This month the Green Moms Carnival is addressing green pets. Why October? October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month and also National Pet Wellness month. I haven’t really blogged about green pets much… can only think of one or two other times that I have. Shameful I tell ya!
I guess the reason I don’t discuss pets all that often is because I don’t really have any. Yes, we have reptiles but those belong to my son and he pretty much does all the work in taking care of them. Since we rent our home we don’t want to pay a deposit and monthly fee for having a dog or cat. But when we do buy a house (still trying to figure out where we want to lay down some roots) then we will be getting a dog right quick and I have all sorts ideas and plans for how to keep it green. We are going to feed our pup organic raw foods and forgo the bags of unregulated, toxic dog food. We are going to buy green chew toys, use natural flea and tick repellents, and hopefully find our perfect companion at a shelter. In short, I am really, really excited to get a dog. Is this what happens when the children grow older and you can’t have more? You get a puppy and decide to mother it? ;)
In the mean time we keep it green with the pets we have and reptiles are actually pretty amazing in that regard. We have two Bearded Dragons, a female named Samantha and a male named Skyler. Also a Russian Tortoise named George Lopez.
They reside mostly in terrariums made of metal and glass. We got them second hand at an estate auction along with UVB lights and heat lamps. Decor for inside the tanks is really easy as well. We use crushed walnut shells substrate to line the bottom of the two tanks and there are other natural items like wood logs and rocks. My son sourced all of it from local woods.
Their diet is also very “natural”. We feed them the same greens and fruit that we eat along with bugs and worms (the beardies only). These things can be expensive if you buy them exclusively through pets stores so my son goes hunting for them in areas he is sure have not been sprayed with pesticides. He also breeds worms and crickets as needed. When we do have to go to the pet store we end up with plastic bags (crickets) which we won’t reuse because they had bugs in them and plastic tubs that hold worms. The plastic tubs get reused many times over for various things but it still brings more plastic into the home, so limiting that is important.
I find them to be excellent pets if you want to keep things minimal and green. It is really easy to find all the gear you need second hand at yard sales and on Craigslist because you can use reptile habitats as well as fish tanks. They do, however, require more electricity than your average pet because they need a UVB light and a heat lamp. The temperature in their tank has to be regulated and they need the the UVB light to remain healthy. We made this more manageable by putting these on timers so that nothing accidentally gets left on longer than it needs to be. We also have thermometers in the habitats as well as Timothy Grass for burrowing on colder evenings. During warm and sunny weather the tanks are put directly in front of windows so they can get natural UVB rays and the sun heats their tanks without a heat lamp too. If you live in a climate where it is always warm than you will have an even easier time caring for them.
They are actually quite fun too. GREAT for kids. They can explore the house and they love to sit on your lap or your chest while you watch TV, play on the computer, or do some other task. The beardies are really very friendly and like to be with their “people” and to play. The tortoise is less interested in people but he is very entertaining to watch. It is pretty easy to clean up after them too.
They do have a big downside though in that they aren’t animals that you can just pack up and board someplace unless you are lucky enough to have a place that boards reptiles nearby. If you want to go on vacation they cannot be left on their own for more than a day or so. You pretty much need to have a backup care giver you can take them to or a reputable pet sitting service available that specializes in reptiles. We aren’t looking forward to that situation when the times comes. Having these guys in the house has really curbed our wanderlust. But as far as pets go, they are pretty easy to care for, inexpensive, and they are wonderful pets for those who want something more lovable than fish but less work than a dog.
Do you have pets? How do you “keep it green”?