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[Lovebirds] [Hamsters, Gerbils]
[Hedgehogs, Sugar Gliders, Pygmy Possums]
[Tarantulas, Scorpions, Hermit Crabs]
Hedgehogs, Sugar Gliders and Pygmy Possums|
Who can say why some people find one particular type of animal repulsive and another person will find the same type of animal enchanting? That is the way it always is with smaller animals.
We see Guinea Pigs as adorable, but yet people in Ecuador see them as food. So the fascination with small furry animals has always been something of an enigma. One hundred years ago only domestic mice were kept as pets. Then seventy-five years ago people started with guinea Pigs, fifty years ago we had Syrian Hamsters, thirty years ago someone decided to keep Gerbils as pets. Fifteen years ago Russian Hamsters came into the picture. Now people are trying out Sugar Gliders, Hedgehogs and Pygmy Possums. Some of these animals has become mainstream and most of our viewers have heard of these animals so let's take a closer look at these critters so we can educate our viewers a bit.
An interesting pet is the African Pygmy Hedgehog. The Hedgehog is now be considered a truly domesticated animal. An animal whose genes are controlled by man such as size, color and temperament, are known as a domestic animal. Their genes are controlled through a process that is called selective breeding. The first Pygmy Hedgehogs were imported to the United States about fifteen years ago. They have all been born here in the United States since the initial importation.
Hedgehog breeders have bred the Hedgehogs into smaller sizes, friendlier temperaments, and a rainbow of colors. They are truly different from their ancestors that live still in modern day Africa.
Although Hedgehogs do look like rodents, they are in the insectivore family and eat insects in the wild. Their spines are modified hairs but are not barbed like a Porcupine and cannot be released. Hedgehogs lead solitary lives in the wild and have simple needs. A large glass (30+ gal) aquarium. Some good bedding choices include carefresh and vellux liners. Liners are even good for people with allergies, plus they are inexpensive and re-usable. Rabbit/Guinea Pig cages also work well if they have a solid floor, not wire. A water bottle, ceramic food bowl and a secure cover are just about all that you need. Do not use regular Hamster exercise wheels, only used exercise wheels made for Hedgehogs. A good hedgehog food (cat food) needs to have at least 30% protein and approximately 15% fat. Some good examples of this type of food are "Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul Adult Light" "Royal Canin Slim 38" and "Wellness Super 5 Mix Lite".
Since Hedgehogs are solitary animals they are quite content with being left alone, Hedgehogs usually live 3-5 years.
The next two alternative pets are not wild nor are they domesticated, but are wild animals born in captivity. They look the same as their wild ancestors even after many generations spent in captivity. One of these guys is the Sugar Glider that looks very similar to flying squirrel, but is actually a Marsupial Possum, which is native to Indonesia. They are able to glide because of a membrane called the Patagium. The Patagium connects the wrists to the ankles. Sugar Gliders may look so adorable but they are a lot more work than Hedgehogs. Sugar Gliders are very social animals and need to be kept in pairs in order to be happy. To be an exceptional pet a Sugar Glider must be purchased at a very young age or it will always be shy and fearful. Sugar Gliders are very active animals and need a large tall wire cage that has lots of perches, branches, and a sleeping house. In nature Sugar Gliders eat a wide variety of Fruits, Vegetables and Insects.
Captive Sugar Gliders do best on the BML (Bourbon's Modified Leadbeaters) diet supplemented with fruits, veggies, and mealworms. With this kind of care a Sugar Glider can live for ten to fifteen years. For more information on Sugar Glider diet please visit the Sugar Glider Information Page
The last alternative pet we have here is also a captive bred wild animal and is a marsupial possum and is native to South America. This critter is called the South American Pygmy Possum. They do look like the Virginia Possums that live in our back yards and do also have a prehensile tail. They are gentle, sweet, which make them ideal for children. Their needs are also quite simple. A glass aquarium set up like we have for the Hedgehog is just fine. They also like an exercise wheel that we use for Hamsters. The Pygmy Possums will do well on a pellet food, supplemented with fresh fruit. They make no noise and are quite clean and can live approximately eight years.
So you can see why these friendly interesting animals have become a member of the "Pet Set." They enjoy living with people and they fulfill the urge that someone may have to share their lives with an animal that is different or "Alternative."