Archive for the 'September' Category


Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

It is such a cloudy, ugly day…I think it is time to have a light and humer­ous post.
So here are some ani­mal related puns and jokes. I do not take credit for any of them. If the ref­er­ence is obscure, I will give an expla­na­tion. Enjoy and feel free to send me any (clean) ani­mal related puns and jokes that you know.

Sheep: (Ewe= female sheep, Wether=castrated male sheep, Ram=male sheep)

Why did the ram fall of the cliff: he missed the ewe turn!

Why didn’t the ewe get preg­nant: she was under the wether

These were cour­tesy of my Sheep 101 class in ani­mal sci­ence program

FYI Mur­der (a flock of crows). So two crows are:


Pic­ture and pun cour­tesy of
A vul­ture boards an air­plane, car­ry­ing two dead rac­coons. The Stew­ardess looks at him and says, “I’m sorry, sir, only one car­rion allowed per passenger.”
A dog gave birth to pup­pies near the road and was cited for littering.
It was rain­ing cats and dogs, there were poo­dles everywhere.
Two giraffes were in a race–they were neck and neck.

What Does it Mean?

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Well, last week had been fairly busy, which is good!  Bird, fer­ret, gecko, bearded dragon, guinea pig. So much fun. When I am busy and see­ing so many dif­fer­ent crit­ters, it is a very ful­fill­ing day. It also gives me fod­der for my blog.

I thought I would spend some time today writ­ing about com­mon signs of ill­ness in birds and what it means. Birds are really good at hid­ing symp­toms so it is crit­i­cal that any signs of ill­ness or changes in behav­ior be explored.

1) Change in appetite. If a bird does not seem to be eat­ing as much, it is a good idea to weigh the pet to check for weight­loss. A scale is a really valu­able tool to have at home. The feath­er­ing on birds tend to hide signs of weight loss so weigh­ing a bird (using a gram scale) can help you catch early weight loss. You want to have a base­line weight already, so weigh the pet 1-2x a week to have an aver­age weight to com­pare to.  A 5 % weight loss or more should mean a phone call to your vet.

2) Fluffed feath­er­ing. If your bird is fluffed this is cor­re­lated with being cold. Your bird is try­ing to stay warm and increase insu­la­tion. So why is he or she cold? Molt­ing, feather loss, and ill­ness can all cause this sign. Often the bird needs addi­tional heat sup­port. This can be sup­ple­mented with heat lamp or a heat­ing pad under the cage (ide­ally a sick bird setup would be cre­ated by putting the bird in a small cage or an aquar­ium). Make sure the bird can get away from the heat if needed, talk to your vet to under­stands signs of being too warm, and mon­i­tor the tem­per­a­ture of the tank floor if there is a pad under it. You still need to con­sult with a vet regard­ing this mat­ter, but the extra heat will prob­a­bly be needed for the recov­ery period.

3) Dark green stools: Really dark, green (bile green) usu­ally means that the bird is not eat­ing well or food is not pass­ing through to the intestines. So what you are see­ing in the feces is bile from the liver. This is a sign that means–get to the vet today. Birds can­not go long with­out truly eat­ing due to their high meta­bolic needs. So run, don’t walk to the vet.

4), Yawn­ing: I have often seen birds (espe­cially cock­atiels) yawn fre­quently if they have a sore throat. Other signs of sore throat and upper res­pi­ra­tory infec­tions: sneez­ing, rub­bing nares(the nostrils) and beak against the perch or other parts of the cage, change in voice, and any dis­charge from eyes or nares.

5) Tail bob­bing. If you notice your bird has exager­ated move­ment when breath­ing, espe­cially with the tail swing­ing up and down with every breath, this is an indi­ca­tor of dif­fi­culty breath­ing and needs to be addressed immediately.

You may notice a theme runs through any abnor­mal sign or symp­tom related to ill birds–get to your vet as soon as pos­si­ble. Birds are usu­ally very sick by the time you notice any­thing abor­mal with them so that is why I harp on the advice of imme­di­ately go to the vet. The sooner your bird is diag­nosed and started with proper treat­ment, the bet­ter the chance of a full recovery.  


Sugar Gliders–cute but controversial!

Friday, September 9th, 2011

I recently par­tic­i­pated in a con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion course (every vet­eri­nar­ian is required to keep up on their edu­ca­tion by tak­ing a cer­tain num­ber of hours per year) and this one was all about sugar glid­ers. It was very edu­ca­tional and inter­est­ing. Many peo­ple have not heard of this pet so I thought I would blog about it. Inter­est­ingly, the adoption/selling/purchasing/husbandry/ and med­ical care of these lit­tle guys carry alot of con­tro­versy and tend to raise pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive emo­tions. I will go into this a bit. But first–a lit­tle about Sugar gliders:

 sugar glider pic­ture from wikapedia

Sugar glid­ers (Petau­rus bre­vi­ceps)are small mar­su­pial mam­mals indige­nous to coun­tries includ­ing Aus­tralia and Indone­sia. In the wild, they eat nec­tar, sap, manna (a sweet excre­tion pro­duced by insects), and insects. They are noc­tur­nal by nature, and tend to be very social. They can jump and glide from tree to tree, sim­i­lar to a fly­ing squirrel.

Sugar glid­ers as pets: If bonded cor­rectly and prop­erly cared for, these guys and gals can make great pets. They are cute, cud­dly, small, can hang out on the owner for hours, enter­tain­ing to watch, and affec­tion­ate. HOWEVER—it is crit­i­cal that research is done prior to pur­chas­ing. First, they are not legal in every state (Cal­i­for­nia for one).They need very spe­cial hous­ing setups. The joeys (juve­niles) need a dif­fer­ent cage and addi­tional heat com­pared to the adults. It is imper­a­tive that a bal­anced diet (prefer­ably a pel­leted diet sup­ple­mented with fruit and sup­ple­ments), and time is taken to bond with a young glider. There is a crit­i­cal period in the sugar glider’s life that required for bond­ing and if you miss this oppor­tu­nity, you can end up with a nippy, unso­cial glider.

So the con­tro­versy:
Where to buy: Well, I am not going to endorse one source or another. How­ever, it does ruf­fle my feath­ers to see so many sugar glid­ers pur­chased at kiosks in malls–like you would buy hand lotion or sun­glasses. These mall kiosks are not around very long and even though they are all from the same dis­trib­u­tor around the country–I have heard from clients about the dif­fer­ent lev­els of qual­ity at these kiosks. Also, I worry about the impulse buy–this is not some­thing you want to get hooked into, pur­chase and then in a week not want any­more. There are already too many glid­ers that need rehoming.

Mes­sage boards and online chat rooms–lots of dis­cus­sion and lots of opinions–be care­ful about what you believe and use your vet­eri­nar­ian as a resource for infor­ma­tion to help weed out fact and fic­tion.
If you pur­chase a glider, make sure it is from a USDA licensed facil­ity. Many places are not licensed so do the research.

Diet: there are many, many, many opin­ions on this. It is easy to find many recipes on line for a diet that is home made and sup­ple­mented with fruits and insects. I am in favor of cur­rent rec­om­men­da­tions of using a pel­leted food (just like you would for a bird or a fer­ret) sup­ple­mented with a small amount of fruit and  Leadbeater’s diet. There are a few dif­fer­ent diets avail­able out there so do your research. Once again, I am not going to endorse a brand on the web. I do dis­cuss nutri­tion rec­om­men­da­tions in detail dur­ing my exam vis­its though and pro­vide addtional detailed recommendations.

Heat rock vs heat lamp? Glid­ers need addi­tional heat, espe­cially the joeys. A con­tro­versy out there is the source. I have always been wary of heat rocks because of the prob­lems of these when used with rep­tiles. I have seen my share of rep­tile ther­mal burns related to heat rocks. This may not be a prob­lem with sugar glid­ers but I am hes­i­tant to say that it couldn’t hap­pen. If you use a heat rock with­out inci­dent great. Per­haps con­sider peri­od­i­cally putting your hand on it to make sure it is still at a com­fort­able tem­per­a­ture. If you want to get a heat lamp, or use a heat pad under the cage so it radi­ates through, great. Just try to use ther­mome­ters to help you get the ideal temperatures.

My own per­sonal pet peave: the name sugar bears instead of sugar glid­ers. Doing an inter­net search brings me to two main sites using this name. A sugar glider distributor/seller–linked to mall kiosk sales. And the North Amer­i­can Sugar Bear Asso­ci­a­tion. This group is con­sid­ered a sis­ter group to the North Amer­i­can Sugar Glider Asso­ci­a­tion. Every­one says these are the same ani­mals so why do they need to have sis­ter orga­ni­za­tions with the same infor­ma­tion on both sites? I just don’t get it.

Vet­eri­nary care: I have seen some resources that sug­ges­tion home grown cures for ill­nesses and also rec­om­men­da­tions against using anes­the­sia, even to neuter the males. I have also had many peo­ple tell me that they were told by sell­ers that glid­ers do not need much if any med­ical care. I have to dis­agree. I rec­om­mend at least yearly exams to mon­i­tor body weight, check the teeth, pal­pate for masses, screen for heart anom­alies, and eval­u­ate hus­bandry and nutrition.  When glid­ers get sick (and they do!) they may need hun­dreds of dol­lars of care. I have treated abscesses, pneu­mo­nia, excised tumors, coun­celled on obe­sity, treated trau­matic wounds, treated tox­i­c­i­ties, mal­nu­tri­tion, and gas­troin­testi­nal parasites.

Ok so I have waxed long enough about sugar glid­ers. I really like them as ani­mals and as pets but I want every­one to be aware of what is needed if tak­ing them into your home. Although they are not as much work (although maybe sim­i­lar) to own­ing a bird, they are not as easy as a ham­ster. So do your research and con­sult your vet­eri­nar­ian so that you can have the best suc­cess in enjoy­ing these unique critters.

Sources for this blog include:Sugar Glid­ers, Com­pan­ion Exotic Mam­mal Care Series (Zoo­log­i­cal Edu­ca­tion Net­work), Sugar Glider course (VIN), North Amer­i­can Sugar Glider Association,Wikepedia (pic­ture), my own experience.

Happy Hatchday

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

So this is an updated announce­ment for Dio and his clutchmates.

These were the dates that all of these beau­ti­ful bud­gies were hatched:

Dio — 08-31-2010 (Won 9th place at show)
Tria’ — 09-02-2010
Tesera’ — 09-04-2010 (two Chal­lenge Cer­tifi­cates)
Pente — 09-06-2010

The names are greek for 2, 3, 4, and 5.



Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Ok, time for some announcements:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DIO! his hatch­date was August 31, 2010. Last Wednes­day, he cel­e­brated with a birth­day cake. If you don’t know who Dio is, then check out my ear­lier post.

COME TO MY OPEN HOUSE: Car­ing Hands Ani­mal Hos­pi­tal in Ash­burn VA is hav­ing an open house. It will be lots of fun and has a tail-gate theme. Exotics and cat and dogs will be present and there will be lots of raf­fles and fund-raising for local res­cue groups includ­ing exotic res­cues. Stop on by Sun­day, Sep­tem­ber 25th between 11am to 3 pm.  43300 South­ern Walk Plaza, Ash­burn VA, 29148.

ANNOUNCEMENT PAGE: If any­one is inter­ested in hav­ing birth­days, new adop­tions, or other excit­ing news announced, feel free to email me the details and a pic­ture if you like.