The Importance of a Pet in the Life of a Child

Some pets are treated like royalty. Owners include them in the family picture on holiday cards. Pets get treated to special toys, clothes, and foods. Some even receive a high standard of medical care at great cost to their owner. Why? It is because pets quickly become a part of the family, especially when children are involved. A pet and child are like candy and sugar, they go together.

How a Pet Can Affect Children

One recent study revealed just how beneficial pets are to kids. In fact, the study showed that an upset child is more likely to seek solace with a family pet than with a sibling. This ten-year study was conducted using children ages 2 through 12 and focused on things such as cognitive, social, and emotional development.

What happens to a child when they experience emotional turmoil? The effects are often detrimental to school work and social development, not to mention health. The stress can be the result of anything from serious illness to parental divorce. Children with positive relationships with family pets also seemed to fare better in these circumstances. Why is this the case?

Children often confide in pets. Since there is no verbal response, the child does not feel judged or pressured to word things, or feel things, a certain way. This allows children to believe that they have an empathetic ear listening to them.

When a child has one such relationship, they often become better at forming other strong relationships. Thus, children with pets frequently fare better socially, even when they suffer from emotional difficulties. Children with conditions that cause chronic social issues, such as autism, often interact better socially than children with no pets.

Many children with pets have an easier time with:

  • Sharing
  • Displaying Compassion
  • Interacting
  • Cooperating

Also, children with pets seem to develop greater self-esteem and experience less stress than other children.

Therefore, it should not be understated how valuable it can be for a pet and child to grow up as companions, especially during their early years. Forming a relationship with a pet prepares a young one for social interactions, and helps children deal with traumatic circumstances that may arise.

When a Hedgehog Loses Quills

What Does It Mean When a Hedgehog’s Quills Fall Out?

You should know the problem signs when caring for your pet hedgehog, starting with quills.  Sometimes referred to as spines, quills cover the majority of a hedgehog’s body. Occasionally, the quills will begin to fall out during a period known as “quilling.” Meanwhile, owners may wonder if the large amount of shedding is normal when a hedgehog loses quills.

What Is Quilling?

This shedding process called quilling is normal in baby and junior hedgehogs. Quilling will first occur when a hedgehog is about two months old when finer quills are shed—and longer, thicker quills are grown. When the hedgehog is about four months old, this process takes place again. It is difficult and uncomfortable for the newer, larger quills to pass through the old holes. Throughout their lifetime, about 90% of a hedgehog’s quills will be replaced. If owners do not know this, they may be shocked by the amount of quills shed. Adult hedgehogs shouldn’t lose large amounts at one time.

When to Be Concerned

At times, there may be complications with reproducing the quills, displaying redness, swelling, scabbing, or discharge where a new “spine” is trying to come through. If so, it may be necessary to lightly clean and even assist the new spine in coming out by gently pulling on it. This is important in preventing infection and worsening of the condition.
Changes in behavior may occur when a hedgehog loses quills. However, continue to handle your pet hedgehog. Try to comfort him, rather than excessively handling him.
Be attentive to newer spines coming out, making sure the ends have a bulb shape. If this bulb is missing, this could mean damage to the quill, and the broken piece could still be inside your hedgehog, making manual extraction a necessity.

Other Things to Watch for

The major reason for abnormal quill loss in hedgehogs is mites. Mites can enter in through food, bedding, and other items, and can irritate the skin, resulting in quill loss. Although it can’t be seen by the naked eye, the local veterinarian can use a microscope to determine whether your hedgehog has mites.
Inappropriate diet, an imbalance in hormones, stress, allergies, or the dry air may be other contributing factors in excessive hedgehog spine loss. In any case, if your adult hedgehog is experiencing quill loss in large amounts—especially when bald spots are visible—a veterinarian exam is necessary to determine the root issue.

Chill Out with a Chinchilla

“What is that?” will probably be the response the first time your family members or friends see your new pet. However, chinchillas make great companions. If you decide to get a chinchilla, there are a few basic things you need to know. Here’s a brief introduction to an amazing exotic pet.

Natural Habitat of a Chinchilla

Chinchillas hail from South America, particularly the Andes Mountains. Chinchillas love dry, rocky terrain. The dry part is especially important to remember, because having a healthy chinchilla primarily depends on keeping the environment dry and giving your pet room to hop around.

A Petable Pet

Let’s face it. There are many types of pets that you may not even want to touch. Chinchillas are the exact opposite. They have one of the softest pelts in the animal kingdom. Sadly, this led to a great deal of hunting in past times. Even worse, some people still breed chinchillas strictly to harvest their fur. In contrast, many owners are very happy with their chinchillas alive and healthy as they are definitely smooth and soft to pet.

Moderately Social Animals

Chinchillas are only fairly social. If you get two of the same gender, be certain they get along. If you intend to spend time with your pet daily, one may remain healthy on its own. Their playful behavior makes them ideal pets to play with and they’re known to make great tableside companions or remain satisfied hopping about alone the rest of the day.

Not Snugglers

Chinchillas are great pets, especially because they are soft to the touch. But don’t get the wrong idea. Chinchillas prefer not to be held and coddled like you might a rabbit or Guinea Pig. It will depend on the personality of your individual chinchilla, but be sure to respect its need for space. A chinchilla will be happy to sit near you while you pet it. Remember, though, that they prefer hard and dry surfaces for sitting purposes.

Of course, there is much more to learn about this lovable pet, but this should offer some helpful insight into the world of chinchillas.