Pets: What You Can Keep-and Cant

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This article is meant to provide you with a few suggestions as to what pets are Ukely to be a success if kept by a conscientious person who will take the trouble to study the animals in question from as many aspects as possible.

I shall, however, include a few types of animals which are often to be found in private captivity but which, in my opinion, should not be so kept. In such cases, I shall do my best to set out briefly the reason why these kinds of animals are unsuitable for the novice or the less experienced. Prohibitions and warnings are generally useless unless good reasons for them are given, and I can only hope that I shall get my points over.

The notes on the pets I deal with must be grouped under broad headings since space would not permit of their being listed species by species. There are plenty of specialized books which can mostly be easily obtained, and which go into the specific breeds of the various groups of animals in greater detail. It is the fundamentals that are most important, and these have formed the greater part of this volume. Before going into the groups of animals that I feel can be looked after by the keen and intelligent student, I think it may help if I draw your attention to a few golden rules and precepts about keeping pets

The most important rule—one that must come first—is fitting any proposed pet into the pattern of your home life and the type and extent of your premises. This applies to dogs just as much as it does to less common or familiar animals. It is by no means unusual to find a dog as large as a Great Dane occupying a very disproportionate amount of space in a small house or even a flat.

Another error is the choice of breeds of dog is when an essentially sporting breed is chosen without there being any chance of their field abilities being made use of. This, to me, is a refined form of cruelty. In the case of more unorthodox pets, it is wrong and foolish to contemplate keeping some very active kinds of creatures, such as squirrels, where there is only room for a cage suitable for rabbits.

Squirrels, of all species, must have plenty of room, and a pair will require a cage at least as big as a large cupboard. A small room given over to them would be ideal. Apart from considerations of space and exercise, there is the question of how much time you, or whoever the pets will belong to, can spare each day to attend to them correctly and, where this is necessary, provide company or companionship without which many animals will mopeOnce an eager pet-keeper has graduated from the hamster and guinea pig stage it is a safe bet that a monkey will be his avowed (or secret) ambition.

This is understandable for pretty obvious reasons which are seldom advanced in these days of complicated theories. To the young, a monkey is an amusing living doll; to the adult, it is surely a kind of substitute baby. However appealing and ‘human’ a monkey maybe I cannot, at present, do anything but condemn those without experience who buy a monkey as a pet.

At the risk of being repetitious, I must draw attention to the {ollowingfacts about pet monkeys—particularly those in inexpert hands. (i) Nearly all of them are delicate at the start and most of them soon die. Then there is the often tricky question of foods and feeding.

It is useless to set your mind on having a pet owl, or a mongoose, or other carnivorous species, if your principles revolt against an occasional live mouse (if you can catch one), or if the prospect of cutting up a dead wild rabbit or a chicken’s neck makes you feel faint. Are you frightened of creepy-crawlies? If so do not acquire a large type of lizard or a giant toad which will dote on grubs, grasshoppers, cockroaches, locusts, beetles, or worms. This is not meant to be a mere light-hearted piece of advice.

I cannot tell you how many times I have known people to pay good money for some animal which requires live food or freshly killed creatures and then, having installed the poor thing in its quarters, suddenly wakes up to the necessities of its diet. Not only must you adapt your pets to your house and all that it means; you must also think of your phobias, foibles, and other weaknesses of mind and body so that you do not sacrifice your pets on the altar of your temperament and prejudices.

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