So You Bought a Parrot, Now What?

In my other blog, I write about my daily life. But, most of my posts revolve around my parrots, as does my life. It is in my belief that birds were not intended to be on this earth so we could still them in a cage in our homes. No matter what your religion is, birds were not made for solitary stationary lives. They were intended to fly in the great outdoors. Nobody can argue with that.

But, now you have one in your home, as do I. Now what? Well, let’s hope that you did your research and you found a parrot that is right for you and your family. We’re going to assume you did for the sake of this article and my sanity.

CAGES

The first thing that needs to be purchased is a cage. Have you ever walked into a pet store and saw that they have a sale going on, “Buy This Cage, Get a Parakeet FREE!” Don’t do that. Just buy the parakeet and cage separately because THAT cage will not be big enough for your new family member. Remember, your new family member is a bird with wings and will need to use those wings. A cage for a parakeet should be wider than taller, because they are not helicopters that can fly straight up.

Bigger is always better when buying a cage for your new pet. However, the width of the bar spacing in cages is also just as important, as tiny heads can get trapped in between the bars. So, keep that in mind when purchasing the cage.

A good cage size for a Macaw or bigger parrot is one where your parrot can stretch his wings without touching the sides of his cage.

FOOD

As with the topic of human children and nutrition, there are just as many debates on parrot nutrition. Some say pellets only, some say seeds and pellets, some say fresh food, seeds, and pellets, some say cooked foods, fresh foods, seeds, and pellets; but, no one says that only feeding seeds is good for a parrot.

Mine get a huge variety of foods on a daily basis. If you read my other blog, you would know that I am having some issues with Sisco eating foods that are good for her. She is a seed junky and will not eat anything else except mashed potatoes. Just like human children, if they are exposed to only certain things, they will never develop a taste of other foods. However, if they are exposed to good foods on a daily basis, they will eventually try something, and possibly even like it!

The point is to never give up trying to feed your parrot healthy foods and never stop learning about parrot nutrition.

TOYS

What do you mean by toys? My bird needs toys? Isn’t a swing enough? Um, no. Your bird needs something to do. A bored bird is an unhappy bird. A bird that is busy is a happy bird. A bird that is locked in a cage from day in to day out with nothing to do will exhibit very unwelcoming behaviors such as excessive screaming. A bird that doesn’t have any toys (or the wrong toys for THAT specific bird) but is allowed the freedom to come and go as he pleases may start to be destructive to the things around him, such as the molding on your big picture window or your first edition of Twilight.

There are lots of different toys on the market today. To pick out which toy is right for your bird will just be a process of trial and error. But in reality, a bird should have a variety of toys and not the same type of toy in his cage at all times. You should have enough toys to be able to rotate every few weeks.

ATTENTION

No, it is not enough to plop them in a cage with healthy foods and enough toys to outfit a bird toy store. Sorry. You need to pay attention to him. You do not have to hold your parrot 24/7, but you do need to give him ambient attention. Ambient attention is to give your parrot attention while she is in her cage or on her playstand. This can be achieved with just talking to your parrot, interacting with her, calling his name when he calls for you, reading to her, dancing with her, singing with her, watching TV and keeping a running commentary with her of what you see, etc. This is the kind of attention parrots absolutely love.

VET CARE

Your new buddy needs to see a doctor from time to time. It is true that birds hide their illnesses, so when you see what could potentially be a sign of an illness, get him to a vet as soon as possible! The time to find a good avian vet is when he is healthy, not when it is an emergency.

Those are just some of the basics of parrot care. The very basics, unfortunately. If you do not treat your parrot like the delicate animal he is, things can go very wrong in an instant.

5 Tips For Addressing Weight Loss In The Horse

Nothing is more worrisome than watching your horse day after day slowly lose weight and not knowing the reason why. Despite making sure they have plenty of access to good quality feed and mineral/vitamin supplements they continue to lose weight. Here are 5 tips that may get you started on the right track to addressing unexpected weight loss in the horse.

Veterinary Evaluation

First and foremost, ALWAYS have your horse evaluated by your veterinarian if they are encountering any kind of health challenge! I cannot stress that enough. There are so many things that may be affecting your horse’s ability to absorb nutrients, from parasites to cancer. Your veterinarian can rule things out for you and make a proper diagnosis if there is a serious medical condition that’s contributing to a weight loss issue in your horse. I’ve seen too many times people take a wait and see attitude to the detriment of the horse.

Intestinal Parasites

A very common reason for horses to lose weight is due to a heavy parasite load. As parasites develop resistance to many of the commercial dewormers available on the market, you may find that your deworming protocols are no longer effective. Your veterinary clinic can do a fecal egg count for you and let you know what kinds of intestinal parasites (if any) your horse may be harboring. From this information, you can then make more targeted decisions as to what deworming protocols might be most effective for your situation.

There are also alternative protocols that are becoming more and more popular among horse caretakers. Many of these are safe to use in conjunction with traditional dewormers and may help increase the effectiveness of your deworming program.

Some of these include:

    • Food-grade diatomaceous earth – it is thought that the diatomaceous earth works similarly as it moves through the animal’s digestive tract as it does when applied externally to insects. The microscopic silica-based diatom fossils that make up the fine powder penetrate the exoskeleton of the insects, causing them to dehydrate and die.
    • Essential oils – Animals in the wild will hunt out and eat certain types of plants not normally in their everyday diet to help clear their bodies of parasites. Certain medicinal-grade essential oils are thought to help rid the body of internal parasites based on the historical use of these plants by both ancient cultures and wild animals. Whether these help by boosting the host’s natural immune system or acting directly against the parasite is unclear. Oils that may help most are – Tarragon, Ocotea, Di-Gize and Longevity.

 

    • Immune System Supplementation – an organism that has a compromised immune system is going to be more susceptible to all types of infection, including that of internal and external parasites. Adding supplements that are high in antioxidants may help your horse’s ability to deal with these attacks naturally. Immune support is very important for maintaining the geriatric horse.

Equine Dentistry

I’ve been surprised at the number of people that I’ve encountered over the years that are unaware that horses need routine dentistry. There are many factors that play into the function of the horse’s jaw and how the horse’s teeth erupt and wear continually. The way a horse moves, position it eats, what it eats, etc. all contribute to whether a horse will develop dental imbalance. If the teeth are out of balance and the horse cannot effectively masticate his food, they are less likely to be able to absorb the necessary nutrients from that food. Older horses may have worn out the life of their teeth or have missing teeth, also contributing to problems with properly processing their food. Having your horse checked by a reputable equine dentist at least once or twice per year may save your horse some grief down the road.

Adding Calories

Your horse’s weight loss may just be a simple matter of math… they are burning more calories than they are taking in. Upping your horse’s hay and/or feed may be necessary, particularly for horses in heavy training or working horses. However, adding a high-quality high-calorie fat source may be all that is necessary to turn the corner. Traditionally people have added corn oil to their horses feed as a top dress. However, since corn oil is not fully digestible, you have to give large quantities for it to be effective and many horses don’t find that much oil on their feed palatable. The most popular oils that are highly digestible, palatable and provide added benefits to skin and hair coat are – flax seed, soybean, and wheat germ oils.

Alternative Forages

When dealing with geriatric horses, the ability to chew becomes increasingly problematic, not to mention the aging digestive tract becomes less efficient and able to pull the necessary nutrients from what they can chew. Adding some more easily chewed and digestible forages may help. You will want to make sure and consult with your veterinarian before changing your horse’s diet though. Certain conditions, like liver and kidney dysfunction, require special dietary consideration.

Interesting Facts About Reptiles You Need to Know

What makes it a reptile?
There are countless species and varieties of reptiles around the world. Even though there are many differences, reptiles do share a few common traits.

For starters, they use lungs to breathe. Lizards might breathe using the same muscles they use to run and crocodiles have a more flexible diaphragm, but overall, reptiles have lungs that are more advanced than amphibians, but not as refined as mammals. Reptiles also have scales made of keratin protein. Scales provide protection from predators, help retain water, and can play a role in courtship and territorial clashes. Reptiles are not the only animals to have scales, but it is a common characteristic among all reptiles.

Another characteristic is that they’re all four-legged vertebrates (or descended from four-limbed animals, like snakes). This is another shared trait with other types of animals, which indicates that reptiles are an evolutionary middle ground of sorts between amphibians and mammals. For the most part, female reptiles lay eggs but it’s not exclusive to all reptiles. There are some species that develop their young inside their bodies and give birth to live young, like the Viviparous Lizard and the Adder.

Reptiles are known for their cold-blooded metabolisms. If you’ve ever seen a reptile in an enclosure, you might have noticed lamps and other forms of heat. That’s because basking in heat increases their internal body temperature to give them the energy they need for daily activity.

What are the different types of reptiles?
Reptiles can be classified into four major groups:

Crocodilia
Which has 23 different species of Alligators, Caimans, Gharials, and Crocodiles.

As you may know, the Crocodilia are large, semiaquatic and predatory animals. They’re commonly found in the lowlands of the tropics and usually have long, flattened snouts and canonical, peg-like teeth. Certain species of crocodilian are traded as exotic pets when they’re young but are often abandoned as they grow larger and more dangerous.

Squamata
Which are lizards and snakes, and have almost 8,000 species.

These reptiles vary in size (from a dwarf gecko that’s less than an inch long to an anaconda which can reach over 17 feet). Their ability to move their quadrate bones is what helps them open their mouths wide enough to consume larger prey. If you’re thinking of getting reptiles for sale of this classification, be sure to research the specific type you want to get to make sure you have the necessary equipment to keep them healthy and happy.

Testudines
Which is made up of turtles and tortoises and have around 300 species.

These are considered primitive since they’re some of the most ancient reptiles among us. Their shells make them easily distinguishable from other reptiles and they’re also a popular choice as reptile pets.

Sphenodontia
Which is known as the sister group of the Squamata and has only 2 species of tuataras from New Zealand.

It’s also known as a Rhynchocephalia, which means beak head. They have a unique set of teeth which is presented as two rows in the upper jaw and a single row on the lower jaw. The single species of tuatara is the only living member of an order that flourished about 200 million years ago.

Which reptiles for sale are best as pets?
If you’re just starting out with a pet reptile, you can find some great reptiles for sale. Geckos can be a great pet for beginners because they don’t require much handling. Too much stress on the gecko can cause its tail to fall off though. A Bearded Dragon can also make for a great pet as they’re extremely easy-going reptiles with personality. They require a hot habitat and are fairly easy to maintain.

Heating and Cooling Your Marine Tank

Heating & Cooling your Marine Tank
For your aquarium to be a success and for all the inhabitants to survive the temperature of the aquarium needs to be just right. Too much heat and the corals and fish begin to suffer and could die. Too little heat and the corals and fish begin to suffer and could die, so we need the temperature of your tank need to be right in the middle. Average water temperatures in different reef areas range between 25°C (77°F) and 30°C(86°F) and can fluctuate between 28°C (82°F) and 34°C (93°F).

Heating
Heating is important in any aquarium, its essential to replicate the temperature found in the ocean, as temperatures often change, especially in winter. Thermostat- heaters are the answer to the heating needs of your tank, a thermostat-heater can be adjusted to a temperature you want your aquarium to maintain by adjusting the knob found at the top of the unit, it’s always good to keep an eye on the heater and check the tanks temperature. Heaters have been known in some cases to malfunction causing tanks to overheat and crash killing everything in the tank, so it’s important to keep check of the temperature in your tank at all times, this can be done with a digital thermometer. You can get fully submersible ones that go inside the tank or you can get digital external thermometers which stay on the outside but have a probe that goes inside the tank. The recommended stable temperature you want to keep at all times is between 27°C (80°F) and 29°C (84°F), stability is important.

Cooling
Cooling the aquarium has not been that big of an issue in the UK, until recently. We have had short but hot summers and for aquariums this can spell disaster. I had to turn my heater off and buy a fan cooler this helped but I was constantly having to top up my tank with water as the combination of the fan and the heat made the water evaporate quite fast, I bought the fan as a quick fix solution. A real solution to the problem is buying a chiller, fan coolers chillers are very effective at controlling the temperature in your marine aquarium, water passes through the chiller and is cooled to the desired temperature then the water is returned to the tank keeping the aquarium at a stable temperature, the only downside is they are ridiculously expensive, if you are in a hot country then you most probably will need one, but in the UK we only have a month or two of hot weather and then it’s back to winter for the rest of the year, so I could never justify spending £300 or more on one, so I opt for the £35+ cooler fans option and keep topping up. But if you live in a hot country, or have an expensive reef setup then it’s worth investing in a chiller, it’s really not worth the risk of losing all you have spent, built and worked hard for.

How to Set Up a Bearded Dragon Vivarium

During a visit to a pet shop recently I was disturbed to see a sign on the front of a vivarium containing young beardies which read ‘ideal for beginners’. I think this gives the very wrong impression of this reptile. Whilst they are not difficult to look after, their needs and requirements have to be properly understood in order for them to have a happy, healthy life.

Reptiles are similar to fish in that they need to live in the correct environment for them. You wouldn’t put a marine fish in a tropical aquarium, for example, and expect it to live, and even different tropical fish like different types of water – acid, alkaline or brackish for example. Most pet shops are fairly clued up on fish keeping. But many shops selling bearded dragons have only a basic knowledge about their requirements, and are all too often guilty of letting a new owner buy equipment which is totally inappropriate. Or more worryingly, even encourage them to buy it. Worst of all are ‘bearded dragon complete set ups’ – most of which contain vivariums that are too small with heatmats and substrate which are actually harmful to beardies.

As with aquariums, you need to understand the natural habitat of a bearded dragon before setting up what will be its home for life in your house.

Bearded dragons come from the hot, dry deserts of Australia. The earth is baked dry so they are used to a hard surface to walk on. They are semi arboreal, and are known to climb fenceposts and tree stumps to bask. The hot sun bakes down on them from above. They spend most of their time basking and sleeping and sleeping in full sunlight, and when they are too hot, they move to a cooler place in the shade as, like many cold blooded animals, they thermoregulate. That is, they control their body temperature by moving from a hot place to a cooler one.

In the desert they very rarely, if ever, come across standing water. They have evolved to extract the moisture they need from the food they eat, and therefore it is not unusual never to see a bearded dragon drink. Their lungs can only cope with low humidity levels.

So what does this tell us? Firstly, that they need a good sized vivarium where a wide temperature range is possible. Secondly, they need something to climb on. They need to get their heat from above – not underneath them, and water features in a vivarium will harm their health. They also need exposure to UVB rays that they otherwise would get from the sun. That does not seem to stop shops selling too small vivariums, heatmats (which can actually burn the bearded dragon’s stomach as they cannot feel heat through their bellies), waterfalls, loose substrate that can be swallowed and impact in the gut, and sometimes they even neglect to tell the purchaser that they need a UVB tube. So be warned.

So, now we know what we don’t need, how should the bearded dragon’s vivarium be set up to ensure it lives a long and healthy life?

First of all, an adult bearded dragon will need a vivarium that’s 4ft x 2ft x 2ft (120cm x 60cm x 60cm). When you consider an adult beardie will be close to 2 ft (60 cm) in length you can see how anything less wide will be uncomfortable for it. Baby beardies are quite happy being put straight into a full size vivarium – in the desert no one partitions off a part for them to use! For babies the decoration should be kept simple so that they can catch their food easily. As juveniles grow so fast it is false economy to start off with a smaller sized vivarium.

There should be a heat source at one end of the vivarium – a 60 or 100 watt spotlight is ideal. You can buy these from supermarkets or DIY stores if you don’t want to buy the ones made specifically for reptiles.

It is important to control the temperature at the cool end of the vivarium – your bearded dragon will not survive if it cannot heat up and cool down when it needs to. In order to control the temperature you will need a thermostat. Many people assume this is to ensure the basking temperature is kept high – the opposite is the truth. The thermostat should be kept to make sure the cool end of the vivarium does not go higher than 85f (30c). Once this is right it should be easy to manage the temperature at the basking spot which should be 105f (41c) – the important word being ‘spot’. This does not mean the whole of the hot end of the vivarium should be at this temperature, just the spot where the beardie will bask. The ‘spot’ can be a log, branch or rock on which the beardie can bask to expose himself to the maximum heat. Raising or lowering the basking spot will alter the temperature until it gets to the right level.

It takes a little time to get the probe of the thermostat in the right place to maintain the temperatures accurately – you should start by placing it at the cool end, and then moving it up the vivarium if the temperatures are too low. A good digital thermometer with dual inputs and dual readouts will let you see the temperatures at both ends of the vivarium at once. As it’s a bit tricky for beginners to get it all right, it’s recommended to set up the vivarium and have it running for a week before introducing the bearded dragon.

Depending on your location and your house you may not need any night time heating at all – they need a good temperature drop at night in order to be able to get to sleep. The temperature can go down to 60f (16c) for adults, 65f (18c) for juveniles. If your house gets very hot during summer you may find you need a reptile fan to cool it down.

The other vital piece of equipment is the UVB tube. This should be the strongest that you can buy – currently tubes are selling at 12% UVB which are the best. 10% should be the minimum you choose. The output fades after six months, so tubes should be replaced on a regular basis. The tube should run the whole length of the vivarium, so for a 4ft vivarium you should select a 42″ tube. This will mean the bearded dragon is exposed to UVB for all the time the light is on. 12 hours under a UVB tube is only equilvalent to about 20 mins in the full heat of the sun in the desert, so do not use any hides or caves as your beardie need the most exposure to UVB as he can get.

The heat and light should be on for at least 12 hours a day – in summer you might want to raise this to 14 hours to mimic a change in season.

The final necessity is substrate. When young, bearded dragons are inaccurate feeders, and if they are on sand can take mouthfuls of this as they try to catch their food. Their smaller stomachs are also less able to cope with grains they might swallow, and loose substrate in their gut can lead to impaction which is generally fatal. Wood chippings or pellets should be avoided at any age. Another dangerous substrate is Calci Sand, which can be marketed especially for bearded dragons – this clumps together when wet and so is far worse than normal sand.

Until the age of six months plain kitchen towel is the safest substrate and carries no risk to their health. When they are six months old they can go on children’s play sand which is clean and very fine. Pets shops don’t usually give this advice as they don’t sell either product! The best substrate for an older beardie is a mixture of broken sandstone paving slabs with some playsand between the cracks. The hard surface is more natural for their feet, and helps keep their nails down. This substrate looks good too.

They do like to climb, so branches and rocks are welcomed. You can get these from the wild as long as they are sterilised before putting in the vivariums.

Other accessories are backgrounds – beardies do like climbing on the polyrock walls often sold in pet shops, but really the background is a matter of choice. As are any other decorations such as fake plants. Real plants cannot cope with the dry conditions, and are likely to be thrashed in any event. Food bowls and perhaps a shallow water bowl will complete your set up, and the result should be a happy healthy bearded dragon who will give you pleasure for many years to come.

Protecting Garden Birds From Magpies

Magpies can be desired and detested in equal measure, depending on the person and situation. On the one hand, they’re uniquely intelligent birds, with a well developed social system accompanying their well developed appetites. Unfortunately, they’re not only incredibly hungry, but predatory to boot. A small flock will happily devour an entire rabbit left gutted in the garden, so it’s no surprise the ease with which they crack open eggs waiting to hatch, or even kill the live young of other birds around the garden. If you want to keep the other species safe you can read on for a little info on deterring the creatures.

First up, a very simple a cheap system for deterring magpies from your garden. Oddly enough, these socially advanced creatures absolutely cannot abide being looked at by other animals, particularly those they can’t identify. In Australia the birds have been known to attack children in the street, who then took to strapping paper eyes to the reverse of their caps. The magpies see the false eyes, spook easily and are quick to back away.

This is an easy method to adopt, and there are a few ways to expand upon it to make it even more effective. Start off by making a few sets of paper eyes at home. Once you’ve got a few pairs start posting them up around the garden. Trunks and walls are best, a nice flat surface where they’ll enjoy a lot of visibility. Fasten them on with sellotape for longer-lasting results.

The tape actually plays into the best way to improve the technique. Magpies are more likely to spook from objects which reflect light well. Not only are they bright, but they better represent the glistening effect of an actual eye. The best value for money solution you’ll find requires two types of object. A thread of string and any loose CDs and DVDs you’ve no intention of keeping. String the CDs together into long hanging ornaments, then affix them to walls, trunks and branches. They’ll turn in the wind, reflecting randomly while also resembling a circular eye, complete with pupil.

In small domestic gardens these techniques will prove successful enough at scaring off the pesky, predatory birds. So long as you maintain good lines of sight so a pair of eyes or reflective CDs are constantly in view the magpie population should quickly begin avoiding your property. In larger areas setting up a large number of these items tends to be an inefficient use of your time. Instead consider a scarecrow with reflective eyes. They’re an old standby, and the appearance of a conscious human does wonders deterring these birds.

Francesca has been writing about UK wildlife and garden birds for years, from providing them with shelter to keeping them safe from predators. Now serving as a featured contributor to Garden Bird, a premier supplier of bird feed and care accessories, she hopes to expand her audience even further.

The Importance of the Right Reptile Lighting

It is no secret that your cold-blooded creatures are in desperate need of an outside source of heat to survive. In spite of this knowledge, it is often too surprising to learn that more owners still believe that any reptile lighting is enough. This is a common misconception since the wrong brand could lead to serious illness, and even death. One of the obvious ways to prevent this is to learn for yourself the different types of luminosity, which is available in the market. It is also a great idea to study the physical make-up of the species you own to get a clear grasp of its toleration to heat.

First of all, you have to consider the dimensions of your reptile cages and terrariums before settling on any type of lighting. Once you’ve already determined the exact measurements of your pets’ home, it will now be easier for you to choose the precise length, and even type, of the device that your cold-blooded friends need. Of course, you also have to consider the shape of the glass case. For example, if you’ve settled for the usual, rectangular frame, then the fluorescent strips are the perfect piece for you. On the other hand, if you’ve decided to go for a circular or a hexagonal bowl, small bulbs would suffice.

Before you install a particular type of lighting, you are required to make an inventory, if not a mental note, of the reptile supplies, which are kept inside the terrarium. This list includes the permanent items, such as your decorative pieces, substrates, food and water dishes, and the like.

By doing this, you are given a clear idea on the kind of device, as well as the power of its radiance and heat, which you need to set up. However, if you find that a particular bulb suits the needs of your cold-blooded friends well, while the ornaments cannot handle the warmth, it will be wiser to replace the items with more durable ones.

Your choice of reptile lighting should also be suitable to the species of cold-blooded creatures you keep. For example, ordinary pets, like the iguana and lizards, require less heat, and they are happy with a mere basking lamp. On the other hand, snakes also need less warmth, while the small crocodiles mandate more radiance constantly.

The reptile lighting for you also depends on its setup procedures in the sense that you should choose a model, which is not too tedious for you to install. You may decide on a brand, which is meant to be fixed inside the terrarium in the same way that you would do your decorative adornments.

Finding the perfect lighting to give your reptiles a comfortable home is not a problem when you have already considered every aspect, which may affect your purchase.

The Basics of Goldfish Care

Caring for goldfish isn’t all that different from caring for any other fish. A clean home with room to grow, meals delivered to their front door, and maybe some decor to give the place a bit of class is about all they ask for. None the less, some of their requirements do vary a bit from those of most other common aquarium fish. They’re not hard to meet, but doing so is key to keeping a happy and healthy goldfish.

Size
The number one thing that seems to slip past most people looking to keep goldfish is that they get BIG. Even for smaller varieties expect adults to reach about 8 inches in length with some easily passing a foot. This of course means that fish bowls, which goldfish are so commonly portrayed in, are virtually worthless for keeping goldfish (or any other fish for that matter). Really anything under 30 gallons is too small for even a single goldfish long term and if you want more than one the tank will need to be even bigger. Without adequate room to grow fish will become stunted, leading to health problems and most likely an early death.

Climate
While they’re typically sold alongside a bevy of various other species of tropical fish, which tend to prefer what could be thought of as tropical temperatures, goldfish are actually considered a cold water species. In fact they can tolerate temperatures close to freezing, although in the aquarium something in the mid 60s to low 70s in preferred (or roughly 18 to 23C). Even though they do just fine at lower temperatures a heater still isn’t a bad idea, however. Temperature swings are never a good thing for any fish. A heater ensures things don’t change too rapidly on particularly cool days.

This doesn’t mean your goldfish have to live alone, though. There are lots of other fish out there who enjoy a cooler temperature. White Cloud Minnows are quite popular coldwater fish, and the common Zebra Danio is quite adaptive and does just fine in cooler water. Just make sure they’re not too small as your goldfish may mistake them for a tasty snack! Some species of loaches and plecos are compatible as well, though care should be taken if you’re keeping a pleco and goldfish with frilly tails as the pleco may harass them.

Upkeep
Goldfish also differ from most common aquarium fish in that they are quite messy. Their digestive system works a little differently from other fish and can be considered somewhat inefficient. Add to this that they are just plain big fish and it’s easy to see why they need a lot of filtration to keep their tanks clean. Generally you’ll want about double the filtration that you would normally want for the tank size. Good circulation and mechanical filtration are of particular importance for keeping the bottom of the tank free from waste. This also means that regular upkeep is all the more important. Even with a good filter the substrate tends to get quite dirty necessitating vacuuming.

Along with their unique digestive system comes a need for unique food. When picking a food for your goldfish make sure to get something specifically sold as goldfish food. Normal tropical foods will likely prove too hard to digest leading to a messy tank and malnourished fish. But, just like other fish, they will get bored with the same thing day after day so don’t forget to change up their diet every now and then. You can even branch out into fresher alternatives. Goldfish are quite fond of peas and may accept other cooked vegetable bits.

So, to recap, or if you’re just looking for a quick guide to goldfishes’ needs:

-Goldfish get big and thus need a big home. Expect them to reach at least 8″ and need at least 30 gallons.
-Goldfish are coldwater fish preferring temperatures in the mid 60s to low 70s.
-Goldfish are messy- include extra filtration and be prepared to clean their tank weekly.
-Make sure to feed your goldfish food formulated specifically for them.
-As a side note: koi are not goldfish. They are related, but get much too big for the average home aquarium.

A goldfish tank offers a unique aesthetic not found in most other aquariums- large brightly colored peaceful fish. They’re an iconic species; instantly recognizable by just about anyone even from across the room. While their needs do differ a bit from most other common aquarium fish, they’re really not all that hard to meet. Fulfill those and you’ll have a happy goldfish for many years to come.

Choosing a Winning Barrel Racing Futurity Prospect

When selecting a barrel racing futurity prospect, the first thing I consider is the horse’s pedigree. Are the bloodlines in the prospect’s pedigree statistically proven to win in futurity competitions? The sire with the most winning futurity horses is Dash Ta Fame. There are horses sired by Dash Ta Fame that have not won and there are horses not sired by him that have won, but statistically his offspring perform better, and I prefer to stack the odds in my favor. Most people are misinformed to think that an average mare can produce an outstanding foal if bred to an outstanding stallion. I disagree. The truly phenomenal horses, come from outstanding mares, therefore, I heavily weigh the dam’s side of the pedigree. I consider whether she was a great performer herself, or if any of her previous foals have performed well. Both sides of the pedigree should be able to stand on the own merit, and should not be used to compensate each other.

Next, I study the prospect’s conformation, how its body is built. There are specific attributes that better equip barrel horses to perform their jobs. I look for a big, round, dark, “soft,” kind-looking eye. An eye with this appearance signifies intelligence. I want a nice slope to the shoulder, a steep shoulder indicates a short stride without much reach. That being said, the angle of the shoulder and the hip should match, indicating the horse will be able to collect effectively in training. Moving down from the hip to the hocks, I prefer a lower hock set to a higher one. This allows a horse to get underneath itself for the turn, and should be powerful pushing off with its hind end. Moving further down to the pasterns, I look for a well-balanced pastern. Too long and the horse will be more prone to injuries, too short and the horse’s stride will be hampered. The overall legs should not be too finely boned, as this will lend the horse towards more injuries. I also study the back and underline. I prefer a short back and long underline. This indicates speed and agility. I do not consider height too much when selecting a prospect. There is not a perfect size for winning. I have seen pro horses winning that are anywhere between 14- 17 hands. I prefer mine to be between 15.0-15.3, but that is a personal preference. Short horses can be just as fast as the tall horses if they have the conformation to do so. That is what is important. Barrel racing, especially futurities, asks a lot of the horses’ bodies. Selecting a prospect that is naturally better equipped to perform the task will only give you an advantage in the arena, as well as aid in preventing injuries.

There are advantages and disadvantages to selecting your prospect from the race track. The disadvantages could be endless if you do not buy from a reputable trainer. The horse could already have soundness issues. It could be mentally pushed too hard, therefore will be unable to adapt to barrel training. They could be infusing the horse with illegal substances. These instances, unfortunately, do happen at race tracks, but can be avoided if you know where you should be purchasing. If you buy from a reputable trainer, the advantages include that the horse has already been taught to run. Some people see babies out in the pasture with their moms frolicking around and assume horses naturally know how to run. This is not the case. Horses have no idea how to run at the speed needed for competition and must be trained to do so. When they come from the track, you do not have to include that in your barrel training. Another advantage is that they have already been exposed to the newness of hauling and travelling to new places. Track horses are well seasoned, whereas horses that have not been to the track must slowly adjust to the experiences of hauling.

The Best Spring Feed for Your Birds

Spring is certainly an important time for bird feeding. Many migratory species will be passing through your garden on their way back home, and you can expect to see new nests and hatchlings springing up around your area when mating season kicks off. Birds have specific nutritional needs throughout the period, however, so it’s worth taking the time to note just what you should be providing.

Mealworms

These are an old standby, and an excellent source of live feed. Unlike their larger, crunchier brethren, mealworms are both protein heavy and moist. They benefit smaller birds the most, and you can expect to see them surge in popularity during mating season. Adults will bring them back to the nest to sustain their young, as they’re one of the most nutritious and edible feeds out there.

Remember, they can easily go off if left outside for too long. Consider soaking them in water for a little extra moisture on hot days, as long as they’re all eaten quickly. As always, be sure to clean up any uneaten remnants to prevent disease.

Fruit

If you grow a variety of plants in your garden, there’s every chance you have a few apples and pears going spare through spring. These large, meaty and moist fruits are particularly suited to feeding larger birds, capable of digging in more effectively. The high water content will certainly benefit them in hotter weeks, and slicing up a few to leave on the feeder will keep a lot of birds happy.

As an interesting idea for presentation, consider slicing a fruit in half and impaling It on the branch of a tree. This will move larger birds into the canopy, while producing a pleasant natural appearance. Just be sure not to leave any sliced fruit out for longer than a few days. In the heat and rain of spring it’s quite easy for them to rot, so dense trees and covered feeders are a nice touch.

Seeds and Nuts

As ever, nyger seeds make for a great investment, and are extremely popular among the majority of finch species. They’re very fatty for their size, but will need a specialised feeder to hold them in.

Peanuts are a regular feature of any feed mix, but will require special attention if you intend to leave them out in the spring. They’re heavy in fat and protein, but be sure not to make the mistake of leaving out salted nuts, birds can’t process the salt and will suffer for it.

Remember, whole peanuts can easily choke a newly hatched bird, so either crush up your nuts or leave them in a mesh they cannot be removed from whole. Any other small seeds and nuts will suffice, sunflower hearts being another high nutrition treat.