Pet shop Gloucester advice series – good hygiene

Pet shop Gloucester advice on avoiding infection from animals through good hygiene.

All animals have the potential to carry organisms (viruses, bacteria, protozoa, multicellular parasites) that can cause disease in humans. The most obvious and common is E.coli bacteria. We carry this ourselves, that’s why you should wash your hands after going to the toilet. Another common one is salmonella, potentially carried by a host of animals including reptiles and birds.

The commonest way of spreading these disease causing organisms is through faecal material (poop), urine, saliva and breath (in the water droplets). So on the face of it owning an animal seems to be a bad thing to do if you want to avoid being ill.

Well you actually stand more chance of being infected by disease from another human than you do from an animal, wild or a pet. How many people do you know who don’t wash their hands after going to the toilet or before preparing food, after blowing their nose, who sneeze, pick their nose, cough and splutter all over the place when they have a cold or worse and every one knows the story about the research into how many individual samples of human urine can be found on bar snacks! I even gave myself food poisoning recently, most likely from blue cheese, although I can’t be sure.

pet shop Gloucester

Humans eh! Dirty, horrible things.

With regard to animals, especially pet animals, the risk can be greatly reduced by ALWAYS following a basic set of rules. It is common sense really when you think about it but it does no harm to reiterate the rules here. You wouldn’t lick a rat’s bottom (I would hope not anyway!) but that is exactly what you are doing if, after handling your pet rat, you bite that little bit of hang nail off or wipe your mouth with the back of your hand.

  • Do not do anything that involves putting your hands near your face whilst handling any pet animal. This includes eating, drinking, smoking, sucking your thumb!
  • Keep your pet’s enclosure clean and dry generally. Remove soiled bedding and use a disinfectant appropriate to the species (household disinfectants can be toxic to animals).
  • Wash you hands IMMEDIATELY after handling you pet or cleaning its enclosure. Also after handling anything your pet touches such as toys, dog beds, scratch posts etc.
  • Do not kiss your pet or hold it close to your face, that’s what humans are for.
  • Cover any cuts, abrasions, sores or scratches with a water proof dressing before handling or cleaning. Also if you pick up any new ones in the process clean these and apply  a suitable dressing.
  • Don’t keep animals in rooms used to prepare food. Never let them walk on food surfaces and don’t wash animal items in sinks used for human food utensils. If you have no choice, always thoroughly disinfect the sink and surrounding work surfaces afterwards and don’t use the same cloths for both.
  • Don’t let animals onto your bed and especially not your pillow.

Follow these rules and you shouldn’t end up as one of the many people with an undiagnosed gastrointestinal infection (24 hour bout of diarrhoea) or one of the very rare cases of rat hantavirus (the only two cases of this flu like disease I know of in the UK were breeders who were in constant contact with rats but clearly didn’t have sufficient infection control).

If you are sensible pets have been shown to reduce disease in humans but if you lick a rat’s bum (figuritively speaking), expect the worst!

Keep visiting for more pet shop Gloucester advice.

The Angell Pets Team

Pet Shop Gloucester tips – how to select an animal

Pet shop Gloucester tips series – how to select an animal and more importantly, where to buy from.

Since the most important thing is to select where to buy we will deal with this first. Get this right and selecting and individual animal becomes easier.

There is a lot of rubbish out there about where is the best place to buy an animal. The one we hear the most at our pet shop Gloucester is “from a breeder”. On the face of it this seems like a good idea, we are breeders ourselves, however there are a lot of people out there that could call themselves breeders. I think, following all the press coverage and national campaigns, most people would no longer consider buying a puppy from a Welsh puppy farm. These establishments are renowned for the attrocious conditions the animals are kept in, terrible in breeding and sick puppies. They are breeders though. So clearly bold, over simplified statements are a waste of time.

To select where to buy you need to consider a few basic points and this will guide you

  • Can you view the animal. If not, do not buy it. There are a host of “private” breeders and sellers on the internet and social media. I strongly suggest you do not buy from them. Not all, but most, are chancers that “rescue” animals (i.e. get their stock for free from anyone giving stuff away – and you have to ask why is it being given away?) who then resell it onto unsuspecting customers. I get these people trying to sell their animals to me all the time but we do not buy from these sources. There is generally something wrong with it, or it is very old or the animal is not being kept in the correct conditions. Only buy an animal you have seen before you have parted with your cash and make sure you see it in the enclosure it is being kept in. We also get these people coming to us for advice on how to look after the animals they are breeding or trying to get us to cure them of a host of illnesses. They should be able to do this themselves or be speaking to a vet.
  • Is the person selling the animal qualified to give you advice (and ask to see the qualification). It is our view that no one should be selling animals unless they are formerly qualified in the care of that animal and so are able to give the correct advice. Again, this rules out most online sellers but interestingly most breeders as well. Anyone can set up as a breeder of animals without any training, qualifications, experience or specialist equipment. You have to have a licence to own a pet shop and to get a licence you have to have a minimum qualification.
  • Is the animal being kept in the right conditions. Some animals have specific requirements. For example a bearded dragon needs high heat, thermostatic heat control to prevent overheating and fairly high intensity ultraviolet light. If they do not have this they will be getting ill and could get disorders that will materialise later (such as metabolic bone disease). Do they have space and are the enclosures clean. Again a dirty cage can harbour all sorts of nasties that can cause problems later.
  • Does the seller provide a health check before handing over the animal. If not, why not? Do they know how to or have they something to hide? Can they explain what they are checking for? If they can’t then you know they didn’t properly check the animal when they got it themselves.
  • Are you given advice on how to look after the animal? If not you have to assume it is because the seller doesn’t know how to look after the animal in the first place so shouldn’t be selling it. A seller must give you all the advice you need to correctly care for the animal you have selected. That is their responsibility. Following their advice is your responsibility. If the advice is not there you cannot follow it and may be leaving yourself open to charges of neglect or abuse through ignorance.

So places to avoid are online sellers, pet shop chains (supermarkets), newspaper classifieds, unregistered breeders etc. Places to consider are independent pet shops such as our pet shop Gloucester with specialist knowledge (this is not all independents by the way) and registered breeders. There are some private sellers with a lot of knowledge and genuine reasons for needing to sell but identifying these from the charlatans is nigh on impossible for the novice and remember, commercial trading without a licence is illegal.

So you’ve decided where to buy from, now how do you select an animal? Most of the following points you will not come across if you have done your job of selecting a seller properly. A good seller would never have a sick or distressed animal on display (if they are licenced it breaches the terms of their licence and action can be taken)..

  • It seems an obvious thing to say but does the animal look healthy? If a rat is sitting hunched up on its own, maybe shivering, then there could be something wrong. Does the rabbit have a runny nose, is the fish swimming upside down. Very importantly for all animals, is their bottom clean or is there evidence of loose stools.
Pet shop Gloucester rats

Who are you?

  • Is the animal clean and well groomed. Most animals keep themselves very clean. If the animal has stopped cleaning itself there is generally a reason for this and it won’t be because it’s a lazy teenager. It indicates an unhappy animal. It is either ill or stressed.
Pet shop Gloucester rabbit

Nice and clean

  • How active is the animal. Please bear in mind that different animals are active at different times but most will become active when disturbed to allow you to view them (with the possible exception of ferrets – some ferrets, Vinny our breeding male for instance, will not wake up if they are in a dead sleep without very  vigorous attempts).
Pet shop Gloucester ferrets

It's been a busy day

  • Is it displaying normal behaviour. Hiding from you in a sleeping area or hide is normal for most animals, so don’t be surprised by that. Pacing the cage for instance is a sign of boredom (does the animal have anything to occupy it?) and is not normal.
  • Is the animal docile? All animals can bite you, some are more likely to than others. Hamsters, when young and suddenly woken up can get a little freaked out for instance and will bite if you just reach in and grab them. You need to allow them to come round and pick them up from underneath (allowing them to walk onto your hand). Others will always carry a high risk of biting you (such as a cobalt blue tarantula or baboon spider) and should not be handled. The seller should be able to advice and demonstrate handling. If the seller says it is safe to handle get them to demonstrate first!
Pet shop Gloucester camel spider

Yes, I bite!

  • We’ve dealt with this elsewhere so I assume by this stage you have already considered it and know which animal you want but it’s worth saying again. Make sure you have the time, space, budget, equipment and information necessary to care for the animal you are selecting properly. It is your responsibility. I had someone come in the shop the other day who had purchased a bearded dragon elsewhere and didn’t have any equipment whatsoever (not even an enclosure) or any idea on how to care for it. I know that animal is going to die but she bought it from one of the sellers previously mentioned who only cares that he got her money.
Pet shop Gloucester bearded dragon

This is for transport, not housing

  • Finally what guarantee do you get. This is a tricky one for reputable sellers. You should be offered a guarantee of some sort but do not expect it to be for too long. It should be able to reflect that the animal did not have any immediate health issues when you bought it but cannot guarantee that the animal will not get ill if you do not look after it properly. Our standard guarantee of health (and behaviour – that’s important) is 7 days. In this time it should become clear if the animal has an illness or behavioural problem. After this time the things you are doing to care for the animal begin to outweigh its original condition. Keep a reptile at the wrong temperature or humidity and it will start to suffer regardless of how healthy it was when you got it. However statements such as “animals must be returned within 24 hours or no refund” are ludicrous. You cannot tell within 24 hours if an animal is ill. They take at least that to settle in to their new environment.

A copy of our pet shop Gloucester animal health checklist and guarantee

Pet shop Gloucester livestock checklist

The Angell Pets team


Pet shop Gloucester top tips on keeping rats

Pet shop Gloucester top tips series. We will be producing a series of top tips blogs for all the animals we sell, so make sure you subscribe to our email list to get notification of these blogs. Our pet shop Gloucester now also has a YouTube channel you can subscribe to.

Five Top Pet Shop Gloucester tips on keeping rats

Pet shop gloucester

  1. Be very sure of your source. Don’t buy from just anywhere. A common scenario goes like this: chap goes to a “pet supermarket” and buys two “male” rats. Takes the rats home and a week later one of them gives birth. He’s now stuck with the babies so he sells them through friends or the local paper. What the buyers and probably the seller doesn’t realise is that the parents were probably brother and sister, so the babies are going to be genetically weak. This can lead to growth problems, organ failure, early onset of tumours and ultimately shortened lifespan. He may even sell them to another pet shop Gloucester. In our pet shop Gloucester, we only get our rats from reputable breeders or breed them ourselves.
  2. Make sure you get an appropriately sized cage. Rats are active animals and need some space. If the supplier tries to sell you something that’s only really suitable for a hamster, walk away, they don’t know enough about rats to be selling them. In our pet shop Gloucester we have a range of excellent cages well suited to the most discerning rat. We also stock all the suitable ancillary equipment such as houses, bedding, wheels, water bottle etc.
  3. Think about where you are going to house your new pet. Rats are very sensitive to high pitched noises that we can’t hear. The only time I have had reports from customers that their rats were fighting was when they had placed the cage too near a television. Moving the cage stopped the problem. Imagine having an insessant high pitched whine in your ear all the time, it would make you iritable. If you’ve got young children, you will know what it’s like ! At our pet shop Gloucester we have the knowledge to be able to advise you on all these things about rats that most people wouldn’t realise. Other things that can emit high pitched sounds inaudible to us but audible to your rat include, computers, kettles, games consoles, telephones, even some energy efficient lighting.
  4. Feeding too much protein can cause problems. Rats are omnivores, they eat anything but feeding too much meat products can cause renal problems and will cause their wee to smell quite strongly. At our pet shop Gloucester we stock a range of excellent rat foods and treats.
  5. Rats are rodents and their teeth grow constantly. They must have something to gnaw on to keep their teeth worn down or they will suffer from overgrown teeth. In extreme cases they will no longer be able to feed. In our pet shop Gloucester we stock a variety of wood gnaws, mineral blocks and toys designed to take care of this for you. It’s a good idea to change toys and chews regularly. Take them out, put in some new ones but don’t throw the old ones away. Keep them and change them back in a week or two. Keep swapping them round to keep them interested.
  6. A bonus point, we always like to give a little extra at our pet shop Gloucester. Always wash your hands after handling your rats. They are very clean animals (considering the reputation of their wild cousins) but they can carry e.coli and other bacteria in their guts. In our pet shop Gloucester we have anti bacterial hand washes for customers who have handled our animals. As a minimum was thoroughly with soap and water.

For more advice from our pet shop Gloucester team on keeping rats, contact us, post on facebook or better yet call in the store.

See you soon

Richard Angell