With spring, comes the planting of gardens. Think about exotic pets while planting this season and feed the whole family fresh veggies and other vegetation this year.
Many types of lettuce and collards, kale, mustard or other greens are excellent food for exotics including some birds, guinea pigs, lizards and tortoises. Planting these vegetables and growing them without harsh chemicals is the way to go. Not only human families, but also animals, will enjoy a great diet.
Several herbs, like parsley, can be grown in a very small area and can add a little pizzazz to any meal. A balcony planter or small plot of land can house many herb plants and yield a summer’s worth of animal snacks -- and add some zest to the human meals at the same time. Even cats will enjoy some herbs, like catnip.
Planting directly into outdoor aviaries for summer flying or pens for tortoises, offer food without any preparation from the pet owner. Animals just dig in whenever they are looking for a snack. Make sure the plant, flowers and fruit/vegetable are edible before allowing an animal to graze on its own. Some vegetable plants, tomatoes for example, are toxic while the tomato fruit itself is fine for many animals.
If the plants are dangerous, keep a barrier around the plants that will eliminate any chance of a beloved pet getting into trouble. Or, if that is not possible, use planters or window sill gardens for growing them. Keeping everyone safe should be high on the list of priorities.
Some flowers, like hibiscus, rose of Sharon or marigold, can also be planted. Many tortoises, especially the desert species, adore flowers. By growing edible flowers, the yard looks great and the animals can eat the flowers before they wilt. Of course, most are annuals or plants that need to be kept indoors during the winter.
Some cactus plants, like prickly pear, do well in Maryland. They do not have to be in the desert to thrive. Also known as Optunia, both with spines and spineless species are available. Tortoises, as well as many other animals, will eat both the pads and the purple fruit. Spines should be removed before feeding the pads to animals.
Keep the pets in mind when gardening this year. Give everyone fresh, organic food that will give them loads of vitamins and keep everyone in the household happy.