New Mexico's Pet ResourceSUMMER 2002



How much do you know about animals? Test your knowledge with these questions. Answers at bottom.

1. Dogs and cats were first domesticated many thousands of years ago in the Old World - Africa, Asia and Europe. In the Bible, which is mentioned more often, dogs or cats?   ANSWER

2. If your dog or cat participates in allogrooming, what is it doing, and should you worry?   ANSWER

3. Before the arrival of the Europeans into New Mexico in the sixteenth century, the Pueblo Indians here had two domesticated animals. What were they?   ANSWER

4. How old was the oldest domestic cat ever to have a litter: 18, 22, 25, or 30-years old?   ANSWER

5. All domestic cats normally have the same number of whisker hairs. How many whiskers does your cat have: 8, 12, 16, 24, 36?   ANSWER

6. Why are cats of three colors, calicos and tortiseshells, always female? Or are they?   ANSWER

7. Is there any reason to feed your dog a chocolate bar now and then?   ANSWER

8. What is the most common serious medical problem for dogs in New Mexico? Rabies, cancer, heartworms, bad hips, or bad breath?   ANSWER

9. You are hiking along a narrow hillside trail and you see a horseback rider coming toward you on the same trail. What is the proper thing for you do?   ANSWER

10. In what breed of horse can you typically see the whites of the eyes?   ANSWER

11. After what animal are the Canary Islands named? (Trick question!)   ANSWER

12. What reptile almost became the national symbol of the United States? (Hint: "Don't Tread On Me.")   ANSWER

13. Can bullsnakes and rattlesnakes coexist together in the same plot of land?   ANSWER

14. How can you use the number of rattle segments to determine the age of a rattlesnake?   ANSWER

15. All animals need to nap from time to time. But how do fish sleep?   ANSWER


1. There were both dog and cat deities in Pharaonic Egypt where the Old Testament Israelites spent many years in exile. Dogs are mentioned 14 times in the Bible, but the cat is the only domestic animal that is never mentioned, not even once.   BACK

2. Allogrooming is the term used to describe one animal grooming (licking the fur of) another. This is normal behavior and is nothing to worry about so long as this behavior doesn't occur all the time. Excessive allogrooming may indicate allergies or behavioral problems.   BACK

3. Domestic dogs probably came to the New World when the first people, the ancestors of today's Native American Indians, arrived here over 10,000 years ago. They were very important as the alarm system for the village, and sometimes were used in hunting and for carrying loads (the travois was widely used by nomadic Indians). The other pre-European domesticated animal was the turkey, with two species native to New Mexico. The turkey provided food as well as feathers to make warm blankets.   BACK

4. The average cat normally lives to about 16 years of age. A thirty-year old cat named Kitty has been documented to have successfully produced a litter. Kitty's total offspring over her long lifetime was 218 kittens. Kitty is the textbook example of the problem of uncontrolled pet breeding. Imagine if every female cat in the world produced 218 kittens!   BACK

5. Twenty-four whiskers. Whiskers are a cat's curb feelers, enabling her to feel her way in small, dark spaces. Whatever happened to automobile curb feelers, anyway?   BACK

6. True tricolor cats are almost always female. It has to do with their genes. Unlike the genes that determine black and white colors in cats, which are carried on other chromosomes, the gene that determines the third color (always orange or ginger) is carried ONLY on the X chromosome. In order to have all three colors appear in the fur, the cat MUST have one dominant orange gene AND one recessive orange gene. If all three colors are to show, no other combination of genes will work. Normal male cats have one X chromosome and one Y chromosome, XY, and therefore can never have more than one gene for the color orange. Male cats may be of any solid color, including orange, or a combination of any two colors. Female cats have two X chromosomes, XX, and therefore may have the both a dominant and a recessive orange gene, and may show three colors.   BACK

7. The theobromine in chocolate overstimulates the cardiac and nervous systems of dogs. The problem can be more serious in smaller dogs and puppies, but for all dogs chocolate is poison. It can be lethal. Never, ever feed your dog any chocolate.   BACK

8. Far and away the most common serious medical problem for domestic dogs in New Mexico and around the world is hip dysplasia, or malformed hip joints. This can lead to extremely painful and even crippling disabilities. Rabies, cancer and heartworm are all life threatening, but fortunately not common. Rabies and heartworm are easily preventable. If you picked dog breath as the most serious medical problem, then perhaps you should consider a tropical fish as your next pet companion.   BACK

9. Because the person on foot is much more agile and manuverable than the larger horse and rider coming along the same trail, the person on foot should quietly move off the trail, to the downhill side, and allow the horse and rider to pass. In the natural world horses are prey animals. If the unfamiliar creature (you) moves uphill of the horse he will see you as a predator, and he may spook. Always move off the trail to the lower, downhill side of the horse.   BACK

10. The Appaloosa. One of the unique characteristics of the breed is that their eyes are large with an obvious sclera, the white membrane surrounding the eye.   BACK

11. The Canary Islands were not named for a bird called a canary. They were named after a breed of large dogs found on the islands. The Latin word for dog is canis, as in canine, and the full Latin name of the islands was Canariae insulae--"Island of Dogs." The yellow canary songbird was named after these dog islands where it, too, originated. Wild canaries are usually green in color and survive today on the island of Madeira. Does this mean we have actually given a bird the name of "dog?"   BACK

12. Though it was a serious contender (along with Ben Franklin's favorite, the turkey), the "Don't Tread On Me" Timber Rattler of 1775 never quite made it as our national symbol. Our Founding Fathers chose instead the magnificent Bald Eagle. For an interesting comparison of the eagle-rattler choice for symbols, look closely at the symbol on the national flag of Mexico, our neighbor to the south, and also look closely at the seal of the state of New Mexico.   BACK

13. Bullsnakes and rattlesnakes can be found living close to each other, and may even hibernate together, but as both depend upon the same food supply--mostly rodents and birds-- their share of the available prey and chances for survival are better if they don't have to compete. So if a lot of bullsnakes are present in an area they will deplete the available prey, and that area will be less attractive to new arrivals, whether rattlers or other bullsnakes. Having a few bullsnakes around your yard makes it less attractive to rattlesnakes, but it doesn't guarantee there won't be any.   BACK

14. You really cannot rely on the number of rattle segments to tell you the age of a rattlesnake. Rattlesnakes shed their skin 2 to 4 times in a year, gaining a new rattle segment each time, but at irregular times the older rattles also break off. The size of the snake is a better indicator of age than the number of rattles. Not surprisingly, little snakes are young and big ones are old.   BACK

15. V-e-r-y carefully. Actually, most fish donít. They are always in motion but have rest periods of reduced activity.   BACK  


THE KINGDOM OF THE HORSE, Simon & Schuster's Guide to Horses and Ponies
WHY DO CATS SULK?, Arline Bleecker, Globe Communications
WHY CATS DO THAT, Karen Anderson, Willow Creek Press
Rattlesnake Museum, Albuquerque (505) 242-6569

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