Puppies and kittens are classic Christmas pets, but how about adding an unusual animal to your family this holiday season? Many unique animals are overlooked but can be amazing, long-term pets and can be found at local providers and many shelters in our area.
Parakeets are easy and oh-so-pretty. They are inexpensive, and you might even be able to find a parakeet in your favorite color. They are typically found in shades of blue, green, yellow and white. But when you’re picking a bird, be sure all the parakeets in the cage are active and always quarantine any new bird for at least three months. The life span of a parakeet is dependent on good genes, good diet, good veterinary care and good luck. There are many that live to be about 15 years old.
Hairless skinny pigs are a surprising, not-what-you-expect-to-see-at-all kind of pet. They are not just guinea pigs, they have special mannerisms. Like a guinea pig, these guys make the cute noises and they move around the same adorable way. But the charming patches of color on their bodies and the tufts of hair on their face and feet make skinny pigs even more endearing. Skinny pigs, named so because they look like they went skinny dipping, come in white, pink, brown, black and red and in all combinations. They can live to between six and eight years. Get ready for your friends to ask you, “Like, what is that?!”
Sugar gliders are a playful, entertaining, nocturnal pet. They are a high-maintenance animal, but as far as cuteness sugar gliders are number one. The flaps of skin between their wrists and ankles is so interesting and unique. They actually jump and glide, and they will bond with one person primarily. Sugar gliders are marsupials; that is, they start their young lives in a pouch. These “pocket pets” are like mini kangaroos. They prefer to live in pairs or groups and need a good deal of social interaction from their owners. Because these animals are tiny, move fast and can bite, they are not for children. They also have fairly strict dietary requirements. You can keep yours with you during the day in a small sock or pouch while they sleep. Their life span is 12 to 14 years.
Meet the nocturnal chinchilla. These pets are so soft you can barely feel the tip of their fur. They don’t bathe in water, but rather they take dust baths a couple times a week. A chinchilla has a squirrel tail and a mouse body, wrapped up in a big ball of lush fur. They come in many different shades of white to black. They can be very tame, walking in a ferret harness for you, or hard to catch and skittish, depending on how they are socialized. They enjoy treats, such as peanuts or raisins, which they will gingerly grasp from your hand. These animals are not for young children because they are fragile and can bite. They cannot handle hot weather or high humidity. And although they are rodents with teeth that grow about 10 inches a year, they have virtually no smell. A curious, active chinchilla can live to be 25 years old.
An axolotl, from my daughter’s point of view, is the very best pet for the holidays. For one, they are very easy to take care of. All you need is the minimum 10-gallon tank and some cold water. You must be able to keep the water cold. You only have to feed three times a week. Axolotls are incredibly unique animals; they live like a fish but are amphibian. Also, the reason they look so cool is because they do not go through the process of metamorphosis, so it has external gills and a large tadpole-like body. They come in many colors: black (melanoid), olive/green, white with black eyes (leucistic), and gold and white with white eyes (albino.) If you buy one that is less than three inches long, it will be cannibalistic, so they must be separated from each other for a certain amount of time. They will eat anything they can fit in their mouths. Axolotls usually live about 15 years if kept in good conditions, maybe even longer: Some are reported to have lived up to 25 years. Sadly, they are nearly extinct in the wild.
— Read more articles like this in the December/January issue of PetFolio Magazine, “A World Unleashed.” PetFolio can be found free at Scolari’s, Smith’s and select Reno News & Review stands. For more pet care information, visit www.Pet FolioMagazine.com.