Date: 05/02/19
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Weird exotic pets: Part 2

For Part 1 click here.

HEDGEHOGS

Hedgehogs are very cute, and it turns out you can actually own your very own prickly hedgehog friend! The African pygmy hedgehog is becoming increasingly popular in the UK, which is hardly surprising considering how petite and easy to look after they are.

The African pygmy hedgehog is a hybrid of the four toed hedgehog and the Algerian hedgehog and is the most popular species of domesticated hedgehog in the world.
A good quality dry cat food which is high in protein is one of the commonly fed staples, and a balanced and varied diet can be achieved with supplemental feeding of boiled or scrambled egg, fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as mealworms, crickets, wax worms and silk worms. This is because Hedgehogs are insectivores, which means that their diet in the wild is composed mainly of insects.

For one African pygmy hedgehog you will need a cage at least 3ft by 1.5ft, or bigger. They can also live quite happily in large rabbit hutches. African pygmy hedgehogs are sensitive to cold and changes in temperature, so you will need to heat the cage by means of a heat pad. These hedgies need to be kept at a constant temperature around 23 degrees Celsius.

Hedgehogs are nocturnal, meaning that they will be sleepy and inactive during the day, and you must respect this and allow them to sleep without interruption until the time that they naturally wake up and become active.


AXOLOTL

Are they fish or are they lizards? All we do know is they look a bit like a Pokémon, so therefore they’re pretty cool. And, they’re actually kind of cute; for a lizard-fish.
They have superior regenerative qualities, even in comparison to other lizards, such as those that can regenerate their tails and scales. Axolotl heal very easily if injured and can re-grow limbs such as a leg if hurt or attacked by other animals.

The type of axolotl that is commonly available to buy as pets within the UK are of the Ambystoma Mexicana genus. Correctly cared for, they are animals that can live for well over ten years under suitable conditions. 

Young axolotl can become cannibalistic to others, and so should not be housed together while they are young, making it one of the weirdest exotic pets you can own in the UK. Sometimes adult tank mates can also be aggressive, especially if the tank is overcrowded, so don’t keep a lot in one tank. Axolotl will eat other fish and organisms in the water, so they should not be kept with other aquatic pets, like your common goldfish.

Brine shrimp, tubifex worm, bloodworm and other suitable snacks can all be bought easily from most pet stores in frozen packages, which can be stored at home. Axolotl can also eat pre-packaged dried fish food pellets such as those fed to farmed salmon. Axolotl should be fed at least once a day. 


TARANTULA

A large enclosure isn't necessary but if you have an arboreal species of tarantula you will need a tall cage, and a burrowing type will need appropriate substrate or hiding places. Generally, spiders should be housed one to a cage as they are not social. A diet of crickets, supplemented with other insects, is fine for pet tarantulas and adults only need to eat about once a week. Adults may also fast for extended periods of time, a month or two is not unusual, particularly before shedding their skin. Growing spiders, however, should be fed several times a week.

Tarantulas do not need bright lights but should be kept in a darker area of a room where direct sunlight will not fall on the cage. Incandescent lights should not be used for heating as they could potentially dry out the tarantula. Although the UK isn't a tarantula's native home country, these weird exotic pets can adapt to their surroundings. Heat pads, available at pet stores for reptiles, can be placed under a small part of the cage for keeping the right temperature. Most species of tarantula do fine somewhere between 23-29c.

But be careful because Tarantulas can bite and their bites are venomous. However, for most species, the toxicity of their venom is much like that of a bee or wasp. It is most likely to cause a nasty reaction including pain, redness, and swelling. However, people can have an allergic or anaphylactic reaction to spider bites in the same way that some people react to bee stings.


FENNEC FOX

The fennec fox, also known as the desert fox, is a beautiful, small member of the vulpine family. Fennec foxes can be kept as pets, although they are not very common. They are small but have enormous ears.

Fennec foxes behave much like dogs, but since they are not domesticated, they do require careful socialisation. You'll need to take precautions against them escaping when kept as pets and they can live for up to 14 years in captivity. The weird looking exotic foxes aren't very similar to your average UK fox at all. 

Their personalities and movements are somewhat cat-like, but with all of the energy and enthusiasm of the dog! Fennec foxes spend about 40% of their time being highly active, awake and being mellow, and the rest of their time asleep. Most owners will feed a mix of dog food, cat food, vegetables, and fruit to keep a balanced diet and mimic that of a wild fennec fox diet.


STICK INSECT

Stick insects are insects that often mimic sticks, branches or leaves. There are over 6000 stick insect species on Earth, many of which are kept as pets.
Stick insects belong to the Order of Phasmatodea. Like any insect, an stick insect has 6 legs and 2 antennae. Some species have wings when adult, most species do not, 

he shape and size of their body differs a lot between species; some are long and thin, others bulky and covered in strange shapes that mimic thorns, leaves or moss, making them one of the weirdest exotic pets you can keep in the UK. 
All stick insects are vegetarian and like nothing better than eating brambles like raspberry or blackberry leaves which when included in their diet makes it a very nutritious. It's really important for them to have plenty of fresh food in their environments so they can munch away and stay healthy.

Stick insects like to hang upside down on plants so you need to make sure they have plenty of room in their environments so they can dangle. As a rule of thumb the height of their tank has to be 3 times the length of the stick insects you keep in it.

It is better to keep stick insects in a tank because they cannot escape and it's more fun watching them through the glass or plastic – you can keep them in a meshed cage but you need to make sure they can't escape through the holes in the mesh which if too large, they will wriggle through.


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