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Discussion Starter · #583 ·
A sleigh ride would be so fun! That's something I've never done with horses yet. Not enough snow here.

At the barn tonight I put an apple on the ground while I went to get the horses. When I came back, a peacock had stolen the apple. He was so excited, pecking at it as he rolled it away.
I'll get used to the time change, I know. Tonight I did not get to the barn early enough, so by the time I was finishing cleaning up the field I wasn't sure if I was scooping piles of poo or maybe just mole hills, or even peacocks.

I'm looking into getting a new pet. It's something I take seriously, since DH believes I'd be a pet hoarder without him (probably right) so I need to choose carefully. Also I want to give the best care.
I'm down to 5 pets right now, 2 horses, 2 cats and a dog. I've had up to 10 pets. The time I can spend with the horses is limited by sleep and daylight. There's more time for home pets. All 3 of the home pets are nearing age 14, so they are mostly about sleeping nowadays.

Here are the ones I've been thinking about and pros/cons:
Rats are of course on the short list. I have a big cage already. Cons are a short lifespan (2 years), and health problems. Females tend to get mammary tumors. Males can fight, but can't be kept alone either. Rats are like little dogs and love being cuddled and played with. They even wag their tails.

Mice also have a short lifespan, and are less cuddly than rats. But they also don't miss you if you don't have time to play for a couple days. They're pretty cute to watch.

I was considering a jumping spider, but I don't think I can have one because they require live prey.
They are very cute, but you'll notice in this picture that the cute little critter is a vicious predator killing something.

If you consider everything as if the spider was as big as a cheetah (thankfully they're not that big or they'd jump out and eat us), then keeping crickets and flies (noble animals in their own right) for the spider to eat would be like keeping cute pet goats to feed to your cheetah. Necessary perhaps, but it would make me sad.
Even some flies are actually really cute, like the bee fly.

I can't imagine leading this little guy to his death. "Come on, jump in here with the big scary spider."

In the end, don't we all want to die in our sleep?

I'm also considering land snails. They are rather fascinating creatures to watch, easy to care for and can live five years or more. It's kind of fun to watch them eat. At night at my house up north I used to go outside and find dozens of them eating my flowers. So I'd cut the flowers down to make it easier for them to eat them. I've always thought animals were cooler than plants anyway.
A problem is that they are social, but also hermaphrodite. So if you keep two snails, they'll always lay eggs. Then you have to get rid of the eggs or you'll have hundreds of snails. I think I could handle that though.


Another choice is madagascar hissing cockroaches. They can live up to five years. There are 3,500 species of cockroaches in the world, and only 30 are considered pests to humans. Most live on rainforest floors. These are very clean, and friendly and seem to like being handled.
This guy takes his to the beach with him.

They're figuring out how to make "biobots" out of these cockroaches so they can send them in to disaster areas to find survivors. They can steer the bugs by controlling their antennas, and send signals out to tell where victims are located.

When I was a kid, I used to try to keep bugs as pets. It always went wrong somehow. The crickets kept me up at night so I let them loose. The ants escaped the ant farm. The slugs escaped the terrarium because I didn't put a lid on it. My mom was not too happy about that one! I've had rats and mice too. It's hard to choose.
 

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That is quite an unusual list! I like jumping spiders too. They seem intelligent and watching them can be fun. I had one living in a big cardboard box in my shop some years ago. He would come out and watch me working and seemed to enjoy my company. Then , a couple of weeks later, he disappeared. It was a strange feeling missing a spider!
 

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I will say your list is interesting. I personally would not choose any of those as a pet, but to each his own!

Have you considered a snake? My son has a ball python. She is beautiful, fun to play with, and requires very little maintenance. She eats frozen dead rats, so no need to be the one to send them to their demise.

Personally, I would get another cat. :)
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I had a cat spider I called George in the hallway in our old house @egrogan. I really actually enjoyed speaking with him on the way by. My husband hated him something awful, but I don’t remember him killing him. He just complained every day. Lol

I would go with the rat if that were my list Gotta. Excepting running into bugs and making friends, I don’t think they qualify as pets… we had a mouse and I enjoyed it enough, but it died so shortly! The lifespan just isn’t worth it, and it didn’t become exceptionally friendly, and bit if you tried to hold it. There were two, but the first one died super quick. Both had tumors at death.

I’ve never been around a rat, but figure they would be fun enough. I like the idea of their intelligence and friendliness, but not so much the smell. The mice smelled, and I had to clean the cage every day.

I have too many pets. The horses, the cow and calves, the cats and dogs and chickens. The chickens and cats are the easy ones. They take very little maintenance. If I were to get a house animal I would prefer a bird I think.
 

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Discussion Starter · #589 ·
I guess most spiders are not social. I had one living by my bathtub, and I'd look at him when I was in the tub. Then one day there was a second spider hanging down near him. I thought, "Oh, they're going to be friends." The next day I saw spider #2 was on the ground dead beneath spider #1's web.

DH always wants to put spiders outside. I say, "They're house spiders." To me that means they're supposed to live indoors. We usually just say hello when they pass us and let them go find a corner to hide in. But I think the cats might kill them sometimes.
I like hearing about everyone's spider pets.

Snakes are amazing, but my efforts with reptiles have not been successful. I am wary about reptiles and fish, because the heat sources have sometimes been problematic. Years ago I lived in Minnesota and had anoles, and it was very difficult getting crickets home from the pet store in the winter. They'd freeze to death even inside my coat and running as fast as I could to my heated car. I don't see how people live in Minnesota. Lizards either.

Fish have always been too difficult so I've given up. I've had bigger ones eat little ones, I've had them jump out because I didn't have a lid, and once I bumped the heater dial just before bed and woke up to find everyone floating dead on the top in very hot water.

I've had birds for many years, and may get more sometime but was thinking about something different. This is the first time they've happened to die of old age so close together. Usually one dies, then I get a companion, then the older one dies, and it goes on. This time by the time the oldie died, the other bird was so old I was afraid a younger companion might be too much.
 

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Fish have always been too difficult so I've given up. I've had bigger ones eat little ones, I've had them jump out because I didn't have a lid, and once I bumped the heater dial just before bed and woke up to find everyone floating dead on the top in very hot water.
I did the same thing regarding the heater I cleaned out the fish tank and I guess when I was replacing the stuff, I bumped the heater and came home from work to find dead fish. I also had the bigger fish eating the smaller ones going on and I too gave up on fish!


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We have found great joy and pleasure in hamsters, gerbils, and guinea pigs. They are all friendly and fun. Hamsters and gerbils have very little odor. Guinea pigs have a little more, but they are so loving and friendly. They call to you when you enter a room, love to be cuddled and petted. Our hamsters and gerbils lived far longer than they were expected to. We had two that lived 4 years and one that lived 5 years, and that is long for those little guys.

And don't forget rabbits! Rabbits are smart, sweet, cute, cuddly, and super fun. If you make them house rabbits, they do tend to chew up things like cabinet doors and electrical cords.
 

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Discussion Starter · #592 ·
@knightrider, I do love guinea pigs. I had many when I was younger and showed them in 4-H. I had a gerbil once when I lived in a girl's dorm and he escaped. I was easily able to track his progress by the screaming that went from room to room.

I'll have to put a guinea pig on the list...
Are hamsters very personable? I think I heard they are solitary animals?
 

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Our hamsters were personable. I kept some in my classroom at school as well as letting my kids have them for pets. The kids always enjoy watching them stuff all their food into their cheeks when you feed them. They crawl all over your arms and lap when you take them out. We used to let them run all around in their hamster balls, but my daughter read recently that hamster balls are not good for the hamster.

Hamster Exercise Balls are Not Safe, Not Recommended! — Hamster Society (Singapore)

On the other hand, our hamsters and gerbils lived far longer than expected. They all got to be really old and frail and tottery and still lived on and on. I guess we didn't hurt them too much.

"There are several different breeds and varieties of hamster, varying in size and temperament. Hamsters usually live for up to two years, although some may live for longer."

Most of ours lived about 4 years and I think one lived 5 years.
 

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@knightrider, I do love guinea pigs. I had many when I was younger and showed them in 4-H. I had a gerbil once when I lived in a girl's dorm and he escaped. I was easily able to track his progress by the screaming that went from room to room.

I'll have to put a guinea pig on the list...
Are hamsters very personable? I think I heard they are solitary animals?
I loved my youngest sons guinea pigs, they're too short lived though but have real personalities.
Elvis and Erik
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Discussion Starter · #596 ·
Those guinea pigs are cute! I've been reading about hamsters. Lots to learn. I have to go measure my rat cage to see if it is even big enough for a hamster. They actually require more space than rats, plus I'd have to figure out how to make a burrowing area. It's so great how people now are studying animals we keep as pets and finding out what they actually need to have a good life. You can find out so much online regarding diet, habitat, and health.

Small rodents can be entirely different in their needs. Rats and mice are great climbers, hamsters not that great and guinea pigs don't climb at all. Hamsters are not social whatsoever, and live solitary lives. Very interesting. I'm leaning away from guinea pigs at the moment because my floor space in the tack room/exotic pet room is limited and their cages take up a lot of floor space.

I'm thinking about going to see this hamster at the shelter. Someone doesn't know their fairy tales because she is named Hansel.

They have Gretal also, who is a girl too.

My sister said, "Get a hamster!" She thinks it sounds much better than hissing cockroaches.

Lately all I can think is, "Hello darkness, my old friend."
My shift starts at 10:45 pm, so it felt lately like I was going to work at almost midnight.
Yesterday I managed to squeeze in some driving with Aria.

I've been waffling about whether to train her to drive in an open bridle or begin with the blinders. So far I've been using the bridle with the blinders. I know it's very important to tack up and attach the cart eventually with a halter on, so the horse can see what is behind them in case the bridle ever comes off when driving. But I do believe it's true that if a horse panics, it's much better to have the blinders on because once they get the sight of something attached and chasing them, in a fearful state they have too much difficulty calming down. My thought right now is to continue training with the blinders and then just do a lot of leading around, ponying and walking with the cart in a halter too.

I've been just starting out with no whip, trying to get Aria used to moving forward and turning. This time I used the lunge whip, and it went very well. It doesn't seem like the horse would react much when they can't see the whip, but the little popping sound helped a lot when she felt like getting stuck. Without a whip, I was sometimes having to go and lead her forward, or push on her hind end, but with the whip I was able to get her moving with just noise cues.

It's kind of amazing how she was in a complete panic at the sight of a rope in April, and now I have things hanging off her and lines dragging over various parts of her body, and she is not afraid of the sound of the whip. It makes her open her eyes a bit wider and move forward, but she doesn't try to run off or break out of a walk.

Hero was very calm and cute yesterday. I had the thought of having him run around the arena a bit after I was done with Aria, but as soon as he went into a fast trot he started slipping so I decided the ground was just too wet. It was a lovely day since there was a break in the rain for several hours while I was at the barn. I brought a long-sleeve shirt, but it was 64 degrees and humid, so I was plenty warm in short-sleeves.
 

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As soon as I started teaching my horses to drive, I took off the blinders. I had read that they do more harm than good. Since I had two sensible quiet smart appaloosas, I figured they'd soon learn about what was behind them. They dealt well with distractions, having been jousted and sword fought on for many years. I never had a problem with wishing I had blinders on them.
 

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My cart came with runners, and every December, I took off the wheels and put on the runners and did sleigh rides until March. And it is very very fun. I took a lot of people sleigh riding who never could or would have gone riding. One time we did get turned over in a snow covered ditch, just like in the song "Jingle Bells." Luckily the horse I was driving was that smart calm appaloosa and she stood there until we flipped the cart back over and went on driving. Also luckily, I did not have any elderly or infirm people on the cart with me that day.


A day or two ago,
I thought I'd take a ride,
And soon Miss Fanny Bright
Was seated by my side;
The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seemed his lot
We got into a drifted bank,
And then we got upsot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #600 ·
Thanks to your comments I'm now reconsidering using a bridle with blinders for Aria. I've been thinking about it a lot, and something has occurred to me.

When I was reading about the pros and cons of an open bridle, one reason to use blinders made sense to me. That was the idea that the cart is in a horse's blind spot, so if the horse gets spooked and reverts to fight or flight, they'll catch glimpses of something chasing them, so in the open bridle they're more likely to keep bolting.

After percolating over this, I'm thinking now that doesn't make as much sense as it sounds. First of all, if you've been driving in an open bridle, the horse is used to the sight of the cart. So if they get spooked, why can't they just turn their head and see what is behind them like they do normally to see what is in their blind spot? But if you have blinders on, then the horse can't actually turn and see what is behind them, so it seems more likely that the panic would continue as they hear something chasing them that they can't see. Then it is all left up to the horse's imagination.

Another thought I had is that I used to drive Star, the hottest of the minis we used to drive in an open bridle. She spooked and bolted with me in a parade, and I was still able to get her under control again. So if Star can do it, I would think Aria could. I'm going to switch over to the open bridle and go with it unless I have problems.

Today I didn't get out to the barn early enough to work horses. When I went to get the horses out of the outdoor arena after their turnout time, I saw that one of the boarder horses was loose. Kadeera is normally in a back pasture behind the arena, so I suspected the elk had knocked some of her fencing down. I took Aria's lead rope and went to grab her while I called the barn owner to see where I should put Kadeera.

The barn owner said to put her into the outdoor arena, so I had to figure out how to get my horses out and Kadeera in. I decided Hero would cause the most trouble, and he came to put his head over the gate to see what I was doing with Kadeera. So I attached his lead rope and pulled him out while I shoved Kadeera in (I had the lead rope looped around her throatlatch).

Then it was very funny because Kadeera simply walked past Aria into the arena, but as soon as Hero was out Aria started panicking. "I don't know her! Stranger danger, stranger danger!!"
She was seriously upset until I got her lead rope on and took her through the gate.

Yesterday I worked a lot on converting my old rat cage (homemade) into a hamster cage. I measured it and there is definitely enough space. But it has three levels and I had to make stairs and ramps so the hamster can get up and down. Rats are such good climbers that they easily use vertical space, and I had things like ropes and hammocks to climb. I had to make some spiral stairs and other stairways, and cut out a new doorway. I also had to add plexiglass in a few areas to contain the deeper bedding.

Plexiglass is a bear to work with. DH said to score it with an Xacto knife, but after about 1,000 scores I was getting nowhere so I ended up using my dremel as a cutting tool. That worked much better, but the hot little pieces of plastic are uncomfortable flying against your arms and face. Plus when attaching it I had to be very careful drilling, and also I couldn't tighten the screws too much or it would crack.

The cage is ready now though, so I'm painting the tack room where it goes. Unfortunately, every room in our new house needs painting. The tack room was a bedroom but the back of the door wasn't even painted completely, and whoever put the last coat of paint on the walls was too lazy to mask the edges so they just didn't paint all the way to the ceiling. Tacky. Small rodents are very prone to respiratory problems, so I have to make sure it is all painted and aired out before I put one in the room.
 
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