Category: Exotic Animals


Positive reinforcement training with your pet fish

December 7, 2017

Exotic Animals

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Positive reinforcement is a way to encourage a particular type of behavior by giving a reward. The principles of positive reinforcement are used in all types of animal training. If you want a particular behavior out of your pet, you simply give them a reward every time they behave in the way you want. Of course the ‘reward’ actually differs from animal to animal.

Positive reinforcement has been used as a training method for pet dogs, chickens, cats, rats – really all animals can be trained using these basic training principles. In psychology operant conditioning/ positive reinforcement is used as a way to help people overcome fears or phobias. Learning for reward is the basis of all learning. How does your pet fish fit in to the world of positive reinforcement? There is a common misconception that pet fish are not capable of being trained. Positive reinforcement has proven beyond a doubt that fish such as goldfish, bettas, oscars, cichlids and many more are more than capable of being trained. Not only can they be taught several kinds of tricks, they can interact with their owners in a way that was reserved only for other pets in the house.

The R2 Fish School kit includes a feeding wand device to deliver food rewards as part of the training of a fish. When this wand is first introduced to the fish the fish may swim away. It typically takes just the first 20 minute training session for the fish to realize that the feeding wand is delivering food – at the point the fish realizes that the wand is delivering a treat (the same way your dog responds to a tasty food treat) the fish will follow the wand. At this point of recognition the trainer can wave the wand around the water and the fish will actively follow the wand through the tank. Training has begun! There are many videos on the internet of trained fish doing a variety of agility type tricks.

Examples of tricks that you can train your pet fish to do with the help of positive reinforcement techniques are shooting hoops, playing soccer, limbo, playing fetch, slalom, football and a whole lot more. The important thing to understand however is that you need to use positive reinforcement techniques that are specific to your pet fish. These techniques are actually quite simple and you can get the hang of it fairly quickly. It will amaze you how fast your pet fish starts responding to various positive reinforcement training techniques.

Tips on Freshwater Crayfish Care

December 7, 2017

Exotic Animals

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Freshwater crayfish are beautiful and fascinating creatures to house in an aquarium. There are over 100 different species of crayfish which differ in color, from yellow to green and brown to red. Most of them live up to 3 years, though some may live longer. Nonetheless there is more to keeping crayfish than just throwing them in the tank. Even though they live in mud when in the wild, ensuring that the creature is both healthy and happy at all times is very important.

You must pay attention to a number of factors including, water chemistry and quality, whom they are sharing the tank with and diet. You must also understand that different species of the fish have slightly different needs, temperaments and behavior. Here is a comprehensive guide on freshwater crayfish care:

Water parameters

This is one of the most important factors associated with freshwater crayfish care. If the water conditions in the aquarium are not right, your fish may become uncomfortable or even die. So before you start keeping crayfish learn about cycling your fish tank. Here are some other great points to consider:

– Make sure you keep the water at a Ph. level between 7 and 8.

– Crayfish will do fine at room temperature water, but do not let the water get too hot, above (80 F/26 C).

– Crayfish thrive well in hard water. The minimum water hardness should be between (8-12 dGH and KH (140-210).

– Crayfish that are deficient in iodine usually experience problems when molting. The easiest way to make sure that they have enough iodine is to purchase marine iodine. A single bottle can last you several months.

– Just like any other fish tank, changing your filters monthly and 25 percent water of your water every two weeks is very important with freshwater crayfish care.

What do crayfish eat?

Crayfish are omnivores, meaning they feed on plants and animals; mainly fish. Usually pet crayfish are fed sinking pellets. In addition to that, vegetables like zucchini, spinach, frozen peas and collard greens are also great for crayfish. You can supplement their diet with feeder fish every now and then. Crayfish absolutely love fish. So don’t be surprised if one of your fish come up missing one day.

Also note that the fish require a lot of calcium to help them grow their exoskeleton. This basically means that in your aquarium, you should make sure that they are receiving enough calcium in their diet. Vegetables like spinach and collard greens are great sources of calcium. It is also acceptable to give them a supplement of brine shrimp or frozen krill once or twice a week.

How often do they eat?

Freshwater crayfish only need to be fed once a day. But plant food can be left in the aquarium indefinitely. If your crayfish eats a fish, and leaves pieces of the fish, make sure you remove the pieces quickly.

Can I keep crayfish in a tank with live plants?

Crayfish feed on anything they come across. Even though this may not be true for all crayfish, it is safe to assume that they will eat or destroy your plants. That is why it’s always a good idea to have artificial plants for your tank.

A Complete Introduction to Hamsters

December 7, 2017

Exotic Animals

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These rodents are found in a wide range of habitats, from northern Europe in a broad band across much of Asia, apart from the southeastern corner. Twenty-four species are known but, as in the gerbils, only one – the Golden, or Syrian, Hamster (Mesocricetus auratus) – has become popular as a pet throughout the world.

The Golden, or Syrian, Hamster

The Golden Hamster was first discovered in 1839 and, forty years later, live specimens were brought to England from Syria by James Skene, who had been serving there in the diplomatic service. This group seems to have thrived for thirty years, with the final progeny dying in 1910.

Subsequently, there seems to have been none of these rodents in captivity until April, 1930. Indeed, it was suggested that the species was extinct, until Dr. Israel Aharoni discovered a nest of Syrian Hamsters on Mount Appo in Syria. The young hamsters were transferred to the Hebrew University at Jerusalem. The breeding program was not entirely successful at first, since four of the eight hamsters escaped, and then a female died as a result of a fight with the only surviving male. From this unpromising beginning, however, the male mated successfully with both the other females and, within a year, three hundred and sixty-four offspring had been reared.

Some of the progeny were sent to Dr. Edward Hindle in England and, possibly via breeding stock at the London Zoo, Golden Hamsters became available to the pet-owning public. It was not until the start of the Second World War that these hamsters were seen alive in North America. It is amazing to reflect that all such hamsters kept throughout the world today are believed to be the direct descendants from that nest found on Mount Appo more than half a century ago.

Hibernation

An unusual and often disconcerting habit of hamsters is their ability to hibernate if environmental conditions are unfavorable. This is a natural trait, which to some extent is now less apparent in domesticated stock. The hamster’s body temperature falls from the normal level of about 37 C (98.7 F) to a little above the environmental temperature. The respiratory rate is barely one breath a minute, whereas under normal circumstances the figure reaches up to one hundred or more. Since the heart beat can also be as low as four contractions per minute, compared with five hundred per minute in the active animal, to the casual observer a hibernating hamster appears dead. A fall in temperature, coupled with declining periods of light, will trigger hamsters to enter this torpid state.

Clearly, in a room in the home heated during cold weather, such behavior is less likely to occur. To encourage a hibernating hamster to wake from its sleep, transfer it to a warm position where it can awake gradually. A temperature in excess of 20 C (68 F) is ideal. Gradually the hamster’s breathing will become apparent, and its body will warm up as blood flow to the skin increases. If you discover a hamster apparently dead in the nest, treat it in this way to establish whether or not it has simply entered a torpid state.

Other factors also influence a hamster’s readiness to enter a state of dormancy. These include the provision of a very deep layer of bedding material and, significantly, an opportunity for the hamster to store food. Hoarding behavior is quite natural, with food being taken back in the cheek pouches and stored in the nest.