By Dr Rory Cowham – respected vet, best-selling author and star of CBBC’s The Pet Factor.
African Grey Parrots
African greys are not an entry level pet. I often see them in clinic for basic things such as beak trims or nail clips. Not being a bird specialist, I often recommend these owners seek advice from an avian vet. African Greys can learn some human vocabulary and often vocalise a lot with their owners. They need a lot of mental stimulation to stay happy and if you manage this, they can become very affectionate. These guys are quite a commitment though as they can live for up to 60 years!
“Beardies” are very sweet and affectionate pets in the right hands. They have become hugely popular as entry-level reptiles. In general, these guys need a balanced diet, basking areas, correct UV bulbs and a decent sized, temperature-controlled vivarium. If you manage all that, they can be very rewarding and live long and healthy lives. Did you know that Beardies actually contain venom? But don’t worry, it poses no threat to humans!
These snakes a generally docile and make great pets. They don’t grow that large, only about 4-6ft fully grown. These snakes love finding places to hide, so when setting up your vivarium make sure to provide multiple hidey-holes in different parts of the enclosure, making sure they are at different temperatures too. Corn snakes are often brilliant escape artists and we regularly get reports of them breaking out of their viv’s and turning up a few days later in a sock draw!
The thought of a rat as a pet may send some people running away screaming, but they actually make amazing pets. They are one of my favourite rodent species and are probably the most sociable of the lot. They are highly intelligent and can form really strong bonds with their owners. It is because of this sociable nature that it is recommended to house multiple rats together. Something you may not know is that they are also highly sensitive to electromagnetic fields, so we recommend housing them in a room with as few electrical appliances as possible.
They’re super cute, have the softest fur and can live up to 20 years! Chinchillas are really sweet pets and have an amazing array of sounds they make. They can have as many as ten different vocalisations to communicate. Chinchillas are often not recommended as an entry-level pet as they can pack a nasty bite and become unwell if kept inappropriately. Probably not one for young kids.
About the expert
Dr Rory Cowlam, better known as ‘Rory the Vet, is an Amazon best-selling author with his debut book Secret Life of a Vet. Rory is the lead talent of CBBC show ‘The Pet Factor’ and is a respected voice within the veterinary industry with an ever-growing career in broadcast.
A graduate from the Royal Veterinary College in 2015, he has since gone to a full-time career as a member of the Neighbourhood vet practice based in East Dulwich, London. A true believer in giving back Rory is an ambassador for charities such the RSPCA, StreetVet and works closely with The Dog’s Trust.
The Secret Life of a Vet by Rory Cowlam is available at Amazon and all good book stores. To find out more about Rory, follow him @RoryTheVet on Twitter & Instagram.