Spring brings a baby boom for Hartpury’s animal collection!

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From cute baby bunnies to some more unusual prairie dog ‘puppies’, there has been an explosion of new life in the Hartpury animal collection, including a happy ending to an animal rescue success story.

For the first time ever, our prairie dogs have had babies, growing our collection by four. The name might suggest otherwise but these cuddly creatures are actually burrowing rodents and are a type of ground squirrel. Their name stems from the fact their warning call sounds similar to a dog’s bark!

Aleks Lipinska, Hartpury’s Animal Collection Instructor, said: “This addition is really exciting as our prairie dogs have never had babies before. After spending the last 12 months monitoring their diet and changing their enclosure, it seems we got the conditions right for some romance!”

Our rescue ferret is also now the proud parent of a collection of kits. Known as Ticky because she was found with 52 ticks on her, Ticky came to Hartpury after being found fighting with a cat in someone’s garden. It is thought she had been used on a breeding farm and was infested with parasites.

Aleks added: “Ticky was very difficult to handle initially as she was very scared of humans but after lots of patience from the Hartpury team, she is now a friendly and gentle girl and the students love working with her.

“Being used on a breeding farm would have meant Ticky’s previous kits would have been taken away early, so when the team noticed that she was nursing the other ferrets at the college, we thought she would like to have some kits she could keep. We soon welcomed a male, Taz, and now they are the proud parents of 11 babies, who are all full of mischief!”

Also joining the animal collection’s new nursery are 12 new Dutch cross bunnies that are only a week old and lots of new baby birds, including zebra finches and diamond doves.

Hartpury College Animal Management student, Ashley Jones, 19, from Coleford, said: “I have got such a lot out of doing the Animal House Duties that we do on a weekly basis and it’s really exciting to see all of the new additions within the collection. It gives the students an opportunity to see and understand how to care for a range of life stages for several animal species.

Hartpury College Level 3 Diploma in Animal Management student, Kayla Elsmore, 19, who went to Laker’s School in Coleford, said: “I find studying at Hartpury so enjoyable, with a huge range of animals and great facilities. The modules on my course have supported me to progress towards my ambition to become a vet nurse and I have a conditional university offer for next year to study vet nursing.”

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