Those who have any doubts that reptiles are the hot pets of the '90s need look no further than bookstores, where the second issue of Reptiles magazine has just landed.
Reptiles is the latest in the Fancy Publications family of animal magazines, which already includes Aquarium Fish, Bird Talk, Cat Fancy, Dog Fancy, Horse Illustrated and Wild Bird, as well as the trade publication, Pet Product News.
Responsible care is the motto of these magazines, and they deliver on the promise every month with a good mix of stories designed to offer something to both novices and experienced animal-handlers.
The Fancy Publications formula is evident in Reptiles, with sharp pictures and information-packed articles combining in a super package. The editors have landed one of the nation's top reptile experts, veterinarian Douglas Mader, for their question-and-answer column, and have sought out top-notch experts as well.
If you've been thinking about adding a snake, iguana, frog or turtle to your home, you couldn't do better than to subscribe to this high-quality publication.
Pet note: One of the best things you can do to get a puppy off to the right start is to make sure you don't take him from his litter too soon -- no younger than 7 weeks.
Puppies go through specific stages of development in the first weeks of their lives, and the way they are handled during that time has a lot to do with the dog they will become.
They need to be with their mothers to learn the patterns of acceptable behavior and discipline that will serve them the rest of their lives. They need to spend time with their littermates to understand how to live in a group, and how to get along with other dogs. And they need to be socialized -- around people, dogs, noises and strange objects -- so that they can learn to adapt to life in the modern world.
These lessons are best learned at the breeder's, and a careful and responsible breeder knows how to help a puppy learn them -- especially at the critical stages of development between 3 and 7 weeks.
At 3 weeks, a puppy is just coming into his own as an individual. He's starting to eat food, and his hearing has developed. He is learning to act like a dog -- playing at growling, baring his teeth, wagging his tail and wrestling with other puppies.
The period from 5 to 7 weeks is probably the most important one in a dog's life, and should be handled carefully. Puppies need to see new things and hear different noises, and they must be allowed to explore and play. It is at this stage that a good breeder makes sure the puppies are well-socialized, for a puppy who has little experience with people during this critical time may not be that responsive to family members when he's grown.
A proper puppyhood is so important to the development of a perfect pet that it's best to avoid those puppy-sellers who either do not know or do not care about raising puppies right.
Ask a breeder what kind of socialization the puppies have received, and do not buy from a person who doesn't answer satisfactorily.
Ms. Spadafori is a licensed pet trainer in Sacramento, Calif. Questions about pets may be sent to her c/o The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.