The Cinematic Guide to Animal Husbandry


Of course, everyone loves animals and they are frequently depicted in movies, particularly family films. However, if you’re thinking about getting a pet, don’t use the cinema as your guide. Sometimes you may see a movie in which animals get treated in ways that would be improper in real life, Or else would mean resulting in trips to the vet, arrests in animal abuse, or the sad untimely death of Scruffy. Common examples include feeding an animal something it shouldn’t eat, keeping it in improper conditions, or handling it in a way that would cause it great distress or even damage.  This doesn’t include examples on animal mistreatment shown on purpose. With that I list how to take care of animals, according to the movies.

1. The proper way to take care of goldfish is in a goldfish bowl. (Actually, they don’t live very long in goldfish bowls. You’re better off having it live in an aquarium or an artificial pond like deep water for swimming, lights to bask under, and some form of filtration. Same goes for turtles and other aquatic species.)

2. It’s all right to pick up to pick up an animal by it’s tail. (In regards to most animals, don’t ever do this. Tails are used for balance and aren’t strong enough safely hold an animal’s weight and can cause horrifying damage to its spine. And if it’s a cat or a dog, you might want to run because they hate it. As for lizards, you might not get a hold of it for long since it has a detachable tail. The only exception to this is a mouse but only at the tail’s base.)

3. Pulling a rabbit by the ears or the scruff of its neck won’t bring it any pain. (Oh, yes, it would and may cause the rabbit to squirm or panic. And an animal panicking is never a good thing. Besides, magicians hold up rabbits by the ears because it’s painful.)

4. It’s best to buy two hamsters and have it’s habitat with elaborate chambers so they could exercise and have a buddy. (Of course, there’s the Syrian hamster who’s a loner by nature. Pair two of them of the same sex and one will eventually kill the other. A male-female pair might work but chances are it would lead to the female continuously breeding until she dies of exhaustion. Oh, and this might lead to a “Trouble with Tribbles” meets Lord of the Flies situation as far as offspring are concerned. As with elaborate hamster habitats, you’re better off with a cage since they’re a pain to clean. A single hamster will only choose two or three places for its sleeping place and larder. The rest, it will visit and use as latrines.)

5. Feeding milk to adult mammals won’t bring any harm. (Humans are the only adult mammals capable of digesting milk since it’s the only species to possess a lactose tolerant mutation. Also, this mutation is only restricted to peoples who’ve had domestic cattle longer than recorded history {mostly in Europe and parts of Africa and Asia.} Most mammals lose their ability to digest lactose after weaning and will develop digestive problems if they have too much. With animals like cats, dogs, mice, and rats, it’s best to water it down before giving it to them depending on the breed or species. Yet, it’s not 100% effective. Otherwise they could experience an upset stomach, gas, diarrhea, and vomiting. Also, yogurt, goat’s milk, cheese, and cream are less harmful to cats.)

6. It’s all right to keep a piranha tank without a lid since it won’t jump out of a tank. (When kept as pets, they are notorious for jumping out of the to their deaths. Of course, villains want their enemies to suffer.)

7. Live insects are recommended for iguanas since they’re lizards. Most lizards eat bugs. (Unlike most lizards, iguanas are herbivores so you’re better off giving it leafy greens than insects.)

8. You won’t hurt an animal giving it chocolate. (Don’t ever feed your pet chocolate! This is especially true in dogs and cats {but cats just won’t be interested since they can’t taste sugar}. Humans metabolize theobromine much more quickly and efficiently than most animals. And for most animals, it’s very toxic and potentially fatal, especially dark chocolate. Still, don’t get alarmed if Fido gets a hold of a chocolate chip cookie. It’s the baking bars you have to worry about.)

9. A cat won’t attack you if you hold it from the scruff of its neck. (As long as you support its hind legs at the same time and know what you’re doing. Doing so may upset a cat or even strangle it which may result in it injuring itself or scratches on your face.)

10. Multiple species of fish will survive harmoniously in the same aquarium. (My Uncle Kirk does this but he’s owned fish for years and knows what fish would play well with which. This may be fine with some species, but many don’t thrive well with others. Some are too aggressive to be kept with other species, others don’t have the same tank requirements. Some may be prey for other fish. Many standard-size tanks in movies contain multiple species existing harmoniously that would more likely kill one another in real life. Still, do your research.)

11. Always feed your fish standard fish food once a day. (It’s recommended to feed your fish at least 2-3 small meals daily. Still, there are many pet fish that require a specialized diet especially if their species exist in the wild. You might want to stick to goldfish for they take pellets and don’t require much taking care of {one I brought home from school lived for 4 years.})

12. No harm can come to a pufferfish puffing up since it does this to frighten predators in the wild. (True puffers do this in the wild for scaring predators, but puffing up causes severe stress to the animal and could shorten its lifespan. Also, can seriously injure itself or die doing this.)

13. Since snakes are deaf, it’s okay to be a loud around them. (Snakes can hear just not like most animals do {through their jaws}, and loud noises can cause severe stress in them so heavy metal fans shouldn’t own one.)

14. A frog slipping out a person’s hand will land safely to the ground. (Some frogs can safely land on the ground from a certain distance. However, what you’d most likely hear if drops a frog is a loud SPLAT! followed by an unstoppable cry by a traumatized small child if one’s around. As for the visual, let’s say if you felt like passing out after having to dissect a frog in high school, you don’t want to know.)

15. Always feed your snake live food. (While snakes do swallow their food live in the wild, it’s debatable whether this is humane. However, it’s generally recommended pet snakes should be fed frozen food to the benefit of both animal and owner. Feeding live food is considered dangerous to both snake and owner. On the snake’s, the live prey will still struggle to escape and can cause injury to the animal. For the owners, feeding live food can trigger the snake’s hunting instincts making it more aggressive an more likely to bite. And if the snake is venomous, chances are, you’ll be in the ER and don’t expect the anti-venom to completely restore you, which I talked about in another post. Not to mention, your pet venomous snake can kill you if presented with live food so you should probably stick to frozen there.)

16. A bloated snake is a happy snake. (This is a serious health concern which might require immediate veterinary attention. Feeding a snake too much at one time could rupture its stomach. Snakes can die from overeating. A biweekly frozen rat is plenty.)

17. You can make a carnivorous pet turn vegan or vegetarian. (This can only be pulled off on dogs and only with special supplements and close monitoring. This shouldn’t be tried with a help of a vet. Attempting this obligate carnivores that need proteins found in flesh to survive like cats and ferrets will all ensure the animal’s death by starvation, even if it eats the food. In this case, trying to get an obligate carnivorous pet to go vegan or vegetarian is animal cruelty, which will never be shown on the Sarah MacLachlan ASPCA commercials. Still, if you’re a veggie who thinks meat is murder even if it’s by housepets that are natural predators, just stick to herbivorous pets. Simple as that. At least with them, you don’t have worry about them going vegan.)

18. Tapping aquarium glass won’t hurt the fish. (Oh, yes it can! Don’t ever do this! You can easily make Sparky and Flounder eligible for a flushing sendoff this way. Sound travels faster through water and glass so while a small glass tap may not be much noise to us, it would certainly be like a sonic boom to them.)

19. Allowing a bird to eat out of your mouth won’t hurt it. (Human saliva is extremely toxic to birds. Besides, you might get pecked in return. Also, this is disgusting.)

20. Cats can survive a large dosage of sleeping pills. (This could kill people, let alone a cat.)

21. Always feed your rabbits lettuce an carrots. (A diet consisting only of these two foods could kill rabbits. Not to mention, lettuce contains a substance highly toxic to rabbits which makes feeding the vegetable like giving a person arsenic. You may want to use both in small quantities. They mostly eat hay and grass. Iceberg lettuce is not good for guinea pigs while romaine is fine while it’s considered junk food to tortoises.)

22. Always bait a mouse trap with cheese. (You’re better off baiting a mouse trap with something a mouse normally eats like grains or nuts. Cheese is too soft for them and will only eat it if starving to death. And by then, your grain supplies would already be depleted for a long time. Best to use peanut butter instead. Yet, rats are a different story when it comes to cheese and cats basically adore it.)

23. It’s perfectly fine to let goats eat garbage ranging from paper, tin cans, and other metal. (Goats may chew on a tin can but will not actually eat it. They may eat paper labels though since it’s mostly organic. Still, this was based on a misinterpetation. Anyone who’s worked with goats will tell you this is bullshit. Not to mention, the Army and a lot of landscaping businesses use goats for lawn maintenance.)

24. You can tame most wild animals and keep them as pets. (Well, only if you’ve raised them as babies. And if successful, they will only be docile around people they know. Still, except for people who work with animals, no one should ever try doing this. Those who try to tame wild animals, may end up getting attacked or possibly killed. Also, expensive to raise, takes a lot of time to housebreak, and isn’t really good for the animal. Sure a pet lion may be cool but not worth the effort.)

25. You can keep a stray wolf-dog hybrid as a house pet. (First generation wolfdogs are notoriously unpredictable and aggressive even with feral dogs. I mean there’s a legitimate reason why Balto didn’t have much socialization with dogs and humans in the first place. As a side note, the real Balto was a trained Husky {maybe even a Malamute} so the movie lied to us.)

26. You can treat any animal like a dog. (No you can’t. Horses are especially seen being treated like this in movies being taught to sit, stay, and everything.)

27. You can make friends with animals by feeding them. (Why the hell do I see signs that say Do Not Feed the Animals? I mean they have these signs for a reason! Besides, feeding them may make things worse for you or your family.)

28. Feral dogs can be trusted around small children. (For God’s sake stray dogs should never be around little kids regardless of breed. Unsocialized dogs are quite dangerous, though easier to tame than never domesticated species as long as you know what you’re doing. Remember, “the dingo ate my baby.”)

29. If you see a wild animal in distress, it’s best to help them since they will repay you. (Depends on the circumstance and on the animal. Also, depends on your expertise with animals. If you’re a park ranger, zookeeper, or vet, then be my guest. If you don’t know whether you should, just leave it be. A wounded animal can be just as hostile as a healthy one. If it’s frothing at the mouth, just don’t go there since it may mean rabies. Still, be aware results may vary.)

3o. You can get woodland creatures to be your servants and do your chores. (Sorry, Disney, but wild animals don’t work that way and are more likely to make a mess indoors.)

One response to “The Cinematic Guide to Animal Husbandry

  1. I think I will stick with “Nature” on PBS when it comes to information about our furry friends!
    Next you’ll be telling me that a lion, a meercat and a wart hog can’t be friends!

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