Bunny rabbit care sheet

Diet:

If Bugs Bunny taught us anything, it’s that rabbits eat carrots. Right? I’m sure you might have guessed that the answer is a bit more complicated. Naturally, rabbits don’t eat roots (carrots are considered a root, for those that don’t know). They can have them in moderation, but carrots are full of sugar and the RSPCA has, interestingly, discovered that “eleven percent of pet rabbits suffer from tooth decay and 11 percent have digestive problems” due to vegetables like carrots being offered a few times too many.

Instead, you should be providing your bunny friend with an adequate amount of hay. There are two primary types that you can find in petstores: timothy and alfalfa. If you’re like me, then the word “alfalfa” makes you laugh and you’ll want to buy it just for the giggles. Timothy hay, however, is much better for your bunny. The higher amounts of calcium contained in alfalfa can cause urinary stones to form – which is not a good thing. So make sure little Judy Hopps has unlimited access to a good, dry source of timothy hay.

In addition to the hay, which should make up a large percentage of your rabbit’s diet, you should offer a good pellet for supplemented nutrition. I like the Oxbow brand, personally. If you can’t find a store that sells this, look for a brand that provides the highest amount of fiber. This should preferably be 20% or more. Protein comes next at about 10% minimum.

Lastly: the vegetables. I like to go to the salad section of Wal-Mart and grab a bag of the “Spring Mix.” If you’d prefer to chop the veggies yourself, just make sure you grab lots of leafy greens. The darker the color green, the more nutrients it has! Avoid things like iceberg lettuce because it lacks most essential nutrients and is more akin to solidified water (that’s why it’s so light in coloration). It’s good to feed approximately 1 cup of raw veggies to your bunny per day.

Cage:

Oh petstores. What will we ever do with you? Those cages that they sell? Terrible for bunnies. Especially for anything larger than a baby rabbit. They simply don’t offer enough space to bounce around and exercise. The best thing I have seen available for rabbits are these DIY storage cubes. You can customize your rabbit cage to be the size that you like. You can build it taller or longer. You can even give your bunny the luxury of his own sectional rooms if you so choose!

I really like this tutorial on how to build your own rabbit cage. Just be sure to include lots of things to chew on, provide a litter box, and stay away from wire mesh floors. Hopping around on wire all day long is a good way for your rabbit to be injured. It can lead to serious issues like bumblefoot or, if your rabbit gets caught, a broken bone.

Socialization:

I had never thought of rabbits as social animals, but they very much are! If you can’t provide a little friend for your bunny, you need to fill that space yourself. Your bunny will need lots of social interaction and stimulation. In the wild, rabbits form groups called a warren. The father is actually very involved in the raising of the babies and he is very gentle with his babies, too. He also becomes very bonded to his mate. Being such a family-centric species, you can see why it’s important to make sure you let them out for playtime as often as possible.

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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. 😦 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. 🙂 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. 😦

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! 🙂

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.

Uromastyx care sheet

Quick facts:

  • There are approximately 18 different species of uromastyx.
  • Size – 10 to 15 inches in length (Egyptians, however, are the largest at 30 inches).
  • Lifespan – with good care, your uro can live for 20+ years.
  • Personality – as with many reptiles, the more that you handle your uro, the more tame he will become. Some can even reach a point of “puppy dog” comfort with their owner. Generally, I find that they are calm once they’ve been picked up and not very likely to bite (why would they need to when they have that tail?).
  • Cage size – this depends on the type of uro that you have adopted. For hatchlings, a 20 gallon tank would be sufficient. Remember that with reptile babies, large spaces can stress them out. For a juvenile or small uro, a 40 gallon breeder tank may work well. For anything exceeding 10 inches, you really should invest in a 75 gallon tank at the bare minimum.

Diet:

Your uromastyx is going to thrive on a basic vegetarium diet with only the occasional insect as a treat. I’ve heard of many problems associated with an high-insect diet so I would really recommend saving the insects for treats or using them when attempting to tame your uro. Also, I’d really stress the importance of using dubia roaches. The lack of chitin will cause fewer problems for your pet and they have the added benefit of being very nutritious. Again, however, the insect should be used sparingly.

The vegetable portion of your uro’s feeding habits will be the most important. I like to buy a variety of leafy greens, chop them up, add some other veggies, and mix with a good calcium powder. Great suggestions for staple food items include: endive, bok choy, dandelion greens, mustard greens, collard greens, watercress, escarole, peas, carrots, corn, cut green beans. You’ll want to keep things like kale, broccoli, and spinach to a minimum because of the high oxalate values (these oxalates will prevent your uro from getting all of it’s needed calcium which can later lead to metabolic bone disease).

Lastly, you’ll want to include a good portion of seeds with your provided veggies. I, personally, like to throw in some bird seed and lentils for my uro. If you’d rather not deal with the seeds, you could substitute Mazuri tortoise pellets instead.

Temperature/humidity:

Like most reptiles, a uromastyx is susceptible to metabolic bone disease if proper lighting isn’t provided. For this reason, you absolutely must allow access to both UVA and UVB light.

Basking temperatures should be allowed to get to 110° to 120° for optimal health while an 80° cool side is permissible. Remember, these are largely desert-dwelling little guys. They like it hot. And dry.

A nighttime drop in temperature to the high 60’s is okay.

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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. 🙂 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.

bowser

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. 🙂

gavi

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!

demon

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. ❤

DIY feather necklace

I love jewelry (and so do my birds!). When I posted a picture of one of my feather necklaces on Instagram, a friend suggested that I make a tutorial for it. So here we go! 🙂

These are the supplies that you’ll need:

  1. Needle nose pliers
  2. Necklace chain
  3. Pendant of some sort (optional)
  4. Necklace clasp and clasp ring
  5. Cord end caps
  6. Feather(s)!

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Step one is the cut the feather stem to an appropriate length. Basically, you ask yourself the question: “how long do I want my feather?” I chose to cut just above the fuzz of my African gray’s.

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Voila!

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Next, we need to get our cord end cap and line it up with our feather stem.

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Squish it around the feather stem nice and tight. You don’t want the feather to fall out! Take note of which side of the feather you want to be the “front” and make sure the flaps of the cap are in the “back” of the feather.

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Voila!

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Now we need to stretch our pendant ring. It’s as simple as it sounds.

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Add feather(s) and pendant and close the ring back up. Repeat the process for the chain clasp and chain ring…

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Add your pendant and feather! Sorry for the horrible quality of this pic. I should have taken a pic on anything BUT a black sweater. My excuse is that it was cold and that’s the warmest sweater in the whole world. 😛

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DIY rat hammock

Pet hammocks for squirrels, rats, sugar gliders, and the like can be expensive! I’ve seen some great ones that are worth the investment but sometimes, in a pinch, you just have to make do. Especially when, like me, you have little rodents that loooooove to chew EVERYTHING to pieces!

This is why we can’t have nice things, guys.

Anyway, you’ll need nothing more than a rag or bath towel and binder clips for this project. Yay!

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Is that a leaf on my floor? How did that even get there?

But I digress. Clip a corner of your rag to the cage using the binder clip. Then… do that three more times.

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You can hang the hammock however you like. I have little wooden branches for my boys to climb on, so I chose to wrap one corner of the rag around that branch.

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I recommend testing the hammock out before you let your ratties crawl into it. Put some weight on it just to make sure it holds, then you can unleash the furballs. Haha.

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Rama approves! In fact, it’s actually his favorite place to be. As an aside: you can use white rags and throw them into the wash with some bleach when they’re dirty. Brand new! Except for the chewed parts…

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:

gavi

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? 😡

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. 😦