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!

Happy Fall and a Dragon Update

 

Happy Fall!

I put out some flowers, and a couple of pumpkins, but the beauty was short lived! The chipmunks and squirrels think that the pumpkins were put out for them, and who am I to argue?

They have removed and probably eaten all the seeds. I keep rotating the pumpkin to try and get a bit more enjoyment out of it before it’s gone, but it is slowly starting to cave in. I’m glad to help fatten up the local rodents before the snow flies, but a couple of weeks with my decorations would have been nice!

The Dragon is being really weird recently. She has been in and out of her cave. She isn’t eating well, and she just can’t seem to decide if she wants to brumate, or just be awake. I’ve made sure her tank is the right temperature, and her basking spot is hot enough. Her tank is near windows, so I’m guessing the shorter daylight hours are what have her confused.

The hardest part for me is managing her bug consumption. I usually mail order her staple, black soldier fly larvae, but they take a few days to arrive, and they only last so long. I’ve been lucky enough to have some the last couple of times she has woken up. She’ll eat a few, a bit of her salad, and then she heads back into her cave.

Now I’ve run out, and I’m hesitant to order more. She may sleep for a few days, she may sleep for weeks, or even months. I don’t have anyplace local to buy the larvae, so I guess I will just run out and get her some crickets when she gets up again. Last thing I need is 500 or 1000 black soldier flies! She actually will eat the flies, but they are much harder to deal with than the larvae. The cats love it when a fly escapes in the house; me? not so much.

Check back soon for a review of a fun cat toy!