Can You Die from Touching a Poison Dart Frog?

Can A Dart Frog Kill You?
Yes, a golden dart frog’s poison is strong enough that a single frog can kill 10 men with a single dose; it only takes 2 micrograms, an amount that can fit on a pinhead, to fell a single human adult.

Dendrobatidae frogs, meaning “tree-walker” in Greek, are a family of frogs native to Central and South America.

Genus of this family include: Colostethus, Epipedobates, Phyllobates, and Minyobates steyermarki.

After a revision in 2006, the Dendrobatidae consists of 13 genera and 170 species. The Hyloxalus genus is the largest at 56 species and Minyobates steyermarki is a monotype, meaning that it is the sole member of its genus, known as Minyobates.

Azure dart frog

Why Are They Called “Poison Dart Frogs?”

These animals received their nickname after evidence that the mucous from a handful of frog species, all from the relatively large Phyllobates genus, was used to poison the blowdarts of indigenous people. Most tribes tended to prefer using the curare plant for this purpose.

origin poison dart frog


Beyond the common “poison dart frog,” these animals are also known as poison frogs or dart-poison frogs. Several genera have their own unique nicknames as well: Colostethus frogs are sometimes referred to as “rocket frogs;” Epipedobates frogs are referred to as “phantasmal poison frogs” because of the large number of species that exhibit cryptic coloration (see below); Phyllobates frogs are referred to as “golden poison frogs” for their bright yellow coloration and are the most toxic of all poison dart frogs and Minyobates steyermarki has garnered several nicknames, including “demonic poison(-arrow) frog,” and “Yapacana’s little red frog.”

the most toxic frog golden dart

They exhibit “aposematism” or “color warning.” These animals have extremely bright patterns of coloration to signify their toxicity to predators. Some species exhibit “cryptic coloration,” meaning that they do not actually produce any toxic mucous, but merely survive by signalling the implication of toxicity. Generally, the brighter and more vibrant the coloration, the more toxic the frog is or wants predators to believe it to be.

How Big Are They?

Poison dart frogs range in size from 1.5 cm to 6 cm, depending on the sex and species.

Where Do They Live?

Although poison dart frogs are chiefly found within the tropical rainforests of Central and South America, at least one species was introduced to the United States of America by way of Hawaii. Although they are tree frogs, these animals can generally be found along the ground and in foliage no more than 30 feet off the ground.

Red striped poison dart frog

How Poisonous Are They?

The answer to this question depends on two factors.

Factor #1: Is it a species that actually exhibits poison mucous?

Despite their common name, only three species of poison frog, Phyllobates terribilis, Phyllobates aurotaenia, and Phyllobates bicolor were ever used to coat the tips of darts by indigenous peoples. The most toxic species, Phyllobates terribilis is capable of producing 20 times as much batrachotoxin and homobatrachoxin as other Dendrobatidids; these two poisons affect the heart and nervous system and their name literally translates as “frog poison” in Greek.

Factor #2: What does the poison frog eat?

Only poison frogs that consume vermin like ants, mites and termites are able to secrete their trademark poison and such creatures tend to focus their diet on such fare. Furthermore, it is believed that most of the insects such frogs consume tend to only make those frogs poisonous because of the insects’ diets of poisonous plants. Poison frogs that rely on cryptic camouflage tend to have a much wider-degree of diet thanks to the freedom of not needing fuel to generate the highly-noxious toxins iconic to the animals. Domesticated poison frogs tend to have a diet that excludes the sort of insects that allow them to secrete toxic mucous.

How Dangerous Are They Compared to Other Poisonous/Venomous Animals?

Unless you are planning a trip into the tropical jungles of Central or South America, you have relatively little to fear from poison dart frogs. Even upon encountering a legitimately poisonous poison dart frog, you are perfectly fine unless you come into physical contact with it. Because their poisonous mucous works entering the body through the skin, these deadly animals can be handled with gloves. Lastly, poison dart frogs are passive threats; their poison is on their skin, rather than on a natural weapon like a snake’s fangs or a scorpion’s tail.

poison arrow frog

In the grand scale of poisonous and venomous animals, the golden dart frog (Phyllobates terribilis), the most toxic among its Family, would be placed right between the cone snail’s conotoxin, which there is no cure for, and the box jellyfish’s nematocysts, which affects the heart, nervous system and even the skin. A golden dart frog’s poison is strong enough that a single frog can kill 10 men with a single dose; it only takes 2 micrograms, an amount that can fit on a pinhead, to fell a single human adult. While the cone snail and box jellyfish are relegated to just the ocean, the golden dart frog’s habitat continues to shrink due to urban development. When assessing the poison of most other species, the overall effect is an incredibly unpleasant taste when a predator’s attempts to eat it.

venomous vs poisonous

Beyond batrachotoxin and homobatrachoxin, the poison secreted by these frogs can include:

  • Allopumiliotoxin 267A, a poison that affects the heart
  • Epibatidine, which is derived from Epipedobates anthonyi, informally known as Anthony’s poison arrow frog. While research went into medicinal uses like a painkiller, the unfortunate necessity to use nearly as much of the poison as a normal fatal dose ended such research.
  • Histrionicotoxins, named after the Oophaga histrionica of Columbia, are a relatively low-power poison that can be recovered from in a few hours. The chief effect of these poisons is damage to the nervous system.
  • Pumiliotoxin 251D, which affects the heart and nerves, leading to cardiac arrest, convulsions, hyperactivity, and even death, especially in arthropods.

Further Reading

How Much Work Is It to Own a Saltwater Fish Tank?

When you were a kid, your family probably had a bowl with a couple goldfish swimming around. If you were really lucky, you had a freshwater aquarium containing such popular fish as guppies, tetras or even a gorgeous betta.

Now that you’re grown, you’re ready to take an additional step and upgrade to a saltwater fish tank. Before you “get your feet wet” in this new venture, however, you should consider some of the differences between the types to make sure a saltwater aquarium is right for you. Here are some of those differences:

Clownfish in fish tank

Cost of Setting Up

Generally, the initial cost to set up a saltwater tank is higher than for a freshwater aquarium. First, you must decide what kind of tank you need. The three main types of saltwater tanks, from lowest-priced to highest, are: (1) fish only, (2) fish only with live rock and (3) reef.

When you compare the cost to set up freshwater and saltwater tanks, the actual tank itself runs about the same, provided both hold an equal number of gallons. In order to maintain a healthy environment for your saltwater animals and plants, you’ll need a tank that holds a minimum of 50 gallons. The cost of aquarium lights is also about the same. A quarantine tank for new fish likewise costs about the same for fresh and saltwater aquariums.

The cost of the substrate on the bottom of tank will vary, as you need gravel for a freshwater tank and sand for the saltwater aquarium. You can count on sand costing about 2 1/2 times more than gravel.

The basic test kit for a freshwater tank tests pH, ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. In addition to these tests, a saltwater test kit should include tests for calcium and alkalinity. Thus, you can expect a saltwater test kit to cost around $20 more than that for freshwater.

The most expensive and time-consuming tank setup is the reef tank. Reef tanks require a more complicated lighting system, as corals need a food supply that highly depends on photosynthesis. The reef tank lighting might actually turn out to cost 5 times more than that for freshwater or regular saltwater tanks. In addition, if your tank includes anemones and certain types of corals, you might need to invest in a reverse osmosis water filter system. Considering all the extras needed for a reef tank, you can expect the initial cost of setup to run around twice that of a regular saltwater tank.

Cost of Animals

As a rule, saltwater fish are more expensive than freshwater species. Such saltwater invertebrates as starfish, shrimp, clams, snails, crabs and urchins tend to be pricey, especially if you’re not located near the ocean and need to pay high shipping and handling costs to have them delivered to your door.

Related Reading:


To be sure, maintaining a saltwater tank is more time consuming than taking care of a freshwater aquarium. All aquariums require periodic partial water changing. If you have a freshwater tank, you can usually get by with removing around 10 percent of the water by using an aquarium vacuum and just refilling with filtered or chlorine-free tap water. For a saltwater tank, however, you need to separately mix the salt and water in another container, such as a bucket or large tank, several days in advance of changing.

Although not essential, a protein skimmer can be extremely beneficial in a saltwater tank system. A step above a mechanical filter, a protein skimmer works on the same principle as ocean waves that crash and deposit dirty particles in sea foam on the shore. A collection cup on the skimmer removes harmful substrates contained in bubbles.

Yellow Tang

Special Biological Needs

Not essential but highly recommended for a saltwater tank is live rock. Broken off as pieces of a coral reef, live rock is so named because living organisms, such as algae, bacteria, marine worms and small crustaceans, make their homes on marine coral reef structures.

Live rock serves as an important biological filter in the tank. This type of filtration allows good bacteria to grow and convert ammonia that results from uneaten food and fish waste first into nitrites and then into nitrates. Because of its porous nature, live rock provides living and hiding spaces for saltwater animals. Some creatures even use it for food.

Live rock also contributes to the aesthetics of a saltwater aquarium, as it adds to the natural appearance of the tank and can be a home for beautifully-colored algae.

Most freshwater fish available for sale have been raised on fish farms for several generations and are used to eating man-made food or fish flakes. Because most species of saltwater fish are caught in the wild, they might need to be slowly acclimated to an aquarium diet over the course of several weeks or even months.

Are Hedgehogs Related to Porcupines?

Hedgehogs and porcupines, though often confused, are very different creatures. Apart from their enthusiasm for acupuncture, they are entirely different species who have merely developed similar reactions to physical threats over the years.

What is a hedgehog?

hedgehogs are not related to porcupines

A hedgehog is a small carnivorous mammal, that can measure between six inches to one foot in length. Their most striking visual feature is certainly the hard, sharpened spikes, also called spines, on their backs. These are a type of defense mechanism used to deter predators. If a hedgehog feels threatened, they tuck themselves into a small ball, covering their vulnerable body parts and exposing their sharp, spiky exterior. Because they are nocturnal, they also are known to sleep in this defensive position as well. There is a lot more to hedgehogs besides their spikes, though.

Their name comes from an appropriation of their foraging behavior, which early peoples found similar to the behavior of foraging hogs. They make similar grunting noises while rustling through hedges for the small bugs, rodents and occasional amphibians that comprise their diet. Hedgehogs utilize their great sense of smell to compensate for their poor vision.

Occasionally found in gardens and increasingly kept as pets, hedgehogs are known to keep largely to themselves in the wild. They are solitary animals, born in litters of about a dozen, and only remaining in their nest for about two months prior to embarking out into the world.

What is a porcupine?

porcupines are not hedgehogs

Porcupines are mammals, that can be two to three feet in length, not including their tail, which can measure just under a foot in length. The size can roughly be compared to that of a domestic house cat, but that is about where the similarities end. A porcupine’s hair is soft, but it’s back is covered by a thick layer of needle-like quills. The quills vary in length with the species, but can be up to twelve inches in length. They begin as hairs grown within the first few days of birth, but quickly harden to form their primary defense system. The porcupine can perk up, and even eject the quills at attackers when it feels threatened.

North and South American porcupines largely live on branches and eat small twigs and tree bark. They have tails similar to possums that can wrap around branches for better climbing grip. Eurasian and African varieties can inhabit a large variety of environments from wooded forests to deserts and typically have shorter, less specialized tails. No matter where they are found, porcupines have a feisty nature to contrast their herbivore lifestyle.

Related Reading:

How are They Similar?

The obvious comparison between hedgehogs and porcupines is their spines. The backs of both mammals are covered in sharp points and used for their protection. Another similarity can be found in looking at the Latin root of the name porcupine, which translates to “quill pig,” meaning both animals have a historic comparison to swine. Like the male and female versions of swine, the male and female gendered porcupines and hedgehogs are called boars and sows respectively. Hedgehogs and porcupines each make vocalizations comparable to pig grunts as well.

type of hedgehog

Other similarities stem from their independent nature. Neither hedgehogs or porcupines are social creatures and spend the large majority of their lives alone. Both can be found in several different climates and geographic locations around the world. Though they consume different diets, both animals find their food by using their great sense of smell to make up from their limited eyesight. Eyesight is not essential for either animal because most varieties of each are nocturnal.

How are They Different?

While it might be tempting to conflate images of the two mammals, they have less in common than most people imagine. There are many important differences between the animals both in appearance and behavior.

Porcupines are much larger than hedgehogs, weighing much more and growing to almost four times the length. For reference, the average weight for a hedgehog is just under two pounds while some species of porcupines weigh easily over thirty-five pounds. Any easy way to visually distinguish between the two species if size cannot be accurately determined, is to look at their noses. Hedgehogs have what could be described as berry, or button noses that extend from a tapered snout and porcupines have large pronounced nostrils similar to that of a large rabbit or small dog. Porcupine noses are typically snubbed and pink, in comparison with a hedgehog’s rounded brown nose. Their feet are very easy to distinguish between, and follow suit with the rest of their nature. Hedgehog paws are petite with short ineffectual nails. Porcupine feet are wider with long, strong claws that are better for climbing and stripping bark.

Porcupine Species

In terms of behavior, hedgehogs and porcupines have different diets, quill types, and many other attributes. Eating only plant-based natural material, porcupines are vegetarians. In contrast, hedgehogs typically leave vegetation alone and rather eat the small insects and snails that bother plants, making them the perfect tiny guardians little guardians. This, paired with their small size and mild-mannered demeanor, make hedgehogs a relatively popular house pet. Porcupines, however, would make terrible pets because they are too large and much more aggressive.

Their quills can become dislodged when they are attacked, but hedgehog quills are much more permanent. Knowing this, porcupines have avoided being the target of many predators over the years while hedgehogs are known to supplement the diets of large rodents and carnivorous birds.

Porcupines do not hibernate, and are found active even in cold climates. Hedgehogs hibernate through most of the winter. That being said, a majority of porcupine species are found in more tropical regions, making their winters less harsh. Hedgehogs are born in large litters, but porcupines are born in litters as small as one sometimes and their period of gestation is several weeks longer.

The animals, though both adorable and important, are not related. That being said, the world is certainly big enough for them both.

Why Do Ducks, Geese, and Other Birds Migrate?

Many species of bird migrate seasonally, usually along a flyway. In many cases, the flyway is defined by natural water barriers such as oceans, rivers, and seas. Bird migration has been going on for a very long time. Many ancient cultures noted this phenomenon and even recorded it. The same patterns continue to date, although the birds now suffer because of the destruction of their stopover sites and wintering habitats.

This phenomenon happens for many reasons. Birds primarily move because of the availability of food, and this is normally influenced by changes in seasons.

Canada Geese Migrating

Which Birds Migrate?

Not all birds migrate. In fact, some sedentary birds can never move more than a kilometer from their birthplace.

That being said, about 40 percent of the world’s bird species migrate regularly. That equals around 4,000 bird species.

Barn Swallow Migration

The best known migrant species are the northern land types such as the swallow and the birds of prey.

These migrate from Europe to Africa during winter. As you would expect, regions such as Canada, Europe, and the USA have higher proportions of migrant birds compared to tropical regions. This is because the birds need to escape winter in these regions. In this season, predator birds such as insect eaters have to migrate in search of food.

Some species of bird migrate to Europe in summer so as to breed. Once the season is over, they move back to their regular homes, along with their offspring.

Birds that migrate to Europe include:

  • cuckoos
  • turtle doves
  • terns
  • hobbies
  • ospreys
  • yellow wagtails

Other seabird species also spend their spring season at the shores of the oceans. One of the species in this category is the gannet.
Certain bird species find food more easily in winter. These migrate to colder regions when the weather gets warmer. Such types include geese, ducks, and other wading birds. For them, winter seasons are milder.
After arriving at their destinations, some bird species will still move in large numbers to other places. This phenomenon is referred to as bird irruption. The event is normally caused by a depletion of the available resources. Such events occur very rarely, and only a few bird species have been noted to irrupt.

They include:

  • Bohemian waxwings
  • Boreal chickadees
  • Purple Finches
  • Common redpolls
  • Northern shrikes
  • Varied thrushes
  • Snowy owls
Bohemian Waxwing Bird Irruption

Related Reading:

Why Do Birds Migrate?

Birds migrate for many reasons. As noted, their primary motivation is the availability of food. For certain species, food is hard to get in winter, meaning they have to find warmer places to stay if they have to survive. On the other hand, some species have to stay in cold places since they will be able to find food easier in this specific weather. Usually, the birds fly back to their original homes after the season.

In some cases, birds will even migrate in large masses once their food reserves in one place are depleted. For example, if they move to a warm place and the population ends up growing too large for the available food, the birds will move to a neighboring place. This phenomenon occurs once in every 2 to 10 years.

Migration can also be simply influenced by the harsh weather. Some birds cannot survive comfortably in extreme winters and as such, have to find more temperate regions.

birds migrating in winter

Changes in day length also influence migration. Breeding birds prefer regions with longer days since they have more time to feed their offspring.

Species such as the shelduck migrate in order to molt. All birds shed their feathers every year. However, birds such as shelducks lose all their feathers and are completely unable to fly till they grow back. For this reason, they migrate to places that are perceived to be safer.

Bird migration is also influenced by changes in the quality of seed crops. Those that eat these crops move as soon as the trees start to give poor products.

How Do Birds Migrate?

Birds generally migrate north and south. Bird watchers have discovered patterns in their migration. One notable migration pattern involves the birds moving northwards to temperate or Arctic summer, mainly for breeding purposes. In the southern hemisphere, the birds fly southwards to temperate regions for the same reason.

Not all bird species migrate north, south, east or, west. Some simply migrate up and down or vertically. For example, in winter, the birds may move to lower areas in search of more tolerable climate and food. One species known to migrate vertically is the snow bunting.

Some birds are referred to as passage migrants. This means they will stop over at a specific place for a few weeks, then carry on with their journey. The birds usually do this because they need to rest and get re-energized.

The migration of birds usually starts in a broad front, and this later develops into a narrower route. These routes are referred to as flyways and are commonly defined by water bodies and other natural barriers. Birds don’t usually fly over large water bodies. Instead, they choose to fly just along the river or ocean. The flyways may also be influenced by wind patterns.

Migration routes and wintering grounds are determined traditionally and, in many species, the knowledge appears to be genetically determined. In species such as the white stork, the eldest member of the flock leads the birds during migration. Younger members of the flock take these opportunities to learn the migration routes. Some bird species have not been around for long enough to have their own learned migration routes. Most of these follow genetically determined routes during migration.

Almost all birds move in flocks and a formation. For example, geese usually fly in a V formation. Flightless birds such as penguins also migrate in flocks, although they swim instead of flying.

Some birds choose to travel in the night, probably as a way of conserving energy and staying safe from predators. These are referred to as nocturnal migrants. To maintain the pattern of the formation and prevent collisions, these birds make use of nocturnal flight calls.

Further Reading:

What Is Equine Assisted Therapy?

Equine assisted therapy is an alternative therapy often employed in the treatment of mental health issues, including addiction and anxiety, as well as physical health disabilities. It covers a variety of treatments and is used by many different types of medical professionals, including psychologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, social workers and more. Equine assisted therapy is not a new concept and it has very ancient roots. As with any alternative therapy, it often raises concerns among professionals who believe it should not take the place of more evidence-based treatments.

equine therapy

What is the history and origins of equine therapy?

Horses have long been used in a therapeutic capacity, and therapy using horses can be traced back to the ancient Greeks. The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates wrote about using horseback riding as a therapy for those with incurable diseases. In the modern age, 17th century medical writers discussed using equine therapy for conditions such as gout, depression and various disorders of the nervous system. As early as 1946, a poliomyelitis outbreak in Scandinavia was partially treated with equine therapy.

The current form of equine therapy began in the 1960s when countries such as Germany, Switzerland and Austria began to add it as an additional therapy within the confines of regular physical therapy. The treatment was supervised by a physiotherapist and included a horse specifically trained for the task and its handler. The therapist gave directions to the handler in guiding the horse’s movement.

Late in the 1980s, Canadian and American therapists would bring the treatment back to North America after traveling to Germany to learn how it was used and devised. It received formal recognition in the United States in 1992 when the American Hippotherapy Association was conceived.

Riding horses as a therapy received further modern validation when Denmark’s Liz Hartel used the discipline to win Olympic silver in 1952 in dressage, despite being paralyzed from polio. At the same time, Germany was also using it to treat other orthopedic issues like scoliosis. The 1960s saw therapeutic riding centers open throughout North America. With these centers also came the formation of two groups: the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association and the Community Association of Riding for the Disabled. As of 2011, the former group is now known as the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship.

Do therapy horses need any specific training?

Therapy horses receive specific training and have a number of desired traits. Horses selected for training should have three distinct gaits, physical soundness, a gentle temperament, ability to tolerate lots of attention, a calm demeanor and a height somewhere between 14 and 16 hands. Breed usually doesn’t matter, though Quarter Horses in particular often have the desired characteristics of therapy horses. Conversely, a more high-strung breed like the Arabian may not be a good choice, but horse personalities vary widely, even within a specific breed.

Once a good therapy horse candidate is identified, it is exposed to the type of work it will be used in during therapy classes. The horses are taught to walk calmly behind the handler’s shoulder and use body language cues to speed up or slow down. Horses are also exposed to a variety of noises, including music, enthusiastic people and toys. Such situations are introduced slowly to therapy horses in training along with much positive reinforcement. Once the horse has shown itself to react calmly and without fear to a range of stimuli used in therapeutic riding classes, then it can be used in a real therapy situation.

How effective is equine therapy?

The effectiveness of equine therapy is widely debated depending on what it’s used for. Scientific literature often cites inadequate data for the usefulness of equine therapy for people with orthopedic issues, or even mental health issues. Many reviews of the discipline argue that the quality of research for its effectiveness is poor, though they also conclude that the treatment doesn’t do any harm either.

However, mental health issues do not always positively respond exclusively to traditional medical treatments either. Sometimes those in treatment for addiction and other behavioral disorders have a difficult time communicating with other people. Horses have distinct personalities just like people, but they are also silent and non-judging. Research has shown that patients interacting with horses have reduced stress, heart rate and blood pressure. They also show increases in positive feelings like patience, trust and self-esteem. Often these patients have a hard time relating to other people, which can make it difficult for psychotherapy to have much effect. These same people often do not have a problem relating to horses or other animals.
Animal Assisted Therapy Horse

Communicating with horses requires much patience and sensitivity. Horses are known to reflect the moods of people they interact with, which requires patients to go outside of themselves to better respond to the horse.

What other animals are used in therapy?

Horses aren’t the only animals used in this type of therapy. Dogs, cats, birds and even reptiles can be used in a therapeutic environment. Dogs are still the most popular animal used in a therapy situation. Dogs are natural companion animals and many breeds take well to this type of training. Both large and small breeds of dogs may be used as therapy animals.

Cats are probably the second most commonly used animal, but do not have the range of uses like dogs do. Cats may be found in nursing homes especially as they can wander about freely and lay with patients. One recent example of a therapy cat is with Thula the Maine Coon cat who helped a six-year old girl with severe autism become less withdrawn and more social.

Bird are fairly common as well, and especially parrots. Not only can parrots be taught to speak, but they are known for showing high levels of empathy. Smaller animals like reptiles, hamsters and rabbits can be used to improve concentration, attention and motor skills. Taking care of any kind of animal requires a certain amount of focus and affection.

Do Dogs Really Only See in Black and White?

Is it a myth?

Yes, it is a myth that dogs see only in black and white, but they don’t have quite the color vision of human beings. A dog relies on its sense of smell to give it the most information about the world. When a person takes their dog for a walk and the dog sniffs at eveyrthing, it is getting about as much information as a human would from reading the morning paper. A dog’s sense of smell must be as astonishing to humans as human vision would be astonishing to a dog.

Still, a dog’s eyes are very much like a human’s. It is a sphere made up of a cornea, vitreous chamber, lens, pupil and a retina at the very back of the eye. The retina is filled with structures called rods and cones. Cones allow the dog to see colors and bright light while rods allow the dog to see in low light.

Since humans and dogs are both predators and work in groups, their eyes are positioned in the front of the head, but some dog’s eyes are a bit more widespread. This gives them a wider field of vision as well as good depth perception. This helps the dog focus on potential prey and helps it see where the pack/tribe members are.

Dogs can see in the dark three times as well as a human because they have more rods than cones in their retinas.

They also have large pupils and a membrane called a tapetum lucidum beneath their retina, which enhances their ability to see in low light. Cats also have a tapetum lucidum, which we shall see. This membrane is why the eyes of both cats and dogs glow in the dark.

What colors do dogs see in?

Because dogs have more rods that cones in their retinas, they don’t see colors that well. They also have only two types of cones where humans have three. Dogs can probably see shades of blue, greens and yellows, but what humans experience as reds and oranges may elude them.

How do dogs see compared to people?

The three types of cones that humans have are sensitive to blue, red and green, and the two cones in dogs are sensitive to blue and a color between green and red, whatever it is. Dogs can’t focus as well on close items as human beings and would be considered quite nearsighted if they were human. Most dogs have about 20/75 vision, which is fairly bad! They don’t discriminate between shades of colors well either. A forest full of beautiful autumnal trees is a blurry, dull light green to a dog.

However, dogs have an advantage when it comes to motion detection. This is because of their better night vision and their ability to sense even the smallest prey moving in the duff. A drawback of their large pupils is that an image is sharp only in the center of the dog’s field of vision while everything to the side is fuzzy. This is an acceptable situation when a dog is running down a prey animal or a ball. Dogs can also see much farther than humans, especially if the object is moving. In one test, dogs were able to see a moving figure a half a mile away, and a stationery figure a little over a third of a mile away. Dogs are also better able to see flickering lights. When a person sits down to watch TV with their pooch or sneaks them into a movie theater the dog sees the film frame by very fast frame, while human eyes are tricked into thinking the film is one continuous experience. This flicker fusion frequency, as it is called, is another thing that helps the dog find small prey at night.

How do dogs see compared to cats?

The dog and cat eye are comparable in that they both have a nictitating membrane and a tapetum lucidum. The nictitating membrane is a transparent eyelid that keeps the animal’s eye clear as it hunts at night. It is also called the haw and allows the animal to keep its eyes open while it is hunting. Most dog owners don’t notice this third eyelid until the dog gets an infection called cherry eye. Cats and dogs also experience the same limited range of colors.

Though they have some things in common, dogs and cat vision is somewhat different. Cat’s can’t see as far away as dogs, but they are able to focus on close objects in the way the dog can’t, and their vision overall is much sharper. The cat’s night vision is much better than a dog’s, which is much better than a human’s. When exposed to bright light, the house cat’s pupils furl up into slits, a phenomenon not seen in dogs or humans. This not only protects the cat’s retinas but improves its depth perception.

Dog eyes also have a fovea, which is a pit in the center of retina that is full of cones. Instead of a fovea, a cat has a structure called a visual streak, which isn’t a pit or a point but a streak that is found across their retina. This makes them better able to detect movement in their peripheral vision.

But no one should feel sorry for cats and dogs because their vision isn’t as color-filled or sharp as a human’s. Their other senses, such as touch, taste and especially smell are much more acute than human’s, and tell them everything they need to know about the world.

Why Do Cats Love Catnip?

Catnip is the abbreviated name for Nepeta cataria, a perennial herb of the mint family originally from Europe and Asia. Interestingly enough, the Latin-derived word, cataria, is translated as “of a cat.” However, it wasn’t always a feline treat — its leaves were once used to brew tea for treating an upset stomach. It is still used today, but more for animals — particularly cats — instead of humans. The plant can grow up to three feet high, and it is characterized by soft leaves, small white flowers with purple flecks, and a poignant lemony fragrance.
High on Catnip

Dried, Fresh, or Sprays

This powerful herb has been modified into a wide variety of forms. You can buy catnip dry or fresh, and you can also buy catnip-infused toys, balls, bubbles, and spritz bottles. Dried catnip is one of the most commonly used versions of this cat treat since it has a longer lifespan. However, fresh catnip is also a trendy go-to product since the plant itself can be grown from home or bought in the store. Fresh catnip is also the most surefire way to see if your feline is sensitive to the herb. Catnip sprays and other unique products generally have less of an effect than dried or fresh forms, the substance of which is easily released into the environment and even more easily identified by the scrupulous scent-tracking abilities of cats.

Contains a Special Chemical

Of course, the big question is this: Why are cats so obsessed with this specific herb? It’s somewhat relieving to know that the source of this fascination is rooted in the nature of the plant itself and not the byproduct of a commercialized formula or dangerous chemical. This strange fascination is nothing new. After all, it is practically implied in the plant’s Latin name. It all boils down to chemistry. The oil within the stems and leaves of the Nepeta cataria plant contains a special chemical called nepetalactone. As it turns out, this chemical has some pretty powerful effects on cats, and it can act as either an aggressive stimulant or a soothing balm. When the cat sniffs the plant (in whatever form it is presented, but usually the leaf itself), a ten-minute period of feline bliss ensues — not unlike the “high” a person experiences in the presence of certain drugs or other concentrated substances.

Further Reading

A Different Experience

However, the reaction often varies. Some cats will experience soothing relaxation while others will be rolling on the floor or picking up a spritely game of incessant licking and nibbling. Upon the termination of this brief period of intense pleasure, the cat will not be able to experience the sensation again until two hours have lapsed.

Use in Moderation

The second question that might come to mind is whether this catnip stuff is safe. Given its unusual and often volatile influence, it’s only natural to be a little concerned and wonder if it isn’t a form of slow poison. First of all, to allay your worries, catnip is complexly non-toxic to cats. On the flipside, this herb can have a therapeutic effect on itchy kitty skin and, of course, it can greatly alleviate stress and anxiety as well. However, like most things, moderation should be practiced when exposing cats to this powerful herb. If the cat is exposed to catnip on a daily basis, for example, it may become desensitized to it.

Are There Other Herbs Cats Love?

Now, you may be wondering if there are other herbs that are attractive to cats in this way. After all, there is a chance that some cats will not have any kind of reaction to this one plant. Fortunately, there are other options. Some cats may have the catnip reaction described above in the presence of other mint herbs, honeysuckle, thyme, and the valerian herb. However, beware that cat thyme carries with it a pungent and rather unpleasant odor, and the plant itself takes a while to grow. But it may be well worth this little bit of stench and time since this plant is known to have a profound effect of peaceful contentment on felines. For unusually feisty or rambunctious kitties, this could be a magic bullet.

The valerian herb can have just the opposite effect. This herb is known for its strong sleep-inducing effect on humans, but just the opposite is achieved on our furry pets. This herb can propel the cat into vigorous exercise, providing an unlikely motivation method for lazy, chubby kitties. Not unlike a diet plan that includes yummy foods, cats often crave this stuff, so it’s not too bad for a catnip alternative — or a cunning way to get your pet off the couch.

As you have probably noticed, there are many unique herbs and plants that can have a vast array of effects on cats. Although catnip is often unrivaled in its poignant scent and powerful feline influence, there are many other alternatives that your cat (and you) will love.

Why You Should Avoid Purchasing a Dog from a Puppy Mill

Puppy mills are large operations that focus primarily on breeding dogs without much attention being placed on the well-being of the dogs in question. There are many reasons as to why you should avoid purchasing a dog from a puppy mill and zero advantages towards doing so. Due to the breeding of these dogs without any regard to their health, these puppy mills often cause the production of breeds that have hereditary defects that go unchecked, which is one of the many reasons that you should consider adopting or purchasing a dog from a more reputable option.
cute english bulldog puppy in the grass

There are Dogs Shelters and Rescues

One of the primary reasons that you should avoid purchasing a dog from a puppy mill is that there are already too many dogs that you can find at dog shelters and via rescue groups that are treated humanely and will provide you with confidence that you’re adopting a dog that’s in good health and needs an owner. Purebred dogs can be found in these shelters and rescue centers, allowing you to find exactly what you’re searching for without needing to resort to a puppy mill.

You Might Get a Sick Puppy

When you wish to purchase or adopt a dog, you’re obviously going to be looking for one that’s healthy or at least has received adequate vet care. In most puppy mills, vet care is seen as an afterthought due to the rapidity at which these mills try to breed the animals that they bring in without putting much thought on actually caring for these dogs. Because of the lack of vet care that these dogs receive, you have a high potential to get a sick puppy, especially if the puppy mill has been in existence for a lengthy period of time.

The longer that a single puppy mill is breeding dogs, the more likely it is that future generations of puppies bred in these mills suffer from certain hereditary or congenital conditions. The reason that this occurs is because the majority of mill owners do not attempt to identify if some of their dogs are sick, which means that sick dogs will continue to breed with other dogs, heightening the chances that the puppy you obtain from one of these mills has some kind of disease.

Some of the more common hereditary conditions that these puppies may suffer from include:

  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Anemia
  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma
  • Disorders within the musculoskeletal system

Due to the lack of vet care provided to these dpgs, there’s also a chance that the one you purchase from a puppy mill has some form of disease. These diseases can include everything from infections in the upper respiratory system, pneumonia, ticks, fleas, diarrhea, and mange. When you adopt or purchase a puppy from a rescue group or shelter, it’s highly unlikely that they will have any type of disease or disorder, allowing you to avoid the many issues and expenses that can occur when the puppy is already sick.

Cruel Living Conditions

Along with the lack of vet care provided to the dogs kept at puppy mills, the living conditions in these mills are typically awful and can be very cruel to the dogs that are made to live and breed there. Although a small number of puppy mills are inspected and have generally decent living conditions, the majority do not. Dogs are usually kept in very crowded conditions alongside other dogs at the mill. These conditions are dirty and unsanitary, while the dogs kept inside these mills do not receive any kind of treats or toys.

Most dogs will not be provided with enough food and water and usually go without standard grooming techniques or even exercise. When a dog is placed into a puppy mill, they are typically kept in a steel cage, sometimes with other dogs. These cages are often dangerous for dogs as the rough flooring can cause the development of injuries in the legs and paws of the dog. The dogs bred at puppy mills are also kept from socializing in a normal manner, which means that they can have behavioral issues once they have been purchased and taken to a home.

Further Reading:

Breeding Females Treated Poorly

One of the more horrifying aspects of puppy mills is that breeding females are almost always treated very poorly, wherein they are bred as often as possible. Since the majority of puppy mills are focused on boosting their profits, this means that breeding females are given hardly any time to recover before being bred again. When these female dogs no longer have the strength necessary to continue breeding, they are usually killed. In many cases, records aren’t kept, which means that the owners of the puppy mill have no idea how many times that a female dog has produced litters.

Are There Reputable Breeders?

If you feel as though you simply must go through a breeder in order to obtain a specific breed of dog, it’s important that you at least purchase a dog at a reputable breeder. If you’ve never gone through this process before, it may seem difficult to know where to start when trying to find a breeder that treats their dogs well. First of all, never purchase a dog online, as the majority come from a puppy mill. You want to see where the dog comes from, which should clue you in to how the dog has been treated.

Breeders who are responsible will never sell a dog to someone that they have never met in person, as they aim to make sure that the dog is being provided with a home that will take care of them. Also make sure to ask to see the dog’s mother to make sure that they are healthy and are being treated well. Don’t hesitate to ask the breeder questions, as a readiness to answer these questions indicates that the breeder is reputable. A great place to find reputable breeders is at dog shows.

How Do You Crate Train a Puppy?

Crate training relies on your puppy’s natural instinct as a den animal. It is a safe place for them to escape and sleep. The caution with crate training a puppy is that they shouldn’t be left in it for too long. A puppy can only hold their bladder for so long before an accident is inevitable. The main purpose behind crate training is for housebreaking your puppy. Meaning that you want to train them to not relieve themselves in the house or destroy your home while you are gone. A crate will not solve all of your puppy problems. Use it in conjunction with other training methods. Here are the steps to crate train your puppy.
Pound Puppy
  1. Select a crate that is of the correct size for your puppy. Your puppy should be able to stand up and turn around inside the crate. You may want to purchase a crate that will accommodate the size that your puppy will be as an adult. Many people choose to purchase a smaller crate in the beginning and then upgrade to a larger one later on. There are different types of crates available. Determine if you are planning on using the crate long-term or just for training. This will dictate the type of crate that you purchase.

  1. Introduce your puppy to the crate in a place where you spend a lot of time. Put comfortable bedding material inside the crate. You want to create a welcoming environment that your puppy can explore. Either remove the door or secure it in the open position. If your puppy if hesitant to enter the crate, try putting a treat inside or their favorite toy. Be positive when encouraging your puppy into the crate. Don’t force your puppy into the crate. You want your puppy to associate the crate with good things. Allow your puppy to go in and out as they choose. The point of this exercise is to familiarize your puppy with their new den.
  1. Serve your puppy their meals in the crate. This allows them to associate the crate with a place of safety and somewhere that they want to spend some time. Leave the door open in the beginning. As your puppy becomes more comfortable with the crate, try closing the door. Once they have finished eating, allow them to come out. With each meal that they have in the crate, leave the door closed for a few minutes longer. If your puppy starts to whine, don’t open the door immediately. Train them that they have to stop whining to be let out. If you let them out every time that they whine, you are teaching your puppy that whining is the key to the door being opened.

Further Reading:

  1. Once your puppy is comfortable with the crate, try putting them in it when it is not meal time. Teach them the command to go to their kennel or even their bed. Give them a treat when they willing enter the crate. Give them excessive praise as you close the door. Sit near the crate for about ten minutes without saying anything. Your puppy may whine in the beginning. Once they have calmed down, leave the room. You only want to be gone for five minutes the first time. Come back into the room and sit next to the crate for a few minutes. Let your puppy out of the crate once they have stopped whining. Repeat this process until your puppy is able to stay in the crate calmly for thirty minutes without you being in the room. In the beginning, only leave your puppy in the crate for short intervals of time.

  1. Once your puppy has mastered the ability to stay in the crate for thirty minutes, it is safe to leave them in the crate while you are out of the house. Use the same training method each time. Let your puppy know that you are leaving and then go. Don’t draw out this process. Make sure that your puppy will not be left alone for more than a couple of hours. They are still young and can only hold it for so long. You can now start to crate train your puppy at night. Move their crate near your bed and put them in it at night. This is so you can get up with your puppy at night to let them relieve themselves. Once they are sleeping through the night, you can move the crate to another location if you wish.

A crate should never be used for punishment. This will cause your puppy to associate their crate with negative emotions. Another thing to remember is that your puppy may be whining because they need to relieve themselves. Say the phrase that they associate with going outside. If they get excited, take them outside. Crate training will take time and patience.

Why Is My Cat Peeing Outside of the Litter Box?

One of the great conveniences of owning a cat is the fact that they’re litter box trained. No getting up in the middle of the night to take the pet out to relieve itself. No unpleasant surprises left to be found in hidden corners. But sometimes a cat that uses a litter box without issue for years begins “missing” the box or relieving itself in a part of the house far from the litter box. The reasons as to why could be as minor as the introduction of a new puppy or renovating the kitchen. However, litter box issues can also indicate that a cat is suffering from a potentially serious health problem.

Health concerns aside, the longer a cat relieves itself indoors away from its litter box, the more ingrained the behavior becomes. To protect both the cat and its owner’s property and belongings, this behavior should be investigated quickly and thoroughly. Below are some tips to help you and your feline friend resolve its litter box issues.

Start Simple

While you would prefer a text message, your pets occasionally use their urine as a means of communication. Abnormal urination or defecation in cats and dogs can be a way of relieving or expressing stress. It also can be a way of marking territory perimeters. Domestic cats have territories that are comprised of surprisingly small amounts of area, even ones that go out of doors. As a result, they’re very attuned to changes in their environment. You may not be happy if another member of the household makes changes to a furniture arrangement, invites unexpected guests, or moves your belongings without warning. You might be really unhappy if that member unexpectedly adopted another family member without your permission or knowledge.

So as you ponder your cat’s litter box issues, ask yourself:

  • Have you made any recent or notable changes to the interior of your home?
  • Have you had recent workers or house guests?
  • Has the cat’s litter box been moved to another part of the house?
  • Have you recently adopted another pet, such as a cat or a dog?
  • Have you recently lost a household member, perhaps to illness or death?
  • Have you recently moved?

Sometimes a litter box problem can be as simple as the litter box itself. A surprising number of cat owners seem to think that cat litter boxes are “one size fits all”. But a cat that has outgrown its litter box may be peeing outside of its box because it simply has no room to normally and comfortably relieve itself. Cats reach their adult sizes at wildly varying rates, but in general, if there isn’t a couple of inches between kitty’s posterior and the litter box wall, then the litter box is too small.

Changing litter brands or buying a new litter box can be deal breakers for a cat when it comes to using a litter box. And how often is that litter getting changed? Cats don’t like dirty litter either, and if they find it in their boxes on too regular a basis, they’ll stop using the box altogether.


Humans aren’t the only ones who develop bladder issues as they enter old age. And just as with humans, the reasons for “accidents” are often the same. They can be caused by:

  • Dementia
  • Incontinence
  • Kidney infections
  • Cancer


If you’ve eliminated behavioral issues and aging as a reason for litter box accidents, then (sorry, kitty) it’s time for a trip to the vet. Sudden incontinence can be a red flag for a number of serious medical conditions in domestic cats, including:

Other unusual “bathroom” behavior like “dribbling” urine across rooms or non food related diarrhea may be disease related.


When It’s Directly Related To The Box Or Litter

Waste should be removed from boxes on a daily basis. Boxes should be washed and litter completely replaced every two to three weeks. Kittens, indoor cats, and ill ones may need box cleanings twice daily. For cats in love with a particular box, you may have to tolerate it until the cat literally wears it out. Sorry, but if kitty loves that stinky and non clumping litter, you might just have to grin and bear it. Once you and kitty have agreed on a location, try to move its box as little as possible. And in multiple cat households, each “sibling” should have his or her own box.

When It’s Caused By Stress

It can help to resolve “stressor” (new people, pets, locations, or territory changes) issues by avoiding, limiting, or introducing them as slowly as possible. Some very distraught cats are soothed by confining them alone along with dishes and litter box to a small room until the stressor is removed or slowly introduced.

When It’s Caused By A Medical Or Aging Issue

In both cases, medical attention should be sought as quickly as possible. Even in non serious medical or age related situations, rapid intervention can keep cats comfortable and avoid escalating medical problems.

vet care

Cleaning Up After An Incontinent Cat

Is it revenge? Is it because the pet thinks your shag carpet resembles your lawn? Whether it’s dog,cat, or rabbit, smelly “accidents” seem to happen more often on textiles than on bare floors. In order to remove both odor and cat urine from them:

  • Blot urine with dry paper towels
  • Apply a enzyme containing cleaner, such as laundry detergent
  • Combine one part vinegar with two parts water, and scrub solution into soiled area
  • Allow area to fully dry

If urine is being cleaned from a hard surface, disinfect after washing.

To Avoid Repeat Performances

Often, medical treatment or resolving litter box issues will correct “outside the box” problems. Some pets however, will continue to relieve themselves in undesirable locations either because of new learned behavior, or because they’re attracted to remaining urine residue. Never squirt water, strike, yell at, or scold an offending animal. This will only confuse it, and probably intensify the offending behavior. Instead, make the carpeted area unattractive by temporarily flipping it or placing double sided tape around its edges. Placing the cat’s litter box directly over the “pee spot” and moving the box back an inch a day until the box is returned to its original location can also help. And play with the cat more frequently near the box in its desired location,and leave toys nearby. This causes the cat to associate the box with pleasant experiences, making kitty more inclined to use it for the function for which it is intended.

If you have proven methods for getting a cat to stop peeing outside of its litter box, please share those with our readers