Part I How to Care for Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs are smaller pets, but they require plenty of space, time, effort, and human interaction. If you are willing to give your guinea pig a good home with proper food, attention, living space, grooming, and veterinary care, you will be rewarded with a happy, healthy, and fun guinea pig.
Setting Up for Your Guinea Pig
1. Make or buy a large enough cage. You should allow at least 7.5 square feet of cage space as a minimum for one guinea pig, or 10.5 for two. However, a bigger cage would be even better.
The cage must have a solid bottom (not a wire bottom) to protect guinea pigs' fragile feet.
A lid is unnecessary if the walls of the cage are at least 12"-14" high.
Use caution with multi-level cages. A fall from higher than 6" can injure guinea pigs' feet or legs, and elderly guinea pigs should only be kept in flat cages.
Provide the guinea pig with several inches of bedding made of paper or aspen, and be sure to change it at least twice every week or more often if you live in a humid area. Make sure to never use cedar bedding, as it can cause respiratory problems. Also, you can use a soft fleece blanket with a UHaul pad underneath to absorb everything without having to clean off bedding from your guinea pig.
2. Find a good location for the cage. A place where the family frequents several times a day for extended periods of time is the best location. A living room, bedroom, or hallway is the best choice because there is frequent traffic.
Guinea pigs are very sensitive to temperature, so many veterinarians recommend keeping them indoors, which has the additional advantage of allowing for more interaction. However, some experts do suggest exposing guinea pigs to sunlight regularly. The best balance of indoor and outdoor time will depend on a variety of factors, including your climate. Talk to your veterinarian to make the best decision for your particular guinea pig.
Ensure that no one will trip, push, or knock the cage over.
Do not place the cage in a garage with cars because the fumes can harm or even kill Guinea pigs and the temperature is usually not regulated in a garage.
3. Adopt two or more guinea pigs so they are not lonely. Guinea pigs need company because they are herd animals. Spend some time with your pets every day. Keeping a sociable animal alone can lead it to become depressed.
You can put together two females, two neutered males or two males who have never been separated.
You can adopt a male and a female, but be aware that they might mate. If you suspect that the female has become pregnant, separate the Guinea pigs and call your vet for care instructions.
Part 2 Feeding and Watering Your Guinea Pig
1. Give your guinea pigs plenty of water. One of the most important elements of caring for any pet is providing it with fresh, clean water at all times.
Keep your guinea pigs' water bottle clean and change the water daily. The best water dispenser is a guinea pig/rabbit bottle with the little ball in the spout. A dog water bowl that has never been used by a dog can work if the bowl is low enough for the guinea pig to put its front legs on the rim and dip its head in to drink. Be aware that guinea pigs can poop in the dog bowl and or pee in the dog bowl. It's advised to use hanging elevated food and water dispensers
Be sure to clean the water bottle nozzle frequently with a Q-tip to keep it free of obstructions and food residue that can breed harmful bacteria and clog the water flow.
The water bottle itself can be cleaned by placing uncooked rice and a little water in the bottle, and then shaking it vigorously. The rice will dislodge any greenish (algae) build-up.
If the cage is in the sun for part of the day, this can contribute to algae build-ups. In this case, cover the bottles with an opaque cloth to avoid algae.
Avoid adding anything to the water such as vitamin tablets. They do not provide effective nutrients and can make your guinea pigs refuse to drink.
2. Make grass hay available to your guinea pigs constantly. Guinea pigs are grazing animals, so they need something to graze on (such as timothy or orchard grass) at all times or their digestive tracts can shut down. But, they can also poke their eyes out on it, so make sure to pat down the hay so no pointed or sharp pieces stick out!
Alfalfa hay should only be fed to babies 6 months old and younger, and pregnant or nursing sows, because they have a lot of extra nutrients that healthy adult guinea pigs do not require.
Timothy, orchard grass, or bluegrass hay should be fed for guinea pigs older than 6 months. It should be fed 'free choice,' which means they have some in the cage all the time.
Lack of hay can lead to malocclusion, a misalignment of the teeth that may require surgical correction, and GI Stasis, shutting down of the digestive tract often leading to death.
3. Feed your guinea pigs fresh vegetables daily. Green leafy vegetables should make up about 20% of your guinea pigs' diet. Be careful about leafy vegetables as too many of these can cause stomach upsets and diarrhea. It is useful to get a list of safe fruits and vegetables from a trustworthy guinea pig website or your local vet.
Guinea Pig servings should include plenty of vegetables high in vitamin C (as guinea pigs are unable to produce their own vitamin C, and too little of the vitamin can lead to illnesses).
Veggies that are good for guinea pigs include celery, carrots, off-the-vine tomatoes, cucumber, corn, kale, a bit of raw broccoli, small amounts of spinach and pod-peas. Be sure to limit servings of some vegetables to avoid serious harm to the guinea pigs’ digestive tracts. Some fruits are okay for guinea pig treats such as strawberries and apple pieces but these can only be given occasionally as some of the acids can be harmful to guinea pigs.
If a guinea pig seems unwilling to eat any vegetables, try cutting them up into slices or small chunks. Also be aware that guinea pigs may have individual tastes or preferences and may like or dislike different vegetables.
Vegetables to avoid feeding your guinea pigs include iceberg lettuce, rocket salads, red leaves, cauliflower, beet greens, potatoes, and radishes.
Each guinea pig will require about one cup of vegetables per day. Dividing the veggie meal into two servings is a good idea since guinea pigs are grazing animals who prefer to eat throughout the day instead of eating one big meal.
4. Use pellets sparingly in your guinea pigs’ diet. Healthy guinea pigs do not need to be fed nutritional pellets. However, if your pigs are used to being fed pellets, you need to acclimate them to their healthier new diet slowly. Ask your vet for details.
If your guinea pig is sick, feed good quality pellets. Oxbow's Cavy Cuisine is best for pigs over 6 months, and their Cavy Performance is best for pigs under 6 months. Kleenmama's Timothy Choice pellets are best for pigs over 6 months, and Alfalfa choice pellets only for pigs under 6 months. Try to find pellets that are lower in calcium.
Do not feed a guinea pig rabbit or other small animal pellets - the vitamin content is not the same, and can be harmful to your guinea pig.
If you do feed a guinea pig pellets, be sure that they are seed-free to prevent choking. Be sure to select pellets that are plain. They should not contain any colored pieces, dried fruit, corn, etc. It should contain nothing but pellets.
5. Do not feed your guinea pigs other foods. Pellets, hay, untreated fresh organic grass (wheat or standard lawn grass) and fresh veggies are all the foods that guinea pigs need. Feeding them other types of food can be very harmful to the pigs’ health.
How to take care of goldfish
Goldfish are rewarding pets to have. Their proper care, however, is not always taken into consideration, and we have only just begun to understand the best ways to make these fish thrive. If you're looking to breed goldfish, have one as a pet, or are simply curious about what it might be like, here is how to make your fish happy and healthy!
Part 1 Tank Requirements and Care
1. Get a large enough tank. The minimal tank size for one goldfish is 10-15 US gallons (56.7 litres)(Remember, they grow to about 10-12 inches (25.5-30.5 centimetres), and sometimes over!) and you will need to add 10 U.S. gallons (37.8 litres) onto that for each additional goldfish. Please read about all different kinds of goldfish, common goldfish, comet goldfish, and other single tail goldfish need ponds or huge tanks, don't get single tails, unless you have a 180 US gallon (681.4 litre) tank laying around.
Though for decades goldfish have been depicted in small bowls, that's why they're synonymous with short life spans (ammonia builds up quickly in such a small space). In order to increase your goldfish's length (and quality) of life, give it a decent-sized aquarium.
2. Use gravel that won't get stuck in your fish's throat. Use either large gravel (too big to swallow) or very small gravel. Large gravel is better for goldfish because it won't get caught in their throat and because goldfish like to be able to dig into the gravel to search for fallen food.
Be sure to clean your gravel before you put it into the tank. Even if you have just bought it, a good rinse and soak in some water for a day will draw out some of the impurities and help ensure that your goldfish are getting the best environment to flourish in. Make sure to not use soap.
3. Goldfish don't require light, light is only for seeing the fish better and making its colours "pop". Keep your aquarium lit for around 8-12 hours each day.
Think about putting a rock or wood centrepiece with some artificial greenery into your aquarium. The rock or wood will give the goldfish nooks and crannies to explore and the artificial plants won't accelerate plant growth in your tank.
On the other hand, real plants are beneficial because they help absorb some of the ammonia, nitrites and nitrates that accumulates in the aquarium because of waste and natural wear and tear.
Be sure that any decorations you choose aren't hollow (it's a breeding ground for potentially harmful bacteria) and that they don't have sharp edges (your fish might tear its fins).
Try using fluorescent lights for your goldfish. Halogen lights and incandescent lights will also do. Pay attention to how much light you give them — goldfish will appreciate 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness.
4. Rig up a water filter. Goldfish need a filter. A water filter should take care of the breaking down of the fish’s waste by beneficial bacteria; the trapping of larger particles such as fish waste or excess fish food; and the removal of odours, discolourations and other organics by carbon or mineral absorption. Having clean water and a functional, efficient filtration device will keep your goldfish content and healthy. There are three very popular kinds of filters:
Hang on back (HOB) filters, which hang on the rim of your tank, and bring water in and filter water out. They are very popular, reasonably priced, and probably give you the most bang for your buck.
Canister filters sit underneath your aquarium and use a series of tubes to filter water in and out. Canister filters tend to be almost silent, are a little pricier than HOB filters, but tend to be more efficient at filtering than HOBs.
Wet/Dry filters use an overflow box to filter out impurities. Wet/Dry filters, however, are significantly bigger than HOBs or canisters, and so generally only fit into aquariums that hold at least 50 gallons (189.2 litres).
5. Go through at least one fish-less cycle before introducing your goldfish. A fish-less cycle involves adding ammonia to a tank and keeping track of the nitrate levels to make sure the water is safe for your goldfish to live in. Sadly, many fish die once introduced into a new tank because of ammonia and nitrate poisoning. Make sure that you add dechlorinator, because the chlorine in tap water will kill your fish.
· Before you add your fish, you'll need to make sure the environment is fish-ready. Pick up a pH test kit and test the tank for the right amount of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels. You want zero ammonia, zero nitrite, and less than 20 nitrate as your end result. Do not use test strips because they are inaccurate. Instead, get a liquid test kit like the API Master Test Kit.
· What's going to happen is you'll start adding drops of ammonia continuously. That'll start the nitrite process going. If you keep doing what you're doing, eventually you'll see nitrates. Those nitrates will start doing their job, eliminating the ammonia and nitrites. That's the cycle! When you've done a lap, it's fish time!
· It'd be a little easier if the words weren't so similar, huh?
Part 2 Upkeep and Feeding
1. Add your fish. Hopefully, if you have more than one goldfish, your goldfish are all the same type. Unfortunately, goldfish are known to eat other, smaller fish, and can overeat, keeping food from their peers. If another fish is smaller or slower, it doesn't stand a chance.
So you really want to add more fish, huh? Alright, then White Cloud Mountain Minnows or Zebra Danios it is (if your goldfish isn't humongous). However: These fish live in schools, so if you're buying extra fish, you need to at least buy an extra half dozen. So in short: Keep your goldfish with other similar goldfish.
Any new fish brought into an established aquarium should be quarantined for two weeks beforehand. If they have any diseases, you don't want those spread to your healthy fish!
2. Perform a 25% up to 90% water change weekly assuming you have stocked your tank properly. Do a 50% water change whenever the nitrates reach 20.
Sometimes water changes can get a bit messy. When you're doing yours, keep some old towels around. And while you're monitoring the cleaning, make sure you're not vacuuming up any teeny fish!
3. Clean the aquarium at least once every week even if it doesn't look dirty. Goldfish produce waste that even your water filter won't be able to zap. A clean tank means happy, healthy goldfish. And a happy, healthy goldfish can live for decades!
Do not remove the fish from the tank when you clean. Using a gravel vacuum to soak up debris can be done without extracting the fish from their habitat. If you have to remove the fish, for whatever reason, use a plastic container instead of a net, if possible. Nets can injure goldfish fins more easily than containers can. They are also scared of nets and can cause them stress.
4. Measure for ammonia, nitrite, and pH. Remember that test you did before you added your precious little fish? You've got to keep that up! Ammonia and nitrite levels should be at 0. A range of pH 6.5-8.25 is fine.
· Soap is poisonous to fish and will kill them quickly, so don't wash your tank with soap. Also, don't use regular tap water to put in your tank. Drinkable water is not good for them because it takes out some of the minerals which are good for goldfish. Buy a water conditioner at a pet store and put in the amount it says on the label.
5. Feed your fish 1-2 times daily. Be careful not to overfeed them, only feed them what they can eat in a minute, the label on the food is wrong. Goldfish can easily overeat and can die. Underfeeding is always preferable to overfeeding.
Just like humans, goldfish want diversity of nutrition. Feed your goldfish pellet food most of the time, live foods, such as brine shrimp, some of the time, and freeze-dried foods, such as mosquito larvae or blood worms, every once in a while. Remember to soak freeze dried food in a cup of aquarium water before you feed to your goldfish, freeze dried foods expand in a goldfish's stomach, causing to have problems swimming.
Feed your fish only what they can eat in five minutes. Remove any excess food. More goldfish die from overeating than from anything else.
Feed your goldfish at the same time each day (once in the morning, once at night) and in the same spot in the tank.
6. Turn off the light and let them get some sleep. If you thought goldfish didn't sleep, you'd be wrong. Well, sort of. They don't have eyelids and they don't really stop swimming, but their bodies sort of hibernate. You can tell when you notice a slight change in colour and reduced activity (they'll stick to one side of the tank).
7. Let the water temperature change as the seasons change. Goldfish don't like temperatures over 75°F (24°C), but they appear to like seasonal changes where the temperature dips to the high 50s or 60s (15-20°C) in the winter. Understand that goldfish will not eat below 50-55°F (10-14°C).
A good thermometer makes this pretty easy. There are two types to choose from: those that hang inside and those that hang outside. Both should be accurate enough, but I like the ones that hang on the inside better.
If you're not breeding your goldfish, a steady temperature all year-round of 74°F (23°C) is golden. If you are breeding your goldfish, simulate the seasons (goldfish spawn in the spring). Start off by lowering the temperature to somewhere between 50°F (10°C) and 54°F (12°C). Then, when it's baby-making time, up it to between 68°F (20°C) and 74°F (23°C) gradually. The goldfish will be cued to then lay their eggs.
Goldfish like to "sleep" in the dark. So when you hit the hay, turn off the light! In actuality, you only need an aquarium light if you're growing plants or if the room is particularly poorly-lit. But even if you don't have an aquarium light, go green, reduce your electrical bill, and let them unwire for night.
How to Care for a Parrot
Parrots are highly intelligent birds and can make wonderful pets, but there are some things to know about them and their care requirements before making the decision to get one. First, parrots are wild by nature, not domesticated (like dogs and cats), so they retain many behaviours and instincts of their cousins in the wild. Next, parrots are not all the same species, and so you will need to learn qualities of your particular parrot species when getting one. Lastly, parrots live much longer than most other pets: smaller parrots (cockatiels or parrotlets) can live 20-30 years, while the larger species (macaws, amazons, or cockatoos) can live to be 60-80 years old.
Part 1 Preparing a Parrot Home
1. Obtain a proper cage. Square or rectangular cages are more appropriate for parrots; they feel unsafe in round cages that do not have corners. Ensure your cage is large enough for your parrot to climb and move comfortably in. Cages should have enough room for perches, toys, food bowls, water bowls, and rest areas. Choose the size of your parrot cage based on the size of your parrot:
A minimum of approximately: 24" W x 24" H x 24" D for smaller parrots
A minimum of approximately 5 ft W x 6 ft H x 3½ ft D for larger parrots
Bar spacing: 1/2" for smaller parrots
Bar spacing: 4" for larger parrots
2. Place the cage in a room where he can interact. Parrots are social creatures. In the wild, they stay with a flock and maintain constant contact with flock mates. If they are kept isolated they may develop separation anxiety. Parrots like being in rooms where their human flock hangs out.
If you have other pets, you will want to keep your bird cage in a room that can be closed off while you are gone from the house. Be sure that you supervise your other pets around the bird, and keep them out of the room if they are causing stress to the bird.
3. Keep temperatures steady. Birds can tolerate a large range of temperature, but the ideal temperature for your parrot is between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid leaving your parrot in a chilly room or dropping your thermostat overnight during winter. Temperatures below 40 degrees can be dangerous for birds, especially thin ones. Plumper birds can develop heat stress to temperatures above 85 degrees. If you must keep your parrot in higher temperatures, be sure that there is plenty of air circulation.
4. Get your new parrot into its cage for the first time. First, close your doors and windows in case of the worst. Then, you’ll need to determine how friendly or aggressive your new parrot is. Open the carrier slowly and slowly bring your hand in toward the bird. If it isn’t reacting much, you can continue moving your hand toward it. But, if it is opening its beak and aggressively snapping toward your hand, you’ll need to use the second method here.
For a non-aggressive bird, continue moving your hand toward it and aim your fingers (or arm, in the case of a large parrot) perpendicular to and slightly above the feet. If it already has been trained to step up, you can say “step up” and it will jump onto your fingers (or arm). Slowly take it out of the carrier and bring it to the cage. Aim the bird so that the cage perch runs parallel to your hand and slightly above its feet. It should step up onto the perch, and you can close the door and allow it to adjust to its new home for a while.
For an aggressive parrot or one that doesn’t know how to step up, you’ll need to get a hold of him to get him in his cage. This will not affect your relationship; the parrot will get over this. You want to be sure and do this quickly though and not let him go; if he flies around the room his fear will escalate and he’ll be harder to catch. Ideally you should use your bare hand, but if you’re scared you can wear thin leather gloves or use a towel. Try to grab him by the neck just below the head (this is not only safer for not getting bit, but it also restricts his airflow less than grabbing his belly). However you get a hold of him, get him quickly to the cage without letting go.
Regardless of the method you used to get him in the cage, give him some space for a while. It is likely he will eat and drink less than normal for a few days, but be sure he has access to familiar food and water. Allow him some time to calm down and adjust to his new home before interacting too much.
Part 2 Feeding Your Parrot
1. Vary your parrot's diet. Parrots need a varied diet with a broad range of nutritional value. They should ideally not be kept on a diet of seeds and pellets only, though the bird seed and pellet mixes at pet stores are good to use as the base for their diet. Here are some basics for supplementing the seed or pellet mixtures:
Do feed fresh fruits and vegetables. Rinse them well just like you would if you were preparing them for people. Many parrots like grapes, bananas, apples, carrots, berries, greens, all varieties of cooked squash, peas, green beans, and more. Be sure to not overdo it on fruit because of sugar content.
Some types of parrots, such as macaws, love to open the shells of nuts to get the meat out. Try giving your parrot pistachios, pecans, and macadamias.
Do not feed parrots caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, sugary or salty snacks, greasy foods, raw or dry beans, rhubarb leaves, dill, cabbage, asparagus, eggplant or honey.
Never give a parrot avocado or onions! Both are toxic to parrots. Avocado can cause immediate cardiac arrest and death in a parrot.
2. Feed the right amounts. Small and medium sized birds should have food and water containers that are at least 20 ounces. Large birds should have food and water containers that are at least 30 ounces. Weaned babies and small birds will need extra amounts of food because of their higher metabolisms and levels of activity.
3. Have a container for water that’s large enough for your bird to bathe in. Birds will drink out of the same water they bathe in, and this is okay. Be sure not to put vitamin supplements in water even if the guidelines say to do this. The reasons are because birds don’t drink that much, so you don’t know how much they are getting, and because it can cause bacteria to form quickly in the water.
4. Avoid cooking with non-stick pans and utensils. This is especially true if you keep your parrot in or near the kitchen. The chemicals used in non-stick cookware can be deadly to parrots when heated above a certain temperature.
Second hand smoke is also very bad for parrots, just like it is for humans. Avoid smoking in the house if you smoke and have a parrot.
Part 3 Keeping Your Parrot Healthy
1. Tend to the cage bottom every two days. Remove any liners and replace them, and discard any shells, seeds, gravel, toys that are destroyed, etc. It is best to spot clean (clean up any mess that doesn't require too much time - droppings on perches etc.) once a day.
2. Clean and change the food and water bowls every day. Remove the food and water bowls daily, clean them and replace them with fresh food and water.
Remove foods that rot quickly, such as cooked beans, immediately after feeding. Parrots can be especially prone to infections from bacteria, so keeping the cage clean is an absolute necessity
Be sure to use a bird-safe disinfectant for cleaning the cage weekly - these can be found at your local pet store. Regular human disinfectants can be too strong and can harm your bird.
3. Visit the vet on a regular schedule. Some parrots are completely healthy forever, however most of the time when your parrot encounters a health problem. It could have been solved with some preventative vet consultations. Make sure your veterinarian is one that sees birds specifically or you will be wasting your money. Annual wellness check-ups should be planned.
4. Watch for health problems. A healthy parrot is alert to his surroundings, stays upright most of the time, and is active. If your parrot starts acting sick, see a veterinarian. Some signs of a sick parrot include:
Deformed, receding, or ulcerated beak
Stains around the eyes or nostrils
Change in appearance or texture of stools
Weight loss or loss of appetite
Swollen eyes or eyelids
Feather problems including chewing, plucking, or thinning
Bowed head, lethargy, being overly quiet
How to Care for Tropical Fish
Have you ever seen those fish that people say need a heater? Of course they need a heater. You may have heard it a thousand times. And you knew these were tropical fish. Some aquarists say they're hard, while some say they're easy. This article only includes how to care and how to set up their environment.
1. Do your homework on that special, certain fish you have your heart set on.
2. Buy your equipment after doing your research. Not the fish.
3. Get home, and rinse your tank. Harmful chemicals could be in there.
4. Rinse your substrate and put it in the tank. (If you plan to have some bottom dwellers and other kinds of fish, put patches of sand in there, so their delicate barbels won't get infected.)
5. Fill your tank halfway with water. Put a bowl in the bottom of the fish tank and pour into that. It will keep your landscape design from getting messed up.
6. Make an aquascape! Be creative and try different combinations with your decorative items.
7. Insert your heater and filter.
8. Fill the rest of your tank up.
9. Let your water sit for 10 minutes.
10. After 10 minutes, put your Water Conditioner in.
11. Wait another 15 minutes after you put in the Water Conditioner.
12. After 15 minutes, put in your Bacteria Supplement.
13. Begin to cycle your tank. An internet search for fishless cycling will bring up a guide. It is time-consuming, but necessary to avoid hurting your fish.
14. Make sure the water is ready before your get your fish.
15. Float the bag in the warm temperature water for 20 minutes to allow it to adjust.
16. DO NOT open the bag and let your fish swim out into your tank. The water from the fish store could contain diseases. Use a net and net the fish out.
17. Enjoy your fish!