Writing About Animals Can Be Good for your Mental Health
Have you thought about interviewing your dog?
Writing about pets, animals and wildlife can help lift you out of a low mood into a better state of mind. I’ve been doing it for years!
I interviewed the reindeer keeper at Cotswold Wildlife Park here in the UK last week. We visited the reindeer paddock and chatted about their plans for breeding and growing their herd.
The market for animal stories may seem very niche, but it’s actually a huge and varied market. You can always submit articles to Vocal Media or Medium, but beyond blogging there are hundreds of magazines specialising in animal topics, from wildlife to horse magazines. Just check out your local newsagent, and you’ll see there’s a good sized animal section among the magazines.
There’s also a huge appetite for pet and animal stories in general interest magazines. The stories are often uplifting, so they have wide appeal.
I’ve written for Popular Fish Keeping, Practical Reptile Keeping, Dogs Monthly, Guinea Pig Magazine, Small Furry Pets, and Cage and Aviary Birds — all here in the UK.
I’ve sold stories about seal spotting in Cornwall, birds of prey, stories about exotic pets, breeding frogs, and zoo keeping to specialist publications. And I've written articles on wildlife hospitals for general interest magazines.
Some editors have asked me to interview readers who got in touch about their pets and projects. For example, the editor of Practical Reptile Keeping asked me to interview a reader who’d turned his garage into a reptile house. The editor later asked me to cover exotic pet insurance and interview a giant tortoise keeper too!
On another occasion, I did an interview with a reptile keeper at a zoo, who told me all about their pair of breeding alligators, the new batch of babies, caring for the anaconda, and the challenges of working with reptiles.
If you’re into horse riding, stable care, or horse racing, then there are dozens of horse magazines, including ones specifically designed for teen readers and sport enthusiasts.
Among my earliest published works were a couple of articles for Dogs Monthly, about a charity called Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. I followed up with a piece about how to train your dog to dance (an interview with a local trainer).
Here's a piece on Hand Rearing Egyptian Fruit Bat Babies! Doing the interview was fun and it was published in a reptile magazine.
There are boundless opportunities for those interested in writing about animals. Animal charities can be good sources of stories. I’ve written about the Donkey Sanctuary, Pets as Therapy charities, and the British Hen Welfare Trust (I write about chickens regularly).
One of my writer associates has a unique approach to writing about wildlife. He tackles mysteries and legends, covering wolves that are rumoured to roam forests and sea creatures that are the stuff of legend — like the Loch Ness Monster but usually more obscure. He’s into cryptozoology, and finds unusual angles on wildlife topics by drawing on this fascination to provide unique angles to his stories.
He also covers obscure endangered species, writing profiles about the creatures, interviewing experts, and looking at the challenges they face in their natural environment. He did a memorable piece on the plight of the Tazmanian Devil once.
Writing about animals is fun, it takes your mind off your worries, and it’s well known that contact with pets and other animals can improve your mental health. It’s why Pets as Therapy exists, and why organisations like Animal Antiks are able to help people with autism and mental health difficulties to thrive.
Spending time with animals is dreamy. Writing about them takes you a step further. It helps you focus and create something else positive about your animal interaction experience.
Perhaps writing about animals can help you feel better too!