Kat’s Creatures

Animals are a huge part of our lives. Almost everyone has some sort of pet, whether it be a dog, cat, reptile, rodent, amphibian, or even “just” a fish. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t really know how to care for their pet, despite good intentions.

Pet stores can vary in the level of knowledge their employees have about what they sell. Sometimes pet store employees can be your best resource, but other times they might recommend something that’s really harmful to your pet. The internet is the same way, it can be a good resource, but only if you can discern fact from fiction. Vets are generally your best resources, but sometimes they might not have a lot of experience with or be up to date on exotic pets.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes with the animals I’ve had in my life. I hate to look back and think about some of the things I did to “care” for my pets, that were actually harmful. Through talking to breeders, and doing hours of research I believe I’m now pretty informed on caring for the pets that I own. Next time I’d like to talk about my experience with a popular pet fish.

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Chipper Chinchillas

Chinchillas are a slightly unusual pet. Most people have heard of them, but never seen or touched them. Chinchillas have super soft fur, which is one of the good things about them.

The Good:

1. They are adorable

2. They are very intelligent and can learn commands and to use a liter box.

3. They have little to no odor.

4. You can develop a bond with them.

5. They make very little noise.

6. No shots needed, but a yearly vet visit is recommended.

7. They have dynamic personalities.

The Bad:

1. They can be very sassy.

2. Most don’t like snuggling or being held, but will let you pet them.

3. If you want two, they won’t always get along with their cage mates, and you may have to separate them. You cannot keep a male and female together because the female will get pregnant and chinchilla pregnancies are difficult.

4. They have very specific diets. They can have hay, chinchilla food, and very few treats such as cheerios, and rosehips. Suddenly changing the brand of their food will make them very sick.

5. You cannot have plastic in their cage, or they may eat it and get it stuck in their stomach, which will kill them. Kiln dried pine is best for ledges, metals are also fine. Many woods are also toxic to them.

6. They’re fragile. They have floating rib cages so you have to be careful how you hold them.

The Ugly:

1. They’re expensive. Chinchillas are sold for as little as $75 and up to $200. A good cage will cost at least $70, a house and toys (they need toys or they will get bored and depressed) will probably cost another $50. They need a larger cage with ledges for them to jump on. They cost $30 a month for food/bedding.

2. They do chew and will destroy things in the room you have playtime in if you’re not careful. You need to have a “chinchilla safe” room to let them out in that has no wire or things such as couches that they could hide under and you wouldn’t be able to get them out.

All of that being said, my fiance and I love our chinchillas. They’re more interesting but also harder to take care of than hamsters/guinea pigs, but they’re still easier than a sugar glider or fennec fox.

Beautiful Bettas

Bettas are a very popular fish. They’re relatively cheap, you can find them in almost any pet store, and they’re beautiful. Besides all of that, they’re really easy to take care of. All you need to do is throw them in a bowl of water, add a plant, and they’re a wonderful living decoration that you don’t need to ever touch again, right? Wrong. A lot of people do keep bettas this way, but bettas are not going to be their healthiest or happiest in these kinds of conditions. One thing that people do have right is that you should not keep two males together, but most everything else that people think they know about bettas is just a myth.

Myth: Bettas live in mud puddles in the wild, so half a gallon of clean water is absolute luxury to them!

Fact: While the water that wild bettas live in is a muddy color, bettas actually need about 5 gallons of water in their tank. Responsible breeders will keep them in tanks as small as 2.5 gallons, but they often have superior filtrating systems, and check the water parameters often.

Myth: Bettas don’t need a filter.

Fact: This myth is built off of the “wild bettas live in dirty water” myth. In the wild, there will be plants and microorganisms that clean the water. In a bowl with no filter, waste will just keep building up no matter how many water changes you do.

Myth: Bettas are fine at room temperature.

Fact: Bettas are actually tropical fish from Southeast Asia where the average temperature is 86 degrees. A betta’s water temperature should be kept at 78 degrees or the fish will become lethargic and/or die.

Myth: Bettas will eat the roots and leaves of plants in their tanks.

Fact: Bettas are carnivores. If starving they will nibble on vegetation, but they need a high protein diet to keep them healthy.

Myth: Bettas die easily and don’t live very long.

Fact: Bettas can live for up to 7 years if properly taken care of. This myth perpetuates because bettas (like any other living creature) do tend to die if you don’t properly take care of them.

This is just a small insight into the world of bettas. If you’d like to learn more about caring for bettas, check out this link: http://www.seriouslyfish.com/species/betta-splendens/.