Lynn Anire, 38 years old, from Tagbilaran City, Bohol has been selling lovebirds, rabbits, hamsters, and guinea pigs since 2007.

Her pet shop spills over to the sidewalk of Arranque Market along Recto Avenue in Manila. “Actually this pet shop is owned by my parents-in-law. Since they are in their senior years and having health issues, I’m now tending the shop,” says the lovely and cheerful mother of two kids.

“No. We don’t sell pigeons. Personally, I’m not interested in them,” she shares. “For PhP 350 you can have a pair of lovebirds,” she adds, pointing to the petite ‘pocket’ parrots.

It is said that since lovebirds evolved from a very harsh environment, they are very suited to captivity. Not only do they have a good disposition, these charming, brilliantly colored little pets are very hardy and easy to care for. They can also provide you with a successful breeding experience.

The different species of lovebirds are identifiable by their colors and markings. Younger birds are duller in color and they have black in their beaks. The young birds’ coloring intensifies as they reach maturity. Regardless of the species, mature lovebirds are gorgeous parrots.

In Filipino, Lynn says, with a naughty laugh, that some people say that when the keepers of lovebirds fight their partners, one of the lovebirds will commit suicide.

The average lifespan of lovebirds is between 10-12 years, with some living even longer.

“My customers come from all walks of life. Housewives, students, kids, breeders…pet lovers all,” Lynn says. “Business is good [during the] Christmas season, New Year, Valentine’s Day, and Chinese New Year.”

The guinea pigs sell for PhP 350 a pair. These tail-less rodents are native to the West Coast of South America and since the mid-1800s, laboratories have used them for research. The correct name for guinea pigs is “cavy,” pronounced “kay-vee.” Lynn says that guinea pigs aren’t delicate or hard to take care of. They are cuddly, comical, and clever. They make wonderful pets for children and can be very social animals.

“You can have a pair of rabbits for only Php450,” she says. Not many people know that rabbits can be trained. Those kept as pets can really benefit from reward-based training. For example, they can be trained to exercise and go over small jumps, which in turn is great for their health. Being active reduces the risk of rabbits becoming overweight and even obese, as well as providing physical and mental stimulation.

“The hamsters cost Php150 a pair; they are the kids’ favorite,” Lynn says. People often think that hamsters are vegetarian, but they’re actually omnivores. In the wild, hamsters have been known to hunt and eat insects. The average hamster’s life is around 2 to 2.5 years. However, Roborovski hamsters often live to over 3 years, and 4 year-old hamsters are rare but not unheard of.

Have you ever wondered why hamsters like to chew things so much? It’s because their front teeth (their incisors) never stop growing! If your hamster didn’t chew on things then its teeth would grow so long that it would struggle to open its mouth to eat properly.

When asked for any memorable moments she’s had as a pet shop owner, Lynn narrates with a wry smile, “Never trust anybody, not even a decent-looking buyer. One time, this guy bought a pair of hamsters then two weeks after, he came back to buy another one, for breeding purposes, he said. I just turned my back to arrange the cages, and this guy scampered away with my poor hamster! I just laughed it off.”

 

This story appeared in Animal Scene’s June 2016 issue.