L.A. Unleashed

All things animal in Southern
California and beyond

Category: Pocket Pets

California ferret owners mount new efforts to have their pets legalized in the state


SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California's ferret owners are tired of being criminals.

They live in the only U.S. state besides Hawaii that bans residents from keeping ferrets as pets, forcing an untold number of Californians to keep their beloved weasels hidden from the public.

But these renegade ferret lovers have no plans to abandon their long, furry friends. Instead, they're ramping up their campaign to persuade lawmakers, wildlife regulators and the public that it's time to overturn a ban that's been in place for nearly 80 years.

"There is no reason the ownership of the domesticated ferret should be illegal in California," Pat Wright, who heads the Legalize Ferrets campaign, told the California Fish and Game Commission in February. "These guys are part of our family. The pet-human bond is a strong one, and you're stepping on it."

State wildlife regulators say escaped or discarded ferrets could establish feral populations and threaten native wildlife, such as nesting birds, rabbits and squirrels.

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Your morning adorable: Young rabbit eats baby food

Want to make an astoundingly adorable video of your baby rabbit?

Here's a tip: Feed him baby food with a spoon.

That recipe for cuteness worked just fine for this little guy, a Holland lop who's a little more than 3 weeks old and already a big fan of banana-flavored baby food.

According to his owner, the baby-food feedings were intended to supplement his diet because of concerns that his mother wasn't producing enough milk for him. "He needed to put on some weight so he gets some [baby food] every day," she wrote on YouTube.

One more tip: If you're in a hurry, try skipping ahead to about the 1:30 mark -- you won't be sorry.

Your morning adorable: Rabbits twitch their noses while sitting in paper cups
Your morning adorable: Snacking rabbit tries to hold a baby carrot in his paws

-- Lindsay Barnett

Video: cluelesschick24 via YouTube

Conservationists, animal activists worry about effects of the Year of the Rabbit

Year Of The Rabbit

BANGKOK — Many Asians believe the Year of the Rabbit means good luck for those born under that zodiac sign, but conservationists warn that the furry creatures themselves are being loved to death in Asia and some species are dying away altogether.

As the Lunar New Year approaches, rabbits are being snapped up from pet stores and farms but some are warning that the animals will be dumped once the novelty wears off and the cost and trouble of keeping them kicks in.

"It's believed that feeding rabbits in their zodiac will bring luck in love and everything else, so especially young people are looking for little, cute bunnies," says Piyalak Sariya, owner of the Bunny Delight rabbit farm in Thailand.

Predicting many will eventually be cast off in Buddhist temples and parks, she recommends buying rabbit dolls instead "because these fluffy animals need more care than dogs or cats."

"People think they are small and cute, [but] they are a lot of work. They just can't be stuffed into a cage," says Ashley Fruno, Asia representative for the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA.

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Your morning adorable: Clever rat plays fetch

The game of fetch is not just for dogs, as a parakeet named Chi-Chi once taught us.

Driving home that point is Twiglet, a domestic rat who has been taught a series of impressive tricks (jumping through a hoop, for one) by YouTube user MasterOfTheMidgets.

"My rats used to run off with the ball," MasterOfTheMidgets says, "but with persistent training they seemed to decide they would rather have the treat."

You can see more of Twiglet's tricks and watch rat-training tutorials at MasterOfTheMidgets' YouTube channel.

Sniffer rats prepare to deploy in Colombian minefields
Your morning adorable: Hamster completes a tiny agility course

-- Lindsay Barnett

Video: MasterOfTheMidgets via YouTube

Sniffer rats prepare to deploy in Colombian minefields


Narcotics officers in Colombia are preparing to launch a new program in which specially trained rats are deployed to alert human handlers to the presence of land mines, Times Bogota bureau chief Chris Kraul reports.

Hundreds of thousands of mines have been buried in remote areas of Colombia by leftist rebels and drug traffickers; nearly 700 people died from mine-related injuries in the country last year.

The program is modeled on a similar one in Africa that utilizes the sniffing skills of African giant pouched rats that are native to the area rather than the more familiar white rats used in Colombia.

Rats have several advantages over sniffer dogs in the field of mine detection: They weigh significantly less than their canine counterparts (a major benefit because it means they can step on a land mine without detonating it), their upkeep is cheaper and, since rats aren't as social as dogs, they are less likely to be distracted by other animals in the field.

"The more I work with rats, the more I am amazed at what they can do," Luisa Fernanda Mendez, a civilian behavioral veterinarian in charge of the project, told The Times.


-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Police officer Henry Munoz rewards a rat being trained to sniff out explosives. Credit: Colombian National Police

Your morning adorable: Cat gives guinea pig a bath

We love any friendship between members of different animal species, but we think bonus points should be awarded to friendships between animals that would traditionally be considered predator and prey.

Like a cat and a guinea pig, for example.

Now, don't get us wrong -- we've known and loved our fair share of cats in our time. But we wouldn't have trusted any of them very far with a guinea pig.

So Louie, a tomcat with a nurturing streak, has earned our admiration. Louie "has adopted Butterball the guinea pig for his baby," YouTube user Firefly80 explains. "Louie finally has the baby he has always wanted, and Butterball has a mommy."

It's sweet enough to make your teeth hurt, eh?

Your morning adorable: Dog and chicken play together
Your morning adorable: Cat grooms friendly rabbit

-- Lindsay Barnett

Video: Firefly80 via YouTube

Your morning adorable: Rabbits twitch their noses while sitting in paper cups

We're not sure of the circumstances behind YouTube user yukichibutyou's shockingly cute video of two rabbits animatedly twitching their noses while sitting in paper cups.

Why are the rabbits in paper cups? And just how calm and gentle must they be to not vigorously protest being placed in paper cups in the first place? These are questions for which we'll probably never have answers.

We're OK with that.

Bunnies are cute no matter what -- whether they're trying unsuccessfully to hold a carrot in their paws, walking upright like a human or playing the piano. But as a certain pair of white rabbits who yawned, stretched and cleaned each other on video first taught us, two bunnies being cute together is about the most adorable thing out there.

Whatever you do, don't show us three bunnies being cute together. Our heads might explode.

Your morning adorable: Hamster completes a tiny agility course
Your morning adorable: Guinea pigs eat watermelon

-- Lindsay Barnett

Video: yukichibutyou via YouTube

Your morning adorable: Snacking rabbit tries to hold a baby carrot in his paws

We are quickly becoming big fans of Bailey, a Holland lop rabbit who loves baby carrots but has a tough time holding them without human assistance.

Bailey is one of three bunnies that live with YouTube user mrurt, who maintains an extensive collection of videos documenting their daily lives.

According to mrurt, Bailey is one of the most affectionate rabbits out there. He also has a few hidden talents, including performing impressive acrobatic leaps.

Holland lops are known for their friendly, easygoing temperament.

Your morning adorable: Two cuddly rabbits, one collective 'awwww'
Your morning adorable: Rabbit walks like a man

-- Lindsay Barnett

Video: mrurt via YouTube

New Guinness world record holders include long-tongued dog, giant bunny, balloon-crazy terrier

The release of a new list of Guinness world records always means crazy animal feats and statistics. We typically await a fresh Guinness book with a mixture of enthusiasm and dread, and this year's list didn't disappoint.

Above, meet Puggy, a Pekingese from Texas who scored a world record for Longest Tongue on a Dog. (We have a bit of trouble with the wording of this record, which is Guinness', not ours. If, say, Gene Simmons were to lick a dog, could he theoretically win the record, ousting an honest long-tongued dog like Puggy? We humbly suggest to the Guinness folks that they reword this record in future book editions, something along the lines of "Dog With the Longest Tongue." But then, we are nit-picky.)

Puggy is a rescue dog -- making him tops in our book -- who was adopted by Becky Stanford eight years ago. "From being a stray dog, being dumped, to being a Guinness World Record holder is just phenomenal," Stanford told CNN. "I just can't believe it."

If you're wondering -- and how could you not be? -- Puggy's tongue measures 4.5 inches. As viewers of the above video will be able to tell, it doesn't fit too well in his mouth and can make eating a bit difficult, but it doesn't seem to slow him down!

See more animal world record-holders -- from the smallest cow and the smallest dog to the tallest dog and the longest rabbit -- after the jump!

Continue reading »

Your morning adorable: Cat and rabbit nap together

We are unabashed suckers for inter-species animal friendships, so our hearts swelled when we saw YouTube user vasherbros' video of a cat and a rabbit who have snuggled up together for a nap.

Our absolute favorite part: When the kitty kneads his paw a little bit, apparently unable to contain his delight.

The bunny doesn't seem quite as into this relationship as the cat is, as evidenced by the part where he takes off when the cat gets a little too affectionate for his taste. (It's sort of the reverse of another cat-and-pocket-pet friendship we've seen, in which a rat named Peanut just can't get enough of a cat named Ranj, but Ranj seems to wish Peanut would back off a bit.)

Fortunately for the cat, he has a nice ear scratch to look forward to after he's rebuffed by his rabbit friend. In the animal kingdom, a good ear scratch fixes everything!

Your morning adorable: Dog + deer = BFF
Your morning adorable: Cat loves guinea pig

-- Lindsay Barnett

Video: vasherbros via YouTube


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