February 3, 2012

Meeting So Many New Animals!

Menomonie High School
On Tuesday, we visited a local High School and their agricultural department to learn about some new animals. We worked with hamsters, gerbils, degus, chinchillas, a California King Snake, mice, a pot belly pig, ferrets, guinea pigs, rabbits, a sugar glider, geckos and a tortoise.  I figured I'd highlight the important notes below.

Basically, we went to the H.S. to learn more about species we will not come across in the classroom.  We took fecal samples, ear cytology samples, skin scrapings, etc. to try and learn more about these species.  We took the samples back to class on Thursday and analyzed them.  We did a general physical exam, including a TPR (temp, pulse, respiration) on those we could.  We also did nail trims on those who needed it.  We each were assigned an animal to learn about and present to the class...including interesting things we learned. (See below).

We didn't do a whole lot with them, and I didn't learn much more about them than I already knew.

My animal was the gerbil.  I got to measure a pulse (320 beats per minute!), and the respirations.  We didn't have a device to measure temperature on an animal this small.  I learned that Gerbils are illegal to own in the state of California (mostly because people release them and they can cause agricultural damage), that they have very poor eyesight, and that they can die after chewing on a fibered tape such as duct tape.

One of the gerbils had alopecia (hair loss) on its nose, and I later found out that they discovered it was allergic to the Pine bedding they had been using for his substrate.  

Degus are basically a larger version of a gerbil.  The biggest thing I've learned about them is that they're biters ;)

Chinchillas are on our "do not touch" list, a list of animals that we are not allowed to handle, per the rules in place through the school.  

California King Snake
The California King Snake is named a King Snake because it will eat other snakes...including venomous snakes such as rattlesnakes.  They can do this because they have an enzyme that breaks down the other snake's venom; however, they can still be killed by a direct bite to the brain or heart.  I didn't get to hold him, although I was interested in doing so.

Potbelly Pig 
The potbelly pig lived outside in a pen, and was able to roam free in the courtyard.  I learned that they can be restrained similar to a dog or cat, and that they also like to squeal whenever they are restrained :P

Ferrets were also the animals on the "do not touch" list, but we did do ear cytology and fecal samples on them.  We didn't find anything abnormal.  One of the ferrets had severe alopecia on its back, but I don't know if we learned anything about what was causing that.

Guinea Pigs
We got to play with the guinea pigs, and they were really fun!  The ones I dealt with were really chill.  We got to do nail trims on them, and they REALLY needed it.  It's SO much fun doing knowing that doing something so little will make SUCH and impact on the animal.  Some of these "G. Pigs" had nails so long that they curled over, and they had to walk on them.  Can you imagine your toenails being so long that you had to walk on them... and then some stranger coming about and trimming them to a normal length...so you can walk comfortably again?  This is the high I get from helping these animals!

Nails very long.. need to be trimmed!

Trimming nails :)

I've dealt with rabbits in my past on a very minimal basis.  My grandpa had a bunch of them at one point, but they were not very people friendly.. and always ran away from us.  On Tuesday, I got to hold one for the first time!  Rabbits have a very unique and convenient feature about them.. when you flip them on their back, and gently stroke their chest or their nose, they will go into a hypnotic-like state.   This makes them very easy to work with!  I got to hold a rabbit, flip it on its back, put it "to sleep," and also put it back into its cage.  The one I worked with was very nice :)  

Sugar Glider
A sugar glider is basically a rodent that has "wings" and can fly.  They are nocturnal (sleep during the day, awake at night), and they are really cute!  The one we encountered was sick...most likely from a nutritional deficiency.  We didn't do much with her because she was sick, but I know she was taken out of her cage and they did some sort of sample collection.  I was busy helping with a guinea pig nail trim at the time.  Here's a picture of a Sugar Glider:   SOOOO cute! :)

The tortoise that we met was about 5 years old and weighed a whopping 18 pounds!! He was really cool, and all we basically did with him was say hello and obtain a fecal.  It was cool to learn that he will outlive most of us (100 yrs+)!

I think the field trip was AMAZING and so well worth it.  I had a blast, and got to learn about and handle animals I had never dealt with before.

P.s....Blood Drive
Also this week, I donated blood to the American Red Cross!  It was my 3rd overall donation.. and I felt great about it :)

Hope your weekend is awesome!  See you next week!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like it was a worthwhile trip to Menomonie school. Great blog