Caring for the goldfish your kid won at the school carnival is fairly easy unless you have a curious cat nearby. It’s not the cat’s fault. But you should definitely keep natural instincts in mind before pairing up different species of pets. “Typically, in pairing we commonly stress predator-prey relationships in multi-species pairings. However, this is not always a factor,” states Dr Brian W. Ogle, an assistant professor of anthrozoology. “Early exposure during an animal’s critical development period can greatly impact their ability to socialise.” For example, Dr Ogle has two cats that live harmoniously with a rabbit. “This is only successful because my cats were exposed to rabbits as kittens and have grown up with them. Reinforcement of positive behaviours were critical.”
There’s more fish in the sea
That cute goldfish prefers a specific habitat that may not jibe with another type of fish. An animals’ habitat plays a huge role in determining if animals can co-exist, especially in the case of fish and reptiles. Habitats aren’t just about who gets the bigger rock to hide under, but things like natural history, eating patterns and food types. For example, the cichlid fish should only be housed in cichlid communities, and you must know where the little guy comes from before introducing him to another cichlid. “For example, Lake Tanganyika cichlids can only be housed with other cichlids of the same area of origin. The different varieties of these cichlids each have their own unique habitat requirement,” says Dr Ogle. Look for fish labelled “community” for your aquarium as they do well in groups. However, caution is advised when joining fish that are labelled “aggressive” or “semi-aggressive” labelled fish.
Birds of a feather don’t always flock together
Some animals have distinctions that aren’t easily detectable at first glance. Birds, for example, seem very similar, with the exception of their colourful plumage. Yet, each species has different habitats and unless you’re an experienced bird owner and have the space and capability, Dr Ogle says don’t mix birds of different feathers. Yes, Polly does want a cracker but he’s not sharing it with a canary.