Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Critter Corner Updates

Since I haven't blogged for a few days, and I am visiting family for a few days so I am probably not going to blog for a few more, I am getting you all up to date with all the Critter Corner news. I hope you all had happy holidays and I hope you have a happy new year.

Munchkin and Pipsqueak are enjoying their Christmas presents and the dogs are enjoying some home made dog -friendly gingerbread treats. After a large Petsmart shopping spree of mine, Munchkin and Pipsqueak are getting quite spoiled (but I can never spoil them enough). Pipsqueak has a new pink race-car and a new tube maze and a little hamster pent house (that's what I call it) on top of her cage now. She also has a dustbath that she has been having fun with. Munchkin got some toys which he has been working on taking apart and eating, some treats and a new bed. He loves his bed. I think sat in it for most of the day today. When he wasn't sitting in it he was digging fluffy bits off of it. He (well, actually probably I am) excited because he is going to be getting a new playpen. His playpen right now is three feet by three feet, and his new one is going to be four feet by six feet.

The dogs have been very happy since a few days ago we got about a foot of snow. They have been having a blast. The cat however is not happy.

The shelter critters are all doing well. Cats and dogs have been getting adopted at a pretty good pace and a rabbit, a ferret, and two guinea pigs recently found homes too. I recently helped a photographer take photos of all the small critters at the shelter, so if you want to see them check out the Kennebec Valley Humane Society's website!

Have a happy new year and be ready for lots of videos of the critters with their Christmas presents and the dogs in the snow!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bah Humbug!

Hey Everyone... It's Scrooge the Cat. As you may have noticed in my last post I didn't have any pictures of the cat in the Santa hat. She refused to wear it. Instead she decided to claw it...




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Happy Holidays From Critter Corner!

Hoppy Howl-idays Everyone! Here are some Christmas pictures from the pets:






Munchkin pics

Here are some pictures of Munchkin with his favorite piece of cardboard:


Cute pictures of the dogs

Here are some wicked cute pictures of Lacey and Sheba:





Pipsqueaks cage updates

Here is the video I said I would show you all of Pipsqueaks new cage with the new tube in it. And another video of Pipsqueak climbing one of her extra tubes:


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Sunday, December 12, 2010

My non-official pets

I have some non-official pets. I don't own them, and I don't really take care of them or feed them, unless you count my dad putting peanut butter and seeds in humane traps. They are squirrels and they like to invade our house every night. I consider them unofficial pets. No matter how many times my dad catches one and releases it somewhere far far away we always end up with more. I think only one comes in at once, so I like to name them. Right now the current squirrel is Earl the Squirrel. I like to use names that rhyme with squirrel. For instance I have used Pearl, and Burl too. But right now it is Earl. Right now he is scampering around between the floors above my head. I think Earl is the smartest and has the most will power. He has been offered the best of squirrel bait and still refuses to enter the trap. It would be strange to have an evening where I didn't hear the rather loud patter and scratching of tiny squirrel feet above my head or below my feet.

Critter updates

So here is what all my pets have been doing lately:

Munchkin has just been doing his usual stuff. His new favorite thing is laying under a piece of cardboard and eating cilantro.

Pipsqueak has been doing some serious running up and down in her new tubes ( which I still need to take a video of) and getting crumbs from her favorite treat: pumpkin seeds everywhere.

Lacey has been enjoying the snow and having fits since she had her ears cleaned (I should put up a video of that sometime).

Sheba has been sleeping in sunny spots and licking the carpet like usual.

And Agatha, my cat, has been sleeping in my fleece on her favorite chair, and playing with the books under my bed while I am trying to sleep.

Hamster Care: Food

Hi Everyone! So this post is all about what hamsters eat!

A lot of people think that feeding a hamster is as easy as buying a bag of food and putting some in the cage each day and thats it.
Well...

It can actually be a lot more complicated than that. 
So what do hamsters eat?
Hamsters usually eat a mixture of seeds and grains, and sometimes insects for protein.

There are lots of different brands of hamster food out there but not all of them are the same. Here are some tips:

You can get two different kinds: A seed and pellet mix or Rodent Blocks. Seed mixes have more variety so hamsters like them more, but they might pick out their favorites. Rodent blocks give them a balanced diet. Some people feed their hamsters a mix of both.

If you are getting a seed mix here are a few things you should look for:
Look for a seed mix that does not have sunflower seeds or peanuts. These should be treats only since they are very fattening for hamsters. A hamster eating those every day is like us eating cake or cookies for our meals every day. 

Look for something that has pellets, some seeds, and some corn but not too much. The cereal type pieces are okay as long as there is not too many. They provide a good source of carbohydrates that the hamsters need. Dried vegetables are a good thing to have in their food, but their should be little or no dried fruit. It is like candy for hamsters and should only be given in moderation.

How much to feed:

Depends on your hamster. Most people just free feed. Hamsters usually won't over eat. If your hamster is the exception you may need to limit his or her food.

Treats:
Some good treats for hamsters are sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, carrot ( in very small amounts), dog biscuits (good source of protein), and meal worms (hamsters LOVE meal worms). Remember to not feed your hamster too many treats!


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pipsqueak cage updates

Pipsqueaks new cage now has a new tube. The tube that came with it originally was too big for Pipsqueak to be able to climb up the vertical parts. We got her some critter trail tubes so she can get up to the second level now. These tubes are very cool. You can make all sorts of designs and she loves running around in them. I will put up a video of the new cage's new design soon.

Guinea Pig Babies!

One of the shelters guinea pigs had her babies on Monday! She had two of them. One is a creamy orange and white color and the other one is creamy orange/ white/ gray. They are all soft and fluffy and about the size of a gerbil right now. They are the cutest thing!

Ahhhh!!!!!

So after doing some dwarf hamster research online I had thought that Pipsqueak was a boy since I found the special dwarf hamster scent gland in the middle of his belly. Well I got a dwarf hamster book today, that said that both genders have that in dwarf hamsters! So I spent some time doing very very thorough online research and after getting another good look at poor Pipsqueak, I do believe ( I am 99% positive), and I am crossing my fingers that this time I am right, that Pipsqueak is a girl. The only reason I thought she was a boy was because of the scent gland and after comparing with some pictures from my book Pipsqueak definitely seem to be a girl. Poor Pipsqueak she must be so confused by now. I am very very very positive that I am right this time though.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pipsqueak's New Cage!!

I just got a Petco gift card from a couple of friends and I got Pipsqueak a new cage with it. It is the same kind as his old one but it has a second level so it is twice as big. He loves it, but he is still trying to figure out getting up the tube. Here is a video of him in his new cage:

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Rabbit Questions

I was asked a few questions about the rabbits at the shelter and if I was collecting Munchkin's fur for my mom to spin.

To the first question about the rabbits at the shelter,
Right now we have three rabbits. One is a medium sized white rabbit who has been here for a while. He likes to bite. I am usually the only one who will actually stick my hand in his cage. He is pretty friendly once he gets used to people. The other two rabbits are grey and white liondhead rabbits. The Lionhead breed of rabbits have long fur on their head and then the rest of their fur is short. It is very cute. The two of them are brothers and they love each other. They have to be adopted together. They are very sweet, I love them.

To the Munchkin fur question:
Yep, I am collecting Munchkins fur in a box. Mom hasn't tried spinning any yet though.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Grooming a Rabbit

Yesterday I was at the shelter grooming two new rabbits that just came in and that reminded me that I haven't done any posts on grooming a rabbit! So here goes:

Yes Rabbits do need grooming. They need their fur to be brushed or clipped and their nails to be clipped regularly. Some rabbits may not be able to keep themselves clean and may require a bath once in a while.

Brushing a rabbit:

Rabbits need to be brushed regularly. Long haired rabbits need frequent brushing and even short haired rabbits should be brushed since rabbits shed a lot. Always use a gentle brush. Rabbits have very delicate skin. Special rubber tipped slicker brushes made for rabbits are probably the best. When you rabbit starts to shed and their fur takes over you can use a Furminator as long as you are gentle. You can also gently pull out the loose hairs.

Clipping a rabbit:

I have no experience clipping a rabbit. I know that Angora rabbits should be clipped regularly because their fur constantly grows. Typically most rabbit owners use special pet clippers rather than scissors.

Clipping a rabbit's nails:

This HAS to be done. I have seen rabbits that come in to the shelter with nails growing sideways and curling in a big circle. Usually I check Munchkin's nails every week. I usually only have to clip them every two to three weeks. Clipping a rabbits nails can be tricky. You need small but easy to use scissor-style clippers. Your rabbit may be mellow enough to just let you pick up their paw and start clipping away. If your rabbit gives you trouble you can try "trancing" them. This is when you place them on you lap on their backs. Only do this if you are confident that you can handle it. It generally makes them "play dead" and relax, but some rabbits might freak out. You can give it a try but if your rabbit doesn't like it don't do it. Munchkin, since he is pretty mellow doesn't mind at all and it makes it much easier to clip his nails. If your rabbit is really tricky, you can have someone hold them while you clip the nails, or you can take them to your vet and have them do it. Make sure you don't cut the qwik. That is the pink tissue inside the nail. If you can't see the qwik only clip a little at a time and stop immediately if you see blood or it hurts your rabbit. If you do cut the qwik you can use Qwik Stop found at pet stores or cornstarch to stop the bleeding.

Bathing a rabbit:

Only bathe your rabbit if the rabbit really needs it. Bathing is very stressful for rabbits and they groom themselves so generally they are very clean. If your rabbit is the exception however here are some bathing tips:

Use only warm water, do not use super hot or cold water
Only use shampoo specially made for rabbits
Dry your rabbit off thoroughly. You can use a hair dryer if it is on the cool or low setting.
Do not put a wet rabbit outside in cold weather! Rabbits take a very long time to dry off.

Dogs outside

I was outside with the dogs so I took a couple of videos of them. Enjoy.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

More about the Guinea Pigs

So here is some more info about the guinea pigs at the shelter. The three possibly pregnant guinea pigs are definitely pregnant. They did some tests or something yesterday. They can have anywhere from 1 to 8 babies. 1 to 4 is more common though. So we are expecting a lot of guinea pigs at the shelter! All small critters are free at the shelter starting Wednesday and going through the weekend since we have so many right now. I think that the shelter is only adopting out the male guinea pigs right now, because they want to be sure that our non-pregnant female guinea pigs really are not pregnant too. I think there are five girls and seven boys. Two of the boys are babies. They are so cute! The two girl guinea pigs who aren't having babies are my favorites. I gave them the names Piper and Lily. They are both long haired guinea pigs. I gave them baths today and now Lily loves me. She was very dirty before. Piper likes to talk to me. I immitate the guinea pigs "wheeking" sounds because it makes them more comfortable and less nervous around me. Whenever I do Piper always "wheeks" back. They are also the least messy. The boys tend to be messier.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Guinea Pigs, Guinea Pigs, and MORE Guinea Pigs

I had just been thinking the other day that there haven't been any guinea pigs at the shelter in a little while. Then I walked in to the shelter today and saw GUINEA PIGS EVERYWHERE! The shelter just got TWELVE guinea pigs at once. Typically we only have one or two or not any at all. But right now the shelter has twelve and three of them are going to have babies soon. They all came from one person. I don't know how one person could even think that they could properly take care of twelve guinea pigs! They are all very nervous. Two of them are babies so they are very cute. I hope they start getting adopted soon.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tip of the week.

Here is my tip of the week:

If you are ever adopting a rabbit think about this:

Do I want a big one or a little one?

Many people think little ones are easier to handle and can be kept in a smaller cage because of their size. Well the opposite is most often true. Very small rabbits tend to be extremely active so they need about as much space as a large rabbit would if not more. Since they are so active they tend to be more territorial, dominant, and much more difficult to handle.

Large rabbits tend to be easygoing laid back and enjoy being handled more than smaller rabbits.

Remember there are exceptions to everything. I also find that if you handle a rabbit a lot as a baby they grow up to be much more friendly and even enjoy being held.

Things to consider when getting a pet rabbit

If you are ever thinking of getting a pet rabbit here are some things you should consider first:

Can I afford one? Rabbits are actually pretty expensive. You need to buy a cage and the rabbit and supplies. Hay, pellets, vegetables, and bedding get used up pretty quick.

Do I have the space? Believe it or not, rabbits do take up a lot of space. They need a large cage and they need to be able to get some time out of the cage each day.

Do I have the time? Rabbits take up a LOT of time. You need to spot clean the cage, feed them, give them fresh water, give the out of cage time and attention each day. Their cage needs to be completely cleaned out at least weekly, and they need lots of grooming.

Is the personality of this rabbit right for me? Rabbits each have a different personality so don't buy a rabbit based on looks. Some rabbits can be quite aggressive and territorial. Some are like the energizer bunny and require tons of room to run and lots of out of cage time. Some rabbits are down right lazy. Some like to play a little and love being handled and cuddled. A lot do not like being handled at all.

Questions and Answers

I have some questions that I was asked that I would like to answer.

"I've heard of people who let their litter box-trained rabbits roam the house like a cat or dog. Is this possible, considering the amount of damage a rabbit can do in a short time? Sounds like the house couldn't have carpets, cords or wood. That definitely would limit the home furnishings!"


Yes some people do let their rabbits roam freely around the house. It is possible. It depends on the rabbit. Some rabbits are not at all destructive, but some like Munchkin like to destroy things. Some rabbits don't pay any attention to carpets, but cords definitely should still be out of their reach. Some people just leave a few rooms or a hallway for their rabbit to roam in. 


"Your critters sure must keep you busy! Do you have a written schedule like a calendar to keep it all straight?"


I did for a while, but I tend to change or alter how I do things, so I kinda stopped using it. I mostly just keep track of everything in my head. I basically make sure that each animal gets its cage cleaned out a bit, gets fed, and gets fresh water and attention daily. Then weekly they get groomed and the cages get totally cleaned out. The dogs schedule is a bit different with grooming, since the lab doesn't need much grooming, but I typically brush my springer spaniel every couple of days. 



Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Munchkin video

Here is a video of how Munchkin likes to sit with his head on my lap. If you listen carefully you can hear a sort of grinding clicking noise a few times. That is Munchkin clicking his teeth. Rabbits do that when they are happy.

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Critter Pictures!

Here are some pictures I have been taking of some of my pets:

                                                                      Pipsqueak having a snack.


                                            A very cute moment with the dogs and the cat at the top of the stairs.


                                                             Awww...


                                          
                                                       Just a cute picture of Pipsqueak.

BIG NEWS!

Okay so I have some big news. I just discovered that my hamster Pipsqueak is a BOY! Not a girl. I hadn't really gotten a good look since I had never actually been able to flip him over easily, so from what I could see I thought that the poor little guy was a girl. Oops. At least I didn't by him anything pink. : )

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How Munchkin Laughs

Munchkin has been enjoying living on the wild side and getting into a lot of mischief the past couple of days. He attempts to jump on the couch and chew up the carpet very frequently the past few days. And he thinks it is funny. Rabbits do crazy jumps and shake all over when they are very, very happy. This is what Munchkin does when I tell him no. If I shoo him away from his favorite corner of the carpet that he was furiously trying to dig up, he leaps and jumps and shakes all over in happy little circles. I think of it as him laughing at me. Apparently he likes to be a bad bunny sometimes. It makes me laugh. His other new habit is licking me when he has done something wrong. If I see him looking at the couch in that funny way with his head cocked to the side, I know that he is going to jump on the couch or is at least thinking about it. So I say "Munchkin, are you being a bad bunnny?" and he hops over and innocently licks my knee. Or hops into my lap. It is like he is saying "No, I am being a good bunny. See?" I love how much personality rabbits have. My other favorite habit of his is his obsession with his towels. If he doesn't want me to touch them he moves them into a pile and then sort of sits on them and holds onto them. I bet he is thinking, "If you want to wash these towels you will have to get through me first!"  I will have to get a picture of it sometime.

Rabbit Care: Out of Cage Time

Here are some things you need to do when you let a rabbit out of its cage. Make sure you let them out to play for a couple of hours or more each day.

You need to rabbit proof (rabbits LOVE to destroy things!)
Cover or remove any electrical cords
Keep anything breakable out of your rabbit's reach
Block off any small spaces where they can get stuck
Block off or remove any wooden furniture, books, etc, that you would not want chewed
If you have carpet, always supervise your rabbit. Rabbits LOVE to eat carpet.

Be prepared to have to keep an eye on your rabbit. Rabbits will chew anything: doors, baseboards, walls, furniture, tv remotes, and anything else they can get their teeth on. So prepare yourself for a chewed-up room. I know from experience. Munchkin has already taken a few chomps our of a new tv stand, eaten two buttons off a remote, and tried to chew up some baseboards and some carpet. Fortunately, he usually doesn't ingest any of these things. Rabbits are fast. It only took Munchkin about two seconds while my back was turned to take the buttons off of the remote. And he had to jump up on the couch to get the remote. He loves the couch because he knows he isn't supposed to go up there.

Hamster Care: Cleaning the Hamster Cage

Okay, so now here is how to clean a hamster cage:

1. Take your hamster out of the cage and put them somewhere safe and escape-proof.
2. Take all accessories out of the cage.
3. Take the cage apart (take the wire top off the plastic bottom, etc.)
4. Dump out any uneaten food and all bedding, and soiled chew toys.
5. Fill a bucket or sink with hot water and one or two small drops of very mild dish soap.
6. Wash the bottom of the cage, the wire parts, and any plastic or metal accessories such as the wheel, plastic hideaway, tubes, food dish, water bottle.
7. Now rinse all of it thoroughly.
8. Dry all of it off completely.
9. Put in a thick layer of clean bedding, put the cage back together, and put all of your hamster's accessories back in. Put fresh food in the bowl, and fresh water in the bottle.
10. Now you can get your hamster and let it explore its cleaned cage!


Cleaning out a cage like I just explained above should be done at least once a week. Each day you still need to: remove any soiled bedding and replace with fresh bedding, remove uneaten food from their food dish and refill it, and refill their water bottle.

Hamster Care: Setting Up a Hamster Cage

Since I did a post about hamster cages I decided I should do one on how you should set up your hamster's home.

Once you have your hamster's cage and put it together you need to put in all its accessories. First, put a thick layer of bedding in the bottom so you hamster can burrow in it if it wants to. In one corner place its food dish and in the corner next to it put the water bottle. In the third corner, put a little hut or something for the hamster to sleep in. Make sure you leave one corner free of anything because hamsters like to have a corner to use as a little hamster bathroom. The wheel can go anywhere in the cage as long as the hamster can reach it. Then you can put in chew toys and tubes to give your hamster something to do. Once you have your hamster in its cage, you should watch how it uses this arrangement for a few days. If the hamster is sleeping, eating, or going to the bathroom in a corner that you hadn't set up for that use, you may need to arrange it so that it works better for you critter. Also, if your bedding is not very soft, provide your hamster with a few tissues or some softer bedding for it to sleep in.

Pipsqueak videos!

Here are a few new videos of Pipsqueak:

Pipsqueak running around on my desk:
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Pipsqueak running a marathon in her wheel:
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Friday, November 12, 2010

Questions and Answers

So I was asked if hamsters could be trained.

Yes hamsters can be trained to do tricks. It obviously depends on the hamster, some respond very well others don't really pick up on training. They are actually pretty smart little critters. There are even hamster training books that you could find.

New blog gadgets

So since my recent ferret post has been getting so many page views and comments, I have a poll on whether or not you like ferrets this week. It is over on the right. I also have a gadget on the lower right that shows the posts that are the most popular right now.

A special note:
I would LOVE to have a ferret, but I know that I don't have the time for another pet right now. And my mother would NEVER let me. But I still think they are very awesome pets.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hamster Care: The Wheel

A wheel is very important for your hamster. They LOVE them.

Here is what to look for in a wheel:
A solid plastic wheel. Wire mesh is hard on their feet. If you do get a plastic one make sure that your hamster doesn't chew it.
The right size. Make sure it is big enough that your hamster doesn't have to arch its back to use the wheel.
Easy to clean. Hamster wheels get dirty, so make sure you can clean it well.
A quiet wheel. This is more for you than the hamster. You can buy special silent wheels, but for the most part plastic wheels are pretty quiet. Metal wheels tend to be very squeaky.

If your metal wheel squeaks:
You can try putting a bit of vegetable oil where the wheel attaches to its base or to the cage bars. This will help. Only use pet-safe vegetable oil.

Hamster Care: The Cage

So here is what you need to know about getting a home for your hamster.

There are many different kinds of cages you can keep your hamster in:

a wire cage with a plastic or metal bottom
an all-plastic modular cage with tubes
a plastic and wire cage with tubes
a tank meant for reptiles

Here are the pros and cons of each one:

A wire cage:

Wire cages are very good for hamsters. They provide good ventilation and hamsters love to climb the bars. They are also easy to clean. If you get a wire cage you need to make sure the bar space is the right size for your hamster. Typically a bar space of a half inch for large hamsters is fine. For dwarf hamsters however, the bar space should be around a quarter of an inch. Some wire cages come with a plastic or metal base. Metal is great because it can't be chewed, but if your hamster doesn't chew much a plastic one is fine.

An all-plastic cage:

I don't like these very much. They tend to be easy to escape from, they provide poor ventilation, and are very easily broken and chewed apart. They also tend to be very small. As I see it the only plus is the tubes. Hamsters enjoy crawling through them.

A plastic and wire cage:

These combine a wire cage with connectable tubes and expansion kits. This is the kind of cage that Pipsqueak has. It can connect with plastic tubes to other cages and can be expanded by adding other floors to it. If you have a hamster that chews a lot then you either won't want one of these or will have to check the tubes and plastic bottom for damage. Pipsqueak's cage doesn't have tubes yet, but I plan on expanding her cage soon.

A tank:

These make good hamster homes, too. They don't provide as much ventilation as a wire cage, but it still gives enough. They are escape proof. However, hooking in water bottles and wheels is not as easy as in a wire cage. They can also be tricky to clean because they are heavy.


So here is a checklist for getting a hamster a suitable home:

Is the cage chew-proof? If not, you will need to make sure your hamster doesn't chew it.
Does it provide enough ventilation?
Is it big enough? (large syrian hamsters need a lot of room, dwarf hamsters can be kept in smaller cages.)
Is it escape proof? Do the doors lock? (hamster are very good at opening cage doors)
Is the bar spacing the right size?
If it is a tank does it have a mesh top with locks? If not, you will need to get one.

Hamster Care

The hamster necessities.

Here is a list of the things you need for a hamster:

a cage or tank(tanks should have a wire mesh top)
a wheel (wheels are a MUST!)
a food bowl
a water bottle
bedding
a place to hide in
a chew toy
food
a run about ball
some tunnels and toys to occupy them

Ferrets

I think ferrets are awesome little creatures. Right now the shelter has two of them. I clean out their cages three times a week when I go to the shelter. Their names are Snoopy and Sheldon. Snoopy is funny-looking because on one side of his face he has black whiskers, and the other side has white. Snoopy is a kind of quiet laid-back kind of guy, while Sheldon loves to play and is very friendly. He follows me around on his ferret leash while I clean some of the other animals' cages. I also take a few minutes to let Sheldon and Snoopy out of their cages to play together. Watching ferrets play is very fun. They roll all around, bounce and jump all over the place, and run around very fast. And when they are done Sheldon likes to come climb in  my lap. Sheldon is also trained to use a litter box which is awesome for cleaning his cage. So if anyone out there is looking for an awesome ferret got to the Kennebec Valley Humane Society.

Ohio dogs update!

The shelter's rescued Ohio dogs recently went up for adoption, and good news! Bob was adopted! He went to a good home with someone who loved him very much. Fred and Millie are still waiting for new homes, so I am crossing my fingers that they will find a really awesome one!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hamster Care

Hi everyone!

I am doing posts about Hamster Care now, too. To start off, here is a little bit about hamsters:

Why hamsters make good pets:
They are easy to care for. They are not expensive. They can be very friendly. And of course, the are really, really CUTE! They also do not take up a huge amount of space.

Reasons why a hamster might not be the best pet for you:
They are  nocturnal. This means they sleep during the day, and they possibly can be pretty noisy at night. It also means that if they are woken up during the day, they may be grumpy and nippy.

Hamsters are small, ranging from two to seven inches. The most common breeds are syrian (or teddy bear) hamsters. These are the largest hamsters measuring from six to seven inches typically. Dwarf hamsters have become popular recently. There are many breeds of dwarf hamsters: Winter White, Roborovski, Campbells, Russians, and Chinese Dwarfs. Dwarf hamsters are usually between two to four inches long and only weigh a couple of ounces. Hamsters come in lots of pattern and color varieties. They each have their own personality.

A day in the life of Munchkin

Here is an example of a day in Munchkin's life:

He chews some of his special log and relaxes till I come down to clean his cage in the morning.
Before I clean his cage, he digs around in his towels, then he hops into his playpen to wait while I clean his cage.
He waits very impatiently for his morning snack and gobbles it down when he gets it.
After I finish with his cage, he eats some of his food, checks everything out, and goes back into his playpen for another nap.
He eats and snoozes with some playing and cage accessory rearranging mixed in for most of the day until about three or four o'clock.
Then he gets an hour or so of time upstairs in the tv room. He runs around, gets some papaya, and sits in my lap for a while before stretching out on the floor.
Then he is put back to his cage and waits for his veggies.
When he sees me coming with his veggies, he frantically hops around.
Then he spends a very long time munching on his lettuce, celery, and carrots.
After this he plays for a while then naps some more till he gets to go upstairs again in the evening.
He might be very well-rested by now so he shows off with a few spectacular bunny binkies (big funny looking bunny acrobatics) then he gets his second papaya snack and sits in my lap before hopping off to play with all his favorite toys. Then he lets me chase him around for a bit because he doesn't feel like going back downstairs.
Once I finally catch him he sits with his head on my shoulder and rubs his head into my shoulder a few times (I don't know why but he always does).
Then he goes to bed in his cage and eats all of his hay during the night while he waits for the next morning.
And that is a typical day for Munchkin.

How all my pets are doing

Just thought I would tell everyone how all my pets are doing. They are all enjoying the good life. Sheba, my older dog, is enjoying her naps in the sun and licking the carpet. Lacey, my younger dog, is enjoying life on her recliner (yes, she really does have a recliner all to herself) and chasing leaves in the yard. The cat is helping me read as usual by trying to lay on my books, and snoozing in my chair. Munchkin is enjoying some extra-special broccoli that he is getting this week as a special treat. He has also been enjoying trying to nibble some furniture and sleeping on his favorite towel. And Pipsqueak is in her cage right now taking a nap after running around in her ball, climbing all over me, and eating a snack.

Ohio dogs update

I am so excited. All three of the shelter's Ohio dogs are up for adoption. I have been walking them every chance I get, particularly Bob. I am working on giving them all baths. Millie got her bath, and it is Bob's turn next. Then it will be little Fred's turn.

Animals at the Shelter update

I was reading my comments and one of them asked if the shelter ever got ferrets and birds. I cannot believe that I didn't think of ferrets when I made my list of animals that the shelter gets. We don't get them all the time, I would say we have probably had about six ferrets over a year or so. We get birds sometimes but not very often. There is a bird rescue that most of the birds go too. The shelter also has two rats, which I might have mentioned in the last post.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tip of the Week

I realized I have fallen behind on my tip of the week. So heres the one for this week:

Got a rodent, rabbit, or guinea pig? Then this one is for you.

Is your small pet always making a mess with their food or water? Use a ceramic non tip bowl. They are heavy and can't be tipped over or dumped and they can't get chewed up.

Or...

Use a special bowl that locks to the cage. They can be found at pretty much any pet store.

Got a messy dog or cat?

You can get ceramic bowls, special stands  that hold bowls, place mats, and bowls that lock into a crate for dogs and cats.

More info on litter boxes

I was asked a few questions about taking care of a rabbit's litter box such as how often do you clean it out, do you dump the whole thing each time?

It depends on the litter. If you are using something like wood shavings, shredded paper, or hay in your rabbit's litter box, it should probably be dumped every one or two days since these beddings aren't very absorbant. Hay should definitely be dumped every day.

I use recycled paper pulp bedding which is very absorbent. Every day I spot clean the litter box by cleaning out all droppings and wet or soiled parts, and then adding some fresh bedding. Once a week I completely dump out all the contents of the litter box and rinse the litter box out with hot water and sometimes a very small amount of vinegar to remove the mineral deposits from the rabbit's urine.

Animals at the Shelter

I was asked what kinds of animals the shelter gets. Right now at the shelter we have the obvious dogs and cats, but we also have a rabbit, four degus, eight gerbils, a mouse, two rats, and two guinea pigs. There have also been chinchillas, reptiles, and a tortoise at the shelter before.

Pipsqueak video!

Here is another video of Pipsqueak. She is running in her run about ball. She seems to like running into things.
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Pipsqueak's Cage

Here is a picture of Pipsqueak's cage. It is a critter universe hamster cage.

Pipsqueak videos!

Here is the first video of Pipsqueak the hamster!

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Munchkin's Favorite Toy!

Here is a video of Munchkin playing with his new favorite toy! Enjoy!
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Sunday, October 31, 2010

New Hamster!

Today I adopted a hamster from the KVHS. I don't know for sure what gender the hamster is, since nobody at the shelter was sure either. I've got to figure that out. So for right now the hamster is a girl. Her name is Pipsqueak. She is a dwarf hamster. She is about two inches long and dark, smoky, grey and white, with a little bit of black. She is extremely friendly for a dwarf hamster, who are known for being nippy and sometimes aggressive. I'll put up a couple of pictures and videos of her soon. Her favorite things are celery-flavored salt licks, sleeping in her hide house, running on her wheel, crashing into things in her ball, and getting pet in between her ears.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rabbit Care: The litter box

So now that I've covered rabbit bedding, I am moving on to the litter box. Of course, you don't have to litter train your rabbit, but it is plus if your rabbit is litter trained. It keeps their cage cleaner, and you can have more peace of mind when you let them out of their cage to play. Of course, rabbits may have accidents now and then, and they do like to mark their territory.

Litter training a rabbit can take a short time or it can take a very long time. For the most part it is much much easier if your rabbit is spayed or neutered. That way they don't have as much of an urge to mark their territory.

To get your rabbit to use a litter box requires patience and consistent training. To start you must figure out which corner of their cage they use the most. You should then place the litter box there. You need to spot clean the cage more often and make sure to put any messes they make outside of the litter box into their litter box. This way they will know that they aren't supposed to do it in the cage, only in the litter box. You can also place a large amount of hay next to or inside of the litter box. Most rabbits like to eat while they do their business, so that encourages them to use the litter box. Do not use deodorizing cleaning solutions in the rabbit's litter box. If you want to encourage your rabbit to use it, you shouldn't completely deodorize it until you are completely sure your rabbit is totally litter-trained.

A few more tips and tricks:

Once you start litter training, I find it helpful to remove the bedding from the cage and only use it in the litter pan. I find that it seem to help them learn it faster. You can give them something soft to sleep in like a bed, towel, or a blanket. I did not have to litter train Munchkin, because he came to the shelter already very well litter trained. I have tried some litter training with rabbits at the shelter.

What to look for in a litter box:
Make sure it is large enough for your rabbit. Plastic ones are the most practical. You can buy corner litter pans that fit into a cage corner. I like these a lot, and I especially like the ones that have clips to lock it on to the cage. (Rabbit like to flip their litter box around sometimes so this comes in handy!). Simple rectangular plastic litter pans for cats work just fine too. You can also get a high back litter pan. This helps if your rabbit sprays a lot or doesn't do a good job of keeping everything in the litter box.

A special note: Do NOT ever use clay cat litter for a rabbit's litter box. It is extremely dangerous if ingested. Use a rabbit safe bedding instead.

Next time: Out of cage playtime

Ohio dogs

Hi everybody!

This is an update on the shelters Ohio dogs. I was able to walk them just a few days ago. They are such sweet, wonderful dogs! Two of them are pit bulls named Millie and Bob, and the other one is a patterdale terrier. I walked the two pit bulls. Bob was so malnourished that he was on IV's when he first arrived. He is gaining weight but he is still skinny enough to have every bone in his tail visible. He loves everybody. He loves to cuddle and he sometimes gets sad when we stop cuddling him. He will hang on to my leg every time I try to leave. He just craves some attention. Millie was used for breeding and we believe she had litter after litter after litter of puppies. She is very sweet too, but she is pretty nervous. Both dogs get along well with everybody and they seem to get along very well with other dogs. Millie loves the puppies that we have at the shelter. I hope they go to really good homes. The other dog, the patterdale, is just a happy go lucky little fella. He is also very cute! The KVHS website has a link to more information about these dogs, and you can see a video of Bob. Just click on the Kennebec Valley Humane Society link to the right.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Rabbit Care: Bedding

 I have been getting comments asking me what to use for bedding for rabbits, so now I will talk a bit about that.

If your rabbit is not trained to use a litter box, your bedding will be needed for two reasons:

1. As litter to keep the cage and your rabbit clean,
2. As something to sleep or make a nest in.

If you rabbit is trained to use a litter box, you will have litter in the box, so your bedding will only be used for sleeping in, and possibly playing in. (unless your rabbit feels inclined to not use the litter box once or twice)

For a non litter trained rabbit, the bedding needs to completely cover the cage bottom, usually a layer of about one or two inches. It also needs to be changed at least once a week and any soiled bedding needs to be removed daily. I like to use the softest bedding I can find for this kind of use. When you look for the bedding make sure it is absorbent, not dusty, and safe for your pet. Here are some different kinds of bedding you can use:

Aspen wood shavings- inexpensive, does a good job, but not very soft
Carefresh soft wood fiber- very soft, very absorbent, but don't be fooled by the bag it is not 99% dust free! (more like 99% dusty)
Recycled paper bedding- this is a favorite of mine, it is absorbent, can be composted, it's good for the environment and your rabbit, most brands bedding are fairly dust free, and all around a great bedding for your pet. (Sunseed is a good brand to get when buying recycled paper bedding)

Now if your rabbit is litter trained like Munchkin, you only use this stuff in the litter box. So to sleep in he gets some towels (he loves them with all his little heart). He loves arranging them, digging in them, and hiding and sleeping in them. You can also use fleece blankets or purchase a fleece bed for your rabbit. 

Note: Never use cedar or pine shavings as bedding. It may smell good but the aromatic oils in them can cause respiratory and kidney or liver problems in your rabbit. 
Another Note: If you use something like towels or fleece make sure your rabbit is not eating them.

Next time: The litter box


Rabbit Care: Toys

A lot of people never even think that a rabbit would need toys, but they are actually very playful creatures.

Toys are healthy for your rabbit for two reasons:

1. It keeps them active and happy.
2. It gives them something to chew to keep their teeth trim.

What kind of toys are good for rabbits and where can you find them?

Well, you can find lots of toys for rabbits at pretty much any pet store, such as Petsmart or Petco.
Rabbits need chew toys, made of wood, cardboard, or hay. It is important that they keep their teeth trim. Rabbits can also have plastic toys as long as they don't chew up or eat the plastic. Most rabbits, in my experience, don't seem to like chewing plastic, so plastic is usually fine. Rabbits like toys that they can throw and push. They also really enjoy toys that rattle or jingle. Here are some specific favorites of rabbits:

Cardboard boxes
Cardboard tubes
Plastic ball with bells inside them that are meant for cats
Wood chew toys (if you make your own make sure it is natural, untreated wood.)
Sisal or loofa chew toys (you can find these at most pet stores)
Tunnels

Next time: Bedding

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rabbit Care: Cage accessories

Well, we have talked a little bit about rabbit cages, now we can talk about accessories for the cage.

Here is what you will need for your rabbit in his cage:

1. a thick layer of bedding, or a litter box
2. something soft to sleep in
3. a hide box or someplace for your rabbit to feel safe and secure (although I understand it can be hard to find hide boxes for very big bunnies)
4. a food bowl
5. a water bottle or a water dish
6. toys and things to chew
7. hay racks or whatever else you might use to hold their hay

And something I didn't mention when I talked about the rabbitat:

A rabbit's cage should have a solid bottom, not wire mesh. Wire mesh is very uncomfortable for a rabbit's feet. It is sanitary because the droppings fall through to the bottom, but it is not good for your rabbit's feet. A rabbit does not have pads like a dog. They only have delicate skin and some fur on their feet. If you are worried about sanitation I would recommend training your rabbit to use a litter box. If you do have a wire bottom on your rabbit's cage, make sure you provide something solid on it for their feet to get a break.

Next time: Toys

Ohio Pitbulls

Recently the Kennebec Valley Humane Society got three pit bulls from Ohio. They were former alleged fight dogs found at a dogfighter's property with hundreds of other animals in Ohio. The dogs were given to shelters across the US and the KVHS received three of them. I haven't gotten to see them yet, but apparently they are very affectionate and don't seem to have any behavior problems. They are severely malnourished, though, and one even had to be put on IV's and get special care around the clock. Apparently one of them, Bob, likes to share his food. He will bring his food bowl to people. I hope they all get good homes.

New favorite shelter dog

My new favorite shelter dog, ( I do say favorite, but I really love them all!), is a Rottweiler mix named Jazmine. She is so fun and she is very loving. She loves to have cuddles and treats and she loves to get a good back scratch. If you want to see a picture of Jazmine, check out the link to the Kennebec Valley Humane Society on the right.

Yay!

I am very happy because my favorite dog at the shelter, Diesel was adopted! I hope he went to a good home!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Questions and Answers

I was asked some questions about "rabbitats" and about Munchkin:

Can Munchkin's fur be spun?

Probably. He has a lot of downy under-coat, which is very obvious right now because he is shedding. Rabbit Fur is everywhere!

Do rabbits like changes in their rabbitat?

Well, if you move their cage to a different location they seem to be fine with that. Changing the location mixes things up and adds some excitement. Munchkin is very curious about having his cage or location changed around. He does not, however, like it if I rearrange his towels that he sleeps in. He also doesn't like it if I move his litter box to a different corner. If I do he pushes his towels over to where the litter box used to be, and uses the towels instead of the litter box. He also prefers to keep his favorite blue ball that jingles near his food dish. (he loves to put it in his food dish during the night)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Rabbit Care: The Rabbitat - housing your rabbit

So now that you know how to feed your rabbit, let's talk rabbit cages/hutches.

Indoors or outdoors?

Indoors is always a better option. Your rabbit will be safer, there will be no predators to worry about, and in a lot of places it is unsuitable to keep a rabbit outside in winter or summer. Rabbits do not do well in extreme heat and extreme cold. I would recommend keeping your rabbit inside where it can be part of the family, and letting them outside in a pen for some exercise as long as it is safe, the weather is good, and you can be there to keep an eye on your rabbit.

What should I use for my rabbit's home?

Here are some options:

A store-bought cage:
These are a good option as long as it is large enough. The minimum cage size is at least four times the size of your rabbit and would ideally be much bigger than that. Look for a cage that provides ample room for objects that will go in the cage, and room for your bunny to move around and be comfortable. Store-bought cages are not too expensive and are easy to clean.

A wooden hutch:
First off, these are very, very expensive. Secondly, they are difficult to keep clean and can easily be chewed. The pros are you can buy fairly large ones with multiple levels that provide plenty of room for a small-to medium-sized bunny.

An exercise pen:
An exercise pen meant for dogs and puppies make excellent rabbit homes. You can buy ones meant for rabbits as well. They provide plenty of room, are not too expensive, are easy to keep clean, and are infinitely expandable. Just make sure they have a height of about thirty inches so your rabbit cannot jump out.

A homemade cage:
Some rabbit owners make their own cage. They use wire storage cubes that can be found at Target, coroplast (corrugated plastic), and zip ties to hold it together. This is great as you can make the cage however you want and it is not too expensive, but it does take time and effort to put together.

Running free:
Some rabbit owners let their rabbits have free reign over a room or the house. To do this your rabbit would have to be very good about not chewing anything, you would have to rabbit-proof the house, your rabbit would have to be litter-trained, and you would have to be careful with other pets.

What I use:
For Munchkin I use a combination of a dog kennel and a playpen. That way he gets plenty of room. A dog kennel makes a great home for large rabbits like Munchkin.

Remember your rabbit should be let out of the cage for at least one to two hours each day for some exercise and some attention.

Next time: Cage accessories

Tip of the Week

I am now doing a tip for pet owners each week. Here's the first one:

Do you own a rabbit? If you do you might be having a hard time trying to clean their urine stains out of their cage or litter box. Have you ever tried using some vinegar? A small amount of vinegar should do the trick. Just make sure to thoroughly rinse afterwards because rabbits do not like the smell of vinegar very much.

Dog owners, this tip is for you, too! Vinegar is an environmentally friendly pet-safe cleaning solution. So if you have a puppy that is not quite potty-trained yet, try out this trick.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lacey with her Halloween toys

These are some pictures and a video of my dog Lacey with her new favorite Halloween toys. Enjoy!


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Why Degus Have Orange Teeth

I was asked why degus have orange teeth. Most experts are pretty sure that it is because of a reaction between the chlorophyll from the foods they eat with an enzyme in their saliva which then stains the teeth orange. Once degus are reaching maturity their teeth will become orange. White teeth in an adult degu is a sign of serious disease.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Munchkin with his favorite piece of cardboard

Hi there! This is just another video of Munchkin with a favorite toy of his. He was tired, so he could only play with it for a very short time before he had to lay down and take a break.

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Munchkin's New Trick!

Here is a video of Munchkin's new trick. He can now walk on his hind legs for a treat.

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Degus

Ever heard of a degu? Probably not. I didn't know what they were till we got a bunch of them at the shelter this summer. Basically they are little rodents, that look like gerbils only bigger, with brown fur and orange teeth. They are very interesting and make a lot of different sounds, like whistles, squeaks, and the special degu "chuck". Since we have had six at the shelter since the summer and still have four, I did some research and found a lot out about them. First I learned never to pull their tails, because they will fall off. Second, I learned that their average lifespan is 5-8 years! That is the same as the lifespan of a guinea pig. I know that hey like to live in pairs or big groups. I love all their different personalities. We have two girls and two boys at the shelter right now. The girls are named Day and Goo. Get it? Day-goo, degu? They are very curious little girls. They will climb in to my hand now, and try to chew my fingers, but they still don't like being touched much. The boys Pop and Corn, (yep, pop-corn), are a bit more timid. Corn likes to try to escape. Pop likes it when you rub his nose, and in between his little ears. He won't climb into my hand yet, but he will climb into his run about ball for me. The funniest thing is watching them take dust-baths.

Diesel

Right now at the shelter, we have an awesome dog named Diesel. He is a husky/akita mix and he is so handsome. He has been here before but was returned since his owner was incarcerated. He is so fun, and he loves to cuddle and give hugs and kisses. I just gave him a bath today so he looks really good. I hope he gets adopted soon, but I will definitely miss him when he is gone. If you want to see a picture of Diesel check out the KVHS website on the write and click adopt which will take you to the KVHS Petfinder page.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Rabbit Care: Water

It is very important that your rabbit always has access to a fresh and clean supply of water.

There are two different ways to give your rabbit water:

1. In a water bottle. This is easy and less messy, it also keeps the water clean.
2. A bowl, preferably a ceramic bowl they can't tip or one that locks on to the cage. The downside of these are that the rabbit tends to get debris in it, especially if your rabbit isn't trained to use a litter box and you use bedding on the bottom cage such as shavings.

For Munchkin I use both. He is pretty tidy so all that ends up in his bowl is some rabbit fur, so I refill it twice a day to make sure it stays clean. He prefers to use the bowl to the bottle, and only uses the bottle to wet his tongue before grooming himself. I refill both at least every day and wash them out very often.

You may want to know how much water your rabbit should drink.

I have read and heard that they drink a lot of water; at least an ounce per body weight. That would mean Munchkin should drink ten ounces a day. Well, he doesn't. He probably drinks three, maybe four ounces at the most. So don't worry if your rabbit doesn't drink a lot of water, just watch our for sudden changes in how much they drink. The amount that they drink also depends on what they eat. Munchkin gets a lot of water from his vegetables, so I know he is fine. I can also tell he gets enough water from the wet spots he leaves on my jeans when he licks me.

Next time: Rabbit Care: The "Rabbitat"

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Cat in an Affectionate Mood

Agatha in a happy mood

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Tour of Munchkin's Rabbitat

Thought you might like to see what Munchkin's "rabbitat" looked like:

His cage is a dog kennel with a playpen attached to it.

The dog kennel gives him more room than a rabbit cage sold at pet stores does.
As you can see he has all the necessities: a food bowl, water bottle, water bowl, toys, litter box, hay racks to hold all his hay, and some comfy towels to sleep in.

This is what his playpen looks like. It has lots of toys for him to chew on and play with. He also has an igloo to hide in, but he mostly likes to push it around.