles and clover are also safe for your bunny to munch on. As are dandelions, daisies, nasturtiums, hollyhock, sunflowers, bell flowers, and lavender – flowers and leaves. My first rabbit often had free run of the garden (supervised), but he would stay close to me if I was making a daisy chain (often with dandelions added to the chain) so he could munch away on it when I was done!

Daffodils, foxgloves, rhododendrons, tulips, lily’s, chrysanthemums, rhubarb, buttercup, ivy, holly, hemlock, iris, nightshade, hydrangea, and hyacinths are all plants which are TOXIC to rabbits. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always deter them – as a child, we lost a rabbit after she consumed daffodil bulbs!



BE AWARE that incorrect feeding can also lead to bloat in rabbits; the result of incorrect foodstuffs and/ or overfeeding treat foodstuffs can cause a build-up of liquid and gas, causing a blockage. Bloat is quite often fatal in rabbits – even within just a few hours.

THE BULK of your rabbit’s diet should be fresh hay (not straw) and grass – this helps keep their teeth worn down (rabbit’s teeth are constantly growing) and provides much need fibre for your bunny’s high fibre digestive system.

THIS IS followed by pellet rabbit food – muesli style rabbit food is fine if your rabbit will eat all items in the mix, every time; pellet food has all the same nutritional value but mixed into one (more boring looking) pellet so that rabbits cannot pick and choose what they eat, therefore aiding to ensure a good nutritional balance without deficiency.

BE SURE to adjust the meal size to accommodate any treats being given, so as to avoid overfeeding.

ALWAYS BE sure to refresh your rabbit’s water daily and make sure they always have access to fresh water. Some rabbits will kick substrate into water bowls and refuse to drink from the dirty water source, whereas bottles keep the water secure in a clean container. Whatever your rabbit’s preferences, be sure they have access to clean water.

Rabbit munching on hay

Pronounced see-co-tro-fy is the process in which your rabbit will excrete caecotrophs, which are made up of nutrients that were not digested the first time round. These are soft pellets, which can be mistaken for soft poop pellets but are then eaten by your rabbit to go for round two through the digestive tract. If your rabbit does not appear to be doing this, take them for a vet check-up in case of underlying medical issues (such as physical pain or dental issues).

Rabbits eating indigestible poop pellets is known as coprophagy and is an undesirable behaviour; it is best to get this checked out.

All images are either open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use by the pet owners.
If you have any questions or comments; please post a comment below or contact Ali’s Answers via one of the social media pages:
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Dog Behaviour: Fake Sneezing

Dog Behaviour: Fake Sneezing

Have you ever had your dog come up to you and just sort of sneeze at you? Have you noticed your dog sneeze during play time? This isn’t really sneezing, but more of a fake sneeze.

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So, why do dogs fake sneeze? Well, there are a few reasons and situations, but it’s all a form of communication!


Your pooch may make eye contact and sneeze at you if they want your attention – maybe for a fuss, to be let out, for food… basically, it’s your dog saying, “Look at me I want something.”

My German Shepherd Dog (GSD), if ignored, will often follow this up with a paw on you or with a louder vocalisation!

Your pooch may sneeze multiple times if ignored or, like Brina (my GSD), do something that’s harder to ignore!

Box of Tissues

During Play

Amidst the barking and growling and other playful noises, dogs sneeze during play to indicate that they are only playing! This can also indicate your dog is having fun!


This type of fake sneeze is often referred to as a play sneeze. This seems to come from just the nose, as opposed to the lungs.

Whether playing nicely inside or rough-housing in the garden; you will always hear play sneezes from my two!

Happiness/ Contentment

Dogs fake sneeze to express happiness or contentment in a situation – being fussed, out for a walk, playing (as noted above), etc.

For example, my Lurcher (Rollo) will fake sneeze when he’s getting good belly/ chest scratch and fuss; indicating his enjoyment.

My GSD can be heard making contented sneezes occasionally when she’s eating – particularly when she’s enjoying finding her biscuits in her snuffle mat!

Brina finding food in her snuffle mat

All images are either open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use by the pet owners.

If you have any questions or comments; please post a comment below or contact Ali’s Answers via one of the social media pages:

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Happy International Puppy Day 2023

Happy International Puppy Day 2023

Puppies bring us joy – they’re small (for a time), curious about the world around them, eager to learn and to please, and so much more!

It’s a shame how many are given up once the puppy stage is over – dogs are a joy too, in a different way than a puppy but no less diminished.

Happy International Puppy Day! 🥰🐶

National Hippopotamus Day: 15 February 2023

National Hippopotamus Day: 15 February 2023

The hippopotamus, often shortened to hippo, is also known as River Horse as the word hippopotamus is the English translation of the Greek word for River Horse.

They are native to Africa and are considered one of Africa’s most dangerous mammals! Their bite can cut a human in two! Hippos are known for their aggressive nature, particularly in the water as they defend territories.

Hippos will mark out territory on land with their dung and even show dominance by flicking dung with their tail.

© Ali’s Animal Answers

The hippo is the third largest land mammal, after the elephant and the rhinoceros (rhino). That being said, it is a semi-aquatic mammal and will spend around 16 hours a day in water. Hippos can hold their breath for 5 minutes at a time but also sleep in the water, surfacing to breathe automatically without waking.

Wild hippos have a lifespan of approximately 40 years, whereas captive hippos can live an extra decade, reaching approximately 50 years of age.

A full grown adult hippo is approximately 5 foot 2 inches in height (that’s my height!) and approximately 16.5 foot long – with females weighing in at 1,300-1,500 kg and males at 1,500-1,800 kg!

The front teeth of a hippo can grow to 1.2 foot, and the canine teeth (sometimes called tusks) can reach up to 1.5 foot!

Open Source Image

These large, heavy animals can reach speeds of approximately 19 mph (30.6 kph) at full gallop, which is pretty impressive (in my opinion) for animals who spend most of their time in water; where they reach a maximum speed of about 5 mph (8 kph). They’re not very quick in the water as they cannot actually swim or float, but rather walk or run along the riverbed.

Hippos are herbivores (vegetarians) and will usually graze after the sun has set, due to their very thick, waterproof skin being highly susceptible to sunburn. Hippos secrete a red liquid which helps to protect them from the sun, which has led to a myth that they sweat blood!

Although populations remain steady, the hippo is classified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List – with poaching and habitat loss being the main contributors to the decline of this species. Conservation efforts are in place to try and combat their decline.

All images are either open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use by the pet owners.

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