November 1, 2005 > Rent-a-Pet
by Sonya Sachdeva
Pets can be a joyful addition to a family or a disastrous experience for all including the animal invited into a family. If you are thinking of adding an animal companion to your household, but have little experience with the investment of time, money and care required, the Animal Lending Library at Sulphur Creek Nature Center may be an answer. The center will reopen its doors on Nov. 5th, offering children a chance to "try out" guinea pigs, hamsters, rats and mice.
The main focus of the lending library is to teach children responsible care of animals by allowing them to borrow one for a week. The cost is $10 and includes food, water containers, a cage and a care sheet.
For 30 years, the center has nursed sick and orphaned animals in the Bay Area. "Before we transferred to the nature center, we used to lend chipmunks, lizards and alligators-wildlife pets were common then," said Mike Koslosky, director of the nature canter.
They usually keep a half a dozen guinea pigs and hamsters, but fewer rats and mice. "Rats aren't as popular to rent as guinea pigs and hamsters but they are very intelligent," said Koslosky. They have one rat that looks like a Siamese cat and another is albino, among others.
The program ensures that the animals have time off between visiting homes. "They are kind of like firemen, one week on and one week off," Koslosky said with a laugh. All animals are raised by staff and volunteers so they are used to being handled. Animals are raised in a nursery and the staff picks out the ones with the best temperament for lending.
Be sure to follow instructions when you rent your animal to avoid mishaps. In one instance. someone decided to give a bath to her hamster on loan. Since these are high dessert animals and not used to water, the hamster came back with a cold. If anyone has a problem with an animal, there is an emergency phone number given, just in case.
Animal Lending Library
Tuesday through Sunday
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sulphur Creek Nature Center
1801 D Street, Hayward