Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book/Nature/Small Mammal Pets
|Small Mammal Pets|
|Skill Level 2|
|Year of Introduction: 1997|
The Small Mammal Pets Honor is a core component of the Naturalist Master Award .
1. Have the Mammal Honor.Edit
Instructions and tips for earning the Mammals honor can be found in the Nature chapter.
2. Keep a small mammal pet for at least six months. (Dogs and cats are not included as small mammal pets.) For a suggested list of pets to choose from, see #5 below.Edit
Keeping a pet represents a tremendous commitment on the part of the owner. Pets rely on their owners for their most basic needs, and if the owner is neglectful, or "just doesn't feel like" taking care of the animal, it will suffer. Some small mammal pets have a lifespan of only a couple of years, which is fairly short as compared to other pets. Because of the limited lifespan, a small mammal as a first pet would be a good choice for a parent to test a child's commitment. However, that should not relieve a child (or any pet owner) of responsibly caring for the animal.
If you realistically believe you can make a multi-year commitment to a small mammal pet, then you should go for it. Having a pet is not only an enjoyable experience, it may help you grow as a person.
3. Complete one of the following: a. If you currently have a small mammal pet, keep a record of the care for your small mammal for one month. Include in your record when it is watered, fed, and when its cage is cleaned. b. If you do not currently have a small mammal pet, but you have kept one for at least six months, “babysit” someone else’s small mammal pet for at least one week. Record the care that was required.Edit
There are a variety of ways to keep such records, from using a simple spiral notebook and a pen, to using a spreadsheet on a computer, or even a blog. Choose the method that is easiest for you, and set a time that you will be able to devote attention to it every day.
4. Give an oral report (at least 3 minutes) on what you have observed about your small mammal pet. Include favorite foods, some of its habits, when it is most active, and favorite story about pet, etc.Edit
This report could be given during Sabbath School, during club worship, or told as a children's story during church. It can also be given to your unit during a club meeting. Use the records kept in the previous requirement to help you prepare. Three minutes is not a very long report, so do not let that make you nervous. Once you start talking about your pet, the three minutes will pass before yo uknow it.
5. a. Be able to distinguish between the following groups of small mammal petsEdit
Hamsters are stout-bodied, with tails much shorter than body length and have small furry ears, short stocky legs, and wide feet. Their thick, silky fur, which can be long or short, can be black, grey, white, brown, buff, yellow, "sapphire" or red depending on the species, or a mix of any of those colors. Dwarf desert hamsters (genus Phodopus) are the smallest, with bodies 5 to 10 cm (about 2 to 4 inches) long; the largest is the common hamster (Cricetus cricetus), measuring up to 34 cm long, not including a short tail of up to 4 cm. The tail is often difficult to see; usually it is not very long, and on a long haired hamster it is barely visible.
Gerbils are typically between six and twelve inches (150 to 300 mm) long, including the tail which makes up approximately one half of their total length. One species however, the Great Gerbil, or Rhombomys opimus, originally native to Turkmenistan, can grow to more than 16 inches (400 mm) in length. It is illegal to purchase, import or keep a gerbil as a pet in the U.S. State of California.
The length can be up to 25 cm (10 in), with the tail a further 25 cm (10 in), the same length as the body. Adult body weight averages 350 g (12 oz) in males and about 250 g (9 oz) in females, but a very large individual can reach 500 g (18 oz). A rat's tail is for the most part hairless.
Fancy mice is a term to describe mice that have been selectively bred for pet or for show. They can vary greatly in size, from small pet mice that are approximately 16–18 cm (6.3–7.1 in) long from nose to the tip of the tail, to show mice that measure 30 cm (12 in) nose to tail. Pet mice weigh about 25–40 g (0.88–1.4 oz) but large show mice can weigh up to 100 g (3.5 oz).
Human-directed artificial selection in fancy mice has created a variety of colors and patterns. These include black, chocolate, blue, white, cream, lilac, red, fawn, champagne, cinnamon, golden agouti, silver agouti, silver and dove. All mouse standards fall into one of five categories: Selfs (one solid color all over), Tans (mice of one solid color on the top with a tan belly), Marked either in Even or Broken patterns (spotting of a standard color on a base of white) and a miscellaneous category.
(5) Guinea pigsEdit
Guinea pigs are large for rodents, weighing between 700 and 1200g (1.5-2.5 pounds), and measuring between 20 and 25 cm (8–10 inches) in length. They typically live an average of four to five years, but may live as long as eight years. According to the 2006 Guinness Book of Records the longest living guinea pig survived 14 years, 10.5 months
In Western societies, the guinea pig has enjoyed widespread popularity as a household pet since its introduction by European traders in the 16th century. Their docile nature, their responsiveness to handling and feeding, and the relative ease of caring for them, continue to make the guinea pig a popular pet. Organizations devoted to competitive breeding of guinea pigs have been formed worldwide, and many specialized breeds of guinea pig, with varying coat colors and compositions, are cultivated by breeders.
Chinchillas are rabbit-sized rodents native to the Andes mountains in South America. They have large ears and long, bushy tails.
Domestic chinchillas can be kept as pets. Chinchillas are active at dusk and at dawn. They typically do not like to be disturbed during the day, which may make them less favorable as pets to some people. Chinchillas are naturally very skittish creatures and generally do not like to be held, although they can become very attached to their owners if they grow up without a cage mate. Because of their high-strung disposition, they are not usually considered to be good pets for small children. However, chinchillas can be very friendly animals if sufficiently acclimated to human touch as kits, making them excellent pets for patient owners.
A house rabbit is a domestic rabbit kept as a pet for companionship, who lives inside the home with his owners.
Domestic ferrets typically have brown, black, white, or mixed fur, have an average length of approximately 20 inches (51 cm) including a 5 inch (13 cm) tail, weigh about 2-4 pounds (1 kg), and have a natural lifespan of 7 to 10 years.
Being so closely related to polecats, ferrets are quite easily able to hybridize with them, and this has occasionally resulted in feral colonies of ferret polecat hybrids that have been perceived to have caused damage to native fauna, perhaps most notably in New Zealand. As a result, some parts of the world have imposed restrictions on the keeping of ferrets.
Note: If the list of domesticated small mammals above are not found in your area you may substitute local domesticated small mammals from your area.
b. Describe the basic care for one of the above list and describe one way the care of another one of the list differs from the one you selected.Edit
Ferrets, alone of the animals on this list are carnivores. Because of this their care will differ from that of all the others here. If you selected a ferret, compare its care to any of the others. If you selected something else, compare its care to that of the ferret.
All of these pets need to have a supply of fresh water available to them at all times. Their cages should be kept clean, and they all require daily exercise.
Offer small, bite-sized bits of fresh fruits and veggies daily.
>> Recommended: peas, broccoli, carrots, apples, bananas
>> Avoid: chocolate, corn, candy, caffeinated beverages, cheese, sticky foods such as peanut butter
Rats LOVE people food, and you can give yours the occasional table scrap, such as cooked pasta or a bit of pizza crust. Limit treats or you’ll have a fat rat!
Some rats love exercise wheels. Get one with a solid surface without wire rungs, so your pets’ tails cannot get caught while running. Also, give them appropriate chew toys to help wear down their teeth, which grow continuously.
>> Recommended: unpainted, untreated wood, dog biscuits, safe cardboard and rawhide chews
Alternatively, there are many commercial ferret food products. Some kitten foods can also be used, so long as they provide the high protein and fat content required by the ferret's metabolism. Most adult cat foods and kitten foods are unsuitable for ferrets however, because of their low protein content and high fiber. Ideally, a ferret food should contain a minimum of 32% meat based protein and 18% fat and a maximum 3% fiber. Low-quality pet foods often contain grain-based proteins, which ferrets cannot properly digest.
c. Which two of these pets are not rodents?Edit
Rodent are characterized by two continuously-growing teeth in the upper and lower jaws which must be kept short by gnawing (the "dent" in rodent is the same root as in "dentist"). Rabbits were once classified as rodents, but were moved into a new order called Lagomorphs in 1923. Ferrets belong to the weasel family.
6. Write a 200 word essay on the history and value of one of the above and what characteristics they have that make them good pets.Edit
Go to the library an check out a book on the pet you are interested. You can also read an encyclopedia article about the animal:
Once you know some interesting facts, put them in writing. Use your own words. Two-hundred words will easily fit on a half page of letter-size paper.
7. Be able to identify five varieties of hamsters and five varieties of rabbits.Edit
Description: The average size is 7-8 inches.
Description: The Polish rabbit is compact but elegant with slender legs. The head is small and rounded and the ears are small, and erect. The coat is short, fine and thick.
Today, the Polish rabbit is used as a fancy exhibition breed. They are small rabbits with short ears that touch each other all the way to the tips. Due to their small size, the Polish rabbit is often confused with the Netherland dwarf, although the Polish is a little larger and the head is not rounded. (There are many other differences between the two breeds, such as coat structure and colors.) The accepted weights of the polish are two to three and 1/2 pounds. The ideal weight is 2.5.
Until the 1950s, most Polish rabbits were white with either red eyes or blue eyes. The red-eyed white is a true albino. The blue-eyed white has the Vienna white gene and is not a true albino. Since the 1950s, colored Polish breeds have been recognized by rabbit clubs. In 1957, the American Rabbit Breeder’s Association approved the black and chocolate Polish. In 1982, the blue variety was approved and in 1998 the broken variety was allowed.Because of their small size, Polish rabbits need less space in cage and barn facilities, and take up less space in apartments than some of the larger bunnies. As with other small breed rabbits, they tend to be higher strung than their larger counterparts. They are also not ideal pets for small children as they are easily dropped, injured and stepped on. Their high-strung nature makes them more suited for a mature, rabbit-loving, adult home. However, the polish rabbit is not usually mean. Bucks are little clowns and are extremely fast if you let it loose good luck catching it, but they generally calm down at about two years of age. Does tend to be reserved in personality.
8. Why is it not good to make pets out of small mammals taken from the wild?Edit
- Wild animals do not eat the same foods as humans or domestic animals. It may not be possible for you to feed them what they need. If they do not get proper nutrition, they will not remain healthy.
- Legal Concerns
- It is illegal to keep wild pets in many localities. If you capture a wild animal and try to keep it as a pet, you may very well be breaking the law.
- Not Abandoned
- When people find baby animals that are apparently abandoned and attempt a "rescue," they are usually only interfering with the animal's life. In the vast majority of cases, the mother is nearby, and will return to it. Taking the baby animal in no way rescues it at all.
- Many people believe that when they get tired of their wild pet, they can merely release it back into the wild. However, if the animal was in captivity from youth, it will not have learned any survival skills, making this move a death sentence for the animal. Further, the animal's diet will necessarily have to change which will cause digestive problems. Remember, wild animals and domestic animals do not eat the same foods. This animal will hav undergone two major dietary shifts - the first when it was captured, and the second when it was released.
- Proper Care is Nearly Impossible
- It is nearly impossible to meet all the requirements a wild animal needs for survival. Many wild animals require specialized care in facilities staffed by highly trained professionals. A wild animal will almost never develop affection for its owner, and because it is wild, can turn on its keeper in an instant, causing serious injury, or possibly even death.
- Babies Grow Up
- Baby animals grow up. They are not usually as cute when they are fully grown, and most people greatly underestimate the strength of an adult wild animal. Given the change, it can easily overpower a human being. As they grow, their appetites grow too, and can often be accurately described as voracious. An adult wild animal can eat you out of house and home!
- According to the Humane Society of the United States:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discourages direct contact with wild animals for a simple reason: They can carry diseases that are dangerous to people, such as rabies, herpes B virus, and Salmonella. - http://www.hsus.org
9. Rabies: What is it? How is it spread? Can you get rabies from small mammals? Is it curable? How can you avoid getting it? Which small mammal pets can carry it?Edit
Rabies is a viral disease that causes inflammation of the brain (encephalitis). If untreated, it is always fatal.
The virus is usually present in the nerves and saliva of a symptomatic rabid animal. The route of infection is usually, but not necessarily, by a bite.
Any mammal may become infected with the rabies virus and develop symptoms, including humans. Most animals can be infected by the virus and can transmit the disease to humans. Infected bats, monkeys, raccoons, foxes, skunks, cattle, wolves, dogs or cats provide the greatest risk to humans. Rabies may also spread through exposure to infected domestic farm animals, groundhogs, weasels and other wild carnivores. Squirrels, rodents and rabbits are seldom infected.
Rabies can be prevented by vaccination, both in humans and other animals. Virtually every infection with rabies was a death sentence, until Louis Pasteur and Emile Roux developed the first rabies vaccination in 1885. This vaccine was first used on a human on July 6, 1885 – nine-year old boy Joseph Meister (1876–1940) had been mauled by a rabid dog. Treatment after exposure is highly successful in preventing the disease if administered promptly, within fourteen days after infection. The first step is immediately washing the wound with soap and water, which is very effective at reducing the number of viral particles. In the United States, patients receive one dose of immunoglobulin and five doses of rabies vaccine over a twenty-eight day period. One-half the dose of immunoglobulin is injected in the region of the bite, if possible, with the remainder injected intramuscularly away from the bite. This is much less painful compared with administering immunoglobulin through the abdominal wall with a large needle, which is how it was done in the past.
Currently pre-exposure immunization has been used on domesticated and normal non-human populations. In many jurisdictions, domestic dogs, cats, and ferrets are required to be vaccinated. A pre-exposure vaccination is also available for humans, most commonly given to veterinarians and those traveling to regions where the disease is common, such as India. Most tourists do not need such a vaccination, just those doing substantial non-urban activities. However, should a vaccinated human be bitten by a carrier, failure to receive subsequent post-exposure treatment could be fatal, although post-exposure treatment for a vaccinated human is far less extensive than that which would normally be required by one with no pre-exposure vaccination.
All mammals can carry rabies, and this includes small mammal pets.
10. Why should you not handle your small mammal pets when you have a cold?Edit
Guinea pigs, rats, and mice are used extensively in medical research because they are susceptible to many of the same diseases and virus as humans. Having a cold means you are infected with a Rhinovirus, a virus that can make all of these animals sick. When you have a cold, you can easily spread germs to others (that's probably how you caught the cold in the first place), whether they are human, or animal. Do your family, friends, and pets a favor, and wash your hands frequently, especially if a cold is going around or if you have one yourself. And if you do have one, stay away from small mammal pets!
11. Find in the Bible three references to animals that we now consider to be small mammal pets. According to the Bible, are they considered to be clean or unclean meat?Edit
Three references can be found in these two verses.
The rabbit, though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof; it is unclean for you.
"'Of the animals that move about on the ground, these are unclean for you: the weasel, the rat, any kind of great lizard, the gecko, the monitor lizard, the wall lizard, the skink and the chameleon."
- Humane Society of the United States - Hamster care
- http://www.twinsqueaks.com/guide.php - Gerbil care
- http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/small-pet-care/rat-care - Rat Care
- Ferret Information - Ferret care
- Ferret Care