The chaos of life <3

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Because I have so many pets to keep up with, it’s easy to forget about my social media stuff. ūüė¶ I am so sorry, my friends. It’s been months since I last checked on things and I was so happy and flattered to have so many messages from so many different people. There are still people subscribing to me and checking my blog, Twitter, and Instagram. I had birthday wishes on Facebook and e-mails from people asking where I went. It makes me so¬†happy to think I’ve reached that¬†many people. You are all so wonderful and kind. ‚̧

It’s been so long that I’m not sure where I left off, so let me try to update everybody and from here, I’ll make more of a effort to be available online and start trying to post regularly. I’m thinking I can keep up with at least one blog update per week (although I’ll certainly try for more). It might make easier for you guys to come back and check on me, too, if I have a set date to update? So how about every Saturday? Even if it’s just a status update or something. ūüôā

Now, onto what you’re¬†really here for: the babies! To start, the flock is doing very well! Those crazy birds love to drive me crazy… and I secretly love it. Haha. No one has had any health issues and my boy, Demon, is getting on very well. We had a minor setback in his plucking issue, but I think we’re back on the right road again and regrowing some beautiful feathers to replace what was lost.

I found amazing homes for a few of the reptiles. Remember all of my little gecko buddies? Each and every one found a beautiful home with a person that I trusted to look after them. I’m still getting a few pictures of them in their new lives. I don’t know if it would be proper to post them online without permission, so I’ll ask around when I get the pics and show them off if I get the go-ahead. ūüôā

My gorgeous bunny also found a happy new home. It pained me to let her go but a friend of mine recently lost her bunny (old age) and was looking for a new companion for her remaining rabbit. This girl… she is the perfect bunny home. She has a three story rabbit cage¬†that was custom made by her dad. It takes up nearly 1/3 of her bedroom. It’s glorious and a veritable bunny paradise. I knew my baby would be happier with a fuzzy friend of her own and a human slave to take care of her every need and shower he with affection. So I let her go. I don’t regret it at all, but I do miss my fuzzy baby.

Naga, the plated lizard, also found a good place to call home. He’s now the proud resident of a custom built terrarium with live eco soil and all the heat and roaches he could ever want.

In short order, I’ll be finding a home for my ackie monitor and bearded dragon. Just waiting for the right person to come along. It’s not that I¬†want to let them go… but if I ever hope to help new animals in need, I have to make room for them. ūüė¶ Even if it’s painful for me.

The birds, though. They’re mine forever. I love those little chicken-heads so much.

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My little critters

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I’ve been too busy to write up anything educational or informative, so I thought I’d take some time to write about my beloveds and my life.

First off, they’re all doing well! That’s always a good thing. I haven’t added any more to the menagerie nor done anything lately in the realm of rescue work. These little guys, though. They’re all like people. From my corn snakes who seem to enjoy watching the occasional Young Justice episode with me; to the birds who run crazy like children, telling each other to “stop it” and demanding that I “come here.”

The other morning, I was trying to sleep in when I was woken (as usual) by the sound of my flock. At first, my impulse was to ignore them and go back to sleep. But then it slowly dawned on me that their “squawking” sounded a LOT like a conversation. So I started listening. More bird chatter, then bird laughter (am I the only one that suspects that they have their own laughter?), then “staaahp it,” and more bird laughter. The other piped up with “hi babies” (which is how I always greet them), and then more raucous bird laughter. They continued mimicking me and then laughing about it for about thirty minutes.

I recognized three things: 1. birds are capable of gossip and 2. based on their laughter, it may not have been complementary of me (which¬†I don’t take offense to because, come on, they’re birds!) and 3. that they are¬†smart little devils. I’m still amused even as I think about it.

There was one night when I had them all out and they each fell asleep in turn somewhere on me. I’ve decided that their nickname for me must be “great tree” because I’m their favorite place to hang out and sleep on.

As for the reptiles, Bowser is nearly completely healed up. He was the one that had shell rot and thankfully it’s all gone away. Apep is the tegu and he’s been allowed to start roaming through my bathroom, which seems to be his favorite place. He likes to fall asleep under my dirty clothes pile – which is maybe flattering? Maybe he finds my smell comfortable? Or maybe he’s trying to tell me that I smell like a lizard. ūüėÄ

Viola, the eclectus parrot, is still having nothing to do with me. She adores my brother, however, and has been making small progresses by allowing me to hand feed her. It’s a pain trying to get a bird to love you again and she may never be the same for me as she was (they can be very hormonal and sometimes some birds just don’t like certain people). But I still have hope. Maybe I’ll blog about that next (if my process works, that is): how to get a bird to love you again.

The worst thing about loving animals

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While I was on hiatus, a lot changed. I found a great home for my darling cockatiel, Machiavelli. I also found awesome homes for the African Sideneck turtle, Goomba; the savannah monitor, Reptar; the Mississippi Map turtle, Koopa; and the uromastyx, Ulrich. It rips my heart out every time I have to give these guys up, but finding them good homes makes more room for me to take in new ones.

A few things I look for when I’m interviewing a potential new home for my beloveds are: can they provide a picture of the cage/equipment/toys that are necessary for the animal? Can they answer questions I have about their care? If they have experience with that type of animal already, it’s a huge plus. And I’m not proud of this, but if something seems a little “off” about the person, I’ll even try to trick them with common myths surrounding popular animals (like asking a person who wants to take a reptile “What kind of heat rock do you have for them?” because heat rocks are a HUGE no-no). If anything leads me to conclude they will not make a¬†perfect home, then I explain¬†the reason for my decline and explain that the animals I take in often came from bad situations. That they need a perfect home now.

Most people are very understanding of this. I don’t want to leave them with questions¬†because that doesn’t educate them. It just means that they’ll go out and find some other animal to adopt and may provide inadequate care. On a few occasions, the person is very receptive and enthusiastic about listening to my advice. Sometimes they even provide links to the care sheets where they got their information. This usually leads to some very positive dialogue! In the end, it’s about trying to make a difference through education. Or at least that’s what I strive for! ūüôā

Unfortunately, even knowing that my critters go on to great homes does little to take away my pain. I miss them. I get so attached to all of them. When you spend hours every day taking care of these guys and providing them with stimulating environments and entertainment, they really become part of you. But, life goes on.

Sorry for the ramble. I just needed to get this out there. ūüôā

My newest addition

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It’s hard to keep up with this blog, my social media, and all of my¬†pets so once again: I’m sorry for disappearing! I promise that I’ll try to do better. I really feel like this blog is important because there’s so much information I want to get out there. I keep hoping that I can make a difference for at least one animal. In the end, that’s my only goal.

Anyway, it’s been a busy couple of months. I found forever homes for some of my rescues and ended up with a new little bunny, too! Normally I would oppose the “rescue” of a petstore animal because it only perpetuates the problem of petstores… but sometimes exceptions have to be made. (Please note that my view on petstores is only¬†my opinion. I would never condemn a person that rescues an animal who is suffering from improper care because, even though you’re giving that petstore your business and thus “rewarding” their bad practice, you are making a¬†huge difference for that animal. It just depends on the situation, your views, and the animal in question!).

I had to go to the store to get some more supplies for the critters and this little guy happened to catch my eye. She (presumed she, not certain yet) seemed so sad and afraid. My heart went out, so I asked the store employee about her. This is the same petstore that I frequent so they know me well and immediately started pressuring me to buy her. They said that a man had come into the store earlier to buy a rabbit for his red tail boa to eat and that he was coming back to pick her up. Apparently, they didn’t want this little bunny to be eaten, but the store policy wouldn’t permit them to tell him “no.”

They were in such a hurry to save her that they even offered me an employee discount if I could take her. I’m a bleeding heart, so of course I said yes. Thanks to those store employees, this little girl will¬†not be eaten by a snake! And she’s proving to be an amazing little addition to my clan. She happily sits on my lap and lets me pet her while I play games or watch TV. I thought at first she may be sickly because she was¬†so content to be lazy but after a few minutes, I saw¬†her ears perk up and she started sniffing around. If I stop petting her, she goes off to explore her new surroundings. She paws at the carpet, hops around (they’re called binkies), and even tried to play with my bathroom mat.

It’s only been a day, but I’m in love. I think she knows what that petstore did for her and I think she’s grateful that I took her away from certain death. Maybe it’s presumptuous on my part to personify her like that, but she seems smart enough to understand that her life has improved dramatically. ‚̧ I’m thinking of calling her Judy (after Judy Hopps in Zootopia) or perhaps Hazard (because her fur is orange and gray and reminds me of a¬†hazard¬†sign).

It’s been a long time!

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I am¬†so sorry for the absence! I can’t believe¬†it’s almost been an entire month since I updated.

There’s a reason for that, although it saddens me to talk about it. I decided to adopt out my wonderful cockatiel, Machiavelli. She was precious to me but my other birds required so much time that I felt she was becoming a little neglected. Of the bunch, she was one of the easiest to find a new home for. And boy did she ever get a great home! The lady that took her has worked with bird rescues almost as long as I have. She wanted Machiavelli¬†to bring to schools to educate children about birds and wildlife as a whole. ‚̧

I believe she has a terrific home with someone that will spoil her rotten! But I still miss her. ūüė¶ It was a bittersweet parting. Thankfully, although ‘tiels can get quite attached, it’s nothing like rehoming a bigger bird. Grays, for example, do¬†not do well when they end up in a new house with new people. Plucking and behavioral problems are common in such cases.

But anyway, I took in a few more pets during the time of my hiatus. Three tokay geckos (one of which came with¬†severe skin issues), two mice, a red claw scorpion, a three toed box turtle, and an ackie monitor with a missing foot. The ackie and the boxie are my favorites. ūüôā They’re both so sweet and docile. I’m still considered names for the ackie but I decided to go with Kammy for the turtle. So now I find myself suddenly with an abundance of turtles! Six, to be exact: Bowser, Kooper, Lakitu, Spike, Goomba, and Kammy. All of them are named after Super Mario characters. Hahaha.

Also, I have sad news. Gavi, the starving crested gecko, didn’t make it. I continued hand-feeding him but he just never took to food on his own terms and after many weeks of trying, he passed away. I still don’t know what was wrong. I had been to the vet twice but all tests came back negative. According to the vet, he was in optimal health – albeit anorexic. I guess his case was just an anomaly. It breaks my heart because I had really gotten attached to the little guy. ūüė¶

At least the turtles are still doing well with their shell rot and the ackie has settled in nicely. Demon, the parrot, plucked a few of his growing feathers but at least it was not a massive step back. He still has significant growth compared to where he was.

What to do for a bird that plucks

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As some of you are aware, I adopted a caique parrot a while back that I named “Demon.” He’s proven to be anything¬†but a demon. In fact, he’s a cuddly little cutie¬†nowadays and we’ve celebrated some¬†big milestones since I got him! Yay! ūüôā

His chest area, however, remains an issue. He makes steady progress¬†and¬†then regresses in a single day back to zero. It’s been a lot of work… but he’s worth it! My dealings with him inspired me to make a guide for the average parrot-lover who’s bird has suddenly started pulling feathers.

Please, to start, make sure you have your bird checked out by a good avian vet to rule out the possibility of health-related plucking. There are many instances that may result in a once-healthy (or never healthy) bird who plucks. To list only a few: malnutrition (usually caused by an all-seed diet), psittacosis, aspergillosis, thrush disease, staph infections, poisoning, or vitamin D/calcium deficiency.

Second, there are different types of feather-destructive behaviors that you should become familiar with as it could help you when developing a solution.

  • Plucking – the complete removal of a feather. Everything is pull directly from the skin and results in a bald spot where there is no feather coverage. This can be especially alarming because a bird is then exposed to chills, sunburns, or other harsh climate conditions. He’s more easily hurt and can become more likely to get sick due to a lowered immune system (from the cold).
  • Barbering – the act of over-preening or chewing on feathers to the point of ruin. This commonly results in destroyed feathers that can be grey in appearance (the down feathers that are left) or else twisted and messy looking plumage.
  • Self-Mutilation – exactly as it sounds. The parrot will pluck at it’s own skin, resulting in bloody scabs. This is, for obvious reasons, the most alarming of any type of plucking behavior and vet attention should be sought immediately for assistance in the form of an anti-plucking collar (the collar of shame).

So, why do birds with a history of good health engage in self-destructive habits? Most commonly (again, when it is NOT health-related) the reason is boredom or separation-anxiety. They become incredibly bonded to us and a single day of separation can lead to some very concerning habits. This is why it’s so important to spend time with them every day. To make sure they are constantly stimulated and entertained.

You have the whole world beyond your front door. They only have you.

When working with a bird who has only begun to pluck, you may have much more luck getting him to “forget” this awful habit by simply engaging him. Maybe you went away on a business trip and he missed you. So spend more time with him. Get back into that established routine that he is familiar with. If you see him attempting to pluck, discourage the act by shaking your hand (the “earthquake” method, similar to stopping a biting habit). Try to get his attention on other things. Let him know that you disapprove but do not encourage the habit (for example, giving him a treat to “take his mind off the plucking” may reinforce the habit because the bird then realizes he gets food every time he plucks).

For a bird like Demon, it can be a painstaking process. There are products that are sold specifically for this cause (AviCalm and Featherrific being some of the most highly recommended) but, truthfully, I haven’t had much luck with them when applied to Demon. He is, simply put, just a needy little boy. He is 17 years old and came from an abusive prior¬†owner that got him drunk, fed him only seeds, and never spent any time with him. In addition to this, we suspect that he may have been hit by a male because he aggressively and passionately¬†hates men, especially their hands. He has a colorful vocabulary that further compounds our “proof” of abuse.

He is an exceedingly difficult case, but even he is making progress. It all comes down to stimulation, love, and proper care. Demon has absolutely flourished with love and attention. He no longer spends all day alone in his cage with mean words hurled at him. He has a nutritious diet. His health conditions are taken care of. He has more than enough toys that are rotated on a weekly basis so he never gets bored. And I make sure to spend time with him  every day. This is, a lot of the time, what it comes down to for most parrots. Make sure they are not bored.

With that said, I do not in any way believe that placing blame on the owner is productive at all. Some of the best parrot owners can end up with a parrot that plucks. Sometimes, all it takes is¬†one day for an especially needy parrot to find other ways of amusing himself. That’s why I will always emphasize the importance of catching the habit early. My green cheek conure decided to barber her feathers when I had to travel for a week on business. I blamed myself, certain that she was in anguish because I abandoned her but I really had no choice. I had to pay the bills! And it was the only business trip I’ve ever taken, really. But still, the fear that I had let her down was strong.¬†Is still stronger than I’d like to admit.

But I realized as soon as I got back what she was doing. I make sure she’s never bored now. Make sure I spend ample time with her. Make sure she knows I won’t be going away for a long, long time. And I’ve already spotted the first few new feathers growing in. And guess what? They’re still there.

My animals in need

For those that are curious, I have a few updates on how everybody is doing… But first, I thought I’d announce my plans for a Youtube channel. ūüôā I’m afraid to be in front of a camera but it’s really hard to convey all the things I’m thinking of with words and static imagery alone. I really hope anyone out there will be as excited as I am about the prospect of videos. I can go over specie care, DIYs, and just show off my menagerie of wonderful creatures. Yay! ‚̧

Anyway, on to the updates. There are four animals that have been in desperate need: the two turtles, the caique, and the crested gecko. I’ll start with the turtles.

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Bowser and Koopa (the turtle) have both been eating well. I see lots of excrement in their tank/cage¬†and it all appears to be quite healthy! Additionally, I notice lots of food gone by morning when I check their bowl. Koopa, being an aquatic species, has been getting more and more time to soak. His shell still looks disastrous but it’s starting to flake – which indicates healing.

Bowser is doing extremely well. Not only has he shed two “rot patches” but he’s become much more inquisitive and lively. I think the Baytril cleared his respiratory infection right up and he’s begun greeting me when I come to pick him up. I’ve tried very hard not to stress him out but I think he associates me with food and treats and has learned that I’m nothing too frightening. ūüôā

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Gavi, the crested gecko, is still refusing food. Sometimes, he eats just a little but that is usually very small and only happens every other day or every two days. He looks severely emaciated and dehydrated, so I upped the temperature for him (it’s very cold here, so I have to provide a heat source) and I’ve begun force feeding him. Naturally, he hates it. I know that it’s stressing him further, but my vet suggested this as the only thing to do if I really want to save him.

Speaking of the vet, a fecal analysis was performed and nothing came up. Gavi is clear, just… anorexic. I’m going to continue the force feedings until I’m told to stop or until Gavi decides to eat on his own. The vet did mention that it may be possible he’s too far underweight and has been too uderweight for so long that his appetite was diminished. In which case, he should be fine in a matter of weeks. So, fingers crossed!

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Demon, the caique, has been my problem child for about a year now. He came to me as an extreme case of abuse and neglect. We’ve been working on his behavioral issues and I’m proud to say that he’s perfect cuddle buddy now! We had a BIG milestone when my mom (ever so brave!) was able to hold¬†AND pet him! I can’t stress her bravery enough there. Haha. Demon has earned the reputation of being the rather psychotic creature in my menagerie. It seems to be a reputation that no longer fits him, though.

His plucking is another issue, however. After I got him, I saw tremendous progress. He almost grew in every single missing feather. Aaaand then he regressed in a single night and plucked himself bald. I started putting a sweater on him to see if that might break the habit but had to stop because he would shred his sweater to pieces and get tangled in the mess. So now we’re back to Mr. Baldy. I’ve been having to rub coconut oil onto his skin to moisturize the dry spots (again, it’s a dry climate). I’ll also have to have his beak trimmed shortly. His liver disease causes overgrowth that he simply can’t file it down fast enough by himself.

We’ve been giving him a new antibiotic for his recurring infection but it’s too early to tell whether or not it’s working. It’s a 45 day regiment. His milk thistle keeps his poops runny, so that’s always lovely to clean up. Altogether, though, he’s stable and sloooooowly getting better. It seems to be a “one step forward, two steps back” scenario. Except… um… two steps back means I’m going backwards… Demon IS making progress. Albeit slowly. My poor little boy.

He seems very happy, though. ‚̧

Grayson died today

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This is Grayson. I fell in love with her at the petstore and brought her home with me. She was so tiny… but even at the store¬†she sneezed quite a bit. Within a week she started leaking porphyrin from her nose and eyes. She went blind. She tried to crawl but ended up making circles or rolling over. Her head was always tipped.

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The vet advised Baytril and I diligently treated her with it. I warmed up her baby food and fed her with a syringe because she was too dizzy to eat or drink by herself. Three times a day I would treat her like a little baby… because she was. My little baby.

I’m so sad that she passed. I wish I could have done more but I don’t even know what there was to do. The vet suspects it was an inner ear infection but says it could also have been a tumor.

She was born to be a feeder rat. Snake food. I hope, at the very least, she died warm while knowing that she was loved.

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She’s buried next to another baby rat, also from a¬†petstore, that died from similar symptoms. At least she won’t be alone and now Stu2 has company.

Rest in peace, Grayson and Stu2. ‚̧

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Gavi the crested gecko

I have to admit: when I started this blog, I didn’t expect to hear about so many animals in need. When people aren’t messaging me for care advice, they’re offering unwanted pets that are on the brink of death or expensive vet bills. So, that’s how I ended up with Gavi:

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At first, he didn’t appear to be that bad. He was hunched up and nervous, like I would expect from a frightened animal. But gradually, I started to notice how skinny he really was. You can make out some of the finer details in his picture above, but trust me when I say that it looks much worse in person.

The lady who offered him to me had a bunch of kids with another on the way, so it wouldn’t surprise me if she had been too overwhelmed to remember to feed her pet. After all, it’s not like they matter, right? ūüė°

Sorry,¬†I shouldn’t be mean. I don’t know her circumstances. All I know is that Gavi is severely underweight and won’t take food willingly. I gave him a day to settle in, and the next morning he wouldn’t move a muscle. I thought he was dead. I went so far as to get a paper towel to¬†pick up his “corpse” before I saw him twitch. His state was quickly escalated to “emergency” in my mind and I’ve been offering him a selection of foods ever since.

Typically, you’ll want to feed a crested gecko either Pangea or Repashy crested gecko food. I have two flavors of both brands, which I put into two bowls for him to select from. In addition to that, I included some mashed banana mixed with some calcium and vitamin powder as well as some organic baby food puree. So, four bowls for his pleasure. The objective is to get him to eat. I don’t even care about what¬†he eats so long as he eats something.

Unfortunately, his food (all of it) was untouched yesterday as well. So, I dipped my finger into his bowl and with the faintest touch possible, put some onto the tip of his nose. He licked it off, which seemed to arouse his interest. He licked a few more drops off. I had to dip my finger about three more times before he lost interest again.

Force-feeding will be my last resort. I wish he could have taken a little more in yesterday, but at least it was something. He’s still acclimating to his new home, so I don’t want to scare him. But I would very much like for him to start eating regularly.

Poor little guy. ūüė¶

Update on the turtles

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I decided to name them Bowser (the Central American wood turtle -right) and Koopa (the Mississippi map turtle -left) because I’m a big Nintendo fan and they’re both turtles!

Yesterday, I snuck up on them and discovered Bowser stuffing his little face with all manner of foodstuffs. I bought them some turtle vitamins, Mazuri chow, and that convenient Zilla omnivore mix – all of which he was happy to indulge in.

I suspect that Koopa is eating too, but I only know this because he likes to poop during his bath. This is typically a problem when housing two animals together: you can never be sure if one is eating/pooping/healthier than the other because you can’t gauge their food bowls, droppings, or other external indicators. It would be a better practice to separate them, but I wasn’t prepared for turtles. Eventually they will be housed individually.

For now, they both seem to be doing well. Bowser’s plastron is peeling readily. I will have to give him a good scrubbing with some gentle soap and then work away all the excess shell that’s ready to come off. This is done for two reasons: to prevent the infected waste from reinfecting healthy tissues and to ensure that the medicine can easily get under the scraps of shell.

Koopa has a lot of¬†peeling on his carapace but we’re still far from the condition of Bowser.

Much to my surprise and delight, they both seem to get on very well. I don’t usually house two separate species together (in fact, I¬†never¬†do), but these guys seem to have taken to¬†the other very well. They never fight or nip or battle for food or warmth (it helps, though, when there is more than enough to go around). Koopa is far more aquatic than Bowser is and will eventually need a large area to swim in. For now, however, I have to keep him dry until the shell rot is gone.

They both get their daily soaks and then they both get a Betadine bath. I am still applying Neosporin to be safe. I will also be refilling my prescription for Baytril soon as well. This will help with the rot as well as their respiratory infections. It’s amazing how similar their health conditions are since they were raised separately. I guess that’s what similar neglect will get you, though.

Oh well. They’re loved and cared for now. And they seem to be thriving with all the extra attention. ‚̧