Hillview Exotics

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Mammals

Degu

The Degu (pronounced DAY-goo) is a small caviomorph rodent that is native to Chile. It is sometimes referred to as the Brush-Tailed Rat (although not closely related to the rat family) and is also called the Common Degu. Other members are also called degus, but they are distinguished by additional names. Degus are closely related to the chinchilla and guinea pig.

Degus are highly social. They live in burrows, and, by digging communally, they are able to construct larger and more elaborate burrows than they could on their own. Degus digging together coordinate their activities, forming digging chains. Females living in the same group have been shown to spontaneously nest communally; they nurse one another's young. They spend a large amount of time on the surface, where they forage for food. When foraging, their ability to detect predators is increased in larger groups, and each animal needs to spend less time in vigilance. Degus exhibit a wide array of communication techniques. They have an elaborate vocal repertoire, and the young need to be able to hear their mother's calls if the emotional systems in their brains are to develop properly. They use their urine to scent mark, and experiments have shown that they react to one another's marks. Degus' urine turns white when dry. Many degus bite when coming in contact with an unfamiliar scent.

Degus are seasonal breeders; the breeding season for wild degus begins in the Chilean winter, with pups born mid-late spring. It is also speculated that female degus are induced ovulators. Female degus are pregnant for approximately ninety days, having a long gestation period compared to other squirrels and even rodents such as hamsters. Litters usually contain four to seven pups, but size can range from one or two up to fifteen young. Degu pups are born relatively precocial, fully furred and with eyes open, and their auditory and visual systems are functional at birth.

Degus are diurnal, have good vision are herbivores, feeding on grasses and browsing the leaves of shrubs, though they will also take seeds. It is not uncommon to see them chewing their own feces so as to extract more nutrition from them. This also serves to maintain healthy gut function. Degus are prone to diabetes due to their divergent insulin structure.

Degus have become popular as pets, though until very recently they were seldom found in pet shops. Their advantages over traditional small pets are their diurnal habits, bubbly personalities, the haired tail (as compared to rats and mice) and their lifetime: they are said to live up to 13 years under ideal circumstances (though a poor gene pool/genetic background often reduces a pet degu's lifespan significantly). The average lifespan of a degu in captivity is said to be around 5-8 years of age. Their intelligence makes them easy to tame and to learn new things. Degus often 'groom' their human owners, by a gentle nibbling action, but they can give a defensive bite if they feel threatened.

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Chinchilla

Chinchillas are native to the Andes Mountains in South America. The animal (whose name literally means "little Chincha") is named after the Chincha people of the Andes, who wore its soft and dense fur.

Chinchilla were brought to America in 1918 by a mining engineer. At this point, chinchillas were already close to extinction from humans killing them for the fur trade. It took over 12 months to move the small animals down the mountain allowing them time to acclimate to lower altitudes before bring them to the US. Since then, chinchillas have become increasingly popular as house pets. Extremely quite, these small docile rodents become active in late afternoon and early evening hours.

Because of their long term domestication and breeding, most have a great disposition and are easily trained making them a great pet. Chin’s love to be held and play but need a closed in space as they can get into nearly any open hole and they are curious by nature. Unlike most pets, Chin’s never need to bath in water, in fact, if your Chin gets wet, it needs to be dried immediately. Chin’s bathe in Volcanic Dust, which can be purchased at, nearly any pet store and they love to roll around in the stuff. This Volcanic bath they take can be a bit messy when they roll around. Due to their dense fur, they rarely even get parasites such as fleas or ticks.

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Skunk

Skunks are known to everyone by sight, smell, and reputation. The striped skunk is about the size of a house cat, with a large deep body, small head, and short legs. The hair is long and black, with a broad patch of white on its head and shoulders. Two white lines forming a “V” from the shoulder area may extend part way or all of the way to the base of the bushy tail. Color variations include brown, white, cream, black, and, occasionally, albino. Males and females are colored alike with males being slightly larger in size.

Skunks are omnivores, meaning that they eat both meat and vegetables. Some of their favorites include insects, small mammals, fish, crustaceans, fruits, grasses, leaves, buds, grains, nuts, and carrion. Although not true hibernators, skunks do store quantities of body fat in the fall. When the weather gets cold they will retreat to protective dens where they remain for several weeks or a month at a time. Skunks are primarily nocturnal animals and very seldom do they wander around during the daytime. Being highly adaptable they can fit in to almost any environment.

Breeding is from late February through March and the young are born in about 63 days. Average litter size is between 2-10 offspring which stay with their mother until the following spring. Skunks are well known for their ability to spray musk when threatened. They can spray with great accuracy up to 15 feet. Because of this reason, we at Hillview Exotics only sell offspring which are de-scented.

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Opossum

The opossum is North America’s only marsupial (a mammal that carries its underdeveloped young in a pouch until they are capable of living independently). It is also one of the oldest and most primitive species of mammal in North America. This animal is little changed from its ancestors 70 million years ago.

An adult opossum is about the size of a large house cat, with coarse, grizzled grayish fur. It has a long, scaly tail, ears without fur, and a long, pointed snout that ends in a pink nose. Opossums are quite adaptable, however, their ideal habitat is an area interspersed with woods, wetlands, and farmland. The den is usually situated in a wooded area near water. The opossum is an opportunist that will take shelter anywhere it can stay dry and safe from predators. It often uses the deserted dens of other animals, brush piles, tree holes or openings under old buildings as shelter.

The opossum’s best known behavior is that of “playing possum”. When threatened, the opossum may hiss and bare its teeth. More likely, though, it will roll over and lay motionless, appearing to be dead. When the danger is past, the opossum “revives” and resumes its activities. They are Omnivorous eating nearly anything to include carrion (dead animals), insects, fish, reptiles, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

Breeding Season is generally February-March, but can run from January-October. Offspring are born in just 13 days but will crawl along their mother’s underside to the pouch and remain there for about 2 months. Average litter size is 9. Opossums can have anywhere from 1-3 litters a year. At about three months of age, young possums emerge from the pouch for short periods and will hitch a ride on the mother’s back to get from place to place. In several days to a week later the young leave the “nest” for good.

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Raccoon

The raccoon also known as the common raccoon, North American raccoon, or northern raccoon is a medium-sized mammal native to North America. The raccoon is usually nocturnal and is omnivorous, with a diet consisting of about 40% invertebrates, 33% plant foods, and 27% vertebrates. It has a grayish coat, of which almost 90% is dense underfur, which insulates against cold weather. Two of its most distinctive features are its extremely dexterous front paws and its facial mask, which are themes in the mythology of several Native American tribes. Raccoons are noted for their intelligence, with studies showing that they are able to remember the solution to tasks up to three years later.

The most characteristic physical feature of the raccoon is the area of black fur around the eyes which contrasts sharply with the surrounding white face coloring. This is reminiscent of a "bandit's mask" and has thus enhanced the animal's reputation for mischief. The slightly rounded ears are also bordered by white fur. It is assumed that raccoons recognize the facial expression and posture of other members of their species more quickly because of the conspicuous facial coloration and the alternating light and dark rings on the tail.

The most important sense for the raccoon is its sense of touch. The "hyper sensitive" front paws are protected by a thin horny layer which becomes pliable when wet. The five digits of the paws have no webbing between them. They are able to identify objects before touching them with vibrissae located above their, non-retractable claws. The raccoon's paws lack an opposable thumb and thus it does not have the agility of the hands of primates.

Though usually nocturnal, the raccoon is sometimes active in daylight to take advantage of available food sources. Raccoons usually mate in a period triggered by increasing daylight between late January and mid-March. After usually 63 to 65 days of gestation (although anywhere from 54 to 70 days is possible), a litter of typically two to five young (known as a "kit", plural "kits") are born in spring. The kits are subsequently raised by their mother until dispersion in late fall. Although captive raccoons have been known to live over 20 years, their average life expectancy in the wild is only 1.8 to 3.1 years.

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Foxes

The Fox is a mammal related to the common Dog and their range varies from region to region. The Red Fox is most common.

Fox eyes are gold to yellow and have distinctive vertical-slit pupils, similar to domestic cats. Their behavior, eye-slits, and extreme agility for a canid, warrants them to be referred to as the "cat-like canine". Its long bushy tail provides balance for jumps and complex movements. Its strong legs allow it to reach speeds up to 45 mph.

Their pelt has long, soft hair. During the autumn and winter, Foxes will grow more fur. This winter fur keeps the animal warm in the colder environment. The fox sheds this fur at the onset of spring, for the duration of the summer. While some breeds such as the Red and Silver never change color, others like the Arctic have 2 very different color patterns. This change in color between Summer and Winter is due to the chnage in their enviornment in the wild. In winter Arctic are solid white except their nose and Summer they change to a dark/light pattern.

Marbled Fox

Marble foxes are actually genetic mutations (also called color phases) of the Red Fox. These have been successfully bred to create a beautiful white colored fox with patches of tan and black patterned across the face and body. Although similar, no two are alike.

Marble foxes are slightly larger than standard Red Foxes but like all fox breeds, when properly trained and worked with as kits, can be as tame as a common dog. This is by no means a definite as foxes are still wild animals.

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Pearl Fox

The Pearl is another genetic mutation of the Red Fox. They are completely grey except for the white tip at the end of their tale and a patch of white fur on their breast. Slightly smaller in size than the Red.

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Red Fox

It is the largest of the foxes but does vary from region to region. The Red Fox is most commonly a rusty red, with white underbelly, black ear tips and legs, and a bushy tail usually with a distinctive white tip. The "red" tone can vary from dark chestnut to golden, with bands of red, brown, black and white on each individual hair. There are two other color phases; the first is silver or black, the second is seen as having additional dark patterning on the face, with a stripe across the shoulders and down the centre of the back. The stripes form a "cross" over the shoulders, and these foxes are therefore often called cross foxes.

Some mutations outside of the Marbled variety have produced very unique animals. Cinnamon Red Fox are nearly a rust color while others such as the Red Pearl Fox has a pearl gray color where a red fox would normally be black (the ears, feet and sometimes tail).

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Silver Fox

Occurring naturally in the wild, the Silver Fox is a grey morph of the Red Fox. It is nearly all black with white ends on the fur giving it a gray look. As with the Red Fox, it has a white tip on it's tail. Most silver foxes will also have a patch of white fur on their breast.

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Gray Fox

Information coming soon

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Arctic (Polar) Fox

The Arctic Fox, also known as the Polar Fox, White Fox or Snow Fox, is a small fox native to cold Arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere. They have a circumpolar range, meaning that they are found throughout the entire Arctic, and is common throughout the Arctic tundra. Its furry paws allow it to walk on ice in search of food. The Arctic Fox has such keen hearing that it can precisely locate the position of prey under the snow. When it finds prey, it pounces and punches through the snow to catch its victim. Its fur changes color with the seasons: in the winter it is white to blend in with snow, while in the summer months it changes to shades of gray, and/or brown.

The gestation period is 53 days. Litters tend to average 5-8 pups but may be as many as 25. Both the mother and the father help to raise their young. The kits are initially brownish; as they become older they turn white. If there is an overabundance of food hunted, the Arctic Fox will bury what they cannot eat.

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Fallow Deer

Information coming soon.

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