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The best Christmas gifts for the furry friends

Main image: cat lamp, £135, Liberty

Connor Sullivan, 16, and his snake Bob. He says: 'I've always liked animals; it started when my friend had a turtle and he took me to a pet shop in Camden with loads of exotic creatures. I bought my first female gecko, then I started collecting from there.'

The pet shop boys (and girls): Children reveal the pleasures and pitfalls of living with a pet

School stress? Classmates being mean? Sometimes an animal can be a child's best friend.

Pet of the week: The greyhound

All animal lovers will be aware of the plight of the greyhound. Although many owners of racing hounds take their responsibility towards the breed seriously, some are not so thoughtful, and will discard dogs once they are past racing age (typically about three to four). Their placid nature makes them ideal pets for a happy life in retirement.

Your Questions: Which bird would you recommend as a pet?

Q. I have always pondered the idea of having a bird as a pet. The obvious choice would be a budgie, but they seem a bit boring. If you have a bird, which one would you recommend? Vicki from Harrow

Animal Art Fair 2011 – picture preview

The second ever Animal Art Fair opens at London’s Fulham Palace this weekend, bringing a vast collection of paintings and drawings of pets and wildlife under the same roof.

A stink in the tale: Why Britain is swooning over the pet with a pong

The skunk might seem an odd choice for domestication, but Tom Peck is smitten

Pet of the week: The Rhode Island red hen

Friendly and full of character, hens make great family pets, and require surprisingly little space to roam free. More than half a million households in the UK keep chickens as pets, and that number is increasing every year as the lure of eating fresh produce grows stronger. And once you've tasted your own eggs, you'll find that un oeuf is never enough...

Your Questions: 'My dog whines and barks whenever my partner and I try to get intimate'

Q. I have a delicate problem: whenever my partner and I try to get intimate, my cocker spaniel starts to whine and bark, even though she's downstairs and we have our bedroom door shut. She likes my partner very much, even though my partner's only recently moved in. Jeff, via e-mail

Nasty by Nature: Horned lizards

Nasty by Nature: Vampire bats

One man and his Whippet go to Crufts

The biggest dog show on earth is usually the territory of its best-bred canines – and owners. Into this rarefied world step Tom Peck and his rescue hound, Bayda...

The ten best dog accessories

From transporting a tired terrier in style to making Fido shoulder his share of the load, we take a lead and scoop up the best canine clobber...

Click on the image on the right to launch the gallery

Vote a new Humphrey into Downing Street

With a rodent problem at Downing Street having been highlighted by the appearance of rats on not one but two broadcasts from outside Number 10 this week, it seems that Humphrey, the former feline resident, is sorely missed.

Does the hamster need rescuing? That'll be £600, please

Horses in pools, cats up trees... animals cause so many 999 calls. But that could be about to change. Matt Chorley says budget cuts will be bad news for pets in distress

Your Questions: 'How can I ensure my rat doesn't jump out of the window?'

Q. I had a lovely hamster who used to roam around my flat. Last time he disappeared, I found out that he had jumped out of my second-floor window. I've bought a rat now and want to ensure it doesn't happen again. Have you got any advice? Laura, via e-mail

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