Always Be Learning Part 1

Sleepy Cali

The other day my husband was commenting that maybe we have a few too many pets. Of course I disagree, but I started wondering why I always want new pets. Yes, I enjoy spending time with them. I love watching them and learning about their behaviors, but I also love the research that happens when I get a new pet, and for a long time afterwards. I think that may be why I love exotic pets so much. Not only is there so much to learn to give exotics everything they need and keep them healthy, but the research is always changing.

I did some research before I got the sugar gliders. I knew they had strange dietary needs, needed a big cage, and might smell a bit musky. I figured out the basics, but once I had them, it was time to figure out what worked for me, and what worked for these four new little guys that I just brought into my home.

There is experimenting going on still. Which type of food bowls do they like best? Should I feed them near the top of the cage or on the bottom? How often do I need to clean them? Do they like their fruits and veggies mixed with their blended diet or separate?

A routine is finally coming together for the gliders. I’m happy with the diet I’m feeding them, they are eating well. I’ve learned I need to clean them often, but not too deeply. Too much cleaning and they get nervous and mark their territory again.

One of my gliders, Miney, is really small. I was a bit worried about him when I first got them. He’s adjusting, gaining a little weight, and becoming a bit more comfortable here. He seems to be more nervous than the others, so I’ve supplemented his feeding, and now I’m putting plenty of food in the dark, back corners of the cage where he seems to feel safest to make sure he eats.

Miney spreading his wings, photo by Dave Hamilton

Diet still may evolve as I have them longer, we’ll see! Another thing to be learned was nail clipping. I didn’t realize they would need their nails clipped every 3 weeks! They grow super sharp points, and not only does it hurt when I handle them, but it can also be a danger to the gliders because their nails get stuck on things. After watching about half a dozen videos on Youtube about how to do it, my system is falling into place. I clipped their nails again yesterday, and the boys are starting to get used to the process. They get overloaded with treats, so hopefully they are learning to see nail trimming as a positive instead of a negative.

I’m always reading and learning about my pets and animals in general. I have no doubt my glider care will evolve over time.

It took years of having Hector D. Byrd before I got to a routine that I was happy with, a diet I liked for her that she would eat well, toys she liked, routines she liked, etc. I did change her diet drastically a few months ago when I discovered Bird Street Bistro foods (which I reviewed in another post.) How could I resist a reasonably priced, healthy food that took the work out of the homemade mix I was making?

Next time I’ll share some of what I’ve learned about my bearded dragon, check back soon!

 

 

A Few Updates

A couple of quick updates here:


The dragon is doing great. She seems to love her new terrarium set up and is making it her job to try and eat all the insects that are supposed to be keeping her tank clean. I’m guessing I’m going to be needing to add more bugs before they have a chance to reproduce! I did add some mealworms to the tank. We’ll see how they survive. It’s awesome to see how active she is nibbling plants, checking things out, digging, climbing, etc.  I’m really happy for her.

Cali is not happy about her increased walk schedule and decreased treats, but she’s doing well.  The lump is definitely just fat, so not a problem, just something to keep an eye on. She is slowly getting weaned off of Apoquel and doing well so far. I plan to take her in for another shot of Cytopoint at the end of the month, and we’ll see how it goes from there.  Cali also had a bath and haircut last week, I miss her fuzz, but she seems happier to have some of that thick mess gone.

Hector is Hector. She is doing great. I was worried about her getting cold a couple of weeks ago when the house felt a little colder than normal. She usually hates having a cover on her cage, but with the cold, I wanted to insulate her a bit. She’s getting used to having her blankie on each night, and actually seems to like it.  I just put a small fleece over the top 1/4 of her cage. It gives her some insulation, but doesn’t block her view.  So far so good!

The kitties are all doing well.  Logan’s blood work all came back within normal ranges, so she is scheduled to have her teeth cleaned and the broken tooth removed on Thursday. Bean is very excited about all the outside animal activity as the weather is warming up a little.  He’s found a new spot to hang out and hunt.

The gliders are also doing well.  I was getting a little bit worried about my little guy, Miney. He has been smaller than the others since I got them, but I started to worry that he might be losing a bit of weight. I reached out to a glider expert through a FaceBook group to get some advice. She recommended “Glider Crack” which is a high protein temporary diet to help add weight to a sick or needy glider. The problem is that my other three boys definitely don’t need extra food! 

It has been a bit tricky getting him out alone, but I’ve been able to do it for the last few nights. I wait until it is close to the time I think they will wake up, about 9pm usually, and I disturb the pouch where they all sleep. I offer treats to the three other boys to encourage them to leave the pouch, and I make sure their food is all set up for them. Once I get the three big boys out of the way, I remove the pouch with Miney in it from the cage. I’ve been hand feeding him the special Glider Crack, and he loves it!

In case you were wondering what kind of deliciousness is in Glider Crack, it is canned chicken, avocado, scrambled egg, calcium supplement, and water, all blended together into a lovely green slime.

Miney seems to be doing well. Other than being a little thin, he seems totally fine and healthy. I’ve added more food bowls and separated things out more in the cage, so hopefully if he is getting chased from food, he will have a better chance to get at it now. I’ve hand fed him for the last 4 or 5 nights, so I plan to take a night off. I don’t want him to become totally dependent on hand feeding. I’ll offer him more Glider Crack tomorrow night, and obviously I’m keeping an eye on him.

I’m ready for Spring! How about everyone else?

 

 

Climbing Fun!

I know how to have a fun weekend! Yes, pandemic is putting a damper on things, but I found a new pet project to brighten up my weekend!

Hector D. Byrd wrapped up after a bath

 

Hector has been very entertaining lately. A couple of weeks ago she started coughing. I was really worried! Every time she coughed, I would get up and go check on her, but she seemed fine, breathing was good, no discharge, eyes looked good, eating, drinking, pooping normally, I was stumped! The next day she coughed and I ran to check on her and she started laughing.  I realized she was coughing for attention! It’s developed into a new routine around here: Hector coughs, I ask if she is OK, “oh poor poor birdy! Is my baby bird OK?” She coughs again, maybe a couple of coughs in a row. “Poor Hector! what a terrible cough! Maybe you need a treat?” She laughs, I bring her a treat. This is what it is like to be owned by a parrot.

As I’m writing today, Wena the dragon is hanging out on the back of my chair. Bean is very concerned that she is going to eat me, or maybe he just wants to play with her, but here’s the look I’m getting.

 

The gliders are settling in really well.  I’m still not sure they like me, but they don’t bite me, so it’s all good. I’ve been reading that a lot of glider owners use mosquito net bed tents to let their gliders run and play. While I think this sounds like an awesome idea, I also know how incredibly messy my boys are, and they believe the entire world is their bathroom. I wasn’t excited about the idea of cleaning up a tent, as well as not wanting to buy or store the tent.

Eenie, Meenie, Miney, and Mo have been hanging out with me in my glass shower stall. It’s a double stall, like bathtub size, and it works out really well.  The boys can run around, and when it is over, I can just clean the shower. The problem is, other than the corner shelf unit, there isn’t much for them to climb on in the shower. This weekend, I had the best idea!

This pile of PVC was a homemade parrot stand I made for Hector years ago. She never liked it, so it has been up in the attic. Rebuilt, I was thinking I could convert it into a climber for the gliders!

I took the original structure and made sure it fit in the shower, and it did! Next I took a bunch of the fleece pieces I had for the gliders and hung them from the stand to give them more climbing options. I wasn’t sure if I would need to wrap the PVC in fleece or add something to make it easier for them to climb.

As soon as I let them out in the shower, two of them climbed right up the PVC pipe! They had no problems with it at all, especially Miney, the tiniest of the 4 by far. He is also the craziest! Every night Miney is the one running like a maniac in the wheel. Climbing this structure was definitely right up his alley. It took him maybe 2 seconds to figure out how to get from the structure I built up onto the shower head. At one point, he was running up one side of the fleece and down the other, over and over again.

Mo found himself a comfy spot on the 2nd layer and mostly hung out there.

Meenie enjoyed climbing, and went all the way to the top, but was a bit more cautious than crazy Miney. He explored carefully and checked out all the different parts.

My Eenie is my big boy. He’s chunky. He’s the one I most often find at the food bowl when he’s awake. He never left my body while they were out this time. His friends would come over and pester him, but he just hung out with me.

He sat in my lap, he hung out on my shoulder, he did some climbing, but only on me. At one point he tried to climb across my face, ouch! Thankfully the scratch is small. Not looking forward to trimming nails again, but it might be almost time.

Eventually, Miney really got into crazy mode, and just started running and leaping. He made his way to the shower head, then made the leap to the top of the shower doors. From there he was looking around and I knew I was in trouble. I put away the other three boys, and watched Miney leap about 8ft from the top of the shower doors to the towel rack. Scooped him up from there, and they all went back to their cage.

I’m sure over the next few weeks I’ll be adding/changing toys to the climbing structure, but I’m so excited to have it! Now I don’t feel the need for a messy tent, and the boys have a great new play area. I just have to figure out how to keep Miney from the gap at the top of the shower!

Next project I’m working on is creating a BioActive terrarium for the Dragon! I’m learning all about substrates, clean up insects, and safe plants. I’ll update soon.

 

 

 

 

 

Cats, Dragon, And Glider Diet

Last night Puck was sleeping happily on the couch next to us. Logan decided to leave my lap and take over Puck’s spot. This is Puck wondering what the heck she’s thinking!

I’ve been wondering what the Dragon is thinking. Wena is still awake, and she’s a bit crazy. I’m not sure what is going on, but she is super active. She’s scratching at the glass of her tank, climbing everything. Basically knocking everything in her tank around every day lately. She’s never laid eggs since I’ve had her, but she could. I’ve added a dig box to her tank to see if that calms her down, but so far she doesn’t seem very interested in it.

This is the dig box. Just a small area with some safe soil for her her to dig in and lay eggs if she wants to. So far she has been climbing in and out of it, but that’s about it.

Friday, I took her out while I was working. Sometimes letting her sit on my shoulder settles her down, not this time! She was sitting on my shoulder and all of a sudden she leaped about 8 feet across the room! I was horrified! She’s never done anything like that before and I was really worried she was hurt. She got right up and looked at me like “What?” I watched her walk and she seemed fine, so I put her back in her tank to warm up.

She’s eating and pooping fine, just very active. She doesn’t seem to be shedding, which has made her crazy in the past.

As you can see in the background, she’s taken down all the foliage that usually hangs near the top of her tank. I’ve gotten tired of constantly fixing it, so now I fix it in the morning, she messes it up all day, and I fix it again the next morning.

The free fridge I got is working out great! So nice to have all the animal food separate so I can just grab them and feed. The little built in freezer isn’t the greatest, but it works. Unfortunately, there is one control for the temp of the fridge and freezer, so I’ve had to play with it to keep the freezer as cold as possible without freezing everything in the fridge part. I’m using the freezer for things like glider fruits and veggies I’m currently using, and using our other freezer for anything I need to store long term.

Glider food is still an experiment around here. I’ve been doing a lot of research, and it seems that there are many theories on how to properly feed them, but three basic diets that most glider people recommend. The first is the BML diet. It’s a modified version of a zoo diet. My boys were on this diet when I got them, but it is kind of a pain. It uses many ingredients, and they are all very specific and you aren’t supposed to substitute any of them. I have yet to be able to find Gerber Mixed Fruit Baby juice anywhere. Every place within a 20 minute drive has been sold out, and Amazon wants about $40 for 4 bottles of it. I’ve been making it and substituting a mix of Gerber Apple and Pear juices, not perfect, but not sure what else to do.

The next diet is a brand called Critter Love. They make a powdered formula that can just be mixed with water and fed. MUCH easier than the BML, but it also has very specific salads that you are supposed to serve with the liquid blend, and my boys don’t seem to really like the liquid all that much.

The next diet is pellet based, Pet-Pro brand  Happy Glider pellets. I think this is going to be my choice of diets. The pellets come in about 6 different flavors, and the boys have been eating it pretty well for the last couple of days. The pellets get fed with one fruit or veggie per night. Once a week you substitute yogurt instead of a fresh food, and twice a month they get protein such as chicken or egg with the pellets. I like the simplicity of this diet, and not feeding a messy liquid is also a bonus.

This is a picture of my pellet experiment. I made a bowl with the same amount of pellets in each of the six different flavors to see which they ate the best. The first night, they ate most of the Honey Peach pellets (green bowl), and barely touched the fruity pellets in the red bowl. Blue bowl was the Chicken flavor and they ate that one pretty well too. My plan was to refill bowls and change locations of the bowls for a couple of nights to see if it was bowl location or flavors that they were actually preferring.

Last night was night #2 of my experiment. I forgot to get a picture, but basically the boys spilled all the bowls everywhere. There was no way to tell what they ate. So much for my experiment!

It might not be the most recommended thing, but since I have so many BML ingredients and a big pouch of Critter Love powder, I’m rotating between all three diets right now. It gives me a feel for what they eat and what is working for me. As I run out of ingredients, I’ll transition to the pellet diet fully.

The other experiment with the gliders is figuring out best cleaning practices. I started out using giant pieces of paper on the bottom of the cage like I do for Hector D. Byrd, but it was a bit smelly. I bought some custom made fleece cage liners from Tootles Original Suggie Shack on Facebook, and they are really nice! They definitely seem to help with the smell, and I have been easily going 3-4 days before I switch it out. They are also easy to wash, I shake them off outside and then wash them with my other fleece Suggie things, like their pouches. I’m still going back and forth on advantages of fleece over paper. It is nice to be able to change the paper and just throw it away, and I buy the big craft paper rolls for Hector any way. Unless… I wonder how a fleece cage liner would work for Hector? Then I would be creating a lot less waste without using a paper liner.  I might have to experiment!

The gliders still don’t seem to like me much. I keep reading amazing stories about people who keep their gliders in the hoodie all day, or in a pocket. Mine definitely haven’t bonded to me yet, but I’m working on it. Many people recommend getting a bed tent to put on the floor and sit in it with the gliders. I haven’t wanted to spend the money yet, so I’ve been bringing them in the shower stall to let them climb around with me. They seem to be spending a bit more time with me when I do that. Patience is key here I’m sure.

A few of the pets had a nice nap together the other day. Today the house is chilly, so everyone has found their own spots to cuddle up. The gliders are all snuggled on top of each other as usual, Wena is under her basking light, and Hector is currently remodeling some cardboard boxes. Bean looks pretty cozy.

So Much Fun And A Little Education Interrupted By Bean!

Bean only looks like he is sleeping. He’s really waiting for a chance to cause trouble!

I had such a fun morning! A friend asked me to speak to her kindergarten class about all my pets this morning. I was a little nervous about it. It was virtual of course, but video and photos make me very self conscious. I like to hide behind the camera, but being able to talk about my passion made it all worth while!

We started the session with technical issues. When we tested the Team meeting last week, I did it from my laptop and everything went well. I don’t know why, but today I had decided to use my regular computer. My video wasn’t working for some reason. I quickly signed out and grabbed my laptop. I knew that worked! We chatted while a couple of the kids figured out their own technical issues, then it was time for the class to meet the pets.

Trying to decide how to handle and show all the different pets wasn’t easy. I ended up with Hector on a stand next to my desk, and Wena, and the glider boys were just in their cages, but of course right near my desk as always.

A cup of feathers was the first thing I showed on camera. The kids got all excited when they saw Hector’s pretty red feathers in the cup. Hector let me pick her up and she sat calmly on my hand for the whole time I talked about her. She waved to the kids when I asked her to, and she demonstrated how she can crack a nut shell with her beak. She was pretty lazy about it, and opened one side of the shell and ate out the meat, but she tried! We talked about how old she was, how much care parrots need, what she eats, where she sleeps, and what she says. Hector was so good. Bribing with nuts and bananas worked! She stayed calmly on my hand and seemed to enjoy watching all the kids faces on the screen. She was turning her head and looking at them as we all talked.

Bean interrupted. He wanted to swat at poor Hector’s tail feathers. Hector went back on her stand, and she actually sat there quietly watching everything for the whole call.

Next up was the dragon. Wena did great. I was able to hold her up close to the camera so the kids could get a good look at her. We talked about hibernation versus brumation, how old she was, what she eats, where she lives. I tried to get her to eat a worm for them, but it was tough to hold her and the worm and keep them close enough to the camera for the kids to see. One of the kids asked me if she was a REAL dragon. I told him she must be because it was in her name!

Bean interrupted. He was trying to get the dragon’s tail. My daughter had to come grab him and get him out of the room!

The gliders were a bit of a question to me. I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to present a nocturnal animal that likes to hide in a pouch on camera. Amazingly, it all worked out! The pouch makes them very portable. Just unhook it from the cage, and easy to transport. The whole pouch was easy to hold up in front of the camera. The boys did a bunch of crabbing when I first took them out which was perfect! The kids couldn’t believe the weird crabbing noise was coming from them!

Bean interrupted and jumped on my desk. I almost dropped the pouch of gliders!

We had a lot of fun trying to guess what was in the pouch making the weird noises! Eventually, with offered treats, a couple of the boys poked their heads out to grab one. One of them even climbed out onto me. I was excited they came out and the kids got a good look at them, but less excited when he peed on my laptop! Thankfully I was able to move him quickly and he mostly peed on the floor. The kids loved their names. They kept saying “Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Mo!” and laughing. They could see how the gliders all look very similar so I started telling them how Mo had a white face, and sure enough, Mo popped out to say hello, well to get a treat, but whatever, it worked.

No one knew what a sugar glider was, but a couple guessed that they were squirrels. We talked about marsupials and pouches and kangaroos. One boy asked what they like to do when they wake up from sleeping all day. They wake up, go to the bathroom (lots of giggles), they find a snack, then they play!

All the kids were really engaged. It was hard to keep up with all of their questions. Other than one little boy who really wanted to tell me about his three cats, they all actually asked questions about the animals and seemed to generally be interested. At some point, mention was made about each of these animals being rescued. It’s super important to me to always let kids know how my pets came to me because they needed new homes.

We ended with random questions about any of the pets. Some of the kids told me about their pets. Hopefully I will get a chance to do this again for other classes one day.

Today reminded me, a few years ago I volunteered at a local animal shelter doing humane education. It was awesome! I loved doing it and I’m not really sure why I stopped. One of the managers at the shelter had a 3-legged golden retriever rescue that they let us use for Humane Education. He was great! I remember bringing him to a preschool and teaching the kids about how to safely approach and handle a dog. Maybe once this crazy pandemic is under control I can go back to doing that again!

Bird Mister Review

Ok, so this product really isn’t for birds. It’s for human hairspray, but it is by far the best sprayer I’ve used for my African Grey.

Hector doesn’t like baths. I’ve tried the kitchen sink, the bathtub, shower perches, floor of the shower, spray with different bottles, etc. I had an old spray bottle that she came with that sprayed a light mist that she would tolerate.

I mist her pretty regularly, and then give her good soaking baths in the kitchen sink every couple of weeks. It isn’t her favorite, but she tolerates it, and as bird owners know, they are necessary to help keep her healthy.

Recently I saw an Amazon ad that caught my attention for a fine mist sprayer. It’s for hairspray, not birds, but it’s just an empty sprayer so it can really be used for any liquid you chose. I fill it with some warm-ish, water, not too hot, not too cold, and it sprays a lovely fine mist.  The more you use it, the less you have to pump the sprayer as it builds up pressure and just sprays. Hector showed her delight by flapping her wings, spreading them, stretching, and preening.

This little wonder sprayer:  is amazing. Hector actually seems to enjoy the sprays from it. For $8, definitely worth a try if you have a bird that doesn’t love baths.

Review: Bird Street Bistro Parrot Food

Got a bird? If you do, you know they aren’t easy pets. They require a lot of attention, cleaning, play time, more cleaning, and feeding. I’ve owned birds off and on for as long as I can remember. I posted about my history with birds in the “Before Hector D. Byrd” post if you want to read more.

Every bird I’ve owned has taught me something. With Maverick, my amazon, I started to learn a lot about feeding parrots. I also came to the conclusion that I wasn’t happy with any commercially made parrot foods. I feed commercial parrot pellets, but mostly as a supplement. My birds have always had homemade food. It took Hector some time to get used to my food, but now she devours it. She anxiously waits by her bowl for her breakfast every morning. If breakfast doesn’t come fast enough, she whistles and bangs her bowl.

A Jar Of My Homemade Food

My feeding routine for Hector is that she always has a fresh bowl of pellets in her cage. I’m currently feeding her Zupreem Fruit Blend. Not only does she eat these pellets, and not just throw them, but she also likes to sort them. They pellets are different shapes and colors. Sometimes I’ll check her bowl and find there are only orange pellets left. Other times, she sorts out a different color. Food and entertainment, all in one bowl!

Just recently, I discovered Bird Street Bistro, and it seems to be the first food that can replace my homemade mix. I’m so excited! No more special shopping trip to get all the ingredients, and no more setting aside a couple of hours each month to mix up a batch.

Bird Street Bistro mixes are all natural, no added fillers or preservatives. They have about half a dozen different recipes to add variety to your birds diet. Prices are reasonable. When I first checked out their page, I was thinking their mixes were a bit pricey, but when I started to price out my own grocery list when I buy products to make my own recipe, I realized how reasonable their prices are.

I started with the Parrot Food Sample Pack. Knowing Hector isn’t a big fan of beans, I asked if I could swap out the Cajun Bean Feast flavor, and received their AppleBerry flavor instead. Different formulas need to cook for different amounts of time, but it seems that all can be done in about 20 minutes, and some take much less time.

Knowing that Hector LOVES cinnamon, CinnaSpice Delight was the first flavor I tried. Making this food could not have been any easier. I simply added water and some of the dry mix to a pot, brought it to a bowl, covered it, and let it simmer for 15 minutes. The whole house smelled so good while it was cooking! `The ingredients are wonderful, rice, millet, split peas, barley, couscous, currants, carrots, oats, barley, apples, etc. I love the different grains included in this mix.

After cooking, I let it cool to room temperature, then watched Hector devour it. Since Hector is already eating a similar, homemade version of this food, she had no trouble converting to it all all. I had some of my homemade food available, so I could mix the two foods if needed, but Hector was happy with the new food right away.

For birds that are converting from a different diet, they may need a little encouragement to eat a food like this. It took me MONTHS to get Hector to eat my homemade mash when I first started out with it. Patience is key with parrots. Don’t give up, be persistent, eventually they will give it a try.  Don’t stress over wasted food. I always used to remind myself that the cost of vet bills for bad diet in the future would be WAY more than the cost of the food Hector was wasting. There are tips on the back of the bags to help get you started.

The next flavor I tried was the Southern Feast. My favorite part of this one is that it cooks in 3 minutes! Just add the mix to boiling water, stir for 30 seconds and remove from the heat and let sit. Hector also approves of this flavor. This one has couscous, wheat, millet, oats, carrots, peppers, quinoa, almonds parsley, cayenne pepper, basil, cumin, and kelp.

Mixing up one batch of Bird Street Bistro according to their directions gives me about a mason jar full of food, plus another meal. It works out well for me to make it, feed Hector, then store the mason jar of food in the fridge and I have fresh food for 4-5 days.

Instead of Hector having to eat the same batch of food for a month plus, now I can switch up flavors for her every time I make a batch, so she is getting a new flavor every few days. Bird Street Bistro comes in resealable bags, so I can make a batch, then I just put the rest of the dry mix into the freezer for storage. It’s so convenient! I also like that I have less stuff in my freezer since I don’t have a month’s worth of mason jars, I just have a bag of Bird Street Bistro, and the fresh mix in the fridge.

I will be trying the other flavors soon, and I expect that I will definitely be ordering more. With a product like this on the market, I see no reason to go through the time and hassle of making my own food.

The only negative I have about this product, is the veggie content. I feel that my homemade blends contain more veggies than Bird Street Bistro blends that I have tried so far, but it is hard to tell by looking. My homemade blends had bigger pieces of veggies for sure, but I’m wondering if Hector will actually eat more veggies with the new blend because she can’t pick them out. I’ve always supplemented Hector with fresh veggies on top of her homemade mix, so I will continue to do that while using Bird Street Bistro. I also need to check out their Viva La Veggies flavor and the Hearty Veggies. I have Viva La Veggies, but haven’t made it yet. I’ll also check out the Hearty Veggies next time I need to place an order. Based on the pictures on their website, it looks like both of these flavors have more veggies than the flavors I’ve made so far.

Another thought I had on the veggies was to add another product I use which is a chop from a company called Texas Natural Freeze Dried Products. They make a variety of freeze dried foods for parrots and humans. I like to keep some of their Freeze Dried Chop on hand for a quick breakfast for Hector if I forget to make or defrost her normal food. Their chop is a great product that contains a ton of veggies: kale, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, sweet peppers, yellow squash, red cabbage, apples, and strawberries. I can easily add a bit of this freeze dried mix to the Bird Street Bistro if I want to add some extra veggies to the mix.

I’m really excited about Bird Street Bistro foods. In the long run, it will save me time and money. I’m impressed with the high quality ingredients and the ease of use. I like the convenience of making up a batch that lasts a few days. I like the variety of grains in the product which not only help balance the birds diet, but also give it different shapes and textures to pick out of the food. Something I know Hector enjoys.

I know a lot of people think of birds and think they eat seeds. In the research I’ve done, I’ve grown to believe that seeds are not a healthy diet for captive birds. They are too high in fat and can cause liver disease and other problems later in life. Hector doesn’t eat seeds. She does get sunflower seeds as a very rare treat, but never as part of her regular diet. Mostly for treats she gets almonds(in the shell), cucumber slices, sometimes a whole grain, unsalted cracker with a little bit of almond butter, carrots, peppers, etc.

 

 

June already?

Everything seems so crazy in the world right now. While I’m certainly concerned about all that is going on, I’m also happy to focus on the good for a few moments, so let’s talk pets!

The Dragon

The Dragon is cranky. It’s Spring shedding time and although much of her as already shed, she’s still got a lot of shedding to do, her head especially, and that seems to drive her crazy. I did discover some new greens that she is REALLY excited about. It used to be that the only green she really ate consistently was Arugula. I’ve tried so many different types of greens and she wouldn’t touch them. When I grocery shopped a few days ago, the store was totally out of Arugula. I thought I would try something different and I bought some pea shoots and broccoli sprouts. She is devouring them! This morning she ate a big bowl of them, and I just brought her another handful of the pea sprouts and she is gobbling them all up. I may have to bring her another helping.

I’m happy to find greens that she will eat so well!

Cali is doing fine, but she’s itchy. Spring is not the best season for her, and I’ve had to spot treat her skin, and also give her extra baths. I made need to bring her to the vet for an extra allergy shot, but so far she is hanging in there with the baths and spot treatments as well as her regular Apoquel.

I did clip her recently, and the short haircut also seems to help with the allergies. I can give her a really good scrub when I bathe her, and it is easier to get the topical sprays on her skin.

Hector is getting so brave! She’s still walking all around the house, and chewing and cardboard that crosses her path. The last few days, she has also been attempting short flights! I did clip Hector’s wings not long after we got her. I had taken her to the vet for a check up, and the vet suggested I clip her as she adjusted to her new home. I haven’t clipped her wings since. I’d prefer not to clip her, but if she starts flying and crashing I may have to clip her again so that she doesn’t hurt herself.

Hector has started a new little routine. After dinner and clean up, the family usually heads into the living room to watch a movie. Hector follows us to the living room now. I sit on the floor, play fetch with Cali, and Hector struts around checking everything out. Occasionally she will push a cat toy around or nibble on a dog toy. When she’s had enough, she makes this awful whistle/scream sound and we know it is time to give her a ride back to her cage.

Logan

Last but not least are all the kitties. All are doing well. Puck and Bean have been venturing outside on leashes a little bit. I’m starting to think it isn’t a good idea as Puck has been sitting at the door meowing like he is asking to go out. I don’t want outdoor cats, or even indoor/outdoor cats. I know everyone has different feelings on it, but it just isn’t my thing. The only time I’ve had an outdoor cat was when I had a barn in Texas and I had a barn cat. I used to worry every time I went out that I wouldn’t find him. I know I wouldn’t sleep if I had an outdoor cat and it didn’t come home one night.

Since I’ve given up on trying to get the cats to use new kitty litter, I’ve gotten a couple of mats to try and help contain the spread of the litter at least. I’ll post a review of the new mats tomorrow.

I’m also giving Primal cat food a try. I’ll get a review of that posted soon as well.

Stay well everyone!

 

It’s Been Too Long

Happy Spring!

The last few weeks have been crazy. Thanks to Covid-19, there isn’t much of anything on my schedule. I’m certainly not going anywhere, but somehow I’m keeping pretty busy. I started a garden, and I’ve been keeping a personal journal of all that is going on, so maybe that is why I haven’t been inspired to write here, but I’m back!

I can’t wait to see what kinds of new creatures I meet as the local wildlife discovers my new garden. I put an outdoor camera on the garden so if there are any visitors I can catch them in the act!

The other night we found a small, lovely poop in my son’s bedroom as we were all heading to bed. This wasn’t the first time. We had been blaming Cali the dog, but we had started keeping her downstairs to keep that from happening and it still happened.  Must be a cat?!? Yikes. I really freak out about the cats not using their litter box. So of course, I couldn’t sleep. Midnight, 1AM, 2AM, I’m up, stressed, why is this happening?

About 3AM, I had a revelation! It was all my fault! I had been messing with the cat litter boxes trying to find a solution to our tracking problems. I rushed downstairs and cleaned the litter boxes and returned them to our regular clumping litter. That was a couple of nights ago, and the problem has definitely cleared up. I was really enjoying the paper pellet litter and the pine litter, but I guess the cats didn’t like it as much as I did. Time to figure out a new plan. I’m not sure I will be able to find a litter that doesn’t track around the house and isn’t pelleted, but I’ll be on the look out. Does anyone have a cat litter that they really like?

The bearded dragon is doing well. I’ve managed to keep her well fed with greens and bugs even though my shopping is limited these days. She’s fat, happy, and having a nice spring shed.

Hector’s “Don’t mess with me” look

Hector is Hector, what can I say? She’s still taking over the house, strutting around with her beak in the air, chasing cats, and destroying any cardboard that she can find. She is definitely enjoying all the out of cage time with me being home so much. She actually mumbles at me when I close her cage during the day if I have to lock her up. I bought her some lovely freeze-dried chop from Texas Freeze Dried Naturals. She didn’t eat it very well last time I tried it, but this time I’m using it to stretch the fresh chop I make. I’m adding a bit of the freeze dried to her fresh food every day so that I can use less fresh, and she is actually eating all of it. Old birds CAN learn new tricks!

I bought a handheld steam cleaner a couple of weeks ago. I had heard they were useful for cleaning bird cages, but hadn’t bothered in the past. I saw one on sale for about $30 on Amazon and thought it was worth a try. It was great! If anyone is interested, I bought a Bissell Steam Shot. It comes with brushes for scrubbing, and it is simple to use. I rolled her cage out on the back porch and went to work one sunny day. It isn’t a miracle cleaner. I still had to do some scraping, but it definitely got the cage cleaner than it has been in a very long time. I’m also finding the steamer handy for cleaning showers and bathtubs, bonus!

 

Sleepy beast that needs a haircut!

Cali has been super annoying lately. I’m not sure if it is because we are home, if the weather is nicer, if her allergies are bugging her, if she is bored? She barks at every little noise. I’m trying a couple of different things with her and it seems to be helping. First of all, I’m trying mandatory walks every single day that the weather permits. I’m also keeping treats around the house and working on basic training again. She knows some tricks and I’m trying to teach her more. She seems to be doing a little better. I’m not sure if it is the discipline of the training or the exercise, but whatever it is, I’ll take it! I need to put a haircut for her on my schedule.

Puck’s urinary issues seem to have cleared up, but I’m still wary. I’ve got him on the prescription diet, but it is super expensive with three cats in the house. There isn’t really a good way to feed him alone, so all the cats are getting it. I’m switching between the prescription food and a couple of non-prescription urinary health foods. I found a Purina dry food that I realized is making one of the cats throw up! I won’t be buying that one anymore. Bean also throws up,  hairballs are the issue. I’ve been using a paste I bought which seems to help, but he still has occasional problems.

I’ve been researching cat diets, and I feel like my best bet is going to be putting all the cats on a raw food diet. I thought about making it myself, but with everything in various stages of being open or not lately, I didn’t want to have to try to track down healthy, fresh raw meats. I’m also worried about making sure they get all the right nutrients.

My research led me to Primal brand raw foods. They seem to be well respected and easily available. I like the idea of a commercial food because I’m worried my homemade food won’t be nutritionally complete. My local pet store sells both freeze dried and frozen versions of Primal raw food, so I’ve ordered a couple of different types to try. Hopefully I can pick it up today or tomorrow. Puck seems to be allergic to any type of fish or seafood, so I’ll be trying turkey and pork varieties. I’m hoping the cats like it, and maybe it will help keep Puck stable and help with Bean’s hair balls. Primal is expensive, but now that I have to use prescription food, it is actually cheaper than that, so worth a try. I’ve been feeding the cats a bit of canned food twice per day, plus free choice dry, so my thought it to sub in one meal a day of raw food and see how it goes. Of course, I’ll update here!

Bean is getting so big! I’ll have to see if I can get an approximate weight on him. He is just about 9 months old now. I’m 99% sure he is now our largest pet! Cali weighs about 11lbs, and I’m pretty sure Bean is heavier than that now.

Let me know what you and your pets are up to. Stay well.

Busy Bird

Hector and I have a new routine lately. After I’ve fed everyone and opened Hector’s cage, I settle in at my desk. Hector used to be content to hang out on her cage, chew up some cardboard, and eat her breakfast. The last few days, after she finishes her breakfast, Hector comes to visit me.

She struts across the floor, squaking at the dog and cats and she makes her way. Yesterday morning, I happened to have a pet puzzle on the floor near me. I had been planning to put some treats in it for the cats, but Hector had her own ideas.

She showed me how she could easily open the little doors, so I put a couple of almonds in it and let her get to work. It didn’t take her any time at all to open the doors with the handles. She quickly pulled the cones off the puzzle and got the treats underneath. The only one she had any trouble with was the little sliding doors with the dog bones on them. I had to take it away from her at that point, because she was trying to chew the plastic and I didn’t want her to ruin the puzzle.

I told her to “Go Home” and she strutted by Bean and went back to her cage.

Teaching her to “go home” has been really handy. She actually does it most of the time, which for Hector is pretty good! Like a stubborn toddler, Hector listens when Hector wants to listen. She knows she gets a treat when she goes back to her cage, so she does it most of the time.

This morning when she walked over to visit me, I scooped her up and gave her a bath. A lot of birds like bath time, but Hector does not. She tolerated the bath, but got very quiet and refused to come out of her cage for a while after. Sorry bird, you needed that bath! I’ll be curious to see if she walks over to me again tomorrow morning, or if she decides to stay at her cage so she doesn’t have to have another bath.