Why Religious Indian Hindus Don’t Eat Beef

One thing that Westerners find intriguing about India is that the country, by and large, regards cows as sacred. Many wonder what the reasons for Indian Hindus not eating beef are. The rationale as to why Indians of the Hindu fold find the cow as a lovable animal and cannot even think of making it into beef burgers has multifarious dimensions.

Movie poster in India pertaining to the countries first film on the slaughter of cows.

Indian poster for the movie Aahinsa, the country’s first film on the slaughter of cows. The director is Yousuf Ali Khan.

History of the Indian Hindu practice:

 Certain historians argue that ancient Indians ate beef. Archaeological excavation pertaining to the non-Aryan Harappan era in India, which dated back to 6000 BC, is believed to indicate that beef was consumed by the indigenous people. Some historians also aver that cattle were also consumed in the Vedic Age (1500 BC to 500 BC). The Rig Veda, book of hymns, composed during the early Vedic Era, however, suggests that substitutes to animal sacrifices were thought of. Often barley and rice were offered instead of slaughtering an animal.

As per certain historical theory, around 700 BC, cattle were allowed to be slaughtered for ritual purposes and hospitality. However, as cows were killed in large numbers, there was a serious shortage of milk. Hence, the religious rules were changed to venerate the cow, so that the milk supply continued to flow. As the economy evolved from a hunting-gathering one to an agrarian one, the cow began to be protected rather than killed. The Athravaveda; the ancient religious book of hymns, chants and spells, later went on to say that eating even a barren cow would bring ill luck to the souls of one’s ancestors.

Lord Krishna, who is considered as an incarnation of God by Hindus, lived and preached in India in the BC era and was born to a cow herder’s family. He displayed immense affection towards cows. He grew up with milk maids being his closest buddies. Traditionally, Krishna is shown playing a flute, with a cow in the background.

As per Hindu mythology, the holy cow Kamdhenu, enjoys the status of a goddess and is considered as the mother of all cows. It was believed that she gave her devotees whatever they desired.

Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism; religions which originated from Hinduism; also advocate the non-consumption of beef. The Buddha who preached non-violence to all living creatures was against animal sacrifice, especially that of the mother cow.

Film stars Kashvi Kanchan and Nafe Ali Khan, promotional photo for Aahinsa.

Film stars Kashvi Kanchan and Nafe Ali Khan, promotional photo for Aahinsa.

The reason which triggered the historic 1857 revolt against the British was that the Indian Hindu soldiers refused to bite off the cartridges, which were made of beef fat. It is feared that eating beef or killing a cow will condemn one to hell. Not all Indian Hindus, however, refrain from eating beef.

The cow possesses mother-like and gentle qualities:

The cow is considered to be a gentle and docile animal. It has the most serene eyes. Hindus, especially those who reside in villages, are accustomed to handling this sweet and calm bovine. The cow is regarded as a beloved household pet in these homes. Can anyone ever kill a pet for providing for food on the dinner table?

Nafe Ali Khan, promotional photo for Aahinsa.

Nafe Ali Khan, promotional photo for Aahinsa.

Those who keep milch cows and take them out daily to graze have noticed very maternal traits in the cows. For instance, while in the green fields, the mother cow affectionately lows to her calf, lovingly nourishes and fondles it. Of course all animals have maternal instincts but those who have cows as pets in India aver that the cow is one of the most motherly of all animals.

Mother Cow Is In Some Ways Better

In the Rig Veda, human longing, sacred devotion and maternal affection is diagrammatically represented by a cow with her calf. The cow that is abounding with milk is considered the embodiment of maternal energy. Mahatma Gandhi, renowned Indian freedom fighter, revered the cow greatly. He said, “Mother cow is in many ways better than the mother who gave us birth. Our mother gives us milk for a couple of years and then expects us to serve her when we grow up. Mother cow expects from us nothing but grass and grain. Our mother often falls ill and expects service from us. Mother cow rarely falls ill. Our mother when she dies means expenses of burial or cremation. Mother cow is as useful dead as when alive.”

The cow is seen as having maternal-qualities.

The cow is seen as having maternal qualities.

A variety of dairy products

India’s rich cuisine boasts of a wide array of dairy products. Ghee or clarified butter, considered a super food in India, is the ingredient of many dishes and is essential in many Indian Hindu ritual offerings to God. The Indian kitchen offers curdled, non-curdled, fermented and other dairy products.

Just a few of the many dairy products are paneer and channa (Indian cottage cheese), khoa (made from thickened or dried whole milk), kulfi (Indian ice cream), dahi (curd), shrikhand (strained yoghurt blended with sugar), kheer (a rice dish with milk and sugar), and many mouth watering sweetmeats.

Western dairy and confectionary items are also highly popular in India. Milk and dairy products contain calcium, Vitamin B 12 and magnesium. A huge chunk of the Indian population comprises of vegetarians. As they don’t have non-vegetarian options to choose from, the many dairy products offer them varieties of food, including Vitamin B 12, which is generally provided from meat.

Flyer for the movie Aahinsa.

Flyer for the movie Aahinsa.

Cow Excreta

Though the idea may appear to be repugnant, the truth is that cow’s urine and feces have crucial uses in India. Cow’s potty, known as cow dung, is rich in minerals and is consequently used as manure. Dung is made into biogas, which generates both heat and electricity. Cow dung, when burned, acts as a natural mosquito repellent. Dung mixed with water also helps to ward off many other harmful insects.

Not all of India is a warm country. There are chilly regions too and winters can get quite cold in some places. Cow dung pasted on the walls serves as a natural thermal heater. Dried cow dung is used as firewood, thereby saving many trees. It also serves as a component in mud brick houses.

Sprinkling cow urine is thought to be a spiritual cleanser in Hindu rituals. It’s also used as a floor cleanser. It acts as a natural pesticide, thereby serving as an essential component in organic farming. Cow’s urine, with neem and custard apple leaves, when boiled together, forms a bio-pesticide.

Cow’s urine has many medicinal properties as per Ayurveda, the Indian medicinal system. It is believed to have beneficial effects in treating fevers, cancer, leprosy, anemia, liver ailments and asthma.

As the cow is such a useful animal, it makes greater practical sense in India to keep the animal alive rather than roasting it. In fact, household wealth from time immemorial in India has been measured in the number of cows one has. Many a tragic tale has been woven around situations when one lost one’s cow while grazing or had to sell off the household cow when falling into abject poverty. So before ridiculing Indian Hindu culture for  abstaining from beef, one should read the logical reasons as to why people do so.

Pallavi Bhattacharya

Pallavi Bhattacharya from Mumbai in India is the pet parent to a white rabbit named Potol. She feeds stray dogs and cats. She has written for leading Indian publications on animals/ pets like gingertail.in, Dogs and Pups, Cats and Kittens, the Furs, Feathers and Fins magazine and Buddy Life.

So, You Want a Goldfish…

Part One – The Housing Market

Be honest. When you read the title of this article, what came to mind? Did you see a bright orange or golden fish swimming around in a bowl? Maybe the bowl had some rocks and one plant in it, maybe it didn’t, but the point is that for most of the general public, that sort of image is what comes to mind. In fact, when I did a Google search on just the word goldfish in the images category, that very image wasn’t that far down on the image list:

goldfish Search

Even in the suggestions bar, the goldfish bowl is one of the top three options. Right behind those yummy crackers and a collection of photos based on the types of goldfish, sits one word with the accompanying images: “Bowl.” For true goldfish lovers, this very idea causes a twinge of pain or sadness. Not many people really know why, since everywhere we look the human race is bombarded with the traditional image of a goldfish looking perky in the middle of a bowl that is usually devoid of any decoration what so ever. What is wrong with this idea? It is everywhere. Even Elmo from Sesame Street has a goldfish in a bowl!  Well, as a goldfish owner for many, many years, let me tell you what I see when you say the word goldfish: I see a colorful fish, about the size of my hand, swimming around in a giant tank, full of plants, rocks and other interesting items to interact with.

fish Tank

Goldfish tank being set up in a school classroom.

Goldfish Are In The Carp Family

Surprised? Sadly, most people will be. As a society we are so bombarded with the bowl image that we have forgotten the origin of these beautiful fish. These guys belong in the CARP family. Sure, they’re on the small side, but they ARE carp. They belong in the same family as Koi, the same family as that fish someone’s uncle Joe just caught at the lake the other day. They were one of the first types of fish to be domesticated and in many years of breeding for beauty, we humans have forgotten the idea that these guys belong in ponds and large bodies of water. I am always saddened to be standing at the koi pond at Biltmore and hear visitors from ages five to fifty five point out the goldfish swimming among the koi and exclaim their surprise at the smaller fish being there. Yes, keeping goldfish in a pond takes a special climate and certain knowledge, but the truth is that a pond is where they are most happy and healthy.

Now, some of you are reading this and you just got a fish or are looking at a fish care book and are pointing at the image of a goldfish (or two or three) in a ten gallon tank or in a bowl and saying to yourselves, “This says you are wrong. This picture in this book, and the picture on my new tank from the fish store shows goldfish living like this. The tank even says it is for goldfish.” Check those items again. Chances are your ten gallon tank is called a “starter” tank and that image of the goldfish bowl probably has an unexpected caption or has a better explanation within the text.

Starter fish tank

Three goldfish in a starter tank. Charon, Nix and Hydra check out their new accommodations after leaving the pet store. Though Charon will pass away from illness acquired at the store, Nix and Hydra will be transferred from this tank to their regular home in the 60 gallon tank in my classroom.

Researching Your Fish Care

I recently went to the library to do some research on additional food supplements for my goldfish, Nix and Hydra. Our library had only two books on the subject of goldfish, one for adults, and one for children. I checked out both, but for the purposes of this article, I will focus mostly on Goldfish: A Complete Pet Owner’s Manual, by Marshall E. Ostrow, since the children’s version was nearly identical in contents, only written for a younger reader. As soon as I opened the book I was horrified to see the image of a fish bowl with more than one fish in it, but on further inspection I relaxed a little, as the caption clearly stated there were TOO MANY fish in the bowl. Reading further, though it did describe how to set up a bowl for your goldfish, it emphasized that this was best only as a temporary residence, such as in instances of sickness, when a fish must be quarantined. Following that introductory chapter, the author chose to discuss only the setup of tanks, much to my relief.

Getting your goldfish a large tank is necessary for several reasons beyond allowing for proper growth and happiness. First of all, goldfish are awesome waste producers and too much waste in the tank can alter your water’s pH to a point that is dangerous for your fish. The smaller the tank, the faster this can occur, meaning you are constantly having to change out water to keep the balance in check, which can be a major stressor for your fish. Secondly, goldfish need a lot of oxygen in their water and the more surface area they have the better, as a small surface area lowers the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, sometimes quite drastically. This is another reason I cringe at images of goldfish bowls, as most of those images show the water all the way at the top, where there is far less water surface area due to the small opening. If you are keeping a goldfish in a quarantine bowl, it is better to fill the bowl to the most round part. Even though this means less water and swim area, it gives them more surface area for oxygen.

Travel fish tank

Charon, Nix, and Hydra inside a tiny 3.5 gallon tank used for transportation or quarantine. They quickly outgrew this tank and needed their 10 gallon starter tank for this purpose.

Now that we know goldfish need a lot of space, the next step is to figure out how big your tank should really be. There are many ways to calculate the size of your future aquarium, one of which is to say that one inch of fish equals one gallon of water. Here is where all those ten gallon tanks come in at the pet store. Measure them and think about it. Sure, having ten gallons means you could have two or three fish in there if they were about a month old and only one inch long. However, in one year your average goldfish could grow to be about five inches long. Your two fish would suddenly be very cramped and miserable, if they had managed to grow as normal. One of the major disadvantages to giving your goldfish less room than they need is that it will stunt their growth, something that can become painful over time, as their internal organs keep growing even if the rest of them does not. Should you decide to use a ten gallon tank as a starter tank, keep a close eye on the behavior of your fish.  If they become less active or seem lethargic at the bottom of the tank, chances are they are already outgrowing the tank. Sometimes the easiest way to perk up your goldfish is to upgrade the size of their home.

Hydra the goldfish

Hydra, about, 6 inches long from nose to tail, watches through her tank as children read a book at circle time.

Measuring by inch means that you have to keep measuring and keep upgrading in order for your fish to be healthy and maintain their proper growth rate. I find it much more practical to think along the lines of what you will need in the future. My motto for goldfish is 50 gallons for the first fish and 10 gallons per fish after that. This seems like a lot and there are people who have managed to keep a fish mostly healthy in a smaller home. It certainly looks ridiculous when you put two small fish in a tank of such a massive size. The purpose of this plan is actually to keep things simple in the long run. Nix and Hydra are both comets, a longer, larger type of goldfish that is also one of the most common. When I bought them they were “babies” at about an inch long, but in ten years a comet can grow to be ten inches long. That is already a 20 gallon tank for two fish, if you are still calculating one inch of fish per gallon. Now, where are they going to swim? Most 20 gallon tanks are only about 24 or 30 inches long, so that doesn’t leave much wiggle room for a ten inch fish, not to mention the fact that bigger fish make bigger poops, so you need more than 20 gallons to help dilute that waste and make the situation livable.

A 36 gallon tank at my local pet store is about 20 inches long and 30 inches wide. Nix and Hydra would be happy for maybe a year, when they both reached five inches in length, at which point it is only a matter of months before they start to feel cramped. Once they reach the ten inch growth mark they will be able to line up, nose to tail and fill the length of their home, which doesn’t give them swimming space or the stimulation of exploration. Once you go past the 36 gallon tanks, your options for size start to become limited and you need to keep in mind that a captive comet goldfish can reach a maximum of 13 inches in length. Using a 50 gallon tank for one goldfish gives them 13 gallons of water for their full growth and that 36 gallon swimming space to keep them active and healthy, with an extra gallon left over for rocks and the rest. With a tank this size, another ten gallons per fish, even at their largest size, should be just fine, but keep surface area in mind. Your tank should have a nice long shape to it, rather than a boxy one. Not only does this spread out the weight of your tank (a 55 gallon tank usually weighs around 600 pounds!), it gives them more surface area and oxygen for their water. Plus, what fish doesn’t want play room?


Nix, about 6 inches from nose to tail, foraging at the bottom of the 60 gallon aquarium he calls home.

Once you decide how many fish you are going to have, don’t just dash out and buy the first setup you see that meets the gallon per fish requirement. The next step to goldfish ownership is working out where you are putting your tank, because it is better to buy a tank to fit a location than to force a location to conform to your tank. There are many factors that go into tank placement, such as water temperature, available light sources, the size of your room, and the location of windows, outlets and furniture.

Probably the most important part of placing your tank is the actual floor under it. It is typically recommended that you put your tank near an outside wall, in a place that is structurally sound and able to take on several hundred pounds of regular weight. The floor in this location should be as level as possible, so that stress is not put on one part of the tank over another due to uneven weight distribution. With goldfish you are going to have filters and you will most likely have some form of bubbler, so having an outlet near the tank is a must. If you choose to use the lights on your aquarium, that will require even more power. Your tank should be kept away from the air vents in your room, to prevent sudden changes in temperature, and it should not be placed directly in front of the window for the same reasons, though some sunlight is acceptable and helpful, which I will discuss in another area of this series. Finally, the best place for your tank is in a low traffic area, where it cannot be bumped, bashed or cracked by random objects or people. Your fish will want to be interactive and will become a part of your family more than you realize, but they won’t be happy if they join you in the outside world.

Goldfish Neptune and Pluto

Neptune and Pluto catching some natural light in the corner of their tank near the window.

So, you want to get a goldfish. (Hopefully, since fish are schooling animals, you are actually thinking of getting two or three.) Now you have an idea about where that fish should live. It sounds like keeping a goldfish is something hard to do, but honestly it isn’t. Even though the cultural idea of a bowl has now been thrown out the window, these guys are still a lot easier to care for than fish who need constant monitoring when it comes to temperature, salt content, and all the other things that make keeping a fish much more complicated than anyone expects. Still, as simple as it is to keep a goldfish, we can’t just stop here. In later posts I will cover aquarium setup, care and feeding, and try and cover some of the most common types of goldfish out there.

If you can’t wait to get your next fish, I strongly suggest researching what I have yet to cover, but if you can wait, I’ll see you all next time, when I talk about “Moving In.”

Mirrani Houpe, YPS Staff Member

Mirrani Houpe, our Small Animal Editor, has had rats since she took home her first little boy once they both completed the second grade. Since that time she has owned, rescued and bred many kinds of rats, from many backgrounds. She may not be a vet, psychology major, or scientist, but her babies have her very well trained when it comes to how to care for them. She is constantly working with her family’s veterinarian to come up with new and innovative ways to love and care for the most often misunderstood rodent in the pet world. You can e-mail her at mirrani@yourpetspace.info

Panchatantra: Animal Fables From India

Animal fables have evergreen popularity, all over the world. Follies, foibles and sins of human beings are explored through animal characters in these stories, so that readers don’t take these tales personally. India also has its plethora of endearing animal fables, the Panchatantra being one of these volumes.

The Panchatantra can be dated back to the second century B.C. In the sixth century A.D. it was translated to Persian. Later, the stories featured in Hebrew, Greek, Latin and various other European languages.

How did these stories come into being? Mahilaroopya, king of South India or of Pataliputra in Bihar had three sons who had little brains. He was at his wit’s end on as to how he’d infuse even a grain of wisdom in their bird brains. Pandit (learned scholar) Vishnu Sharma assured the king that he had thought of a unique way of teaching his sons, so that the naive lads acquired grey matter in a matter of six months. The king promised him 100 villages in return. The sweet and simple Panchatantra tales were easily grasped by the princes. The moral that came with each of the tales made them conversant in topics like human relationships, astronomy, psychology, philosophy, music and politics.

Some of the Panchatantra tales have very grotesque endings with animals being killed. Others are with happier endings. Animals native to India are obviously featured in the stories. Foolishness and gullibility are punished even with death in some of the stories. Common sense, wit and the ability to be composed are rewarded amply. Selfishness and betrayal are taken as grave offences.

All the stories of the Panchatantra make interesting reading. Here are the summaries of ten of them:

The Jackal and The Drum

1. The Jackal and the Drum:
A jackal was wandering in an erstwhile battle ground in search for food. The armies who had fought a battle had left a drum there. The wind played on the drum, thereby making it beat out loud. On hearing the drum beats, the jackal first thought that humans who were playing the drum would surely bring trouble to him. His immediate instinct was that he should flee the venue. On second thought, he felt that he should investigate the source of the noise carefully, before making any hasty decision. To his relief he found that the wind was causing drum beats. Better still, he found ample food and water near the drum.
Moral: Success is for the brave alone.

2. The Flea, the Bug and the King:
In a royal bed, lived a flea. She lived a parasitic life consistently sucking blue blood. When she stung the king, she was however gentle and nimble, so much so the king didn’t realize that he was being bitten. One fine day a plump bug crawled on to the bed. The flea knew well that the bug had a sharp sting. She correctly anticipated that its sting would be so painful, that the king would clearly understand that he was being bitten, unless of course the king was stung when he was fast asleep. The bug promised that he’d nip the king only after he fell asleep. However, he was too impatient to wait for the king to doze off. The king ordered his servants to search for the creature which had caused him pain. The cunning bug hid himself in a nook where he could not be found, whereas the flea was unable to find a safe haven and was consequently caught and killed.
Moral: You will suffer if you trust the false assurance of friends and strangers.


3. Killed by a Shadow
A proud and lazy lion lived in a jungle. He announced to all the animals in the forest that every day a different animal would have to come right up to his cave. The animal would serve as a source of food to him. He threatened that if even one day was skipped, he would devour all the animals of the forest. A hare thought of an ingenious plan to outwit the lion. He arrived at the lion’s dwelling albeit late. The lion question him in an infuriated manner as to why he had arrived late. The hare lied that he had been chased by another lion. The lion who wanted to be the monarch of the jungle alone, wanted to meet this lion to put him in his place. The hare concocted a story that the lion lived in a well. The lion looked into the well and mistook his reflection for another lion. He pounced into the well, thinking he was attacking the lion. He drowned to death in the process.
Moral: Physical prowess may be defeated by wisdom alone.

4. Man Alone Ungrateful
A man who was wandering by himself in the forest came across a pit in which a monkey, tiger, snake and man were trapped. The tiger and snake pleaded to the man to be pulled out from the cliff. They assured him that they wouldn’t kill him if rescued, and stuck to their promise. He helped the monkey to get out of the pit as well. He then helped out the man despite being warned that he was up to no good. Whereas the animals on being rescued vowed to help the man when he was in need, the man he rescued selfishly said that as he was a goldsmith, the man should remember him if he required any handicraft on gold.
When the hungry man could find nothing to eat in the jungle, he went to the monkey’s home who offered him plentiful sweet fruits and promised to give him more of them whenever he wanted to eat. The tiger gifted him an expensive necklace which belonged to a prince who had died in the forest. The man took it to the goldsmith, hoping that he’d help him to sell the necklace. The goldsmith instantly recognized the necklace as belonging to the prince. He had after all worked on the ornament. He went right up to the king and complained that the man who had killed his son had given this to him. The innocent man was consequently captured.
The snake thought of working together to save the man. The snake bit the queen in such a manner that only the man’s touch would neutralize the venom. Assured that the man actually had a good heart, he asked him as to how he had found the gold. As credibility had already been built up, the king believed his story. He put the goldsmith behind bars. He rewarded the man with 1000 villages and made him the privy counsellor.
Moral: Man despite being supposedly superior to animals may at times be more bestial than them.


5. The Foolish Turtle
A turtle and two swans were close buddies. Their home was a lake. When the lake began to dry, the swans decided to fly the turtle to a safe haven. They asked the turtle to grip a stick firmly with his teeth as they flew him to a lake brimming with water. They cautioned him not to open his mouth during the flight. As the swans flew over a town with the turtle, the town folks pointed upwards and animatedly discussed the bewildering sight they saw. The turtle open his mouth to ask what the commotion down below was all about. He fell down. The town people roasted him for supper.
Moral: Heed the wise counsel of good friends.

6. The Story of Three Fishes
Fishermen chanced upon a pond which was teeming with fishes. They discussed amongst themselves that they would come the next day to the pond to lower their nets. Three fishes overheard them speaking. Two of the fishes took this very seriously. They decided to escape to a safer pond with their families immediately. The third fish took this very casually. He decided to stay on in the pond as he refused to believe that the fishermen really meant what they said. The fishes in the lake were divided into groups. One group fled to safety through an outlet which led to a secure lake. The other fishes lingered on in the hazardous pond. The next day the fishermen caught each and every fish that remained in the lake.
Moral: When you sense danger, act instantly.

7. The King of Mice and the Elephants
Mice inhabited a deserted village. A herd of elephants would frequent the village to bathe and drink water. Unfortunately, many of the mice were trampled to death by the footfalls of the elephants. The king of mice entreated the elephants to change their route so that the lives of the mice were spared. The mouse king promised the elephants that the mice would surely return this favor if the elephants complied. Though the elephants could hardly believe that creatures as tiny could help them, they changed their tracks. Later the elephants were trapped in nets laid by an elephant hunter. They struggled to free themselves. The mice cut the nets into shreds by their razor sharp teeth, thereby freeing the elephants.
Moral: Don’t underestimate anyone on the basis of appearance.


8. The Crocodile and the Monkey
A monkey would inhabit a tree where he would devour the delicious berries which grew on its branches. A crocodile came out of the water to rest under the tree. The monkey treated the crocodile as his guest and graciously offered him fruits. The two animals formed a rapport. The crocodile came regularly to eat the tasty fruits. He took some of the fruits for his spouse. The crocodile’s wife felt that if indeed the fruits the monkey would eat were so sweet, his heart would be extremely saccharine to taste. She suggested that her husband killed the monkey and they devoured his heart.
The crocodile lied to the monkey that his wife had invited him to dinner. He carried him on his back through the river. While in the middle of the river from where the monkey couldn’t physically escape, the crocodile told him his true intentions. The monkey composedly lied that he had kept his heart in the trunk of the tree he lived in. On returning to the river bank, the monkey hopped on to a spot away from the reach of the slimy crocodile and told him that they ceased to be friends.
Moral: Avail of wit to get out of tricky situations.

9. The Mongoose and the Woman
A mongoose and a human woman gave birth on the same day. The mongoose died in child birth leaving a baby. The woman adopted the infant mongoose. She nurtured him as her own son. She fed both the mongoose and her own child breast milk. She bathed both of them and massaged them with oil. The mongoose and her baby boy grew as close as siblings.
The woman was however sceptical that as the mongoose would grow older, animal instincts would overpower him and maybe he would harm the child. She left her baby boy in the care of her husband, while she went to fetch water. Her careless husband however left the house before she returned. The lady knew that her husband was absent minded, so she was returning to her home tensed. She was shocked to see the mongoose outside the house with blood smeared on his face. She panicked thinking that the mongoose had killed the child. She threw the pitcher on the poor animal thereby killing it.
When she went to the child’s room, she found him safe and sound. Beside his crib lay a snake in pieces. The mongoose had killed the snake which had attacked her baby. The blood on his face was of that of the dead snake. The mongoose had saved the life of the baby whom he regarded as his dear brother. The woman and her husband deeply mourned the death of the mongoose, as they had regarded him as their son.
Moral: Don’t act in haste.

Mouse and Sage

10. The Mouse’s Wedding

A mouse slipped the grasp of a hawk and fell in the proximity of a wise sage. The sage with his magical powers transformed the mouse into a little girl, for he knew that if she remained a mouse the hawk would try to snack on it again. He taught the girl wise teachings and when she came of age, he decided to find the best ever groom for her. He first asked the sun god to marry her. The girl however thought that the sun was too fiery tempered. Her father asked her if she’d marry the rain god instead, but she could simply associate him with darkness and dampness. Her father then suggested the wind god. She however regarded him as finicky as the wind always changed its direction. When the sage then put forward the idea that she married the mountain god, she dismissed it saying that mountains were too resolute as they were rooted to one place. The sage smiled and asked her if she would marry a mouse, his daughter found the idea brilliant. Her father then turned her into a mouse, she wedded a mouse and lived happily ever after.
Moral: What you are born with won’t change.

All pictures in this article courtesy of www.kidsgen.com.

Pallavi Bhattacharya

Pallavi Bhattacharya from Mumbai in India is the pet parent to a white rabbit named Potol. She feeds stray dogs and cats. She has written for leading Indian publications on animals/ pets like gingertail.in, Dogs and Pups, Cats and Kittens, the Furs, Feathers and Fins magazine and Buddy Life.

Product Review: Great Choice Small Animal Pet Home

Great Choice box

Before I start reviewing this product, I need to put out a public safety announcement about rats and cages. It is very important for rat owners to understand that rats need a LARGE living space, with multiple levels that they can use for climbing. Most rat owners prefer cages by Critter Nation because they are a very large size and are durable. Our rats have a Critter Nation when they are in our home, but the problem with these super sized cages is that when you need to make a temporary move or relocate your rats for the very short term, it is not practical to dismantle the cage and move it around, so you are going to need to find a decent travel or temporary option for your little boys and girls.

closed rat cage

Wire spacing with cage door closed. Note that with the door properly latched, the gap between bars over the door is wider than between other bars.

When looking for a cage, you want to make sure that the space between the bars is about a half an inch, because if you go larger you risk small rats being able to squeeze through. It is also preferable to find a cage that does not use plastic as a means of containment, as rats love to chew and so can easily escape. I want to emphasize that when looking for travel or temporary options for you rats, you should think of your rats first and the situation you are going to put them in second. For instance, if you are looking at a cage with a plastic bottom, like the Great Choice Small Animal pet home, the first two questions that should come to mind are:

rat cage clip

Close up of clip that secures the wire top to the plastic bottom of Pet Home.

Does my rat chew? If no, then you are okay to purchase this cage for the rats that you have, but need to keep this in mind again if you get new rats who need to use it. (And as always, regularly inspect any chewable materials for signs of wear.)

How well are they going to be supervised while in this temporary cage? If your rats are chewers, but you are using this cage only to contain them while you quickly clean the cage they already have, you are taking a risk, but MIGHT be okay as long as you listen carefully for chewing sounds. If you are taking them in a car, where someone will be sitting with them and watching them, the person doing the supervising should be prepared to stop the rats from chewing at ANY time. However, if your rats are chewers and you want them to be caged somewhere that they will be left alone, without supervision, this is NOT the best choice.

folded rat cage

Cage dismantled with wire top folded, ready for storage.

The same questions apply to rats who like to escape. If you have escape artists, small girls, or very young rats, the one inch bar spacing on this cage (and the clasp that holds the door closed) is NOT going to reliably contain them. On the other hand, if your babies are reliable, non-chewers who are always on their best behavior, this is a great cage as a temporary home.

closed rat cage

Wire spacing with cage door closed. Note that with the door properly latched, the gap between bars over the door is wider than between other bars.

Another public service announcement that I would like to make before continuing on is about post-surgical containment. Though I would never want to see a rat living in an aquarium tank on a permanent basis, tanks really do make the best recovery areas for your boy or girl to recuperate in, as long as you keep the bedding fresh. Any cage with wire sides will encourage your rat to climb once they feel they are ready to do so, even if there is no second level to the cage. It is natural for a rat to use the sides of their cage as a ladder, and some will even hang upside down from the top and walk around that way, just for the fun of it. Giving your rat those kinds of opportunities after surgery is almost guaranteed to stretch the surgical area and reopen whatever wound or stitching is trying to heal. It breaks my heart to put our rats into the tank for their 14 day recovery period, but in the end that is the best way to ensure that they heal as they should. I would never, ever consider a cage like this as a post-surgical option because of the risks involved.


Cages stacked for storage beside a ten gallon aquarium post-surgical tank.

Now, it must seem to readers that I have started out this article on a very negative note and maybe some have already decided this cage is not for them based only on what they have read so far. In a way, that is what I hope for, because a cage like this caters to a very specific type of rat, which I happen to have: the male non-chewer who has no intention of escaping whatever cage he is put in. Pet stores and online sites try and sell this as a permanent solution, a “rat starter kit” kind of thing, and if I have put off new rat owners to this idea, I am most pleased. This cage is NOT designed to be a permanent home for rats and is NOT acceptable for young rats, as is shown on the box. I think the only way I would use this cage for small rats on a daily basis, is if it were a permanent litter box, sitting somewhere with the door always open, for my free-range rats to enter and exit as they needed.

Even after all of these warnings, this cage actually has MANY positives, though I ask readers to keep in mind that I am the owner of non-chewing, well behaved male rats and am reviewing the product on those grounds.

We started off with one of these cages to keep for emergencies. We live out in the North Carolina countryside, are on well water, and are surrounded by woods. In the winter this area gets frequent ice storms, which can cause disruption in power (and as a result, water) for days at a time. In those instances, we bring ourselves and our animals through the woods to our neighbor’s house, since she has a gas fireplace and wood stove that keep her log cabin nice and warm. We needed something that was mobile, but wouldn’t get in our way all the time when not in use.

After quite a lot of trial and error, we discovered the Great Choice Small Animal Pet Home. The cage is lightweight and fairly easy to carry, even on a short walk through trees. Best of all, the wire portion is collapsible, which means that you can store it easily when you are not using it. Originally we had avoided this product because of the look of the box, which showed a single, young rat in this easily escapable structure with no secondary levels, but when we stopped to think about what we actually needed, we realized that we should try this one out. It ended up being the perfect choice for our boys, who were never chewers and are perfectly content to settle in their cages because they are free-range when we are at home.

rat cage hooks

Corner of cage as it is in the process of being assembled. Two hooks on the left side and one hook on the right weave together to hold both sides in place.

Assembly is simple, yet tricky, since the hooks that hold together the wire portion of the cage can become tangled with each other when folded for storage, meaning there is some wiggling and shaking involved in unpacking the cage, but once you have the top opened up, putting it together is a breeze. There are three hooks on each corner of the cage, two hooks on the side of one wall, one hook on the other, so that you have to weave the side pieces together, adding to the stability of the lid once it is assembled. When all four sides are hooked up, all you have to do is put litter in the tray, give your rats somewhere to hide, drop in a toy, then lower the wire lid on the plastic tub and clip it down on the sides.

Size is important when you pick out a temporary cage. You do not want the structure to be large and cumbersome, but you want your rats to feel comfortable. The Great Choice Small Animal Pet Home actually offers more room than one would expect from looking at the box, because of the compact nature of its folded state. Once put together, there is enough space in this cage for a hammock and a small nesting box (something the size of a tissue box will do). You can fit a food dish or two in it as well, but once you add the water bottle there is not much room for a litter box, so be prepared to have the cage cleaned frequently, for the sake of sanitation and the sanity of any rats who demand a place to put their poo.

North and Whisper modeling the cage

North and Whisper model the setup using two Lixit Critter Space Pods.

The fact that the cage is wire-topped also makes it conducive to using Lixit Critter Space Pods inside. Though getting them attached is an exercise in spatial orientation, once you discover the trick of which leg best fits where, snapping the pod in place is a breeze. The cage holds one pod well, but there is also room for two. We use the two ball setup for our oldest boys, Whisper and North, who have breathing issues and prefer to hang their heads over the side of solid objects at times when respiration isn’t as easy as it should be. Rather than force them to take turns using one pod, we provide them one apiece. Since they are older and less active, the need for full-body stretching or an active play area isn’t as important as their respiratory comfort.

With either setup in this cage, there is enough room for short jumps from the floor to the top of the nesting box, or from the box to whatever you have hanging to create a second sleeping level. Even with the upper portion filled with Space Pods, there are places where your rat can stand and stretch, or climb on the side of the cage for exercise or attention. Another bonus of using this cage is that if you are in a location where your rats will get free range time, you can simply open the door of the cage and let them go in and out as they please, no matter what their age, since the door makes a short ramp at the entrance when opened. (You might want to cover it with a stretched out sock or some other fabric for comfort, depending on the age and ability of your rats.)

clasp close up

Close up of door latch, notice how it bends the bars of the cage when hooked over cage bar.

My only concern for non-chewing, large sized rats when using this setup is that the latch for the door is not as secure as I would prefer. The door has two bent bars on it, formed in the shape of a number 7, where the pointed part of the 7 seems to fit perfectly in the gap of two bars above the door. Inexperienced owners or pet sitters who do not know rats well might think that you simply push the door into place, letting the pointed part of the seven rest comfortably between the two bars. This is NOT a secure position for the door to be in, as it can easily fall back open or be pushed free by your rats. Anyone closing the door to the cage must be certain that they push the 7 hooks all the way THROUGH the bars, bending down the top bar so that the upper part of the 7 hangs OVER the bar. Once in this position the rat cannot push the door open from their side, though this way of closing the door warps the shape of the cage bars considerably, making a larger gap in that area.


Phobos and Deimos model in a setup with hammock and nesting box.

Beyond the somewhat frustrating door, we are madly in love with these cages as temporary housing for our non-chewing, large, male rats. We have used them for short distance travel and had our rat sitter use them at her place when we are away, with both situations working out well for everyone involved. In the long-term, we most recently needed them when our ceiling caved in last winter and I was forced to move out with our boys while the house underwent construction for four months. In that situation, the boys were left alone in the cages while I was at work, and the doors were opened for free range time once I got home.

I think what I like most about these cages goes beyond their portability, easy storage and simple nature. These cages are easy-clean, wired dwellings that, unlike tanks and other closed structures, allow circulation within the small space, making it a healthier choice for your pet on the go.

Compact storage.
Easy to clean and assemble.
Lightweight, easily mobile.
Wire top allows air circulation and proper ventilation.
Enough room for a nesting box, hanging bed, very small chew toy, food dish and water bottle.
Suitable space as a TEMPORARY residence for large, well behaved rats.

Wires have one inch gaps, allowing escape of small rats.
Bottom is plastic, allowing for escape by chewing.
No room for litter box.
Cage door needs extra attention when latching shut.
NOT suitable for young, small rat shown on package!
NOT suitable as a PERMANENT residence for large, well behaved rats!


Mirrani Houpe, YPS Staff Member

Mirrani Houpe, our Small Animal Editor, has had rats since she took home her first little boy once they both completed the second grade. Since that time she has owned, rescued and bred many kinds of rats, from many backgrounds. She may not be a vet, psychology major, or scientist, but her babies have her very well trained when it comes to how to care for them. She is constantly working with her family’s veterinarian to come up with new and innovative ways to love and care for the most often misunderstood rodent in the pet world. You can e-mail her at mirrani@yourpetspace.info

Dogs Can Be Star Trek Fans, Too!


One of the many decorations that greeted fans at Creation’s annual Star Trek convention in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In William Shatner’s hour long documentary Get A Life, fans of Star Trek relive the experience of their fandom and give non-fans a glimpse into what it is like to be a part of the worldwide Star Trek family. The film focuses on the essence of being a fan of Star Trek and emphasizes that while some people paint or build Lego structures for a hobby, Trek fans immerse themselves in the various incarnations of the show for the same reasons those painters paint or the builders build.

klingon bird of prey

Klingon Bird of Prey Balloon Art and the artist who created it.

The general consensus about this particular fandom is one we are all familiar with; Star Trek is a franchise that tells us we are all accepted for who we are and that no matter what happens now, we have a chance at a brighter tomorrow if we all pull together in that unity of mutual respect and understanding. The documentary goes deeper than this, though, highlighting fans who have chosen careers, made friends, or found spouses because of their love for the show and what it means to them. I, myself, have a group of friends who are more of a family to me, and though we bonded because of our love for theatre and the arts, we met over time at various Star Trek conventions around the globe. It always amazes me to be sitting at lunch with these people from all walks of life and think that we would never have known each other if it were not for Star Trek.

Robert Walter, president of the Joseph Campbell Foundation explains in Shatner’s documentary that humans are hardwired for narrative and want to find a way to make sense of our experiences in story, the way Star Trek does. “The shows that really endure and that have this kind of rabid fandom, they speak to the human experience, and hopefully with enough variation that wherever you are you can find a way in. They speak about a society that doesn’t exclude you. They’re set in some kind of cosmological field that you don’t turn it on and go, ‘Oh, that’s ridiculous,'” he explains to Shatner in the documentary. We all expect fans to see a hero and model themselves after the hero, but according to Walter, there is much more happening when the costumes are in play. “What they are doing is what a practicing Christian in the Renaissance might have done when they adopted a patron saint for their confirmation and took on that saint’s name, and then used that saint as a touchstone for their behavior down the line.”

Get A Life discusses, in various ways, something even non-fans are familiar with: attending an event in costume. For the most part, when you meet people at a convention and ask why they dress as a Klingon or Borg, they will say they do it because it is fun, or because they are really quiet people who get to live another life when playing the character they have chosen. Some will say it is an outlet for emotion or a way for them to suddenly become comfortable in a crowd. Others will tell you it is a means of finding self-validation, while some will say they are doing it for the prize money awarded at the costume contest. (You’ve got to pay for those gold tickets somehow.) No matter what the reason they chose to wear their various uniforms or versions of alien makeup, most fans who attend in character will tell you they wouldn’t ever consider going to a Star Trek Convention in just a t-shirt and jeans, like many fans do.


Author, Mirrani (sporting the standard shirt and jeans attire) standing under one of the banners at Creation Entertainment’s annual Las Vegas convention.

I was giving this a lot of thought as I was packing my bags to head to Creation’s Star Trek convention in Las Vegas at the beginning of August. Memories of various events came to me and I recalled familiar faces from all of the years I had attended in the past. I remembered certain people who would be guaranteed to appear in particular costumes, but I also recalled the image of a man taking his three miniature poodles around the convention, each dressed in a classic Starfleet uniform. This image blended with my memory of the documentary when it showed those same dogs being included as “uniformed fans” so that they were able to attend the record breaking gathering of fans in costume at the 45th anniversary convention; the first time the event was held at the Rio Hotel and Casino. All of those things combined to bring up one question in my mind. I knew why people dressed up for the event, but why did the dogs?

With notebook in hand, I headed to the event area and the first person I met was a friend of mine who works for Creation. He was set up at the entrance and was helping attendees find where to go for tickets and registration. At this station he had seen several animals in costume and had described them to me. Finding them in a wall-to-wall crowd of countless Star Trek fans was not an easy task and I know I missed quite a few four legged attendees, but I did manage to talk with two humans about their dressed up dogs.


Sabrina, a medical alert dog, shows off her medical uniform.

First, I met Kat Mac Kenzie (of Katy Mac Kreations) and her dog Sabrina, who was wearing a stunning, hand-made TNG era Starfleet uniform, complete with insignia pin pocket, which was backed with quilting for comfort and protection. Sabrina’s costume was so well made that fans began telling Mac Kenzie that she should create uniforms to sell. “I am considering selling vests, but I am only in the beginning stages,” she told me. Putting together costumes like Sabrina’s takes a lot of thought and time, and there are plenty of logistics that have to be worked out such as what materials to use and how to make an accurate dog sizing chart, but Kat was thinking positively about moving forward with it all. In our more recent communications, she has confirmed that she is moving ahead with these plans. “I should have a few mock vests/dog jackets made in a couple of weeks. It is my primary crafting project; I have a sizing guide set up and am looking for venues to launch an online platform.”

At the convention I asked why she chose the TNG uniform for Sabrina. “Last year was our first convention here and after that experience I wanted to make a cooler, lightweight vest that would be more comfortable for all the walking. I thought why not make it something Star Trek?” I WAS surprised by the fan response, however. Mac Kenzie said that few fans understood why she chose the teal uniform of the medical field. “They keep asking me, ‘Why not make it red?’ and I have to tell them, ‘She is a medical alert dog. She should be in blue.'” I have to say that as I was taking Sabrina’s picture, I thought the teal of the medical uniform was the perfect choice for her all around.


Asimov poses at the entrance to Quark’s Bar. For this convention he adds a Star Trek cap to his service dog attire.

After spending an hour or two peering around swarms of moving legs and experiencing the ups and downs of falsely identifying several rolling bags as four legged critters, I ran into Lisa Mueller (of celebrityentertainment.org) and her dog, Asimov, sitting outside of Quark’s Bar. Asimov’s outfit was simple but stunning; a blue hat, made by Lisa, to which she had added the original series Star Trek patch. Having worked in and out of the Star Trek franchise since the late 1980’s, Mueller and Asimov both attended the premiere of Star Trek Renegades, which she said was an honor. For that occasion Asimov wore his brand new hat and when the convention came around, he had an excellent opportunity to wear it again.

Lisa and I also talked about how service animals react in public spaces and how they interact with each other at these events. I asked about the service vest versus the hat. If Asimov recognizes that the vest is on and that means he is working, does he also behave differently when the hat is on? “Yes I think so,” Lisa said, “Another good example would be when he wears his Mickey hat at Disneyland. He often prances because he realizes he’s getting more attention than usual.”


Asimov sports his Mickey Mouse ears at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. Photo courtesy of Lisa Mueller.

I had posed a similar question to Kat Mac Kenzie as I watched Sabrina keep a quiet eye on the crowd that passed us while we talked. Mac Kenzie’s answer came in two parts, the first of which was simple; no matter what Sabrina is wearing, she was always quietly attentive. “She likes to keep an eye out for me,” Kat said. The rest of her answer takes a little bit of explaining. Across from us was a pile of sound-activated tribbles, which provided the backdrop for the rest of the story. Imagine walking past a display of round fuzzy creatures and seeing a dog in costume, playing with them. “At first I wasn’t sure how she would react to the tribbles, but she started playing after a while. Soon she was throwing them up in the air for herself. It became a show for all the fans.”


Movement around the tribble pile catches Sabrina’s attention during her photo shoot.

When I heard that this was not the only costume vest that Sabrina owned, I asked how she responded to the various items. Did she act differently in one costume over another? Did she have a favorite? “She doesn’t like pompoms,” Mac Kenzie told me. “I think because they poke her or get in her way. We never force her to wear an outfit, we let her sniff it and check it out first. Sometimes, when she first wears it, she will shake a little and get used to it that way.” These trial and error introductions were how Sabrina let Kat know she was not a fan of large tutus and that smaller costumes and vests were best.

As the convention wound down and I packed up to go home, I thought about the new friends I had made while writing up this article. I contemplated the costumes and thought about people I had talked to about meeting service animals. Not surprisingly, a lot of people remembered meeting the animals, but didn’t see them as dogs on the job, only as animals in costume. During our interview, Mac Kenzie admitted to me that Sabrina watches Star Trek with her, and I can certainly believe that because (as regular readers of my articles know) our rat North would not ever miss an episode of Sleepy Hollow or Hell on Wheels. Looking back at my weekend, with all of this in mind, I can’t help thinking that the gentleman and his three dogs had it right. Maybe these guys really should count as uniformed fans and not just animals dressed up for an occasion.

Mirrani Houpe, YPS Staff Member

Mirrani Houpe, our Small Animal Editor, has had rats since she took home her first little boy once they both completed the second grade. Since that time she has owned, rescued and bred many kinds of rats, from many backgrounds. She may not be a vet, psychology major, or scientist, but her babies have her very well trained when it comes to how to care for them. She is constantly working with her family’s veterinarian to come up with new and innovative ways to love and care for the most often misunderstood rodent in the pet world. You can e-mail her at mirrani@yourpetspace.info

Get A Life, An EPIX Original documentary directed by William Shatner, is available here.

Mirrani would like to thank Kat Mac Kenzie for her time spent talking about Service Dogs and fandom, both in Vegas and through messages afterward. She would also like to thank Lisa Muller for her part in making sure everything was just how it should be in the final draft of this article. Finally, a shout out must be sent to Max Grodénchik (Rom of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) and his wife Carina, who helped contribute to some of this through an email interview that never got quoted, but did have an impact on what is contained within these paragraphs. If anyone would like to see Max work live, he and the rest of the Rat Pack will be performing at Creation’s 50th anniversary conventions next year.

Hindu Gods/Goddesses and Their Amazing Animal Vehicles


–photo courtesy of Srabanti Chakrabarti

The Hindu faith, the cradle of which is India, is a religion which dotes upon the birds and animals. In fact, the religion has bestowed the fur, feathers and fins species the status of divinity by linking their multifarious gods and goddesses to various animals. All the numerous Hindu gods and goddesses are considered the manifestations of one supreme creator, the Almighty God. The gods and goddesses in Hindu mythology travel in supersonic speed on animals and birds. Different gods have different vahanas (animal vehicles). The literal meaning of the word ‘vahana’ is ‘that which carries, that which pulls’. Mesopotamian gods and goddesses were all associated with vahanas. According to some historians, the concept reached Indian shores in the second millennium BC via the trade route between the two ancient civilizations.

Surya – Horses
The sun god, Surya, mounts on a golden chariot, pulled by seven white horses. Seven is a sacred number in Hindu mythology. The seven horses are representative of the seven major sins and how the Sun God triumphs over them. They also symbolize the seven chakras (spiritual vortexes in the human body).

Agni – Ram
Agni, or the fire god, rides upon a ram. Sacrifices are offered to Agni and to many other gods through him. Interestingly, the ram is a sacrificial animal, which has been linked to the Hindu fire god, to whom sacrifices are offered.

Brahma- Swan
Brahma, the god of creation, travels all over outer space on a swan, chanting the sacred Hindu scripture the Vedas. The elegant swan is symbolic of intelligence. As per Hindu tradition, it’s a bird which can figuratively sift the pure from the impure, like it sieves milk from water. Sometimes, Brahma is shown riding seven swans.

Durga family with vahanas

Durga family with vahanas–photo courtesy of Arindam Mukherjee.

Durga – Lion
Ishtar, the Mesopotamian goddess of war is seen with a lion. Similarly, Durga, the mother of the universe and the warrior goddess, pierces a spear into the buffalo demon’s heart, while riding a lion. The lion, as we all know, has been nicknamed the King of the Jungle. In Hinduism it’s also considered the supreme of all animals. Also, let’s keep in mind that the goddess rides a tame lion. The lion may also represent gluttony and the craving for sensory pleasures which gives birth to lust. The goddess riding a lion may also symbolize that she has tamed the instincts of greed, lust and gluttony to rise to a spiritual height.

Ganesha with mouse

Ganesha, the huge elephant headed god, who is worshipped for wealth and prosperity, mounts on a mouse. This rodent was actually a god named Kroncha in his previous life. He had accidentally stepped on the toes of Saint Vamadeva, who was also worshipped as a god. Stepping on a spiritual being, is considered blasphemous in Hinduism. Kroncha desperately begged apology. Vamadeva’s wrath simmered down. Undoing a curse is mythically impossible, but he toned it down by saying that he would become Ganesha’s vehicle.
As per mythologists, the mouse is symbolic of basal desires. Being dark in colour, it is also averse of light or truth. Some feel that the mouse is representative of the egoistic mind, as it can metaphorically gnaw on the virtues of man. Ganesha, by mounting the mouse, thereby symbolically conquers impure desires, spiritual darkness and pride.

Indra, the god of rain and thunderstorms, rides a white elephant called Airavata. This winged elephant was hatched from a cosmic egg. Of the 16 elephants that were born from this egg, Airavata was by far the strongest. This mythical creature sucks water with her trunk and sprinkles it on earth thereby creating rain. He had fathered winged white elephants as well. One day they accidentally interrupted a class conducted by a sage when he was teaching. He put a curse on them which clipped their wings. The white elephants of today are said to be Airavata’s descendents. Airavata besides being Indra’s vahana is believed to, along with his siblings, hold up the eastern hemisphere of the globe.

Kartikeya –-Peacock
Kartikeya, the god of war is seen in pictures as perched on a magnificent peacock. The prevailing myth is that the peacock doesn’t copulate with the peahen. Therefore it is regarded as a chaste bird. As the old wives’ tale goes the peacock is contented with its magnificent plumes but is deeply embarrassed by its unattractive legs. While it joyfully dances under a cloudy sky, when it glances at its legs, it is moved to tears. The peahen sips the tears and conceives. So, the message to all warriors is that they should forgo all sexual desires, if they wish to emerge victorious in war. The scientific truth however is that peacocks do have sexual intercourse.

Lakshmi, the goddess of fortune, wealth and prosperity mounts the wise old white owl. Besides wisdom, the bird also symbolizes patience and intelligence. Its white plumes denote spiritual purity. It is also bestowed with the mythical powers of fortune telling. Simultaneously, this owl also serves the practical purposes of a barn owl. In the state of Bengal in India, the annual festival dedicated to the worship of Goddess Lakshmi, is celebrated in late autumn. This is when the farmers have just reaped a rich harvest and have stocked their granaries with food grains. The owl cleanses the granaries of all pests, thereby protecting the grain. The more grain the farmer sells, the wealthier he/ she will become.

Saraswati duck

Saraswati duck–photo courtesy of Arindam Mukherjee.

Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, wisdom, learning, music and arts is seen with a swan. As she is after all Brahma’s consort, it’s not surprising that she has chosen the same bird as the vahana.

Shani with crow

Hindus pray to Lord Shani to ward off influences of evil forces. Just like mischievous magpies have ill repute in the occidental part of the globe because of their thieving tendencies; in India crows too are linked with stealing. By mounting the crow, Shani is said to suppress pilfering habits in people. He is also the god who metes out punishment to those who have abided by evil ways.

Goddess Shashthi, the goddess of fertility, is worshipped by the childless who wish to conceive. As the old tale goes, the daughter-in-law of a farmer, consumed great quantities of fish and milk from the kitchen on the sly. When confronted, she falsely put the blame on a black cat. The innocent animal was beaten repeatedly. The feline complained to Shashthi and decided to teach the liar woman a lesson. The cat stole six of her new born baby boys. Her seventh child was a daughter and when the cat tried to take her away, she injured it and followed her to discover that all her children were with Mother Shashthi. The goddess insisted that she apologize to the cat. The woman touched the cat’s paws as a sign of devotion and promised never to put false blame on it. All her kids were returned and her sisters-in-law were blessed with bonny babies.

Shitala is prayed to with the hope that she’ll ward off chicken pox, measles and sores. She is believed to ride the streets of villages on a donkey with a broom, sweeping paths free of germs.

Shiva with Nandi

Shiva, the destroyer, rides a bull named Nandi. The bull being a strong animal symbolizes virility. Nandi is Shiva’s ardent devotee. He is said to have lived with the god in the heavenly snowy abode of Kailash.

Vishnu, the Preserver/Protector mounts an eagle-like creature called Garuda. To save his mother, Garuda flew to the heavens and slayed two snakes to fetch a pot of nectar. Since that day, Garuda developed acrimony with snakes and started feeding on them. The eagle, as we all know, preys on snakes too. Garuda is seen as clutching two snakes and with serpents garlanded around him.

Yama–Male Buffalo
Yama, the lord of death, rides a black buffalo. This celestial beast is said to be strong enough to ferry two armoured gods. Yama is also the god of righteousness, his tough water buffalo is said to be symbolic of upholding justice. Yama, perched on the buffalo roams around the world, searching for souls which are about to exit the earthly abode.

The tiger, which is the national animal of India, is the vehicle of god Ayyappa, who happens to be Shiva’s son, conceived of the enchantress Mohini. The baby Ayyappa was forsaken on the river banks and was found by a childless king. Later, the queen had a biological child. She faked an illness which would only be cured by tiger’s milk. She summoned Ayyappa to fetch the milk. The wicked woman secretly hoped that the tiger would kill him. He returned victoriously on a female tiger along with her cubs, carrying a pot full of milk. The royal couple realized that he was god. The queen pleaded for forgiveness.


–photo courtesy of Srabanti Chakrabarti

Countless Vahanas
These were just a handful of tales of Indian gods and goddesses with their beloved animals. Vayu (the wind god) rides on a horse. Varuna (the water god) rides the waves on a crocodile. The river goddess Yamuna drifts on a tortoise. Bhairava, a manifestation of Shiva, has chosen a dog as his vehicle. The list is almost endless.

There are more than 330 million gods and goddesses in Hinduism. The tales of them with their respective vahanas have filled voluminous books, which are stored in various quaint libraries across the country. Some of these manuscripts are still in the ancient Indian language Sanskrit, which are yet to be translated to English and other contemporary Indian languages.


–photo courtesy of Srabanti Chakrabarti

The Future Vahana
There’s yet another god whom Hindus are looking forward to. He is to make his entry into the world along with his vahana in future. Currently, Kaliyug, or “age of vice”, is ongoing as per the Hindu mythological calendar. It’s believed that Kalki, an incarnation of Vishnu, will come galloping on a white horse, to usher in Satya Yuga, “the age of truth and virtues”.

Pallavi Bhattacharya

Pallavi Bhattacharya from Mumbai in India is the pet parent to a white rabbit named Potol. She feeds stray dogs and cats. She has written for leading Indian publications on animals/ pets like gingertail.in, Dogs and Pups, Cats and Kittens, the Furs, Feathers and Fins magazine and Buddy Life.

The Conservators Center Update

It is with a happy heart that I get to report on the goings on at the Conservators Center as a part of our spotlight on animal organizations. So many things have happened there since I last wrote The Story of Several Servals back in March that I thought it was time for an update. The folks at the Center have been very busy fighting the wording of House Bill 554, raising funds for the summer care of their animals (who have been painting up a storm), and welcoming a new member to their animal family. Below is a quick review of what is going on with my favorite place to meet Lions, Tigers, Wolves… and now, a Coyote!

House Bill 554

If you receive our newsletter, you might have seen that the Center was facing some serious concerns with a new bill (House Bill 554) which was intended to protect the public from harmful wild animals. The issue with said bill continuing the way it was written was that it would require many legitimate organizations to shut down and could have led to the euthanization of some animals. Places like the Conservators Center, Duke Lemur Center, and other wildlife sanctuaries open to the public would no longer be able to function under the conditions specified, since they give guided tours of their facilities in order to help raise funds to care for the animals, as well as to educate and promote conservation. After many polite emails to all the right people and much discussion of the bill on voting day, it was announced that the bill would be reworded and that the Conservators Center and other facilities with the same purpose would not be forced to close. There are still a few issues with the bill as it has been changed, mostly related to technical language and industry concepts that are hard to negotiate, but as it stands, the Conservators Center and many similar places around the state can remain open and active. If you wrote to your legislators, I thank you, and I know the Center thanks you as well.

Meet Sullivan!

At around the same time, a small pup was found along the side of a local road and taken in by some well-intentioned people who thought they had found a feral dog. At the first visit to their vet, they were in for quite a surprise when they discovered they had a small coyote on their hands. Sadly, because it can be easy to mistake a coyote pup for a coyote-dog cross or for a feral dog, the coyote had been taken into the home of humans and treated as a puppy would be and it was impossible for him to be re-released into his wild home. It wasn’t long before the Conservators Center was contacted and the pup was given a new home, with trainers and handlers who are used to working with wild animals.

sullivan the coyote pup

Sullivan as a pup. – Photo by Taylor Hattori Images

The Conservators Center had a naming contest for Sullivan as a part of their summer costs fundraising campaign and one lucky person who donated got to pick the perfect name. Over time, the Center has posted videos of Sulli playing and howling with his handlers. Regular followers on Facebook and Twitter have been able to watch him grow and there is certainly no doubt that this little guy is a coyote! Both playful and handsome, he has begun greeting visitors and is available for lifetime adoption. I cannot wait to get out and meet him next time I go through on a tour.

(The Conservators Center also gained another New Guinea Singing Dog named Mouse, as a friend for Tsumi, who had lost her companion earlier in the year.)

twitter post

Recent Twitter post from the Conservators Center

Keeping Animals Cool

This time of year is comfortable for the lions and some other animals who live at the Conservators Center and are used to a warm climate, but for the tigers, binturongs, and others, heat is not a condition they would regularly be familiar with. It takes a lot of work and effort to help keep these animals comfortable in the hot summer months in the southern state of North Carolina, where we don’t just deal with heat, we deal with humidity and heat indexes that can get over 105 on any given day. This is a time when the Conservators Center needs a lot of help in the form of donations.

Money raised at this time of year helps to pay for things such as outdoor fans, wading pools, shade cloths and hammocks, water hoses and reels, pest control, and all the bills that go with constantly running fans and changing the water in wading pools several times a day. There are so many things the Center needs at this time of year that donations are a real, true blessing, and one of the ways they are raising money is by selling paintings…

Animals and Art

From July 23rd through September 4th the Conservators Center is teaming up with the Alamance County Arts Council to produce an exhibit of over 50 pieces of art created by the animals at the Center. These aren’t just paw prints on paper, these are beautiful masterpieces, blending color and texture onto real canvases. How do they do it? The humans at the Center base coat the canvas with a safe tempera paint, let that dry, then add liquid paints enhanced with smells that the animals like (cinnamon, perfume, etc) and allow the animals to rub, sniff, and otherwise interact with the canvas as they would with an object in nature that stimulated their senses. Sometimes you get claw or tooth marks along with the prints from the fur, but that is all part of each animal’s interaction with their canvas. This is an enrichment activity that the humans are specially trained to administer and is fully enjoyable by the animals. No one is ever forced to paint and the activity has been going on for ten years now.

Typically the paintings go up for auction, but this year they are going on display, as well as being available for purchase through the Alamance County Arts Council. There are several pictures that were posted of this year’s artwork, but my personal favorite has to be “Introversions” by Ugmo Lion and Kira Lion. (I mean, come on. This is Your Pet Space, of course I’m going to show you artwork by a lion named Kira.)


Description of the art and artists by the Conservators Center website:

Ugmo Lion and Kira Lion are different in a lot of ways. Ugmo is enjoying her golden years; Kira is still in the prime of her life. Ugmo was rescued from a negligent breeding facility in 2004; Kira was entrusted to the Center by a reputable zoo. They even live in separate enclosures, but they have one thing in common: both of them live with an extrovert! Ugmo’s roommate, Kiara, is a social butterfly, quick to greet her favorite human friends and receive endless amounts of attention. And Kira’s roommate—Arthur, a white tiger—is the star of the Conservators Center. But Ugmo and Kira don’t mind. Most of the time, they can be found lounging in the back of their enclosures, looking on with soft smiles as their bright, unreserved roomies ham it up in the front. This painting is an exploration of the joy of introversion: the luxury of resting quietly in dark shadowy places, with no pressure to perform or act outside of one’s nature—and how wonderful it is to know you are just as valued and adored as your more gregarious counterparts.

Kira's paw

Kira Lion – wild paw at work. Photo by Taylor Hattori

The last of the major events that has happened at the Conservators Center was a surgery for Kiara Lion, who was slowly changing in her old age. Her temperament wasn’t what it used to be and the folks at the Center requested the help of Dr. Doug Ray from the Animal Hospital of Mebane. With the help of students from the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Doug performed a spay and exploratory surgery in order to be certain that her hormonal imbalance could be corrected and her emotional state set to the right place again.


Doug teaches Sarah about the anesthesia machine. It was donated by a dedicated group of Lifetime Adopters who wanted to ensure good surgical outcomes for our geriatric residents, who are the most at risk when we must administer anesthesia.

This is yet another example of the wonderful opportunities that the Conservators Center makes possible for education and outreach. It is because of this wonderful group that the Carnivore Team at NCSU were able to participate in a big cat surgery, and it is because of this same group that members of the community get to meet Kiara and all of the other animals that would normally be so far from us. For these things and so much more, many members of the animal kingdom and animal lovers everywhere are forever grateful.

The full story of Kiara’s surgery can be found on their website.

All images and image descriptions are used from the Conservators Center website, with permission on the condition that we give credit to photographers as was noted.

Mirrani Houpe, YPS Staff Member

Mirrani Houpe, our Small Animal Editor, has had rats since she took home her first little boy once they both completed the second grade. Since that time she has owned, rescued and bred many kinds of rats, from many backgrounds. She may not be a vet, psychology major, or scientist, but her babies have her very well trained when it comes to how to care for them. She is constantly working with her family’s veterinarian to come up with new and innovative ways to love and care for the most often misunderstood rodent in the pet world. You can e-mail her at mirrani@yourpetspace.info

YPS Shorts: P-Mail, Shedding and New Cat Help

time to log in again

This time around, we’d like share the work of some new writers (and one talented artist) with all of you…

The cartoon you see above was created by Dan Rosandich, and aptly illustrates what most dog owners are quite familiar with: doggy “Facebooking”, aka “checking pee-mail”.  😀  More of Dan’s work can be found at DansCartoons.Com.

Next, a short piece about shedding…

How Much is Too Much Hair and How to Deal with It?

They drive me mad. Yes, you are right. Those little fur balls, especially around spring and fall are what I am talking about. The first advice I can give you: accept it. Your beloved dog will shed one way or the other. The next stop is dealing with it. But how?

I have two dogs, Brando and Astoria and a cat Archibald. Yes, they live together in the same house. Don’t make me start talking about that! Anyway, I will just say that having them in the house during shedding seasons is not what I consider a clean house. However, as we love our pets so much, we strive towards finding a solution. During years of having pets, I learned a few tricks of my own.

As I have said, dogs usually shed in fall and spring. If your dog is kept indoor, you can expect year-round shedding. If you notice that your pooch sheds more excessively than usual, the reasons behind it may lie in nutrition, parasites, allergies or other medical problems.

shedding golden

Brush, brush and more brush

I advise to brush your dog every couple of days, no matter what the length of the coat is. You know that there are specific brushes for specific breeds? And you know that some breeds require more than one brush? I have been really struggling with so many types, until I came across a product. I will just say: God bless the furminator – a lifesaver that I bought at Stefmar.

Get Rid of Parasites

Parasites are one of the reasons why your dog sheds too much. Keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy by bathing it once a month. It will work for most dogs. However, some breeds with an oily coat require bathing more often. An oatmeal shampoo is a good choice as it nourishes the skin and coat. Taking your dog to a vet once a year for the inspection of the stool is also something you should do.

There are many types of parasites, the most common being fleas. To keep your pet fleas-free, you can opt for a once-a-month topical insecticide, a spray, a collar or a flea comb. I think that a flea-comb is a little bit overlooked, but I find it extremely useful.

Pay Attention To Your Dog’s Food

Malnutrition is one of the factor contributing to excessive shedding. The food you give to your pet should meet the standards of your national food control officials. However, paying attention to ingredients is important, as well. Nutritious food should contain meat, a source of carbohydrates and a source of unsaturated fat. You can also add olive oil or flaxseed oil to your dog’s food. I add 5ml per 10 pounds of body weight. You can also treat your dog with human food, but it is important to know which food your pet should eat and which it shouldn’t.

golden puppy

Allergies And Medical Problems

If excessive shedding lasts longer than a week, visit a vet. You can spot more serious medical problems if your dog has bald patches, you notice skin irritation, scratching, constant foot licking or face rubbing. I found out last year that Astoria was allergic to a household cleaner I used to use. At first I did not know why she started shedding so much. Since I could understand why this was happening, I visited a vet and she told me that allergies are one of the causes of shedding.

full face golden

I hope my experience will prove to be useful to you. However, before you try to solve the problem of (excessive) shedding, my advice is to always seek the help of vet. Depending on a breed, he/she will know whether shedding is normal or not and which steps should be taken.

Roxana Oliver

Roxana Oliver is an adventurer and frequent traveler as well as blogger at highstylife.com. Besides traveling she loves to take hikes with her two dogs and play around the house with her mischievous cat Archibald. Roxana is a green building designer by vocation, and has a passion for exotic cooking. 

Here’s a short piece for those thinking of adopting a kitten…


Basic Equipment For Your Feline Friend, The Cat

There are many things you can have ready before your kitten arrives and in no time it will grow into an adult cat. If you are good at a few things, you both can be very good friends. You will need a cat litter box, certainly a good quality of cat litter, carrying basket, toys, scratching post–which is one of the most important–and a grooming kit. Tags and microchips for identifying and tracing them are also very useful.  A special bed would be nice, but you shouldn’t be worried because a lot of times, they like to be by your bed or at one corner.

Litter Box

One of the most essential things to have is a litter box.  There are various types of litter boxes on the market. There are small, medium and extra large sizes with open or closed box types. You have top opening or side opening ones, as well.  In this era of technology you also have robotic litter boxes that are self cleaning by scooping out the solid wastes after the cat is done with its job.

The brand of litter is also important and you need to stick to something that it likes. Also take care to teach your cat to use the box. Always keep it clean and tidy.

Scratching Post

The next important thing is perhaps the scratching post to keep your curtains, bed sheets, sofa and furniture from getting scratched by your pet’s nails. While playing, it can keep scratching quite often and vigorously.

A post should be sturdy and tall: its height should be at least 25 to 30 inches. Cats grow taller and they will like to scratch on something they can climb on while standing on their hind legs.



Grooming is also an important aspect. As with other pets, cats prefer to keep themselves neat and tidy. But you will need to properly groom your cat regularly. Use proper combs and brushes to brush its fur. Take care with the face, eyelids and whiskers. There is nothing like playing with a furry cat, and when you take proper care of your pet, you both only get closer.

You will also need  to use properly cleaned utensils to serve your cat with her daily diet. Cats can have allergies to plastic, but you can use glass and ceramic much more confidently.

Written by Earlene Krause

What Is A Bulldog?

bulldog on leash

There are various types of bulldogs ranging from the French and American as well as the very popular English bulldog. The species themselves have a very interesting origin. The dogs can date back to almost the 5th century and were called the Alaunt.  Primarily, they were used for livestock control. These dogs had a unique muscular build allowing them to retain their strength while remaining small and utilizing their low center of gravity. These features made them ideal for catching farm animals like horses and cattle and even allowing them to battle against bulls, hence the name, Bulldog. They exhibited supreme abilities to wrestle down bulls by throwing their weight while latched onto a bulls’ snout in order to flip them over their own center of gravity. The primitive sport was known as “Bull baiting” and for around three hundred plus years it was the reasoning behind breeding Bulldogs for aggression. Until 1835, when bull baiting was finally banned, the bulldog was a key contender in an exhibition against a bull weighing nearly a ton. During the era of the sport, all classes, rich or poor, were known to gather and place wagers on the outcomes of the battle between the animals. Many dogs were tossed violently by the bulls and suffered from broken bones and lost teeth from hanging onto the enraged bull’s nose while it bucked and struggled to get free. The sport originally started out with having a variety of dogs, like Mastiffs, participate and fail due to their size and speed making them easy to be thrown or struck by the bulls’ large horns. Breeders began to recognize the need for a smaller dog that could withstand being shook as well as having the weight to hold themselves down. Those traits as well as the tenacity that bulldogs possessed made them a great candidate to fight their ferocious bull opponents. Once bull baiting was outlawed in the United Kingdom, it seemed that there was no longer a need for the breed and the bulldog almost reached extinction. That is until the exportation of the dog brought them into the United States and Germany where they were again used for herding cattle and other farm animals. In modern day, the bulldog is a highly sought after companion due to their loyalty and protectiveness for their owners.

bulldog face

Popularity Of The Bulldog

The Bulldog’s popularity is most likely due to the fact that their loyalty is accompanied by their friendly personalities. The dogs are incredibly kind and show compassion towards their owners as well as being playful with other dogs. The stature of the animal could say otherwise, however, despite the ferocious appearance the bulldog possesses, it’s hard to find an animal as loving and as sweet. As well as being tenacious they are proud and dignified, especially when protecting their families. They are courageous but aren’t looking to pick a fight given their peaceful history with owners. They are calm but will be excited to play around and be outside.

The other side of their personality explains their plump bodies and rolls of fat. The English bulldog is famous for being lazy and sleeping whenever they get the chance. There are times that they may get so chubby that it could become difficult to even roll over. They love to sit on laps or find a comfortable spot in the living room to snooze and snore the afternoon away. It also probably goes without saying that bulldogs love to eat. Bulldogs usually have a way of using the infamous “puppy dog eyes” in order to get more treats. Normally they are indoor dogs that rest until it is time to eat again. People can’t help but love their chunky bodies and big personalities that come with owning a bulldog.

oz bulldog


The needs of a bulldog are simple when it comes to things like exercise. They normally lead a relaxed lifestyle but should be walked at least once a day to prevent weight gain. Too much weight can be bad for the dogs and put them at risk for disease and arthritis. After less than thirty minutes of play the dogs are usually ready for some water and a nap. Because of their low energy levels they can easily adapt to living in a house or an apartment as well as any type of home. Bulldogs are infamously heavy breathers and need water after an excess amount of playing or walking. They are also easily susceptible to heat stroke and usually don’t do well in weather that’s too hot or cold. When caring for them the fat folds on the bulldog are usually a cause for concern because they need to be cleaned regularly. This is a very large commitment with bulldogs because they have folds all over their body. It’s recommended to use baby wipes in order to prevent cuts and infection in these areas. As well as frequently wiping underneath their folds, their nose is also an area that needs to be wiped clean regularly. Without regular care the nose can get dry and flaky and can be very unpleasant for bulldogs. The English bulldog has a protruding jaw that causes their lips to hang out from the sides of their mouth and produces lots of saliva. It’s ideal to wipe their mouths clean because the saliva picks up dirt and grime from the floor. Bulldogs are also known to shed and it’s a good idea to brush their coats daily to reduce the amount of hair being left on clothes and furniture. It’s also great to watch out for any type of limping or signs of soreness because bulldogs tend to get arthritis as they age. These dogs need to be paid attention to and require a great deal of care. If you’re considering getting a bulldog it’s important to invest a lot of time to take care of it in order to help it lead a happy and healthy life.

American Bulldog

As mentioned before, there are several different breeds other than the English bulldog available for pet owners. One of the most popular is the American bulldog that is recognized for its muscular build and athletic abilities. These medium sized dogs have premier traits for a sports dog and for working on farms and cattle herding. They are playful and have great endurance. They make outstanding guard dogs because of their loyalty and fearless attitudes.

French Bulldog

Another breed that has gained popularity in the United States is the French bulldog. These dogs are much smaller than English or American bulldogs but can easily be recognized for sharing traits similar to both. Just like the others, these small dogs have the appearance of an active animal that is muscular and intelligent. They are powerful for their size and have small bat ears with a very expressive gaze. They are great pets that can live in any size home and are just as friendly as any other bulldog.

There are multiple other breeds of bulldogs that can make great pets for families or single dog owners. Options like Aussie or Victorian bulldog are exclusively bred in certain regions of the world but others like the Banter or Valley bulldog are rarer. Each breed shares the personality traits of kindness and fun loving. They also require the same attentiveness and love. Bulldogs are a great pet to have and a great investment for companionship.

Lazarus Gomez

Lazarus Gomez, an aspiring writer from Phoenix, Arizona has been freelance writing for local newspapers and is currently majoring in journalism at New Mexico State University. He has always been an avid animal lover and has two large bulldogs named Levi and Diesel. Included in the pack of animals he owns is a small cat named Mary. He currently resides in Las Cruces, New Mexico and is hoping to pursue his passion in sports writing.