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"What's to debate?"

Over the years I have had this cage versus bin debate with many breeders and to date no one ever has been able to convince me that bins and boxes are even a little bit okay for any animal to live in. The biggest rebuttal I receive from other breeders who keep their animals in bins is that " lots of breeders do it". Well, to me common sense needs to prevail and my answer is always the same, "just because a lot of breeders do it does not make it the right thing to do nor does that make it ethical". Whenever I hear that as a reason, I automatically recognize that this is only an excuse and that this is not a breeder that I could wholeheartedly endorse.

There are quite a few problems associated with keeping pets in plastic bins and enclosed boxes or aquariums, which are not equipped with a tank topper.

Pet owners, pet shop owners / employees, veterinarians and other animal caregivers and perhaps most importantly we "breeders" need to accept beforehand that whenever we open our homes and our hearts to any animal that we need to educate ourselves and rely on our own common sense.

Most caring people, myself included who bring animals into our care do so because we appreciate and respect the animal as a living and breathing ‘being’. We value and respect the animal’ s needs and we already understand the basic requirements they need to live but we often overlook their primitive needs that they require to thrive. There is little question that all animals demand adequate nutrition, water, shelter and exercise but sometimes we overlook their other fundamental needs. We know that many small animals including hedgehogs have an acute sense of hearing, a keen sense of smell and most of them have excellent vision. Although a few animals including hedgehogs have, what we consider to be "poor eyesight" we need to realize that none-the less they can still see. They have eyes, ears and a nose for a reason! These senses help them thrive in their environment. To remain healthy, mentally fit and sociably adaptable all animals require and rely upon using all of their senses at all times.

Hearing.... Have you ever witnessed a child, usually a toddler, walking around with a plastic bucket or cardboard box on his or her head tapping it like a drum? It is because of the echo and the muffling sounds that the child hears. It is a game to them and for a short time they have fun with it. When they stop enjoying the sound and it becomes irritating the toddler takes the bucket off his or her head and stops playing. Now, if that were your pet living in a bin, what do you think he is hearing almost every hour of every day. What do you think would happen to a person if that were what they heard for their entire life?

Visual... Okay that is pretty much a no-brainer. When the animal wants to investigate what is going on outside it's den and it is living in a box there is no question that it won't be able to figure out what the heck is going on in the real world. (We humans wonder why so many animals become so anti-social)


Smell... One warm summer eve the wind carried the smell of the ocean and the nice warm breeze flowed right over the top of the box that my pet lives in. My pet didn't get to experience the lovely scent in the air because the breeze flowed right over the top of his bin. When I finished enjoying the nice breeze I went over to visit Pierre in his plastic box. I noticed he made a BOOM BOOM. Thankfully I was there to clean it immediately because with no airflow and no fingers that poor Pierre could use to hold his nose closed, he would have had to suffer until I finally noticed it. (Okay, I can't believe I just typed that but I am sure it is something you won't forget!) Yes, that may have sounded juvenile but it is pretty juvenile not to understand why any living being should be made to live out its life this way. At least in a cage there is airflow!

Temperature…It is harder to monitor and control temperature in an enclosed space. Without a breeze or airflow the air gets trapped and the temperature can fluctuate even in an enclosed box that is only 18 inches tall. Just think about getting in and out of a car on a cold or hot day. Without windows open you will certainly feel the difference in a very short time. That is why when it is so muggy outside we open windows! Let the air, flow!

Humidity… When warm air is trapped and moisture is present it creates humidity. Humidity creates the perfect environment for molds, fungus, yeast, bacteria and viruses to grow and multiply. In most cases it only takes a very short time for this to happen and when these bacteria multiply they can have a devastating affect on your pet’s health. Certain molds, fungus, yeast, bacteria and viruses can also affect the health of humans. Think petri dish! Let the air, flow!

Even though a lot of breeders still promote the use of bins it is not a practice I would endorse. I can not begin to speak on behalf of other breeders or explain why they feel that this is okay, when it is NOT. My guess is that a few breeders started recommending that people spend less in the department store so they could spend more with the breeder. This practice caught on quickly! Some breeders will even go so far to try and instill fear into the buyer by telling them that bins are safer. I can say that in 30 years not once has one of my animals become injured as a direct result of living in a cage.

If you make modifications to a bin simply by removing one or two of the sides and replacing them with wire mesh it will allow better airflow.

If you want to keep small critters such as mice and gerbils in an aquarium equipped with climbing platforms and a tank topper then the animal can choose when to spend his time in the open air.

No animal deserves to be condemned to live for 4 - 5 years in a box! Not even a box turtle!

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