Thursday, September 29, 2011

A warning about buying live plants for fish tanks

I was compelled to do this post because I have been shopping for live plants for Squirt's tank. So far he has one live plant in there. It is a "marimo moss ball" He LOVES it. It is like the easiest aquarium plant to care for. It is literally a ball of moss and all you really have to do is put it in the tank and enjoy it. It just looks like a fuzzy green ball. I'll have to put a picture up of it later. 

Anyway, Squirt loves his moss ball. He likes how soft it is, and he likes to take naps up against it. It is so cute!

Live plants are great for aquariums because the fish love them, they are softer than plastic plants, more real looking, and they help keep the water clean. Plants use the ammonia and nitrites which are toxic to the fish and turn them into nitrates. 

So yes, I do have a warning about buying live plants. I learned this the hard way. You have to check to make sure that the plant really is AQUATIC. For some bizarre reason, pet stores like Petsmart and Petco apparently sell plants that are not aquatic and label them for use in fish tanks. However they will die quickly because they aren't meant to be submerged in water. 

I bought a cool plant called a "white ribbon plant". It didn't have any instructions with it, so I looked up on the internet about how to care for it and found out that it is not aquatic! So fortunately I hadn't put it in the tank yet, so I will be returning it tomorrow and getting a plant that really is aquatic. 

So the moral of this is, it pays to do your research first, make sure the plant is aquatic, and (this may become my new motto!): not everything a Pet store sells is safe pets, or in this case not all plants that they sell are meant for fish tanks!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Gerbil Care: Housing your gerbils.

In my experience the best way to house gerbils is in a tank.

Generally for most small pets I recommend against a tank. I would only house gerbils, hamsters, or mice in a tank, and generally I prefer a wire/ plastic cage as it gives better ventilation.

However, gerbils are:

Escape artists and...

It does not take a gerbil long to chew through plastic. The are record fast chewers! 

So it is best to have a chew-proof cage to house gerbils. Which would be either an all metal cage with no plastic (and I just don't like all metal cages very much, they stain easily and the base is never deep enough), or a glass tank/ aquarium. 

Tanks are adequate for gerbils because: 

bedding won't get everywhere (did I mention that gerbils are bedding flingers? They get bedding everywhere when housed in a wire cage)

escape proof (as long as you have a locking lid on top)

chew proof (gerbils can chew through plastic, but they can't chew through glass)

Gerbils seem to be quite happy in a nice large tank, and you will be happy knowing that your gerbils won't end up running free around the house, or ingesting plastic.

Now for size:

A ten gallon tank is fine for one or maybe two gerbils. A twenty gallon tank is good for two or three gerbils, you could possibly fit four though. Just make sure that they have plenty of space and don't look overcrowded.

tips and reminders:

When using a tank to house any animal make sure the lid is wire mesh so that the tank is well ventilated, never use a solid lid!

Quiz Answers!

Here are this week's quiz answers:


Half of you got this one right. The answer is: desert. 

FUN FACT! Because Gerbils natural habitat is a desert, they don't eat or drink very much, so they produce less waste than most small pets, which makes cleaning up after gerbils easier than most small pets.


I finally did a tricky one! The answer is: Chinese Dwarf 

FUN FACT! Because their tails are longer than most hamsters, Chinese Dwarf hamsters are often mistaken as mice.

Don't forget to check out the new quizzes!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Quiz Answers

Here are the quiz answers:


Most of you got this one right, the answer is: about the size of its eye.


This one was a tricky one! The answer is: dooking.

FUN FACT: Sometimes it is called chirping or squawking (incorrectly, "dooking" is the correct term.)

Don't forget to check out the new quizzes!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What to do when a pet goes missing

What to do when a pet goes missing:

1. Start calling any shelters and vet's offices in your area.

Don't wait! Definitely call shelters and vet's offices right away. Many people don't think to contact an animal shelter when their pet is missing, or they wait too long. A lot of stray animals end up at a shelter. Shelters are generally required by law to hold an animal for a certain period of time before adopting it out or the sad option of euthanizing the animal. Usually that time is about 5 days to a week, but it can be as short as two days or 24 hours depending the local law. So don't wait! If you wait too long, your pet may be adopted or euthanized, and there will be nothing you can do about it.

You can also call animal control and/or local police offices. (Yes police officers often come across stray animals, and some police offices will temporarily hold the animal, so you will want to call them too).

You may want to have a picture or description of your pet and contact info to give to shelters and vets, so that if they do find your pet they can contact you.

If your pet does end up at a shelter, be prepared to show proof of ownership, proof that your pet has had any necessary shots, proof that the animal has been registered, and with most shelters you may need to pay a small fee. Many people get angry about that, but the shelter has been paying for and caring for the animal, and should get payed for that. And it is a very small fee considering the shelter has been feeding and providing necessary medical care.

2. Ask around your neighborhood, street, or town.

They may have found or seen your pet.

3. Put up posters. 

Shelters, rescues, and vets often put up any posters of missing pets if you give them some.

4. If you have facebook or something like that, post about your missing pet, and provide a picture or description of your pet.

It really does work. People post about their missing pets on the shelter's facebook page a lot.

5. Ask around at stores, restaurants, and businesses near you.

Stray pets often head for where there are people and food. Animals are often found in parking lots, and I even know of some dogs that were found in a Home Depot.

6. Make sure you have searched your house/yard, your pet may just be hiding.

Tip: If you are traveling, or your pet tends to wander off, make sure he/she has tags or is microchipped. Microchips are very handy, as shelters and vets check any stray animals for microchips, and if the pet has one they are able to trace the owners.

For small animals:

If you lose a small animal such as a guinea pig, rabbit, bird, hamster, mouse, ferret, etc. here are some helpful tips:

If any of these pets were lost outdoors, contact local shelters and vets in your area, or animal control. Many people don't bother, thinking that no one would find or be able to catch a small pet. That is not the case. I have seen quite a few stray rabbits, and a few months ago the shelter had a stray cockatiel.

If you lost your pet indoors here is what to do:

If it is a rabbit, ferret, guinea pig, or chinchilla, they are large enough that you will probably find them pretty quickly.

Hamsters, gerbils, mice, and rats can be trickier to find. Search the house thoroughly.

However if you still can't find them here are some helpful tips:

put out some food and treats (peanut butter is a good one to use for hamsters I have heard)

leave their cage door open

make sure they can get to the cage (if it is up high, put it on the ground)

in the meantime be careful that your small pet isn't caught by any dogs, or cats or other predatory pets

make sure that everyone in the house is careful where they step!

if it is a lost rabbit or rat call their name (rats and rabbits do learn to recognize their name)

Here is a special hamster catching trick (hamsters are escape artists and hard to find!)

Put a bucket or a plastic bin out on the floor in the room or area that your hamster became lost in. 

Provide a ramp or stairs of some sort (you can use stacked books or something) to the top of the bin

Cover the ramp in treats and peanut butter so that the hamster will climb all the way up.

Put blankets or something soft in the bottom of the bin (for the hamster to land on) and a treat inside.

Here's what you want to happen:

The hamster will see the food, climb up the ramp, and because of their poor depth perception will probably fall into the bin (hence the soft blankets). Then you will have caught your missing hamster. 

Make sure their aren't any predatory animals like cats or dogs in the room with the bin, as the hamster won't be able to escape the bin, and therefore won't be able to escape the predator.

Oh! I also remembered that I wanted to add this:

If you check on shelter websites they may have pictures up of stray animals that they have. But don't assume that because you don't see your pet that the shelter doesn't have it! The shelter probably doesn't have time to get around putting up pictures of all their stray animals.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New Video!

I know I usually post videos on my other blog,  but this video was a "how-to" video for cleaning a hamster cage so I thought it would be better on my Critter Care blog. 


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Quiz Answers are Finally Here!

Here are the quiz answers:


Most of you guessed this one right. The answer is true. Rats can eat chocolate. Rats can eat many of the foods that we humans can. It is just important to remember that just because they can eat it doesn't mean that it is good for them. Rats enjoy sweets quite a bit, but keep them as occasional treats. A healthier sweet treat that rats love are yogurt drops. You can buy them at the pet store, a good brand is called "Yogies".

FUN FACT! : The reason rats can eat most of the foods that we do is that rats are actually very similar to human beings. Which is also why lab rats are used. 

FUN FACT #2: Most animals cannot eat chocolate because of an ingredient found in it called "Theobromine". Theobromine can even be fatal to animals such as dogs, cats, rabbits, and many other pets and wild animals. However it does not affect humans, and it does not affect rats.


This one was a tricky one. The answer is 270 degrees. This way rabbits can easily hear predators coming.

Don't forget to check out the new quizzes!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Quiz update

Sorry for missing this weeks quizzes. I have got two really tricky ones for this week though! Quiz answers and the new quizzes will be up this weekend!

Good and bad signs during bunny bonding

Here is a list of good and bad signs to look for during bunny bonding sessions:

Good signs:

Ignoring each other (this is good because they are choosing not to squabble or fight)

Lying next to each other

Mounting (they are establishing who is top bunny and this is important)*

Grooming (this is great!)

Bunny flop (this is AWESOME!)

Eating together

Sharing the litter box 

* Note: if the rabbit is mounting the other bunny's head, break it up, or the mounting bunny may end up with serious injuries if biting occurs.

Bad signs: (if you see some bad signs, don't worry, nearly all bonding rabbits have a few rough starts, just be patient, and make sure all the rabbits involved are spayed/neutered)







All these things are normal, it will just take some more time for them to get used to each other. The main thing is that you want to try to discourage these behaviors, break up any fights, and try to end the sessions on a good note.

Bunny Bonding supplies list

This is a list of all the things needed for bunny bonding:

A separate cage for the new bunny (they can't live together right away)

A separate litter pan, food dish, water bottle/dish, and toys for the new bunnies cage.

A neutral territory that neither rabbit has ever been in (a bathtub works great) (with no water obviously)

Pet safe deodorizer or vinegar (for cleaning the cage that they move into so that it is neutral and doesn't smell like one of the bunnies)

Gloves (to keep you safe when breaking up any fights that occur)

Spray bottle with water (optional. This can be used for deterring the rabbits from fighting and marking)

Treats or food (this is optional, it can be helpful)

Two towels, blankets, or stuffed animals (optional, these are given to the rabbits and then switched so that they get used to the smell of each other)

And this isn't really a supply, but you should always have the number of a vet you can call incase of injuries or questions.

Oh, and I forgot to mention two very important bonding tips in my last post:

ALWAYS supervise bonding sessions!

You will most likely notice mounting during bonding sessions. Let the rabbits do this, they are establishing who is the dominant one, and it is important if they are going to live together. The only exception is when they are mounting the head of another rabbit, then you MUST separate them because if the bunny being mounted bites, that will be some serious nasty injuries! And if they start fighting, boxing, or biting always break it up!

Bunny Bonding

So if you follow both of my blogs, you will probably have seen that I am planning on getting my rabbit, Munchkin a friend! 

Since I am going to be doing some bunny bonding, I though I would do some informative posts on bunny bonding on this blog. 

Once I get the second rabbit I will keep track of their progress on my other blog "Critter Corner" (link is on the sidebar).

To start out I am going to do a little bunny bonding introduction:

Since rabbits in the wild almost always live with other rabbits, they are very social. Pet rabbits benefit from having a bunny friend. Humans can give them lots of attention, but we can't replace another rabbit, as we can't communicate and understand them perfectly. There isn't anything wrong with having a single rabbit, but it is great for them to have a friend, especially when there aren't any humans around for company.

That said, rabbits do not get along with just any rabbit! Just like people. Most people want to be around other people, but we don't always get along with just anyone! It is best to do some searching and find a rabbit that is compatible with the rabbit you already have. (Unless you are staring out getting two, in which case you can adopt two already bonded rabbits and skip this whole process).

But if you are like me and have a single rabbit and are looking into getting him/her a friend, you might find this post helpful.

The best thing to do is go to a shelter or rescue with your bunny and let him/her pick out the new bunny. 

A few things to remember when bonding:

Take it slowly, don't immediately put the together and let them live together.
Do short daily bonding sessions on neutral territory to minimize disputes
Get the bunnies spayed/ or neutered first
Try to always end on a positive note

I really do emphasize spaying and neutering the bunnies. The best pairs are male and female, so they obviously need to be altered unless  you want them to breed. It is best alter them both. 

Why? Females are much healthier and friendlier after spaying, and intact males will pester even spayed females, so the bonding might not go well.

If you pair up rabbits of the same gender, they should also be spayed/neutered. Trying to bond two intact males will be messy and will involve lots of fights, and urine marking, and they may never get along while still intact. The same goes for females.