Friday, 1 April 2016

Regarding Pet Shops: Reasons Against the Commercial Purchase of Animals

Behind the image of the furry ball of cuteness … a reality not all fluffy and wonderful.

Those little rabbits people see sitting in a pet shop's cage? Often times, they are frightened of the human fingers prodding in between the metal bars. Have you ever noticed the small, startled “jump” a bunny would make when someone touches him/her?

And those other rabbits hunched up with their front paws tucked underneath? They are probably in distress and discomfort, due to a severe stomach upset from the inadequate diet they have to eat every single day.

Facts regarding pet shops:
  • From their point of view, animals are products; items which can be sold to yield profit. Even if several rabbits fall ill and die, “so what”?
  • Given the reproductive abilities of rabbits (1 female can give birth to 6-12 kits monthly), the pet store can easily get new ones to “replenish stock”.
  • Most of the times, pet shops also sell rabbits who are too young. These young rabbits aren't even completely weaned – yet having the appearance of adorable miniature plushes, they attract many, many buy-on-impulse sales.

Common misconceptions from pet shops:

"Why must rabbits eat hay? My local pet store only gives them a bowl of pellets each.”


Answer: High-fibre grass hay such as Timothy hay is crucial in maintaining the efficiency of a rabbit's digestive system. A rabbit's gut needs to be constantly moving, and hay provides the fibre needed. Sadly, the majority of the pet shops choose to feed only pellets for the sake of convenience and to save costs.

“Shouldn't rabbits be kept in a cage? I notice some pet shops even keep 5 – 6 rabbits in one.”

Answer: Rabbits may be smaller in size compared to dogs and cats (which gives the impression of being “compact”), but they require just as much space! In cages, rabbits can't stretch out or stand up on their hind legs properly. Not only is this mentally stressful, in the long-term ... it could lead to frightening physical health issues.

Erling was kept in a small hutch for 10 years. When Erling finally was rescued, he could hardly walk.  
Radiographs revealed degenerative arthritis in his spine as well as his knees, hips and shoulders, incisor overgrowth and a sludgy bladder. This had probably caused pain and discomfort for several years. However, the most obvious was nevertheless his lack of abdominal muscles. Since the rabbit never had developed and maintained a normal musculature, there was nothing that kept the intestines and stomach in place. Radiographs of Erling looked more like a run-over frog than a rabbit. 
Erling passed away soon after. 
“Erling got to be 10 years old, but he only lived for 8 weeks.” 
Marit Emilie Buseth, Ten years in a hutch and the effects of a sedentary life, <http://ww1.rabbit-behaviour-health-and-care.com/>

We have all grown up with the idea of pet shops – the “place where there are friendly, furry animals” … It is the lack of awareness that we unknowingly contribute to the suffering of more animals. All of us meant no harm, as many of our animals companions indeed came from pet shops.

They were the lucky ones. What about the others?


Look at the reality of pet shops, and let us not be the blind purchases of animals. 

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Composting

Garbage should be thrown into the bin, where it belongs to keep the environment clean.

Moral education since childhood.

Then one day, I came across the fact that:
  • 80% of our household waste is biodegradable.
  • The biodegradable trash in landfill sites doesn't break down at all.


... There is a misconception that biodegradable trash will break down naturally while it's in the landfill, and that the landfill site will eventually be "emptied" some day. But the truth is, it doesn't.

The scientific explanation (it's not advanced biology, don't worry):
  1. In landfills, waste tends to be compacted very tightly so as to reduce the space they occupy.
  2. As a result, there is not much oxygen in a landfill site.
  3. Also, a landfill site often lacks dirt and useful microorganisms.
  4. Therefore, we can all make the simple conclusion: Nearly nothing breaks down in a landfill site. 

This is a worrying fact. No doubt. Like so many other facts that we actually all know. But for this problem, we don't have to wait for some new green technology to be invented. We can do something about this. Those trash came from our homes, and we have the responsibility to think twice before dumping things into the garbage bin.

Nope, the solution isn't Reduce, Reuse or Recycle - it's impossible to apply these common Go-Green tips on dried weeds, fruit peels or pieces of wilting vegetables.

Personally, I feel that the method is even satisfying and easier than sending a stack of old newspapers to the recycling centre because:
  • you can do it by yourself
  • you can actually see the outcome
As suggested by the title, the answer is: Composting.

- - -

I began composting about a year ago. Once I got into it, I came to realize how much stuff I had been throwing away:
  • tea bags and egg shells from morning's breakfast
  • vegetable roots and fruit peels (Well, our little Jup would eat them if we aren't looking!)
  • fruit pulp from the juicer
  • dry leaves, weeds and twigs from the garden 
... The list goes on and on. 

I'm using a medium-sized flowerpot as the "compost bin". I filled it with some soil, and began to toss most of my daily kitchen scraps into the pot.

When I first started out, it looked as though the kitchen scraps were non-biodegradable. It was quite amusing, really. Each morning I'd turn the pile over to aerate it, then I'd spot a carrot top I threw into the pot two days ago looking as fresh as ever.

Ah, but time was all my trusty compost pot needed. The decomposition rate gradually sped up - those microorganisms are working like nobody's business now!



How to Compost
The details and many facts of composting can make up a whole website, but basically it's simply about:

  1. Dumping biodegradable household trash into a container.
  2. Ensuring it breaks down. 
That's the core of composting! 


Here are some points you do need to take note of:
  • To give your compost pile a start-up, add some garden soil. The soil contains the microorganisms essential for decomposition to take place.
  • The compost bin should be placed in a sunny location. A higher temperature speeds up decomposition. 
  • To ensure that your compost pile doesn't smell like a sour garbage heap, maintain a balance of brown and green materials, about 2 : 1.
    • Examples of brown materials: twigs, dry leaves, shredded paper 
    • Examples of green materials: pieces of unwanted vegetables, fruit peels.
  • Chop larger materials into smaller ones. Again, this helps speed up decomposition.
  • Use a garden fork to turn the pile every few days or so for aeration purposes. Decomposition can't take place without oxygen!
  • Do not throw meat or bones into your compost pile.

We may not be 100%-environmentally-friendly, but for now, we should incorporate such green practices (All. Hail. Composting.) into our lives and do as much as we can.

This is how we should all keep the environment clean. 

- - -

Lastly.

If you happen to be a cheapskate (Ahh, you know who you are) who loves gardening, have you ever calculated how much money you spent on buying "high quality" commercial soil and fertilizers when you can be making both for FREE?

... And that also, you actually know what it's in the dirt you're using for your herbs and plants?



Recently, I came across this picture on Facebook. Food for thought. 



Sunday, 15 November 2015

Handling and Carrying Your Bunny

How to Carry Your Bunny:
  1. Place one hand beneath your bunny's chest. Pet your bunny and talk to him/her soothingly.

  2. Place your other hand under your bunny's furry bum. Your hand should be between the tail and bum - bunnies don't like it when you seem to squash their tails in the carrying process!
  3. Lift your bunny up slowly.
The key to safely carrying your bunny is to fully support your bunny's weight with both of your hands under his/her chest and bum.

DON'Ts when Handling Your Bunny:
  • Do NOT touch your bunny's tail and hind feet - it annoys them! And that cute, wiggling nose? That's a no-no, too.
  • Do NOT pick up your bunny by his/her ears!
    • Cartoons often feature bunnies being picked up in this manner - this is horribly wrong
    • A bunny's ears are very delicate, consisting of a large number of blood vessels. Picking up a bunny by his/her ears could result in severe damage to this vital hearing organ.
  • Do NOT pick your bunny up by the scruff.
    • This is a common misconception. As other animals such as kittens are picked up by the scruff by their mothers, many assume it's the same for bunnies. 
    • Picking up your bunny by the scruff is similar to pulling his/her skin. This method does not secure the bunny properly and clearly, it's uncomfortable and painful.
  • Do NOT lift your bunny by supporting his/her stomach OR chest ONLY.
    • It's not secure enough if you carry your bunny up like this. Over time, this method also causes harm to your bunny's spine.

    "What If My Bunny Struggles?!"
    As bunnies, by nature, do not like to be handled or lifted off the ground (especially when you're still a stranger to him/her), they often kick and struggle with surprising power when carried.

    In such cases:

    1. Stay calm and immediately kneel down.
    • Endure the painful kicks and scratches for just those few seconds and kneel down quickly. DO NOT throw your bunny off and assume that he/she is going to land gracefully like a cat - a bunny's fragile back could break from the impact.

    2. Let your bunny hop away
    • Do not attempt to carry your bunny again right after. Simply let him/her be. 
    • If there is a need to move your bunny to a certain place (eg: returning to the cage), try using a small basket with a solid bottom to transport your bunny instead of carrying him/her in your arms all the way.

    Wednesday, 7 October 2015

    Daily Observation

    Bunnies exhibit subtle symptoms when they are ill. As their caretakers, it is important for us to notice these signs quickly - this is an ability you will come to possess over time through daily interactions with your bunny.

    A quick list to check if your bunny is healthy: 
    • eats food, especially hay, as usual
    • produces poop throughout the day
    • mostly active - instantly perks up when you bring him/her a treat
    • carries out all bunny activities (eg: grooming) normally
    Alerting symptoms: 
    • eats significantly less hay
    • does not show interest in favourite foods (eg: vegetables, fruits)
    • produces small-sized, abnormal poop OR none at all
    • rests in same position and location without moving much 
    • lethargic, sluggish movements

    It is not uncommon for bunnies to have mild digestive ailments every now and then. From personal experience, this is often the cause of why a bunny "doesn't seem him/herself" on a certain day.

    In these cases, high-fibre hay is always the #1 solution.

    To encourage hay consumption:
    • Hand-feeding
      • Pick a fresh strand of hay from the package and wiggle it in front of your bunny's mouth to entice him/her to eat it.
    • Increase water intake
      • I have found that giving 1/8 to 1/4 cup of diluted tomato juice helps. Just one 1/8 cup, though!
      • Note: The tomato juice must be freshly made. Use a juicer. DO NOT purchase bottles or cartons of pre-packaged juice from the store.
    • Accompany your bunny more often
      • Have you been giving your bunny less attention lately? A good dose of praises and pets can do wonders!