Fat dog? Your Responsibilty!

It seems a bit harsh but I am afraid it is true in all but a very few cases. Wild animals have the ability to respond to changes in their environment. If they feel cold, they will move to a more sheltered or warmer spot, if they are afraid, they will run away, if they are thirsty they will find water and if they are hungry, find food. Each species evolves and adapts to eat a particular type of food and retains this ability to respond to changes in and around it. It has response-ability. Put an animal in a captive environment and you have removed this ability to respond. Now if it is thirsty it can only drink if you provide the water. It can only eat if you provide the food. You have taken on its response-ability. If you are not a responsible pet owner then it’s the animal that suffers the consequences.

So a dog can only eat the food you provide. It will however retain its natural instinct to eat whatever it can, whenever it can, as in the wild it does not know when it will find another meal. The expression to “wolf it down” comes from the ability of a wolf to eat huge amounts of food in one sitting (then to spend days resting with a distended stomach whilst it digests its massive intake of food or regurgitates some for its pups and other pack members). If the owner presents the dog with too much food or inappropriate food, the dog cannot be blamed for eating it. It will not stop when it has had sufficient, it will keep going until it cannot fit more in and will usually still eat treats if you, the leader of its pack offers it some. Offer a dog poisonous food such as chocolate or grapes/sultanas etc. and it will eat it, to its own detriment because you gave it to him.

healthy dogs

So you are in control of your dogs food intake. Yes they will scavenge things you would rather they did not but in the house and garden you control that. If the dog eats the Sunday joint off the side then I’m afraid it’s your fault for leaving it exposed. If the dog eats some Christmas cake and ends up at the vets. (at best) then, well you guessed it. What a lot of people don’t realise is that some foods that are suitable for humans are not suitable for dogs. Chocolate, grapes, avocados are all poisonous to dogs.I was explaining this to a customer once and a lady interrupted and told us that her granny had fed her dog a bit of her chocolate every day for years and the dog was fine. I explained that my mother in law is in her 80s and has smoked 20 cigarettes a day her whole adult life and is still going strong, I wouldn’t however, recommend it as a lifestyle choice. Some foods are just poisonous to dogs, it’s a question of the dose and the individual dog but they are poisonous.

So you have a dog and you don’t feed it human foods, You go to the supermarket and get dog food and dog treats so you have done your bit and if the dog gets fat now it’s not your fault is it. Wrong. Firstly, do you follow the feeding guidelines on the food? Are you reducing this amount if you give the dog a treat? Do you even know what is in the food you pick off the supermarket shelf? If you did you would probably realise you are giving your dog chicken feed.

There are rules for the terms used on dog (and cat) food packaging. If it says “fresh” chicken, then that is what was used to make the food, fresh chicken meat. If it says chicken then its still chicken but it may have been previously frozen of dried for storage. If it says chicken (or poultry) meal then that is the rest of the carcass, after the meat has been removed, ground up into a bone and cartilage meal (a necessary part of the food, it’s where the glucosamine, condroitin and calicum are found). If it says meat and animal derivitives then you might want to reconsider using this food. This term is for what is left when you have taken away the meat and the bones, ie not a lot! You will find that for foods that list this, the first ingredient on the ingredients list is nearly always cereal, or wheat, or maize. The protein content of the food will not come from meat as there is too little in the food but from wheat and maize gluten. In other words it is a bag of cereal with a bit of nondescript meat product mixed in – chicken feed, not dog food.

The other thing about these foods is that whilst they don’t have a lot, if any, meat they do have a lot of carbohydrate. The one thing that is guaranteed to make a dog put on weight and get fat is carbohydrate. A dog needs very little of this, if any. It gets its energy from fat and protein. High levels of carbohydrate get converted straight to fat deposits. Some of the worst foods even have added sugar, totally wrong. It is not added to improve pallatability, dogs have far fewer taste buds than us and don’t taste much, it’s all smell. It is there because a lot of these foods are made from waste products from the human food processing industry, which already have sugar added and we know what a problem we have with high sugar content childrens’ cereals. Where do you think the waste from this industry goes? Who owns the leading supermarket brands of dog food? Do they also own the largest supermarket brands of childrens’ cereals? Hmmm. Would you feed your child meat paste sandwiches and cake every meal for the rest of its life? No of course not but people are feeding this to dogs all the time and this is usually where the problem is.

If you feed your dog the correct, appropriate food and treats, follow the feeding guidelines and obviously give it plenty of exercise, you can be confident that you will have a healthy and fit dog that will live longer than a dog fed on supermarket food. However you will also probably have to deal with people telling you your dog is skinny. It isn’t but we are all so used to seeing overweight dogs that when we see one that is as it should be we think it looks thin. It is just perception. Most (around 90%) of dogs are overweight. A lot are obese, we just don’t notice any more. Unfortunately as with humans, being overweight greatly reduces the dog’s life expectancy and introduces a host of other conditions that make its later life uncomfortable and expensive..

To avoid all the problems associated with a poor diet, feed your dog on proper food. We sell frozen meat, bones and vegetable mixes. A raw food diet is probably the best, it is certainly the most natural. However we all live busy lives and I know for sure that I would forget to defrost the food in time, be in a rush during preparation etc. For this reason I do not use this option (although they do get it occasionally). Instead I feed a good quality, grain free, high meat content kibble. Obviously meat is expensive these days and the higher the meat content of a food, the higher the price of a bag. However the amount fed is lower, so cost balances out somewhat. Also as a side benefit the dog will poop less and the poops will be of a better consistency and easier to deal with. This alone is often reason enough to change food.

grain free dog food
Alfie

Alfie, the Jack Russel in the photo would cost 32 pence per day on APL grain free turkey. 32p a day! That is it. He doesn’t need anything extra. If he has a treat then he has less food that day. My dog, Venus (below) would cost £1.20 a day. She is a staffie/lurcher cross, weighing 31kg. If you can’t afford 32p a day to feed a Jack Russel it would be better not to have one, rather than buy supermarket food and own a little barrel. In any case it would still probably work out the same or more for supermarket food anyway. As for wet food, unless you have been advised by a vet. for very specific reasons then forget it. You are just buying a tin of water (check the packaging, most wet foods are 70-80% water, sometimes disguised by terms such as “aqua” or “moisture”) with poor quality ingredients That’s why people used to add mixer, which is just wheat biscuit. I worked it out for my cousin once, for his dalmations which he fed on the cheapest tinned dog food I was able to source for him. It still worked out cheaper per day to switch to the most expensive, highest quality grain free, high meat content (85%) dry dog food we stock,. Unfortunately, even though I worked it all out for him, listed all the benefits and showed him how much he would save, he could not see past the price of the bag of Orijen, versus the price of one tin of Breederpack wet food. Ho Hum.

Venus at 13-14 years old

So how do you know if your dog is overweight? Sadly if you don’t already know then it probably is. But as a rule of thumb it goes like this. Looking from the side you should see a definite difference between the chest and abdomen areas on the underside of the dog. The line should swoop down from the neck, around the chest, rise up significantly to the abdomen and back down where it meets the back legs. you should be just able to see the outline of the vertebrae above the hips. Just, they should not be protruding. Looking from above the sides should curve in behind the chest and flare out again at the hip and you should be able to see the outline of the ribs under the flesh (obviously this is more difficult on long and wire haired dogs). Observe the outline, not see ribs poking out, the difference is obvious. Now these rules are general, a greyhound has a much more pronounced line on the underside than a labrador but it still holds true. If you look at your dog and its chest line to abdomen look straight or from above has no “waist”, your dog is fat and could do with losing a few pounds. This is not anything to do with looks. It is just that a healthy, fit dog is going to live longer and have fewer issues as it ages than a poorly fed, over weight one. It is not a judgement. Yes you are responsible for it but that in a way is a good thing. It just means you are able to do something about it. Don’t feel bad or “judged” because it is the case, there are that many over weight dogs around it has become the norm and we have become inured to it.

grain free dog food
Alfies waist line from above

Where I come form the phrase “fit as a butchers dog” is much used. There is a reason for the phrase existing. The butchers dog was getting the right diet whilst the rest were eating the scraps we throw away. Now we just allow others to put the scraps in bags and sell it back to us in supermarkets.

The Angell Pets Team

Waterlife Tropical And Coldwater Treatments

Waterlife have been producing treatments for tropical, coldwater, marine and pond water for over 50 years. They produce a range of chemicals to condition the water to produce the ideal conditions for keeping fish of all types and treatments for a wide range of common and not so common fish diseases.

Waterlife
waterlife buffer

Water for keeping fish needs to be treated to remove chlorine and chloramines (if tap water is used), adjust and buffer pH and provide ammonia and nitrite reducing bacteria. We have been using Waterlife pH Buffers in our tanks since we have stocked fish. This ensures that the water going in after a partial water change is the same pH as the water taken out and also helps resist changes in pH over time. This reduces the stress on the fish and so helps keeps some of the commoner diseases at bay. Many diseases can be present in the water but unable to penetrate the fish’s defences when healthy. However if the fish becomes stressed these defences can break down, allowing disease to take hold.

water life tap water safe

Dechlorinator is essential in all cases when using tap water. Chlorine is added at the treatment works to kill bacteria and keep the water safe in the distribution system (part of my job for twelve years back in the day). Free chlorine may dissipate if the water is left for 24 hours or more but the chloramines (chlorine combined with other compounds in the water) will not. Both are toxic to fish and damage the mucus membranes. If it does not kill the fish outright itself, it will make them more susceptible to disease. Waterlife’s Tap Water Safe is one of the most concentrated dechlorinators on the market, so offers excellent value for money. Some of the brands I have seen sold in supermarkets for example require 2.5 times as much product per litre of water to have the same effect.

waterlife bacterlife

Adding Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter bacteria, in the form of Waterlife’s Bacterlife to the water increases the ecosystem’s response rate to increasing ammonia from fish waste. Nitrogenous waste, generated from the metabolism of protein in the food and exuded into the water as ammonia by the fish, is highly toxic to fish and again if it doesn’t kill the fish outright makes them susceptible to disease organisms. In a river or lake it dissipates and is dealt with by the surrounding environment and ecosystems. In a fish tank it cannot go anywhere and over time the concentrations rise to dangerous levels. Waterlife’s Bacterlife contains different strains of these bacteria which will work at a wider range of pH readings helping to ensure highly toxic ammonia is broken down to less toxic compounds quickly. These helpful bacteria will colonise your filter and gravel and continue to work for you all the time the fish are producing bacteria. It is worth noting that their effectiveness deteriorates with falling temperature. Below 10 degrees celcius they pretty much stop working altogether. This is why you should stop feeding high protein fish food to pond fish during the winter.

waterlife stayclear

Occassionally aquarium water may become “murky” for want of a better term. There are a variety of reasons for this. Usually and rather obviously it is a sign of poor water quality and the cause must be addressed. Excessive nutrients can cause algal or bacterial “blooms” in the water. Treatment with Watersafe’s Bacterlife will help reduce the availability of nutients and coupled with regular water changes will help keep the water clear but Stayclear contains a coagulant that encourages suspended particles to bind together into heavier particles that then drop to the bottom of the tank for removal during the next water change (using a gravel cleaner).

waterlife whitespot and fungus

Should water quality deteriorate, or the fish become stressed for any other reason (such as the addition of new tank mates) then disease may ensue. One of the commonest diseases seen in ornamental fish is white spot (Ich infection – a free swimming single celled organism that, after infection produces white spots (surprise!) often described as looking like a coating of sugar grains over the fishes body). Fortunately the treatment for white spot is also one of the most effective. However a mistake often made is to cease treatment once the symptoms are no longer present. This will only lead to reinfection as the treatment is only effective against the free swimming form of the organism and so the treatment must be completed to ensure the whole life cycle has been disrupted.
Fungus appears as white cotton wool like growths on affected areas. The fungal infection can be present of its own accord but is commonly a secondary infection, following opening of wounds by a bacterial pathogen.

Two other fairly common diseases seen in aquarium fish are fin rot (columnaris bacteria infection) and ulcers (sores caused by other types of bacteria). Fin rot manifests as fraying fins and/or tail which can lead to complete loss of appendages and death. If caught early though it does respond well to treatment. Ulcers are pits in the skin of the fish with raised, inflamed edges, often bright red in colour, although sometimes without and actual pit forming. However these infections nearly always indicate that there is a water quality issue of some kind and this will need sorting before the treatment can become truly effective. There is little point adding treatment for disease to an aquarium with toxic water. It may improve some symptoms but they will only come back. It’s a bit like trying to give first aid to a burns victim while his clothes are still on fire. Our own best defense to infection is our skin. When this barrier is damaged we are vulnerable to infections. A fish is covered by a mucus layer that does the same job of keeping out pathogens. It is this mucus layer that weakens or disappears when the fish is stressed by poor conditions. Waterlife’s Fin Rot & Ulcers contains a compound that will effectively treat both condition as well as a host of other bacterial infections from other gram negative bacteria.

So for “everyday treatment” of aquarium water and easy, effective treatment of the commonest diseases, should something go wrong, we stock the full range of Waterlife treatments. Waterlife also produce a further range of treatments for less common diseases and pests, such as “hole in the head disease”, flukes, fish lice, leeches , anchor worm and the list goes on! They all provide an excellent common disease chart which we keep copies of in store and have an easy to follow page on their website.

So for quality, support and value for money you can’t really do much better than Waterlife’s range of water treatments for aquarium and pond fish. This is why we have been gradually switching over to these products on our shelves, rather than the less concentrated and often less effective supermarket brands. Water quality can be tested at home quite easily, using a number of different strips and kits and we would strongly recommend investing in the best you can afford to avoid or at least get early warning of problems so you can deal with them appropriately.

The Angell Pets Team

No Price Increase On Most Livefood Items

As with all businesses, decisions have to be regularly made on pricing of products. Costs are increasing all the time; cost of raw materials, cost of energy, cost of utilities, cost of transport, cost of wages. Unlike some large businesses such as supermarkets (who can often dictate to the supplier what price they are willing to pay and even charge suppliers for the privilidge of stocking their products) we have to pay the prices our suppliers demand. We can sometimes negotiate discounts for products we sell in volume and we belong to various wholesaler schemes that provide promotional offers. These discounts and offers we pass directly on to our customers, members of our emailing list, followers of our Facebook page and this blog will be familiar with our regular monthly offers and discounts. However price increases happen every year, often more frequently with some suppliers, and we have to make decisions on how to handle the increases.

Where we can, we always look first to absorb cost increases into our business. There are a number of ways this can be done and we always exhaust all of these methods first. However, once these are exhausted we have no option but to pass on some of the increase to our customers. We never want to do it but some times it is unavoidable. It is only ever done as a response to genuine increases in cost to our business and in response to justifiable increases by our suppliers. In some cases, where we have felt supplier increases have not been justified and an element of unfair market manipulation has been at work, we have stopped stocking that suppliers products, rather than colaborate in overcharging our customers.

livefood

We have recently been informed of what we consider to be a justifiable increase in cost by our livefood supplier. The cost to us for livefood has not increased for a number of years, in fact it actually went down due to improved volume discount a few years ago, a reduction we passed on in full in our own pricing. However the suppliers costs have been steadily increasing over this period. Like us they have done a number of things to avoid passing on these increases but are now at a point where they can no longer do this. Some of their cost figures are eyewatering. They have absorbed increases in production costs over the last decade of a whopping 42%, without passing any of this on. This feat has been acheived by efficiencies, market growth (higher sales volumes) etc.. Unfortunately with the recent increase in the National Minimum Wage and other increases in feed and energy costs they are forced to increase their prices to us. Whilst most of the increases on their high volume items are relatively small (2.3% for prepacked locusts for example), some of the more exotic, small volume items are quite large (10% for dubia roaches).

livefood

So, what do we do? Just pass on the increases to our customers so it remains viable for us to sell these products but lose customers? Absorb the costs and keep our prices the same but go out of business because we no longer have money to pay our own costs (rent, energy, utilities, insurances , suppliers , etc, etc.). In the end our only sensible option is to anaylse each product range in turn and come up with a compromise.

livefood

From the end of May then, there will be a new pricelist for livefood and I am pleased to announce that the higher volume items such as crickets and locusts will not be increasing in price at all. They will be staying at £1.99 a tub. However some of the lower volume sellers will have to go up a little. For example dubia roaches will increase to £2.75, although lobster roaches will remain at £2.49.

livefood

It is never a good thing to increase prices but we do feel that these supplier increases are justified this time round and that our livefood quality remains the best around. We do not just receive it from our supplier, stick it on the shelf and hope it sells before it dies. We look after our livefood, feeding every couple of days (yes it is very fiddly and time consuming but worth it), cleaning out old food and any dead insects, keeping numbers in tubs up by recombining tubs where necessary and controlling temperature to ensure the food is in the best condition possible for your reptile, spider or whatever. Also we do have our loyalty scheme. This means participating customers get an additonal 2.5% off everything they buy when their poiints accumulate. So we are confident we still offer the best value for money on livefood.

So apologies for the small increases in price of some products but remember NO INCREASE in price of locusts, crickets, mealworms, morioworms and waxworms..

Gloucester Pet Shop May Offers

May ‘s offers are now available in our Gloucester Pet Shop. Most are also available on line in our webstore. As usual these offer prices are always popular so don’t delay, or risk missing a bargain. I have added a price comparison where I can. Not all products are stocked elsewher locally though. It is always useful for us to do this as it shows us that often our normal price is less than our competitors, let alone our monthly offers. I mean, check out the price of Johnsons IGR House Flea Spray below. We are only a little family run shop and we do not get the discounts for volume the big companies get and yet they still decide to charge the customer more than we do. Go figure!

Gloucester Pet Shop

Nature Diet Feel Good Grain Free Chicken Single 390g ONLY 99p RRP £1.45

We can’t compare these to other Gloucester pet shops as they don’t seem to stock the grain free varieties but the cheaper “with rice” varieties are £1.39 at PAH and £1.49 at Pets Corner.

Gloucester Pet Shop

Nature Diet Feel Good Grain Free Lamb Single 390g ONLY 99p RRP £1.45

We can’t compare these to other Gloucester pet shops as they don’t seem to stock the grain free varieties but the cheaper “with rice” varieties are £1.39 at PAH and £1.49 at Pets Corner.

Gloucester Pet Shop

Hollings Plaice Fish Sticks 100g ONLY £2.99 RRP £4.49

£3.99 at Pets At Home

Gloucester Pet Shop

Hollings Salmon Fish Sticks 100g ONLY £2.99 RRP £4.49

£3.99 at Pets At Home

Gloucester Pet Shop

Go Cat Chicken & Duck 10kg ONLY £16.99 RRP £24.60

Sorry couldn’t find this anywhere locally to compare it to.

Gloucester Pet Shop

Go Cat Tuna, Herring & Veg 10kg ONLY £16.99 RRP £24.60

Sorry couldn’t find this anywhere locally to compare it to.

Gloucester Pet Shop

Winalot Pouch Perfect Portions Mixed Chunks In Gravy 40 x 100g ONLY £7.50 RRP £9.50

£8.00 in Asda

Gloucester Pet Shop

Winalot Pouch Perfect Portions Mixed Chunks In Jelly 40 x 100g ONLY £7.50 RRP £9.50

£8.00 in Asda

Gloucester Pet Shop

Pedigree Dentastix Large Dog 28 Pack ONLY £5.49 RRP £9.79

Pedigree Dentastix Medium Dog 28 Pack ONLY £5.49 RRP £8.54

Pedigree Dentastix Small Dog 28 Pack ONLY £5.49 RRP £7.38

£8.50 in Asda

Gloucester Pet Shop

Greenies Adult Regular Original 170g ONLY £5.00 RRP £7.00

£7.00 on Fetch

Gloucester Pet Shop

Pet Munchies Small Buffalo Dental Chew 55g ONLY £1.49 RRP £2.99

Sorry, couldn’t find these locally

Gloucester Pet Shop

Pet Munchies 100% Natural Chicken & Cheese 100g ONLY £1.49 RRP £2.99

Sorry, couldn’t find these locally

Gloucester Pet Shop

Pet Munchies 100% Natural Chicken & Sweet Potato 90g ONLY £1.49 RRP £2.99

Sorry, couldn’t find these locally

Gloucester Pet Shop

Johnsons I.G.R House Flea Spray 400ml ONLY £6.49 RRP £7.99

An unbelievable £16.00 at Pets At Home !!!!

Gloucester Pet Shop

Good Boy Pigs In Blankets 80g ONLY £1.49 RRP £2.99

Asda price £1.78 for only 60g

Gloucester Pet Shop

IAMS Vitality Small/Medium Dog With Chicken 12kg ONLY £23.99 RRP £31.99

Pets At Home price £29.99

Gloucester Pet Shop

Beaphar FIPROtec Spot On Cat 4 Treatments

Beaphar WORMclear for cats 2 tablets Buy both for £11.49 (saving of £5) only available to order over the phone or in store.

Gloucester Pet Shop

Burgess Cat Chicken & Duck 1.5kg ONLY 3.49 RRP £5.25

Fetch on line price £5.25

Gloucester Pet Shop

Burgess Cat Salmon 1.5kg ONLY £3.49 RRP £5.25

Fetch on line price £5.25

Gloucester Pet Shop

Meowing Heads Paw Licking Chicken 1.5kg ONLY £8.49 RRP £12.99

Jollyes price a whopping £13.49

Gloucester Pet Shop

KONG Signature Balls Medium 2 Pack ONLY £4.49 RRP £6.99

Jollyes price £7.00

Gloucester Pet Shop

Bow Wow Natural Tripe Sticks Single 3 FOR £1.00 (Only available in store or on telephone orders).

Can’t find these listed individually anywhere else.

So do pop into our Gloucester Pet Shop to pick up a bargain. If you can’t get to us you can order most things on line in our Gloucester Pet Shop webstore.

Tropical Fish Back on Sale

Due to an issue with broken tanks our fish stocks have been quite low for a few months. We have now re-installed some of the tanks and are pleased to announce that our tropical fish stocks are climbing back up to where they normally are.

tropical fish

I have updated our livestock list to show our current tropical fish stock. Obviously this list changes all the time so do check out our webstore which will have all the current stock on a day by day basis.

We quarantine all our tropical fish for seven days before putting them on sale to be sure they have no issues and you can be confident of healthy stock. As with all our livestock they are covered by our livestock policy so you can buy with confidence.

Pop in and see us for tropical fish. We have lots of FREE parking and are convieniantly located on the main route out of Gloucester, handy for Cheltenham and Stroud.

The Angell Pets Team

Gopher/Bull Snake Care Sheet

There are around nine sub species of the snake species Pituophis catenifer. These go by the common names of Gopher Snake and Bull Snake, depending mainly on regional variation. Rather confusingly the common name Bull Snake is also used to describe certain sub species of the closely related Pine Snake (Pituophis melanoleucus). Care for pine snakes is similar to gopher snakes so this care sheet will cover most aspects of both species, although as I own a Bull Snake (pituophis catenifer sayi) myself it is to this species I am refering when I use the term. Gopher snakes originate from the far western United States and the pine snakes across the south and east, up to New Jersey. Gopher snakes resemble rattle snakes in colour and pattern and will mimic them when threatened. The largest sub species the Bull Snake (Pituphis catenifer sayi) gets its name from the bull like snort it emits when angry. Mine used to do this when I first got it but it soon calmed down with handling and has become one of the most docile, predictable snakes I have ever owned.

Bull Snake Pituophis catenifer sayi
Adult Male Bull Snake (Pituophis catenifer sayi)

Housing

Gopher snakes, bull snakes and pine snakes are the largest snakes found in north america (not including the invasive pythons in Florida).The adult size varies from 1m up to 2.3m. You are going to need a large enclosure, I would suggest a minimum of 4′ x 2′. You will not know, until it grows just how big it is going to get so I wouldn’t bother getting a smaller viv. than this. They are also very active, inquiistive snakes, so they do need the space of a larger enclosure and regular changes of layout to keep them stimulated. They really appreciate a bit of excercise out in the house and on a warm day, as long as you keep a very close eye on them you can take them out into the garden for a little explore (depending on the layout, if there is a hole to hide in they will find it). There should always be a large water bowl in the enclosure with fresh water. From experience my bull snake will only drink the water when it is fresh and every time I replace the bowl he will spend a few minutes drinking. I never see him drink at any other time so keep it fresh. It is not necessary to dechlorinate the water in the UK. I often see it stated that the water should be dechlorinated first but this information comes originally from the USA where, historically the chlorine level at the tap is significantly higher (an order of magnitude higher) than the UK. Here it is usually lower than 0.5mg/l and often only a fraction above 0. Our water treatment processes make high levels unecessary. I used to manage a water treatment works and we would have enquiries from US servicemen on whether the water was safe to drink as they couldn’t smell the chlorine!

At least one hide is required, preferably two or more. These can be placed at opposite ends of the vivarium to allow the snake to rest in the correct temperature. Snakes can only thermo regulate by using the ambient temperature around them (unlike us – we can produce our own heat) so need to move around to control their temperature. Whilst shedding, which they will do from every few weeks when young and growing rapidly and every few months when adult, place some damp moss under the snakes preferred hide. This will create a microclimate with raised humidity, making shedding the skin easier. You do not want a raised humidty constantly in the vivarium. Gopher snakes come from arid environments, so dry air (not so for some pine snakes, Florida and Louisianna are pretty humid at times!).

Substrate

Suitable substrates would include, beech chip, aspen bedding and lignocel (e.g. PR snake life) for a utilitarian set up. I have used them all and they are all fine and have the advantage that the poop is easy to spot and to clean. The darker orchid bark or “bark chips” is fine too, although it is much harder to spot the poop. For the more humid subspecies of pine snake this may be a better choice as it can help maintain the humidity. More “natural” looking substrates are also fine. Gopher snakes live in arid areas with dry, often sandy soil. The gopher snake in the shop is on PR toroise life as a suitable approximation to the natural environment and it works well. Don’t be dictated to by the “keyboard warriors” who will try to tell you what you “must” use. This is at best just their opinion, although they will try to present it as fact and at worst just something they have heard somewhere without the slightest idea as to why it should be.

Heating

For smaller snakes a heat mat would be OK but especially if the mat is floor mounted, a larger snake may cause “thermal blocking” (completely covering the mat with its body) so I prefer a ceramic heat emitter with a suitable heater cage to prevent the snake burning itself. A suitably rated pulse proportional or dimming thermostat gives the best level of control over the output of the heater but a simple on/off stat (correct wattage rating) will do the job but with a few peaks and troughs in temperature. A temperature range of 30-32 celcius at the hot end to 24 celcius at the cold end gives a good target range. Allowing the temperature to drop lower overnight gives a more realistic representation of the natural environment and having a lower overall temprature duiring months with shorter days can stimulate them to come into breeding condition. However for basic care the normal temperature range will suffice. Having a thermostat is essential. Reptiles can tolerate lower temperatures for some time, simply becoming less active but over temperature can kill them very quickly. The thermostat prevents this happening. Have a seperate temperature guage as well. Thermostats have been known to fail so knowing what the temperature actually is can be vital.

Lighting

UVB lighting is not necessary to keep your gopher snake healthy and active. However a day night cycle does help this diurnal snake replicate normal behaviour patterns. Also, you want to be able to see your snake so some form of lighting is beneficial. I like to use LED lighting. This has two advantages, the LEDs produce hardly any extra heat so do not interfere with the control of your heating system or cause burns if touched by the snake and they last many tens of thousands of hours longer that an incadescent lamp or even an energy efficiant fluorescent tube/lamp. You can use the other types of lighting but if using incadescent or halogen, the lamp must be protected by a cage to prevent burning. Energy efficient lamps don’t genreally produce enough heat to burn, which is after all why they are energy efficient.

Feeding

As the name “gopher snake” suggests, these snakes eat mainly small rodents in the wild. In captivity you will have no trouble feeding defrosted mice and rats. Size the food items appropriately to the snake, generally not more thatn 1 1/2 times the snakes head diameter, although that is a guide and they will take slightly larger. It is illegal to feed live vertebrate animals to other animals in the UK, unless the animal in question is at risk if not fed live food. There is no way this could be claimed for any gopher snake. All the specimens I have ever come across are good feeders on defrosted mice/rats. Feeding live rodents is a bad idea in any case as they bite back and could well end up injuring your prized snake. There will always be someone who insists they have to use live. I have a few words to describe these people. Pop in and see me in the shop if you want to know what they are, I can’t publish them here. Defrost the food naturally, not in a microwave. This can heat up the inside of the food and activate necrotic bacteria and give your snake food poisoning. Once defrosted, pop the rat in a poly bag and stick it under your arm to raise to blood temperature and the snake will feed. In the 16 years (at time of writing) I have had my bull snake it has only had two bouts of not feeding, one lasting five months and one three months. Both times were as an adult and there was nothing wrong with the snake. If your snake misses a feed I would leave it for a couple of weeks before attempting again or you may just waste a few rats.

San Diego Gopher Snake
San Diego Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer annectens) Feeding On A Small Defrosted Mouse

Lifespan

In the wild, gopher snakes have a lifespan of around 15 years. Captive snakes suffer far less risk and stress throughout their lives (or should do if you are looking after them properly). No predation, environmental controls giving all year round good weather and food on a plate. This leads to much longer lifespans. The oldest I have heard of was reported to be 33 years old. 20-25 years is common. Mine is currently sixteen and is just as active as when he was two.

So gopher snakes (and bull snakes), make excellent first snakes as an alternative to the commoner corn snake or as a next snake for something a little larger and more active. They are much less commonly avaiable however so you may have to shop around to get one.

Exo Terra Mini Wide Glass Terrarium Offer

We have two Exo Terra Mini Wide (30cm x30cm x 30cm) glass terrariums on offer as part of complet set up deals. These versatile small terratriums make ideal enclosure for a range of animals including spiders and other invertebrates, small frogs and small geckos (such as our Kotschys geckos).

exo terra small wide

The RRP for these enclosures is £68.99. Our normal price is £59.99 but we have them on offer at £29.99, when purchase as part of a complete set up deal. This could be a set up for any suitable animal held in stock, such as an Asian jungle scorpion, Brazilian black taratula, Ghana speckled millipede, blue legged Mantella frog or Kotschys gecko or any other appropriate animal that we sell.

As an example of price, a set up for an Asian jungle scorpion would total £60, including the Exo Terra terrarium, a heat mat, substrate, hide, water bowl and of course the scorpion. A Kotchys gecko set up would be £125, including the enclosure, canopy, UVB lamp, heat mat, substrate, water bowl, hide and gecko.

As the Exo Terra mini wide enclosures are made of glass, we cannot send them by courier and we do not courier any animals in any case. These set up deals are only available for collection from our Hucclecote store.

The Five Star Angell Pets Team

50% off Fish Food

We are changing suppliers of fish food and so are clearing space for the new stock by selling the existing products at HALF PRICE.

We have developed our business relationships with our suppliers over a nmumber of years to make the process of obtaining our customers’ products as smooth as possible. Unfortunately, occcssionally we have to change suppliers where the restocking process becomes an issue. There is nothing worse than customers coming in for stock that, for some reason beyond our control we are unable to get. Although we have used our current supplier of fish food for a number of years, the re-ordering process (never ideal) has become increasingly difficult and unreliable. A few months back I made the decision to change suppliers and we are now in a position to start stocking alternative products.

Fish Food

We are however a small shop with only so much shelf space so, in order to make room, we need to sell through our existing stock as quickly as possible. So we are putting all Natures Grub fish food on offer at 50% off, in store, for telephone orders and on line.

This fish food was very reasonably priced in the first place so now it is a real bargain. Just as and example, Algae Wafers 250g in Pets At Home are £14.99 but our 230g pot was only £9.99 but is now £4.99.

The Angell Pets Team

Gloucester Pet Shop April Offers

Angell Pets monthly offers are now available in our Gloucester pet shop and on line in our web store. These offers are always popular and our wholesaler may well run out of the more popular stock lines so it is worth grabbing a bargain whilst you can. There are a lot of small mammal offer this month, food and treats. There were also two other dog food offers this month but the quality of those products is so poor that we won’t stock them, so we have left them off this list. Just because we can stock supermarket brands for less than the supermarkets doesn’t mean we will. If we feel that using a product is not in the best interest of the animal it would be hypocritical of us to encourage owners to buy it.

gloucester pet shop

Pet Head Dirty Talk Shampoo 475ml ONLY £7.99 RRP £9.99

gloucester dog groomer

Pet Head Puppy Fun Shampoo 475ml ONLY £7.99 RRP £9.99

dog groomer

Pet Head Feeling Flaky Shampoo 475ml ONLY £7.99 RRP £9.99

dog accessories

Mikki Nail Clipper Large ONLY £6.99 RRP £13.99

gloucester pet shop

Felix Pouch Mixed Selection In Jelly 40 x 100g ONLY £8.99 RRP £12.49

gloucester pet store

Dreamies Beef 60g ONLY £1 RRP £1.56

cat treats

Dreamies Chicken 60g ONLY £1 RRP £1.56

cat treats

Dreamies Salmon 60g ONLY £1 RRP £1.56

dog treats

Pedigree Markies Dog Biscuits With Marrowbone 12.5kg ONLY £32.99 RRP £41.70

dog treats

Pedigree Markies Mini Dog Biscuits With Marrowbone 12.5kg ONLY £32.99 RRP £41.70

dog toys

Good Boy latex Face Ball Single ONLY 99p RRP £2.09

pond supplies

Tetra Pond Sticks 100g ONLY £2.69 RRP £4.05

angell pets

Vitakraft Kracker Guinea Pig Sticks (2 Pack) Honey & Spelt ONLY £1.99 RRP 2.75

gloucester pet shop

Vitakraft Kracker Guinea Pig Sticks (2 Pack) Fruit & Flakes ONLY £1.99 RRP £2.75

pet shop gloucester

Vitakraft Kracker Rabbit Sticks (2 Pack) Wildberry & Elderberry ONLY £1.99 RRP £2.75

gloucester pet shop

Vitakraft Kracker Rabbit Sticks (2 Pack) Popcorn & Honey ONLY £1.99 RRP £2.75

angel pet

Burgess Excel Rabbit Adult 4kg ONLY £6.89 RRP £8.72

angellpetco

Burgess Excel Guinea Pig Adult 4kg ONLY £8.99 RRP £11.65

angellpetco

Wagg Cookies Peanut Butter & Chicken 125g 2 For £1.50 RRP £1.15 Each
(In store or telephone orders ONLY)

angell pets

Wagg Cookies Peanut Butter & Banana 125g 2 For £1.50 RRP £1.15 Each (In store or telephone orders ONLY)

gloucester pet shop

Selective Rabbit 10kg ONLY £22.99 RRP £28.99

glouester pet shop

Selective Guinea Pig 10kg ONLY £22.99 RRP £29.99

travel harness

Ancol Travel Harness Black Small ONLY £9.99 RRP £15.70

Ancol Travel Harness Black Medium ONLY £10.99 RRP £17.06

Ancol Travel Harness Black Large ONLY £11.99 £18.74

Gloucester pet shop

Arden Grange Puppy/Junior Sensitive Grain Free 2kg ONLY £9.99 RRP £12.20

So we look forward to seeing you in our Gloucester pet shop soon. You can of course order on line or over the telephone for collection in store or courier delivery.

The 5 Star Angell Pets Gloucester Pet Shop Team

Five Stars For Angell Pets

5 star AAL licence

Pet shops have been required to have a licence to sell animals for years. Other establishments have also had licenced activities, such as Zoos, boarding establishments, animal display etc. Every year we have had to apply for a renewal, have an inspection and receive our licence. In October 2018 a new instrument was introduced, the Animal Activities Licence. The idea behind the change was to bring several licenced activities under one licence and to introduce a large number of changes, supposedly designed to improve animal welfare and also to try to stop the growing number of unlicenced, on line sellers of animals who, so far, had escaped any scrutiny and who were responsible for a lot of suffering.

The system for administering and issuing the new licence is the responsibility of the local council of the establishment applying. Ours falls under Gloucester City Council. The old licence was just pass or fail but the new one has different levels . We had our, now much more rigorous, inspection at the end of February. The new licence has a star rating award. The minimum of one star is awarded to establishments that are licenced but may have minor failings that need to be resolved or reported issues in the past or are new and so have no track record. It is only awarded annually, to check on progress. The ratings increase up to five stars for establishments that have been judged to be low risk due to their practices, procedures, qualifications and professionalism.
Our old pet shop licence expired at the end of December 2018 and we applied for the new AAL licence a little before the expiry date. I am very pleased to say, we have just been awared a Five Star Licence, the highest level acheivable.

This award comes after months of hard work by all of the team. All our staff are qualified to above the minimum standard required and most to a much higher level. We also have the benefit of having George as our technical adviser to oversee everything we have done and act as an expert in various fields of animal husbandry, having been through the process for other establishments. We have measured every enclosure, monitored all the required parameters (temperature, humidity, UVB output and lamp age, cleaning routine, feeding and watering schedules, health inspections etc. etc.). We have written procedures for everything from training, to cleaning, to emergencies such as power failure, fire and escape. All this has to be reviewed at least annually and daily records kept of every animal and enclosure, including where we got it, its health and welfare whilst in the shop and who we sold it to. All this information has to be kept and we must be able to produce it, on demand to the relevant authority for at least three years.

All this work obviously has a huge cost to a business such as ours, both in terms of staff time and equipment purchase. The offset of this cost should have been the shutting down of businesses that are flouting the law and not having to comply with any of these regulations or welfare demands and therefore selling animals “cheap”. Sometimes this is in poorly run, low grade pet shops but it is usually on line or in the local paper or even down the pub. Unfortunately we have yet to see this happen and there are sadly still some pretty poor shops just getting by on a one star licence and a plethora of unlicenced private breeders and sellers, who are running businesses but claiming it’s “just a hobby”. We wait to see if any change occurs here.

In the mean time, when considering buying an animal you should really make sure you are buying from a five star establishment. You can be confident that the animals are being looked after properly before you buy and you have recourse in the unlikely event something goes wrong.

You can also be confident it won’t have some of the nasty conditions we see when people bring in their animal that they bought elsewhere and then want our advice, either on how to look after it or what is wrong with it. This happens pretty much every week and is almost always an animal that has been bought on line or from a “breeder”. We do resist the temptation to just say “well, what did you expect”, as difficult as that is and do try to help as much as we can in the interest of the welfare of the animal but well… Put it this way, where would you rather buy your lunch, a five star rated food outlet or one of those illegal, unlicenced hot dog stands they have in London. You really shouldn’t complain about the food poisoning if you chose the latter.

So when you are looking for an animal, always check the licence status of the seller. As a condition of the licence the holder MUST display a reference, including the licence holders name and licence number wherever animals are offered for sale. That obviously includes the shop, where the licence MUST be on display but also any websites or pages. No licence displayed (with star rating) means no licence, so don’t buy. Oh and do check the number against the local authorities database, there is little to stop unscrupulous sellers putting up someone else’s number!

So congratulations to all the team involved in securing us this top level seal of approval. I know just how much work is involved behind the scenes getting us to this point and maintaining the standards we have set ourselves. In truth there were very few physical changes we had to make. The vast majority of our existing practices would have complied anyway as we have always tried to stay ahead of the field. Indeed we have previously been consulted on our procedures by other establishments during their own quest for a high level licence. Putting all we do into the required format for the new licence however was a lot of work, so well done everyone.

The “5 Star” Angell Pets Team