The closest ancestors of the domestic cats were solitary wildcat species that didn’t have to, and in most cases didn’t want to, draw attention to how they were feeling. Showing weakness would potentially expose you as an easier target for predators or competing cats. This is still present in cats today; in most cases they will try to hide what they are feeling from you.
With that being said, they do of course communicate. With other felines, and with us. They use scents and vocalisations, but also a lot of visual cues in the form of body language.
When you’re trying to analyse and understand your cat’s body language it’s important to use the context of the whole situation rather than just looking at one thing. Check the surroundings and try to work out what factors might affect your cat. Is there anything that might make the cat stressed, angry or worried? This might make it easier to understand the cat’s, not always crystal clear, signals.
There are five things to focus on when trying to read your cat’s body language. Eyes, ears, face, body and tail!
Slow blinking – Eyes that blink slowly or are half closed indicate that your cat is really relaxed and trusts that the situation is not threatening. Try blinking back in the same slow way to mimic the cat’s behaviour. This is a great bonding exercise for the two of you.
Dilated pupils – Given it’s not extremely dark in the room, large pupils indicate that your cat is feeling surprised, or scared and anxious. Normally the eyes will also be open wide, and the cat will not blink.
Constricted pupils – If the pupils on the other hand are very small and constricted, your cat will most likely feel tense, possibly bordering on aggressive.
Staring – If your pet locks their eyes on something or something, it is likely to be a challenge. If it’s you the cat is staring at – best not to approach!
Pointing slightly up and forward – A content and relaxed cat will keep its ears held upright and pointing forward. This is the default ear position, and the ears will probably move somewhat as the cat follows familiar sounds in the room.
Pointing straight up – This is a sign of a cat who is alert and ready to go. They might have heard something they want to investigate, but will first listen out a bit longer.
Pointing in different directions – If one ear is angled to the side and the other one points backwards it is possible that the cat is nervous and trying to assess the situation to get as much information as possible.
Pointing back, lying flat against the head – This is a sign of an annoyed, angry and potentially aggressive cat who is ready to pounce. It’s best to leave them alone.
A relaxed and happy cat will have relaxed whiskers pointing going out from the face. Many cats also have a relaxed facial expression that resembles a smile.
An anxious or scared cat will pull its whiskers back along the side of the face to take up as little space as possible and not seem like a threat. Or if they are on high alert, the whiskers will point forwards.
If the whiskers stand erect pointing away from the face, or forwards, it’s a sign that the cat is angry. He or she might show their teeth and hiss or growl.
The neutral body stance for a cat is relaxed and even, with no tension. If they are lying down, they will be stretched out or curled up into a ball with their paws tucked in under the body. Often this might be followed by purring, a sign that the cat is content and relaxed.
An anxious or scared cat will in most cases just run away and hide somewhere away from what is frightening them, but if it’s not possible they will crouch very still on the ground with their head held low.
An angry cat will try to make itself look as big as possible, with the fur pointing away from the body, straightened front legs and an arched back.
It’s worth noting that a cat that’s lying on its back might not want a belly rub. Just as dogs they are trying to show submission, but would in most cases prefer just to be left alone.
Held upright – This is a sign of a happy cat that wants attention and company. The tail can also be relaxed, but normally doesn’t move.
Held straight down – This should be a sign that the cat is scared or upset. A scared cat can also hold its tail under its body.
Wagging – A wagging tail does not mean the same for cats as it does for dogs. If the tail is moving quickly from side to side, the cat is likely annoyed and would like to be left alone. If the cat instead wags the tail slowly, they are trying to assess the situation and deciding what to do. The cat might be a bit worried, so if you can, try to reassure him or her.
Big, bushy tail held out straight from the body – Do not approach! This is an angry cat that is trying to look as scary as possible to potential threats.
Many of us know what it’s like. You start with a few chickens, thinking you’re just going to try it out, but once you realise what amazing pets they are and what delicious eggs they lay you will probably soon think it’s time to expand the flock and get some more hens for your garden.
But adding new chickens to an existing flock is easier said than done, and it’s important to know what you’re doing to avoid bickering and bullying, or even worse. The key to introducing chickens is time. Be patient, it might take a while before your new individuals are living happily with your current flock, but it will be worth it in the end. Each breed of chicken is different, and all chickens have different personalities, so how well your attempts will go depends on many different factors. Here are some useful things to think about:
Make the right choices
Some people say sticking to the same breed is a good idea, but it’s definitely possible to have several different breeds living side by side. If possible, add chickens that are of similar age and size as your existing ones. Smaller, younger hens will easily become a target if added to a group of larger chickens, and new younger, fitter chickens might cause stress for the older members of your current flock. Never add chicks to a group until they are old and strong enough to fight back if someone decides to bully them.
Also never introduce a chicken on her own; she is bound to become bullied in an already established pecking order. The more chickens you add, the more the pecking order will have to change, and it will be easier for the group to decide who is actually the most dominant. If possible, adding more chickens than you already have will often minimise problems with bullying, but it’s a risky game if you plan on expanding your flock more than once!
The first step in the process is to quarantine the new chickens somewhere away from your flock to make sure they don’t carry any diseases or parasites. Do regular health checks on the new chickens while you’re keeping them separate, and treat any illness you might come across. It might be worth doing a worming treatment and to dust them in DE a few times to be extra sure they are not bringing in any parasites into your coop.
Quarantine the new birds for at least a week, preferably longer, or until you’re certain they are happy and healthy.
Unfortunately you can’t just plonk the new chickens down with the old ones as soon as you’re sure they are healthy. Instead you must allow them to get used to each other. Ideally this is done by placing the two groups close enough to each other that they can see and smell each other, but not close enough that they can touch. They will hopefully be curious of the other group, but not feel that their home is being invaded. The partitions for the Omlet Walk in run is perfect for this stage, as it means you can divide the run and slowly introduce the two groups.
Keep this setup for at least a week. It may seem like they have gotten used to each other after a few days, but for chickens there’s a big difference between seeing some hens over the fence and actually sharing a coop and run with them. Be patient, then you’re more likely to succeed.
The big meet
When you think it’s time for the two groups to meet for real, it is best done in a new, neutral area that no chicken has claimed as her own, even if it’s just a small fenced off area in the garden.
It’s always best to let the old flock come to the new, so put them down before you let your existing flock approach. This is especially important if you’re carrying out the introduction in the flock’s current run: don’t let them out of the coop until the new chickens are comfortable on the run.
Try putting up some entertaining distractions that might avert their attention somewhat. Fill a Peck Toy or a Caddi with your chickens’ favourite treat, and they will hopefully be more interested in that than the newcomers.
Another thing worth trying is introducing chickens in the night when they are quietly roosting in their coop. Open the door of the Eglu and put the new chickens in with your existing ones. This allows them to get used to the presence and the smell of the new chickens while they are sleepy and not likely to attack. This seems to work really well for some, whereas it leads to a few problems for others, so it’s up to you if you want to risk it. Make sure you are there in the morning when the chickens wake up to see how they are reacting to their new friends.
As we said, it might take a while before the flock goes back to its harmonious self. You must prepare yourself for some disagreement and a bit of bullying, this is part of establishing the pecking order. It should however have calmed down after a few days, maybe a week. If you notice that chickens are getting seriously hurt or are drawing blood it’s time to step in. Identify the main bully and isolate her somewhere else for a few days on her own. It might seem harsh, but it’s the best thing you can do for your flock. When you put her back with the group she will be too busy trying to figure out the new order that she won’t have time to bully.
🔹 The main purpose of the tail is communication, and to spread personal information in the form of pheromones. Dogs have anal glands right under the tail which release scents that can be detected by other canines. When the dog wags its tail, the muscles around the dog’s bum tense and press on the glands, sending out lots of information. The sweeping motions from the tail can also help spread the scent even further.
🔹 In a situation where the dog wants to be more low-key and not get noticed, maybe if they are feeling scared or hesitant, the dog will tuck its tail between the legs to minimise the spread of their scent.
🔹 Dogs that have very small tails, or no tails at all, have a limited ability to use this body part to communicate, and will have to use other modes of communication. Ears can for example be very useful to show other dogs who you are and how you are feeling.
🔹 Different types of tail movement signify different emotions. A slight wag when meeting someone new can be seen as a tentative greeting, whereas a wider more sweeping movement is very friendly and non-competitive. A dog that makes short back-and-forth movements with the tail held high is possibly showing signs of uncertainty, assessing potential threats.
🔹 Puppies don’t wag their tails when they are born. The first month and a half is spent mainly eating and sleeping, and they have no real interest in their surroundings. However, as soon as they start socialising, around 49 days old, they will start wagging.
🔹 The tail can be seen as an extension of the spine. Just like the backbone, tails are made up of 5-20 vertebrae, separated by soft discs that enable movement and flexibility. The vertebrae are wider at the base of the tail and get smaller toward the tip.
🔹 The shape and form of the tail of specific dogs has been determined through selective breeding. The Dachshund’s long, sturdy tail is for example believed to have worked as a handle to pull them out of badger burrows, whereas a Beagle’s tail has a white tip to make it easier for the hunters to locate it in the distance, and labradors have a so called “otter tail” that is thick and round and can act as a kind of rudder when the dog is swimming.
🔹 Dogs do not only use their tails for communication, it is also useful for keeping balance. If you watch a really fast dog run, like a Greyhound or a Whippet, you can see that the tail sticks out straight behind them. It works as a counterweight and helps the dog to accelerate, break and turn at high speeds.
🔹 According to studies made on dog tails, there is evidence that the direction a dog wags its tail can tell you something about their feelings. Positive stimuli (food, or seeing their owner) made the dogs start moving their tail to the right, whereas negative stimuli (e.g. a threat in form of an aggressive looking dog) causes the tail to start wagging to the left.
9 Things You Might Not Know About Hamster Cheek Pouches
All hamsters have cheek pouches. These expandable parts of the oral mucosa resemble small deflated balloons that can be filled with food, sometimes all the way back to the hip bone.
The main purpose of the pouches is to carry food from the source back to the burrow. This doesn’t only mean that the hamster can eat their food in peace, but also that they limit the number of times they have to leave the safety of their home. Hamsters in the wild are prey animals that have to eat every two hours, and if they had to return to the nest every time they found a seed or nut, they would potentially expose the position of the nest to predators. Instead they go out to collect food in the evening, and thanks to their pouches they only need to go once or maybe twice.
Hamsters can both eat and run with their cheeks full. They can stuff the cheeks with up to 20% of their body weight, but as the cheeks are extremely elastic and stay in place along the shoulders, they don’t noticeably affect the speed of the hamster or how far they can travel.
To keep the food fresh and dry during foraging trips, the hamster’s mouth doesn’t release any saliva into the pouches.
Female hamsters in the wild occasionally carry or hide their babies in the cheek pouches if the nest has to be evacuated for some reason. This is however probably not something you will see among pet hamsters.
In the wild hamsters will regularly sort through their stash and throw away food that has gone off. Again, you will probably not see this behaviour with a pet hamster, as they don’t have to forage for their food in the same way. If you give your hamster fresh fruit and veg, it is therefore important that you check if they have been storing these somewhere in the cage, and remove them before they go mouldy.
Hamsters do not only carry food in their pouches, they can also bring bedding or building material back to the burrow for nesting or decorating.
Some hamsters have a favourite cheek pouch that they will fill before the other one, whereas others always go for equal amounts in both.
Pet hamsters can sometimes experience problems with their cheek pouches, including abscesses, infections and tumours, so it’s important that owners keep an eye out and carry out regular health checks. The only thing you as an owner can do to avoid these problems is to stay away from sharp or sticky food that might get stuck in the cheeks or cause cuts, as well as contact your vet if you do notice something that doesn’t seem right.
We are getting lots of questions at the moment from people who are ready to start their chicken keeping journey. They know where they will be able to source their new coop, run, feed and accessories (hint!), but not how to get their new pets. As in most cases these days, the internet will be the place to start looking!
One of the best ways of finding people selling chickens is to google ”buying chickens + your county or area”. There are several websites online that allow people to post adverts for chickens, or you will be able to find websites and contact information for farms or smallholdings that are selling chicks or hens. Lots of these will not be hatching chicks at the moment, so you might have to call a few before you find someone that is still taking orders.
You will also be able to find Poultry Forums and Facebook groups where enthusiastic chicken owners discuss all things chicken, and you often see people wanting to sell or rehome chickens in these groups.
Normally it is always best to contact the person you are planning to buy the chickens from, and ideally pay them a visit to see what their setup is and under what conditions the chickens are living. This will help you pick a good breeder that treats their animals well, so that you can be sure that your chickens arrive happy and healthy. During the current circumstances this is however not something we recommend, but you can still ask questions over email and telephone that can give you an idea about the level of expertise of the person.
If you go ahead with your purchase, make sure to arrange something that feels appropriate given the restrictions, and safe for both you and the person you’re buying your chickens from.
Here are some good terms to search to use:
Chickens for sale
Simple, but effective. If you just want chickens and don’t really care about how old they are, what breed they are or how many eggs they will provide you with, just google chickens for sale and the county or area you’re in.
Point of lay chickens for sale
A point of lay chicken is a chicken that has just begun laying eggs. This is a good time to get hens, as they are old enough to take care of themselves, but happy to be moved and introduced to a new home. When point of lay occurs varies somewhat between breeds and other external circumstances, but it generally happens when the chickens are approximately six months old. It’s worth noting that it will normally be another 6 months before the hen is fully grown and laying to her full capacity.
People selling larger amounts of hens often hatch chicks in batches, and they might not always have hens that are ready to leave the same week you contact them. It is best to get in contact now if you want to collect your hens in May, June, or even July.
Rare/pure breed chickens for sale
These chickens are bred from show birds, and the breeders are often affiliated with the The Poultry Club of Great Britain. The chickens will have been well taken care of, and the breeder will be knowledgeable about the breed and chicken keeping in general, so you will be able to ask them lots of questions about the birds.
These chickens are often a bit more expensive than hybrid hens, but you will know what you are getting. This is especially useful if you have a clear idea of what type of chicken you would like. Read up on some chicken breeds here and choose one that you think will suit you, your requirements and your garden. Breed clubs might be able to help you find someone in your area that will sell you hens.
Again, it’s important to plan ahead, probably even more so when it comes to rarer breeds of chickens. You might have to book several weeks or even months in advance depending on what breed you are choosing.
If you’re struggling to find someone that will sell you hens, you can always take matters into your own hands and start rearing chickens from scratch.
If you’re up for the challenge and can source a good incubator, hatching eggs is a really exciting experience, and can be a great education for children in the house. It should be said though that it does require more time, effort and equipment than getting fully grown hens, and you must be aware of the fact that approximately 50% of the eggs will be hatched as cockerels that will not be happy living together. Do you have a plan for what to do with these?
If you think hatching in an incubator might be for you, you will be able to find fertilized eggs on sites like Ebay or in chicken keeping forums. You might also want to read our step by step guide to incubation – you’ll find it here.
Normally, Omlet tend to recommend that customers looking for chickens consider rehoming ex-battery hens through the British Hen Welfare Trust. BHWT give chickens who are deemed useless by the egg factories a chance at a lovely life by arranging for people to pick up hens that would otherwise be heading to slaughter.
Due to the current situation, BHWT are not doing collections at the moment, but once restrictions are relaxed this is a great way of getting some really lovely hens that will truly appreciate a life in your garden. Keep an eye on their website to get the latest updates, or consider supporting this wonderful trust with a donation.
We are giving away 5 Caddi Treat Holders, an entertaining and stimulating feed toy for chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs, on our Twitter Page! All you need to do to enter is follow Omlet on Twitter and comment on the competition tweet with whether you have a 🐰, 🐹 or 🐓.
Terms and Conditions The competition closes at midnight on the 20th April 2020. To enter please comment on the Caddi competition tweet on the Omlet Twitter page – you must also be following the page. Five winners will receive a Caddi Treat Holder for Chickens, Rabbits or Guinea Pigs. The winners will be randomly selected from all entries worldwide and notified within 7 days of the competition closing. If the winners do not respond to claim the prize within 7 days of notification, we reserve the right to withdraw the prize and pick replacement winners. Omlet reserve the right to withdraw or amend the competition at any point. Prize cannot be transferred to cash. This competition is not open to Omlet employees or members of their immediate families. All entries must be made on the relevant competition post. The winner agrees to the use of their name and any reasonable requests by Omlet relating to any post-winning publicity.
Get FREE delivery on chicken feed when you sign up for the Omlet newsletter
Take this opportunity to get some good quality feed that will keep your chickens happy and healthy this spring! When you sign up to the Omlet Newsletter on this page, you will receive a unique promo code that gives you free delivery on your feed – for a limited time only!
The offer is available on your pick of two bags of Omlet’s Organic Chicken Feed, Omlet’s Organic Mixed Corn, Marriage’s Organic Chicken Feed, Marriage’s Organic Mixed Corn or Marriage’s Farmyard Layers Pellets.
Terms and conditions This promotion is valid until midnight 06/05/20, or while stock lasts. Once you have entered your email address on the website you will receive a unique discount code that can be used at checkout. By entering your email you agree to receive the Omlet Newsletter. You can unsubscribe at any point. The offer of free delivery is available on Organic Omlet Chicken Feed – 10kg, Omlet Organic Mixed Corn – 10kg, Marriage’s Organic Chicken Feed – 20kg, Marriage’s Organic Mixed Corn – 20kg and Marriage’s Farmyard Layers Pellets – 20kg. The offer does not apply to Organic Omlet Chicken Feed 10kg Twin Pack. Excludes grit. Offer is limited to 2 bags of feed per household. Free delivery only applies to feed, delivery charges will be added for other items added to the order. Free delivery offer is not redeemable on pallet deliveries. Omlet cannot take responsibility for third party supplier delays such as courier service. Free delivery is only valid for orders sent to mainland UK, and only applies to Standard Delivery Service. Subject to availability. Omlet ltd. reserves the right to withdraw the offer at any point. Offer cannot be used on existing discounts or in conjunction with any other offer.
Our chickens provide us with entertainment, company and fresh eggs – and lots and lots of poo! While cleaning out the Eglu might not be the most fun part of chicken keeping, those droppings can be turned into what gardeners sometimes refer to as “black gold”, one of the most desired fertilizers out there – and you can get it for free! There are however a few things to think about when it comes to getting chicken manure right. Keep reading to find out more!
It can all be used
Unlike some other types of manure, chicken manure is too strong to use straight on your flower beds or vegetable patches. It will burn the roots or other parts of your flowers and crops, and can also contain harmful bacteria that can cause illness if ingested. This is why it needs to be composted!
While you can put the chicken droppings straight on a bed in autumn and cover it with dry leaves that will moult through the winter, your best shot is probably to be patient and let it mature in a separate place. Whether you do a weekly clean or pick up droppings in your Eglu every day, everything in the coop can be put straight onto your compost, including the bedding. Adding the bedding helps create the correct ratio or carbon (bedding) and nitrogen (droppings) needed to break down plant matter and waste. As chicken droppings are extremely high in nitrogen, you will probably want to add a larger ratio of other plant matter than you would in a normal compost. Dried leaves from the garden will make a great addition.
We recommend having a sealed container for your compost rather than a heap in a corner, as the latter can attract rodents and pets that should not be ingesting chicken poo.
Composting chicken droppings
Apart from carbon and nitrogen, your compost will need air, moisture and heat. This is easily done, all you need to do is to water your mixture thoroughly and turn the heap every few weeks to get air flowing through. This will automatically heat the compost, breaking down the plant matter and burning off unwanted bacteria.
If you want to speed up the process and become a composting champion, you can purchase a compost thermometer at a local garden center and keep an eye on the temperature in the middle of the heap. The ideal temperature is 50-65 degrees Celsius (130-150 degrees Fahrenheit), and this should be maintained for about 3 days, after which you will need to turn the matter completely and start over.
This is however not necessary, you can just leave the compost to do its magic, just turning it regularly. How long it will take depends on the conditions, but to be sure everything is properly composted you should leave it for 9 months to a year.
Adding black gold to your garden
Once composted, chicken manure adds organic matter to your soil and increases the soil’s capacity to hold water, as well as returning nutrients to the soil. It’s also an amazing fertilizer that provides your plants with nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in much higher levels than other types of manure. Chicken manure can be spread on top of your vegetable patch or flower bed, or worked into existing soil. You can also put a handful of manure in a watering can and let it mix for a while before giving your flowers a very nutritious shower.
If you have composted the manure properly all the harmful bacteria will have been burned, and there is very little risk of you getting ill. However, if you’re on the worried side of things, make sure you clean your veg properly before eating them, or use the chicken manure on crops that are not touching the ground, like sweetcorn, peas or tomatoes.
All hamster owners know that they make great pets! They are cute and cuddly, but also very independent and clever. Whether you’re a beginner or a long term hamster fan there is always more to learn about these amazing critters! That’s why we’ve put together this Best of Hamsters, a few blog blogs with more information and advice, perfect for teaching your children about their pet, as well as some DIY fun you can do together!
12 Interesting Facts About Hamsters
Hamsters are rodents from the subfamily Cricetinae. They were brought to the United States from Syria in 1936. There are approximately… Read more
Hamsters make excellent pets – they’re fun, cute, and relatively easy to care for. Their cuddly credentials have made them popular pets all over the world. Hamsters bring a lot of joy to a lot of people, but how can… Read more
Want to Teach your Hamster Tricks? Here are our Best Tips!
Someone once said that you can train anything that has a brain that connects to a stomach, and that goes for hamsters as well. They are actually very clever little creatures and probably capable of more than you think – like learning tricks for example! Training your hamster is a… Read more
Hamsters love to play and explore! There are many toys and treats available to buy for your furry friend, but wouldn’t it be great to design and construct an exciting maze for them? They are… Read more
Eggs are truly amazing things, and sometimes we might take them for granted. For something that only takes the hen about 24 hours to make, they are eggstremely well engineered and cleverly constructed, as well as really delicious! Here are some cracking egg blogs that will hopefully make you appreciate the humble egg a bit more!
Why are chicken eggs different colours?
The ancestor of all chickens is the Red Junglefowl, Gallus gallus, a native of South-east Asia. All Junglefowl eggs have shells of a creamy white colour. And yet, as any chicken keeper knows, the eggs of domestic… Read more
As long as your chickens are laying and there’s a cockerel in your flock, you can hatch and incubate chicks all year round. However, traditionally the most popular time to breed your own chickens is in the spring. Hatching and rearing your own chicks from eggs… Read more
Why chickens hide their eggs and how to stop them doing it?
If you’re keeping chickens in your garden, you’ve probably become accustomed to your morning routine: wake up, drink a cup of tea or coffee and collect fresh eggs from your flock. Of course it’s an unpleasant… Read more
Make Easter more colourful with this super fun craft for the whole family – marbled eggs! Watch the video or follow the instructions below.
You will need:
Take an egg and gently poke a hole at one end. Poke a hole at the other end of the egg which is slightly larger than the first.
Empty the egg by carefully blowing through the smaller of the holes, pushing the inside of the egg out into a bowl.
Set aside the egg mixture.
Add a tablespoon of food colouring to a bowl and mix with a splash of hot water and a tablespoon of vinegar.
Put the empty eggs in the bowls and let them sit there for a while, regularly turning them to get an even coating.
When the eggs has got some colour to them, drain and put on the side to dry.
Add a few drops of a different food colouring to a plate and mix with some water and a drop of vegetable oil. Roll the eggs on the plate to cover them in the second colour. They don’t need to be fully covered.
Repeat with a few different colours, adding more layers.
Let the eggs dry on a piece of kitchen roll.
You will now have some beautiful and truly unique marbled Easter eggs! Wash your hands thoroughly and scramble the eggs you put aside earlier for a delicious lunch!