Rats as Pets


With Hallowe’en in full swing it is time to explore one of the “creepies” of Hallowe’en as a pet.

Today we will be exploring “rats” as pets!

People have huge misconcenptions about rats and some people just plain don’t like them. Sometimes it’s because of the idea that rats carry diseases, or that they’re “ugly” or just creepy looking (largely because of the naked tail). Despite these misconceptions of rats been disgusting or disease ridden, rats are surprisingly one of the best rodents to have as pets–especially if one has children.

Rats are social (usually) nocturnal rodents with an impressive mind capable of solving puzzles and using their brain power to solve the everyday issues they may encountered. It is largely because of their social behavior that they make excellent pets and are more accepting then some rodent species such as hamsters or even gerbils.

Capable of living up 3 years (sometimes more), rats can grow up to 11 inches. Rats are largely nocturnal animals, meaning they spend most of their time been active during the night. However, many are still quite active during the day. Similar to deers, male rats are known as “bucks” and female rats are known as “does” with their babies known primarily as “pups” though you may find them also been called “kittens.”

Rats are surprisingly clean animals, spending hours throughout the day grooming themselves.

What has made rats incredibly popular pets as of lately is largely because of their social natures, making them quite affectionate towards their family. Rats also happen to come in a variety of colours and marks, making each rat uniquely themselves. Since they are quite social by nature, rats are also considerably easier to tame then some other rodent species.

However, also because of their quite social natures they require a good amount of attention and social interaction. For this reason we here at the Urban Zoo always advise that rats should be paired up with a friend or mate. Females and females, males and males, and female and males can all go together. Unlike birds, however, having multiple rats in the same enclosure does not necessarily mean more work to tame.

Due to their curious natures it is important to understand that if you are going to take our your rat and interact with them outside of the enclosure, one should always keep an eye on them as they have a tendency of getting into things they should not. Since they are rodents, they also have a constant need to chew considering their teeth (similar to our nails) continuously grow. It’s always a good idea to have healthy treats and toys they can work with and play with to help curve their chewing needs and providing a safe, healthy, items to ingest.

As a rule, male rats tend to be larger and lazier than females, and have coarser coats.

Rats due to their energetic natures require a decent size cage. The wires should not be flimsy (as they can easily escape) or heavily spaced apart, and the floor of the cage should be stirdy and solid. Rats are intelligent so you want to be sure that your cage has a good locking mechanism.

Carefresh expands up to twice its natural size once taken out of the packaging.

When it comes to the bedding  for rats, usually you want to avoid bedding of the softwood variety (though some may use an aspin shaving). One of our prefered bedding for rats and rodents alike is the CAREFRESH products. The CAREFRESH products come in a variety of sizes and colours (perfect for children who have favorite colours!), it expands from the original size upon opening, and most importantly it is safe to digest if for whatever reasons your rat decides to eat it.

A safe and wonderful product to use!

A safe and wonderful product to use!

CAREFRESH is also highly absorbant, perfect for urine and also feces and it also has a natural odour reduce and neutralizer which can help with the cleaning and also the smell.

Talking about smells, rats aren’t particularly “smelly” they should, like all animals kept in enclosures, be spot cleaned once a day, and stripped cleaned once a week. It’s also important to understanding that defication and urination is a form of language for rats, especially among male rats. In many ways, it can leave a scent trail (so they can find their way back to the nest) or ways of indentification of one another.

Rats thrive to explore, due to their curious and adventurous nature. Giving them healthy explorative and adventure measures are always important. Just be sure to watch them as they move about, this is particularly important if one is allowing the rats to explore outside of their cages. There are many appropriate toys and enclosure add-ons that are wondeful for this explorative and curious adventuring of rats. An exercise wheel (make sure it’s large enough to accommodate the tail) is always a welcome addition to an enclosure.

When it comes to feeding, like people, rats require a balanced diet. There are many varieties of rat foods on the market that can be helpful, EXTRUSION is personally one of our favorites due to the size of the pellets (perfect for their teeth!), the general healthiness of the food itself and the addition of Vitamin C that is present within the food formula.

Overall, rats are amazing pets with their curious and adventurious natures. They are natural clowns loving nothing more then to make you laugh. With their affectionate and social personalities they are truly one underated pet to have!

Rats are one of the most affectionate rodents

Rats are one of the most affectionate rodents


Uromastyx, a Vegitarian!

For all you leafy green fans, did you know there are actually some vegitarian species of reptiles?

One of the most treasured and valuable reptiles on the market today are uromastyx, an African and Asian reptile they are quickly becoming one of the most interestingly kept reptiles today. Adult uromastyx, depending on species, can reach anywhere between 10-18 inches in length. Some species can even exceed this length, just over 30 inches.

A long lived animal,

Safe Foods for your Scaly Friend!


A balance diet, everything in moderation

Most people think that reptiles just need their daily insects or pellets and their good to go. Some don’t even realize that there are other options for most reptiles other than their meat or insect diet. In this blog post we will be exploring healthy foods you can feed your lizards, while talking about those foods that are not so good for them.


  • Seedless grapes
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Apples (avoid the core and seeds)
  • Bananas on occasion
  • Kiwi 
  • Bell peppers are great
  • Broccoli 
  • Squash
  • Cantelopes 
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cucumber 
  • Cauliflower 
  • Green beans
  • Pears (avoid core and seeds) 
  • Zucchini 
  • Sweet Potatoes 

All reptile species are different as such it’s advised to research what are acceptable food supplements to their diet. Some darker green vegetables leech the calcium and other vitamins cannot be properly absorbed. This list of foods is one way you can start supplementing the daily diet of your lizard.  

You Don’t Sell Dogs? Than You Aren’t a Pet Store!

“Oh… You don’t sell dogs? What kind of pet store are you!?”

Believe it or not we get this question at least once a week, and people are always surprised when we say: actually no, we don’t sell dogs here. How by not selling dogs we aren’t a pet store, is beyond us. Many pet stores don’t even sell PETS anymore.

Their reactions are always the same, some or less vocal about it, but for some it’s hard to hide their disappointment (which sometimes turn to anger: “WHAT KIND OF PET STORE ARE YOU!?”). People often forget that things are fluid, things change, and in some cities it is required by law to only sell rescued dogs.

The main staple reason as to why we, The Urban Zoo, do not sell dogs is quite simple: KIJIJI.

A wonderful and free advertising website has given the ability to people to promote their animals for sale, and when it comes to dogs in particular, effectively ruins our market. Though we are more than capable by law to sell dogs in our store the truth is KIJIJI has simply granted anyone the ability to advertise and sell whatever they want.

There is also a stigma attached to pet stores, especially with dogs, that these animals come from inhuman living conditions, such as puppy mills. Which, quite frankly, is less frequent today than it was twenty years ago. Though puppy mills do still exist today, and it’s a tragedy, just because a pet store is selling a cat, or a dog or even a bird, doesn’t necessarily mean that these animals come from such places. Unfortunately, that is the popular stigma and misinformation people have when we did sell dogs or cats–that we were selling animals from mills or similar conditions.

Many of our animals come from local breeders and our community (such as our cats), but many of our animals as well are also bred and hand raised by us (specifically our birds). The odd animal we can’t get in through our community or ourselves, come from reputable breeders, companies and organizations.

Yet, people still hold this stigma. Making it difficult to sell dogs.

We’re also not as big as we were in the old store, we don’t have the room to effectively manage and care for dogs properly. Puppies require time, effort, training, veterinary check ups and space. Unfortunately, at this time, we don’t have a facility equipped to take care of dogs effectively and efficiently–though we have in the past taken dogs that have been dropped off on our door step and raise them back to health in our store, but that’s a whole other topic for a later date.

These people that drop off these dogs at our doorstep are the same people who are selling them on KIJIJI most of the time. We’re not saying all KIJIJI members who sell dogs are like this, far from it, many are local breeders and people who want to find their animals the right home… but what happens to those animals that AREN’T sold? Sometimes people do cruel things, like leaving them on our doorstep only for us to find these animals in a box the next morning.

So when people ask us: Why don’t you sell dogs?

We tell them it’s for a variety of reasons. The most obvious is KIJIJI, we can’t compete with prices like those–unfortunately people also don’t realize that those cheap dogs also don’t come with the many benefits that we provide for our own (like shots, flea treatment, deworming etc.). KIJIJI has effectively ruined our market for dogs, but unfortunately not everyone can understand that.

There are those underlying problems and threats as well, it hasn’t been the first time where we’ve got phone calls from the SPCA or similar groups asking about the puppies we’ve had sold–you know the ones that have been dropped on our doorstep? Luckily, for us we know the members of these groups, we can show our paperwork, run them through our routine when things like this happen. Phone calls like that, however, can really slow us down, give us a bad reputation and stop us from doing the good work we do.

So whether it be KIJIJI ruining or market, or misinformation and a lack of education on bystanders who come into the store when we do happen to have puppies, it’s simply a hassle worth avoiding altogether.

To best places to get a puppy or dog is the SPCA. Not only do have so many animals (not just dogs folks) running around our streets our shelters are struggling to maintain and keep these animals alive due to overcapacity–which leads to euthanization of these animals that are struggling to find a home.

People looking for dogs should seriously consider the SPCA and adoption programs they have at your disposal. Who knows, you just might find what you’re looking for.

The Suits Game


We all like to save a little money, and we all like to learn something new! As such we’ve decided to create our own little game which we like to call “the Suits Game” it’s a simple game really, all you have to do is read our blog posts and find the symbol! Each symbol has a “%” value, this percentile value is specific to the product mentioned in that particular blog post. So if we look at our wonderful blog post of MBD we find we mentioned REPTI-CALCIUM, that particular item would be the item deal. So keep your eyes open and sharp because not every blog post will have a suit for your needs.

It’s not enough to identify the suit of the particular blog post and to know which product (or sometimes products!) are found within our blog post you will be questioned about the blog post itself to see exactly how much you’ve learned from it. That way you can apply your knowledge, test yourself and reap the benefits of your hard efforts!

The following suits have a numerical percentage, and this chart can be referred to so you know exactly how much you will be saving:

Hearts (the symbol, “♥”) will be used to indicate all items mentioned in a blog post are 10% OFF!
Spades (the symbol, “♠”) will be used to indicate all items mentioned in a blog post are 15% OFF!
Diamonds (the symbol, “♦”) will be used to indicate all items mentioned in a blog post are 20% OFF!
Clubs (the symbol, “♣”) will be used to indicate all items mentioned in a blog post are 25% OFF!

*All EXPIRATIONS occur a week after the blog post has been posted when a particular suit and product has been added! So be sure to be attentive and don’t allow these good deals and prices go to waste!*

So before we end this post, we would love to know what SUIT are you? Below we will describe a suit and if that matches you leave a comment bellow and let us know! We want to know which suit you are! Now, because we ARE a pet store it’s important we try to tie animals into this, so each suite also has a ‘category’ of animal. These categories tie into our OWN store. At the end of this blog post there will be a very important question to answer dependent on your suit, so be sure to answer it!

Leave a comment below letting us know your suit and your animal of choice in the respective category and actively join our community! Tell us a story about birds if you are Person of Spades, or maybe about fish if you are a Person of Hearts.

People of Hearts are often passionate and spiritual people who put ideals into practice. They are creative and powerful. People of Hearts can also describe someone who is more sensitive than others. Often times People of Hearts are generous, affectionate and some of them can be described as having ‘hearts of gold.’ In some cases this suit is more suited for people who are emotionally stable and independent. It can also represent someone who is shy or a person who isn’t afraid to speak their mind without apology. THE FISH IS THE ANIMAL OF HEARTS!

People of Spades are sometimes called hot headed. Though this certainly those describe some People of Spades it’s more accurate to say People of Spades are aggressive, which can sometimes tie into hot-headed nature. People of Spades are often intelligent and proud people. They can be egotistical, macho and confident; very few things can get them down as they seem to barrel through life. They know what they want and they take it, because of this some can be sneaky–doing anything to get on-top. Some are introverted, hard to express their feelings. They are the people who get things done. THE BIRD IS THE ANIMAL OF SPADES!

People of Diamonds can be materialistic, enjoying the finer things in life. They are often hard headed, stubborn and successful. They have a strong head for business. Many are kind and resourceful. They can be intense people to be around, but they are genuine and trustworthy friends. People of Diamonds are often goal-oriented and with a strong disposition. They can also be friendly and creative. THE REPTILE IS THE ANIMAL OF DIAMONDS!

We’ve all met the People of Clubs, the jokester. Someone who doesn’t seem to take life seriously; however just because People of Clubs might make light of certain things, it doesn’t mean they can’t take things seriously. They are often the center of attention using their charms (whether joking or nice smiles) to reel people in. They often confident, intelligent and in many cases knowledgeable about various things. People who are eccentric are perfect for the suit of clubs. People of Clubs often play fair and work hard. Despite People of Clubs being the clowns, many are also tough as nails. With their clownish ways it’s no surprised they are passionate and confident people, with strong beliefs and high values. They tend to get the last word in argument wise and they some of them are said to be ‘know-it-alls.’ THE SMALL ANIMAL IS THE ANIMAL OF CLUBS!

Can you name ONE of our animals in THE TRAVELLING ZOO that fits your suit and animal category? Leave a comment on our blog post or on Facebook page with this blog post specifically mentioned within the next week and you get 10% OFF a single item within that respectable category (example: THE REPTILE IS THE ANIMAL OF DIAMONDS; 10% OFF a single item in the reptile section!)

Pink Toed Tarantula


We just got ourselves a beautiful female Avicularia avicularia or commonly known as the “Pink Toed” tarantula. The Chilean rose hair, Mexican red knee and Pink toed tarantula are the three most popular species of tarantulas, and are perfect for the beginners. Today we’ll be exploring the rather peculiar and beautiful Pink Toed Tarantula.

It isn’t hard to see where the name “Pink Toed” comes from when looking at this tarantula species. Simply put they have these pink toes that are striking against their typically blue bodies. Popular among the hobbyists for their beautiful colourations the Pink Toed Tarantula is a South American, though the name “Pink Toed” often refers to more than a two dozen species of Avicularia, the name Pink Toed Tarantula is commonly held for the species: Avicularia avicularia.

This blue bodied tarantula reaching lengths of up to 5 inches are astonishing. Not only are they pretty to look at their habits and personalities make them a very unique tarantula species to own.

Being a New World species of tarantula they are often docile, though they are incredibly swift and agile–making handling this particular species of tarantula difficult. Despite being a tarantula at young ages they can actually be kept socially if the right conditions are met. They also happen to be an arboreal species of tarantula.

An arboreal species of tarantula is essentially a tarantula that prefers to dwell high above the ground, terrestrial being a tarantula that enjoys ground level. Being an arboreal species, the Pink Toed Tarantula is well known for the intricate cobwebs they often make high in their terrariums.

They also require quite a bit of ventilation, temperatures of 75-85 Fahrenheit and a humidity level of 78% to 82%. Traditionally arboreal species of tarantula are fed with feeding tangs, they can be finicky eaters and may not go to the bottom to hunt themselves. Luckily Pink Toed Tarantulas are active little guys and most likely explore it’s terrarium bottom and all. Though feeding tongs should still be a requirement just in case your Pink Toed Tarantula refuses to hunt at the bottom.

Pink Toed Tarantulas also have a unique defence. Though all tarantulas are venomous and you should consult a doctor if one is bit, their venom generally isn’t hazardous. Those who are sensitive or allergic to tarantula venom however can make for a dangerous time. For this reason it is advised that people don’t handle their tarantula, not just for the fear of being bit but also it can be quite stressful on the tarantula themselves. They do not require our interaction and socialisation. Be smart and don’t learn the hard way!

Despite biting, which rarely occurs, they have other defence mechanisms at their disposal. They are fast little guys! They use their speed to their advantage when they feel threatened or intimidated, able to quickly escape from their threat this is another reason why we advise not to handle this particular tarantula.

Like most other New World tarantulas they also have very interesting hairs called urticating hairs which they fling in the air. These little hairs are incredibly irritating, one should never scratch as this will simply push the hairs deeper into the skin which can cause infections and inflammation. If you happen to get urticating hairs on you simply use duck tape and gently wash area with warm water and soap.

Not only are they speedy go getters, throw hairs in the air that are incredibly irritating and can also leave a nasty bite, they also have this notorious habit of squirting faecal matter, essentially flinging their waste of predators. No one likes a face full of feces.

These evolutionary defence tactics make the Pink Toed Tarantula a resourceful creature.

As mentioned above ventilation is important for this particular species of tarantula due to the high humidity, fungus has been known to grow in their lungs and eventually kill these beautiful animals.

They make an excellent beginner species due to their easy diets, maintenance and animal husbandry care. With beautiful colourations and unique defences and personalities they’re a remarkable tarantula species to own.