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Small Furry Pets - Winter 2012

Small Furry Pets - Winter 2012

BACK AFTER 113 YEARS!

     A SPECIES IS CONSIDERED to be extinct if it has not been sighted for 50 years. Zoologists were therefore amazed by the recent reappearance of a unique and mysterious South American rodent, which had not been seen since 1898, despite several organised searches for it.

     The red-crested tree rat (Santamartamys rufodorsalis),which is about the size of a guinea pig, bizarrely showed up at the front door of an ecolodge at the El Dorado Nature Reserve in the far north of Colombia. It stayed for almost two hours, allowing two research volunteers to take the fi rst photographs of a small mammal that was thought to have vanished forever.

     “He just shuffl ed up the handrail near where we were sitting and seemed totally unperturbed by all the excitement he was causing, and fi nally shuffl ed back into the forest. We are absolutely delighted to have rediscovered such a wonderful creature after just a month of volunteering with ProAves. Clearly the El Dorado Reserve has many more exciting discoveries waiting,” said Lizzie Noble, who is from Godalming in Surrey.

     The red-crested tree rat is now likely be designated as ‘critically endangered’. What is most concerning regarding its future, however, is that much of its potential remaining range is inundated with introduced feral cats that prey on native fauna, posing a serious threat to the continued survival of this nocturnal species.

CHOOSING YOUR IDEAL SMALL FURRY PET

Small animals make great pets - but you need to think carefully, when it comes to deciding which type will be most suited to your lifestyle and requirements. Sue Reid provides some guidance. together, and which will be ideal for children, then guinea pigs can be recommended. Females, called sows, will usually agree well, particularly if they are kept together from an early stage. Age considerations The ages of other members of your household are also signifi cant, when it comes to determining which type of small pet would be most suitable. With young children, up to the age of about 6 years old, then keeping a hamster or a similar small rodent is probably not the best choice in my view, if the child is to be closely involved in its care. Children of this age can easily end up being bitten, if they handle the small animal carelessly, holding it too tightly perhaps. Rabbits may be rather too large for young children to pick up and hold, and they can therefore be easily injured if they fall even a short distance on to the fl oor, which means that a guinea pig is again probably the best choice under these circumstances too. Their compact body shape and reluctance to bite means that children can be taught to handle them quite easily - more so than in the case of other small furry pets. It is simply a matter of scooping a guinea IDEALSMALL pet.

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