Archive | November, 2013

20 Fun Facts About the Turkey

Thanksgiving, turkey

With the Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow and turkey on everyone’s mind, I thought it would be fun to do a post on some fun and obscure facts about turkeys. I was surprised by how much I didn’t know about this bird, including how it got it’s name, it’s unique physical abilities and that turkeys are the only breed of poultry native to the Western hemisphere.

This post covers the top 20 facts you may not know about domestic and wild turkeys, some of which may change your idea of them beyond being a meal centerpiece once a year.

  1. There are six subspecies of wild turkey, all native to North America. The pilgrims hunted and ate the eastern wild turkey, M. gallopavo silvestris, which today has a range that covers the eastern half of the United States and extends into Canada. These birds, sometimes called the forest turkey, are the most numerous of all the turkey subspecies, numbering more than five million.
  2. Turkeys have great hearing, but no external ears. They can also see in color, have excellent visual acuity and a wide field of vision (about 270 degrees), which makes sneaking up on them difficult. Interestingly, turkeys have a poor sense of smell but an excellent sense of taste.
  3. Domesticated turkeys cannot fly. Wild turkeys can fly for short distances at speeds up to 55 miles per hour. They can also reach speeds of 25 miles per hour on the ground.
  4. Turkeys sometimes spend the night in trees.
  5. The Native American name for turkey is ‘firkee’; some say this is how turkeys got their name. However, when a turkey is scared, it makes a “turk, turk, turk” noise. So who knows, that might be the origin of their name instead.
  6. There are a number of explanations regarding the origin of the turkey as the special guest for Thanksgiving. Some believe Christopher Columbus thought the land he discovered was connected to India, and thought the bird he discovered (the turkey) was a type of peacock. He therefore called it ‘tuka,’ which is ‘peacock’ in Tamil, an Indian language.
  7. The turkey is actually a type of pheasant.
  8. There are approximately 5,500 feathers on an adult wild turkey, including 18 tail feathers that make up the male’s distinct fan.
  9. Turkeys were domesticated by the Indians of pre-columbian Mexico, taken to Spain in the 1500s then spread throughout Europe. Colonists then introduced European-bred strains fo Eastern North America in the 17th century.
  10. Today, there are more than 7 million wild turkeys and their range is spread throughout North America. In the early 1900s the turkey population reached a low of 30,000 due to over hunting. Restoration programs across North America have helped boost the numbers to the current level.
  11. Male turkeys are called “gobblers” after the call they use to announce themselves to females (“hens”) and compete with other males. A wild turkey’s gobble can be heard up to one mile away. A group of related male turkeys will band together to court females though only one member of the group gets to mate. Other turkey sounds include “purrs,” “yelps” and “kee-kees.”
  12. Wild turkeys have very powerful legs and can run at speeds up to 25 miles per hour. Their top speed in flight is 55 miles per hour.
  13. Benjamin Franklin never proposed the turkey as a symbol for America, but he did once praise it as being “a much more respectable bird” than the bald eagle.
  14. Turkeys are omnivorous and will try many different foods. Most of their diet is grass and grain, but wild turkeys have a varied diet and will also eat insects, berries and small reptiles.
  15. According to the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, turkeys grow the most when they are trained to eat several small meals a day. If they are not trained to eat only small meals, they will gorge themselves. Training the turkeys to only eat small meals is simple. All it takes is shaking some feed into their feed trough, or gently rousing the cute little baby turkeys called poults. The poults will learn that activity means food.
  16. The wild turkey’s bald head and fleshy facial wattles can change color in seconds with excitement or emotion The birds’ heads can be red, pink, white or blue.
  17. Just hatched wild turkeys are precocial which means they are born with feathers and can fend for themselves quickly, and they leave the nest within 24 hours to forage for food with their mothers.
  18. According to the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service, turkey chicks need “a minimum of two consecutive hours of undisturbed time four times a day followed by eight to 10 hours of undisturbed nighttime rest.” That’s eight hours a day of rest, followed by an eight- or 10-hour night’s sleep.
  19. Male turkeys have a snood — the long, fleshy attachment to its beak. According to the National Wild Turkey Federation the snood does not have a known function, but it does change form as the male turkey, or tom, moves. When the gobbler relaxes, the snood retracts. When he struts, his snood engorges with blood and extends.
  20. Turkeys can have heart attacks. Turkey in fields near Air Force test areas over which the sound barrier was broken were known to drop dead from the shock of passing jet.

So enjoy eating and relaxing on Thanksgiving and feel free to share some of these turkey fun facts while you celebrate. Did I miss any? Let me know below!

Here is a list of resources referenced to create this post. There were several, and each had very interesting insights that surprisingly didn’t repeat themselves!

Photo credit: Boston Public Library 

Events and Some Tips on Caring for Senior Pets

adopt a senior pet month

The featured senior pet for this week is Linny the Austrailian Shepard, 7 years old and available at the Larimer Humane Society. Linny is a total goofball and so darn cute. Look at that smile!

This is a bit of a light week for events due to the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, but there are a few really good ones this weekend. To spice up the post a bit and support Adopt a Senior Pet Month, I’ve included a few tips on the benefits of older animals and insights on caring for them. They really do make great pets for so many reasons.

Enjoy Thanksgiving!

November 23rd

Loveland Cat Adoption and Resource Center Open House

The resource center is the Loveland arm of the Fort Collins Cat Rescue Spay/Neuter Clinic. They are having a grand opening this Saturday featuring adoption specials on adult cats (name your price!) and kittens between 8 weeks and 4 months old are $75. There will also be light refreshments and prize drawings. Stop by to get cat supplies, schedule clinic surgery appointments or buy some retail items to support the shelter.

When: 12 – 4 p.m.

Where: 621 E. Eisenhower Blvd. #16, Loveland, CO 80537, northwest corner of Eisenhower and Monroe

November 24th

Annual Spay-ghetti and No Balls Dinner & Craft Fair 

This event is a combined effort between the Fort Collins Cat Rescue and Spay/Neuter ClinicLarimer Humane Society and Animal House Rescue and Grooming.

This family-friendly, annual event helps bring awareness of animal overpopulation to the Northern Colorado community and raise funds to support animal welfare efforts. Tickets are now available so reserve your spot and join us for an evening of great food and fabulous crafts while raising money for homeless animals. The craft fair is free to attend. 

When: 2 – 6:30 p.m. FREE Craft Fair, 4:30 – 6:30 Spaghetti Dinner

Where: Embassy Suites in Loveland

Senior Animal Care Facts and Tips 

Older animals still have a lot of life and love to share! They are also already well-trained and past the high-energy stage of  a young critter, which means they are a lot less destructive. So why not consider an older pet the next time you want to adopt?

Here are some good things to know about the benefits of senior pets and caring for older animals.

  • A pet is considered senior by the age of 7 years old and larger breed dogs at the age of 6. That means there are no surprises about what they will grow into — what you see is what you get!
  • With an older animal you get be more selective about what you are looking for and choose exactly the attributes you want in terms of size, behavior and personality traits.
  • Senior pets are great companions for senior citizens, very relaxing to spend time with, and super grateful to have a forever home — and it shows.

Some small additional health considerations with older animals…

  • Geriatric pets can have similar problems to humans including cancer, heart disease kidney/urinary tract disease, diabetes and senility. That means it’s important to stay on top of health concerns, and that pets should have semi-annual vet visits that are more in-depth, including dental care and bloodwork. Also watch for changes in behavior as they could indicate the onset of disease.
  • Older pets need food that is easier to digest that have anti-aging nutrients, and also need to be kept mobile and active.





The Scratchin’ Post Cat Boarding “Kitty Spa”

cat playing

The holidays are a bit of fun, stress and family irritation all wrapped into one. There are things to make and places to be, not to mention travel plans that may or may not include pets. While dogs are a bit more complicated in terms of their daily needs and require dedicated care, many people think leaving cats alone for long periods of time is no big deal. But is that really true?

What happens when you have cats with behavior problems, special health needs, or you are going away for more than just a few days? Maybe you are like me and work from home, so your cats are used to someone being home all day, every day. Will you count on a neighbor to swing by and take care of your cats, perhaps hire a pet sitter? Or would boarding your cats be the best option?

After visiting The Scratchin’ Post in Fort Collins a feline boarding facility that caters to exclusively to cats and is located next door to Fort Collins Cat Rescue/Spay Neuter Clinic, I would definitely vote to board my cats. There are so many reasons why.

Here is a good view of the cages. Each has it's own litter box.

Here is a good view of the individual cages. Each has it’s own litter box.

About The Scratchin’ Post and Owner Cat Ballew

Owner Cat Ballew has run The Scratchin’ Post, a state licensed feline boarding facility, for over 10 years. Not only does she love cats and treat each one as if they were her own, but she is fulfilling her life-long dream of running a cat boarding business. Ballew truly understands and appreciates the healing power of the bond between animals and humans, and you can see that demonstrated through the great level of care and detail she has put into her business.

Looks like a real home.

Looks like a real home.

Ballew has set up the interior of The Scratchin’ Post to look just like a living room and you must knock on the front door to come in because cats are often out and about playing, roaming or snoozing. There are private rooms for each cat that can be connected or closed (depending on the need) so family cats can choose to hang out in each other’s cage.

Once I settled in to chat with Ballew she let out some of her kitty guests. They were all so friendly, wanting pets, jumping in my lap and happy to snuggle. Each cat was given personalized attention and it showed.

Kitty on desk

This little guy insisted on hanging out on the desk while I did the interview. So cute!

All the Kitty Spa Inclusions

Aside from spacious accommodations and generous free time, all the cats get lots of entertainment:

  • Operational fish tank with lots of fish to watch
  • Big windows that let in tons of light for sunbathing
  • A cage of live birds to watch
  • Classical music playing in the background
  • Supervised, designated play/social times complete with catnip treats (organic, fresh, grown in-house)
  • Special room featuring “kitty TV” that serves as a social area for owners visiting long-term stay pets
  • Brushing and lots of pets, in addition to certified feline massage
  • Remote video monitoring option to watch your cats

Owners are encouraged to bring in special food, toys and items from home that smell like you or your home environment to help kitties feel at home. The Scratchin’ Post provides high-quality dry food, fresh water, a litter box and food bowls. All cat owners must provide proof of vaccinations in writing to ensure all pets are safe.

“My goal is to provide a good community service, making sure all the cats are safe and happy,” says Ballew. In my opinion, it totally shows.


Located in the center of the playroom, the fish tank is one of the many kitty entertainment features.

I think it's cool the cats get to watch real birds!

I think it’s cool the cats get to watch real birds!

Benefits of a Stand Alone Feline-Only Boarding Facility

One of the biggest benefits of using feline-specific facility is the comfort and quiet. No barking dogs and no vet-like smells (something that can be very stressful to cats). The fees are very reasonable at $14.00 per day per cat and you can also board several cats from one family at a discount.

Ballew said that most cats adjust quickly to the environment. They are let in and out of the cages in groups so there are no “turf” wars, and because they aren’t at home, there’s no “territory” to defend. She does, however keep an eye on “crabby cats” and makes sure they have a time out away from the others to keep things light and playful.

Some of Ballew’s clients have very long-term needs, so the boarding facility is ideal. For people building or buying homes, recovering from surgery or dealing with long-term health complications, knowing that their cats are loved in a home-like environment is just what they need for peace of mind.


These kitties are collected and ready to go home. They are in the waiting area for pick up.

Kitty Day Care Service Bonus

The Scratchin Post also offers kitty day care, which is perfect for folks dealing with home renovations, hosting an event or family gathering. It’s also great for cats who need a bit of socialization when they are young, or spend a lot of time home alone as a single cat. Foster parents also bring in kittens to help improve their socialization skills.

As a consumer, cat owner and former pet sitter, I think The Scratchin’ Post is definitely like a spa treatment for your pet. I think any pet would be happy in this fun space and given more love than they could possibly need.


So what do you think? Have you tried kitty boarding? Did it work for you? Have you used The Scratchin’ Post specifically?

Pet and Animal Events for November 15th – 22nd

senior cat

It’s still Adopt a Senior Pet Month! I’ve been featuring lots of dogs, so I thought I would share an awesome cat this week. How cute is she! Socks is a nine year old Domestic Longhair that loves to hang with people.  You can adopt her at the Larimer Humane Society. Remember, you can donate funds to support a specific pet even if you can’t outright adopt one.

Now to events for the week…

November 15th

Starting today and  lasting through Sunday November 17th,  PetSmart Charities is hosting a National Adoption Weekend at all PetSmart stores.

November 16th

Fort Collins Cat Rescue and Spay/Neuter Clinic is hosting a low-cost vaccine for dogs and cats.

When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: At the spay/neuter clinic. located on 2321 East Mulberry, Unit 9

Cost: Rabies shots $14, all other shots $12

November 17th 

Colorado House Rabbit Society is hosting the Bunny Boutique in Broomfield. Come do your holiday shopping for humans and your bunnies, or check out the sweet treats bake sale.

When: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Where: Call (303) 469-3240  for additional information on the location or check out their website.

November 18th

Join the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program for a unique and entertaining fundraiser at the movies!

When: 6:30 p.m. to meet the educational Ferruginous Hawk, then settle in to check out Jurassic Park on the big screen at 7 p.m.

Where: Lyric Cinema Cafe

Cost: $20 includes a beer or non-alcoholic beverage and all proceeds support the birds.

November 21st 

Poudre Pet and Feed Supply and RedPaw X-series are hosting an educational seminar to help you and your dog get ready for winter!

Iditarod musher Ken Anderson, and Nutritionist/Musher Eric Morris (Founder of RedPaw Dog Food) will provide insight on injury prevention, nutrition, general health, and training tips.  He’s been raising and training sled dogs for 20 years and has lots of great insights. If you are interested in attending stop by any Poudre Pet & Feed Supply location or call any PPFS location and sign up. Seating is limited!

When: 7:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Where: Coloradoan Media, 1300 Riverside Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80524

Cost: Free!

Save the Date!

November 23rd the Fort Collins Cat Rescue and Spay/Neuter Clinic is having an open house for their Loveland Cat Adoption and Resource Center from 12 – 4 p.m.. There will be prize drawings, light refreshments and special adoption fees (adult cats “name your price” and kittens $75, age 8 weeks-4 months old). Call (970) 669-1689 or visit 621 E. Eisenhower Blvd. #16, Loveland, CO 80537.

And don’t forget about…Spay-ghetti and No Balls Dinner and Craft Fair on November 24th! This event is a combined effort between the Fort Collins Cat Rescue and Spay/Neuter ClinicLarimer Humane Society and Animal House Rescue and Grooming.

This family-friendly, annual event helps bring awareness of animal overpopulation to the Northern Colorado community and raise funds to support animal welfare efforts. Tickets are now available so reserve your spot and join us for an evening of great food and fabulous crafts while raising money for homeless animals.

The craft fair is free to attend, and they are still looking for people to donate crafts. Here’s more detail on the event.



Would a Domesticated Fox Make a Good Pet?

Fox in my backyard

Took a picture of this cute fox in my back yard.

I admit it – having a domesticated fox as a pet seems like it would be pretty awesome. Their light, playful demeanor, beautiful fur and manageable size fit some of the key criteria of what I look for in a pet, not to mention they just seem so cuddly and fun. These very surface level qualifications (combined with the sheer novelty of it all) are what shape my desire to add one to my animal family, but would a domesticated fox really make a good pet?

If you are looking for a pet that acts like a dog or cat but looks different, you may find some of those behavior aspects in a domesticated fox. However, don’t forget they are still an inherently unique species, even after making them more “human-friendly”. So if the fox has always intrigued you as a potential household pet, it’s important to understand the domestication process and the real deal about taking good care of them.

How the Domesticated Fox Came to Be

According to an article from Popular Science titled, “Can I Have a Pet Fox?”, domestication efforts of the fox began in 1959, when a Soviet geneticist named Dmitry K. Belyaev began somewhat secretly experimenting with breeding domesticated foxes. More than five decades, thousands of foxes, and one collapse of the Soviet Union later, the program continues at The Institute of Cytology and Genetics at Novosibirsk, Siberia. Belyaev wanted to unlock the secrets of domestication, the links between behavior, breeding and physical traits.”

The article went on to say that the Institute picked fox to experiment with because they are canids, like dogs, so it would be easy to compare them to a domesticated species, yet, they are not particularly closely related to dogs, so there’s enough separation to see how forced domestication effects a new species. The fox they chose to domesticate were also already “lame”, picked up from fur farms in Siberia, so they would be more easily adaptable to connecting with humans.

“Domesticated foxes can only be found at this Siberian facility and will run you over $8,000. You will also need the approval of Kay Fedewa, the exclusive importer of domesticated foxes in the United States. The domesticated foxes from this facility have between 30 and 35 generations of selective breeding in their history and they’re not even close to wild–in fact, they probably wouldn’t survive in the wild.”

Playful fox from Russian National Geographic

Playful fox from Russian National Geographic

What you Need to Know about Owning a Domesticated Fox

Domesticated fox are allowed as pets in some states, but Colorado isn’t one of them. If you are interested in owning one (and are prepared to move) there are some important things to keep in mind:

  • They are crazy curious, very smart and need to be mentally occupied consistently with lots of toys or activities
  • Fox urine is extremely pungent and very difficult to remove from carpet
  • They require an outdoor enclosure with double-chain link fencing and a place to dig (filling the enclosure with sand can help fulfill that instinct)
  • Some fox can be house-trained to use the litter box
  • Fox are not trainable like a domestic dog — but can learn some commands
  • You may be able to leash train them, but it’s difficult
  • It’s critical to find a vet willing to work on a fox — most aren’t cool with it
  • They have a natural musky smell (trust me, I’ve smelled it first hand and it’s strong).
  • Their dietary needs are very complex
  • Fox require the same vaccines as a dog according to The Domestic Fox 

Remember, domestication is a genetic process, not a learned behavioral process. That means you can’t just take a baby fox from the wild and try to make it into your own pet. If you are interested in finding out more about how to get one legally (and don’t live in Colorado) you can check out more details on The Domestic Fox site as well.

It’s Already Been Done, but Should a Fox be Kept as a Pet?

According to a domestic fox owner the answer is no, and here’s why. Rabies.

The author for the blog Mypetfox shared the following:

“There is no proof that the current rabies vaccine works on foxes. Even if you find a vet that will give your fox a rabies shot, if that fox /ever/ bites anybody, the law states that it will have to be euthanized. In fact, all your pet fox has to do is get its saliva on another human and it will have to be put down.”

This echoes the same advice from Bob Nightwalker, a local wild animal rehabber at Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center  in my post called Helping Injured Wildlife. “In Colorado it’s illegal to keep wildlife. The animal will need to be tested for rabies, which requires killing it. So now you have this animal you’ve grown to love that’s going to have to be euthanized.”

Freddy the pet fox

Freddy the pet fox

Diet is another important factor. Nightwalker also mentioned in the previous blog post, “There is no way to know if you are giving them the right nutrition, and the animal may have developmental problems as a result.” In my limited research, domesticated fox require a very specific diet including a mix of high-grade dog food, fish, live mice, eggs, raw chicken and other supplements, especially when they are young — and that’s a lot more complicated than putting some food in bowl and calling it good.

Personally, as much as I love fox, and I really do, I still don’t think it would be fair to have a domesticated one as a pet. Some of the things I truly love about them would be bred out of them in the domestication process, and they just wouldn’t be the same. I would rather continue to enjoy my run-ins and chance encounters with this beautiful, enchanting little critter in the years to come than own a filtered down version of it’s awesomeness.

And if you want to get your pet fox fix, you can always check out Ron the pet fox on YouTube. He’s not domesticated, but super tame and so fun to watch!

So what do you think? Would you still want to have a domesticated fox if it was legal in Colorado?

Photo credit for last photo of Freddy the Fox, Ron Lee