A Day in the Life of a Zookeeper

A Day in the Life of a Zookeeper
Ever wonder what its like to share your world with a bunch of crazy critters? Tune in to find out!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Agatha the Self Petting Cat

Aggie - my shy girl.  She is the self petting cat.  Just hold out your hand and she will walk back and forth - you don't really need to do anything.  I find she has become quite chatty since she has gotten a little older.  She will head over to wherever you are and tell you that she wants attention.  She was also taken from her kitty mommy too early and wasn't really properly weaned so she suckles on blankets, your shirt, etc.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Hedgehogs aren't supposed to like.....

Nigel is supposed to like all sorts of fruits, vegetables and meats.  He needs a varied diet - which includes his absolute favorite meal worms - 5 or 6 per day depending on how big. He had been eating a combination of low fat cat food and ferret food - but slowly but surely we are moving to a specialized hedgehog diet which has more of the nutrients he needs.  He is not all that thrilled about this transition.

I offer him a sniff of everything we eat and I find it fascinating to see which things he likes:
  • He likes yogurt - all flavors except for plain
  • Pudding - loves it
  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • Sweet and Sour Chicken
  • Sweet things like cookies, cake
  • Some chips
  • Soda
Do you see the trend here?  Hedgehogs that are pets have a tendency to be obese - really - cookies, cake, chips, soda - that just can't be?  Rest assured - he is allowed only a taste.  He also has his big blue wheel that he run run runs on each night and he gets lots of exercise running around the bonus room.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

"Pet Peeves" part deux

Okay - so the dog is smart!  She understands a ridiculous number of commands - she is not lacking in the brains department and yet......she will stand there and lick her empty water bowl.  Lick, Lick, Lick - there is nothing in there - it makes me totally insane.  We have 4 water stations in the house - when you have 7 critters you have to have lots of options - geez - she can't go across the hall to get more water?  Nope - Lick, Lick, Lick - UUUGGGHHH!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

April Snaps

Somehow another month has rolled by - here are some shots of the critters taken in April:
Nigel resting on the bed

Nigel playing in cup in the bathtub




My current favorite picture of Clooney


Clooney playing in Isabel's old cat bed

Emma begrudgingly getting her picture taken on Easter

Nigel playing in the bathtub




Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Update on Nigel

So - with only a few pink spots remaining I would say that Mr Nigel Hedgehog is well on the way to recovery - THANK GOODNESS.  I have to say that having something wrong with my littlest one is quite nerve racking.  I felt this same sense of uneasiness whenever Clooney had an issue as well.  I think this is related to the fact that having a ferret was uncharted territory for me - as is having a hedgehog.  Now with Clooney I know him well, what to expect, when to worry.

With Nigel I am unsure of what is serious and what is not as big a deal.  Once he is around for longer hopefully these little hiccups along the way will be less stressful.  Its been a couple of sleepless nights for me as I have been very worried about my little one.  When I got him up this morning he was feeling really good - you could just tell he was a happy little guy playing with Phoebe and exploring the bed.  He had a nice nap all afternoon (boy its a good day for it with rain and clouds - I wish I could have fit one in) and now he is hanging out with me snoozing on the bed while I type away.  I am happy to see him doing well....

Monday, April 25, 2011


Oh - my poor little hedgehog - he got into something that made his skin angry and red.  Not sure exactly what it was but I am thinking it was something from his latest bath.  I noticed the redness yesterday morning and decided he needed to be seen by the vet today.  Thankfully they could get me in!  Love them!

So - off we went to get checked out.  Nigel was a good boy - no rolling up in a ball and pretty cooperative about being "inspected".  Our vet thought it looked more like inflammation and not like infection or mites.  He gave Nigel a shot of Dexamethosone.  Nigel was very brave about getting his shot - and the stuff works like magic.  You could see a visible difference in his skin color by the time we got home and had an oatmeal bath. 

Now the little critter is sleeping on the bed - wrapped in a big fluffy towel with the heater blowing on him.  He is curled up with Phoebe who is enjoying the heater as well....ah the life of a hedgehog.  We have a load of hedgie laundry going - thought it would be safe to give everything in his cage a run through the washer or a swipe with the disinfecting wipe just to be safe. 

So thankful that  its nothing serious and that he already seems to be doing better....Thanks Dr M!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

Holidays at the zoo are fun - of course the little critters get stuff for holidays - Valentines, Easter, their Birthdays and Christmas.  For Easter this year:

Emma got a new stuffed squeaky Elephant

Quincy (my parents dog) got a new squeaky Dog

Kitties got a new package of toys

Clooney got a new teeny Turtle

and Nigel got a new little cat

They will also get a special plate of Easter treats....spoiled little ones!  :)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Toenails and Baths

There are 100 critter toes to care for in this house.  It would be 140 but all kitties are declawed on the front.  Toe maintenance has varying degrees of drama:

Oliver and Zoey are very good about toe clipping - they just lay there and let you do what you need to do.
Phoebe - will let you do a few toes at a time - it usually takes a couple of sessions to get through all 10 toes with her.
Agatha - geez - forget it.  One toe at a time if you are lucky.

Emma hates getting her toes done.  I use the old fashioned clippers.  We tried the thing that looks like a Dremmel but she hated it and the smell of sandpapered toenails was really more than I could stand.

Then we have the little critters.  Clooney's toes have LONG nails that have to be cut frequently.  He is not a huge fan but if you catch him while he is sleepy you can usually get it done.  He seems to be more sensitive to this happening on his front paws.  He doesn't seem to care about the back paws nearly as much.  And then there is Nigel....how do you clip the toes on a critter that hides his feet in a spikey ball?  We started out by taking his cage door off the cage and laying him on there.  Hubby holds the door/critter up and I get under there and clip the nails on the dangling legs.  It sounds good in theory - not very easy.  Luckily, now that we are getting tamer he will let me position him in a way that I can get to his feet.  He doesn't like it but he lets me do it.  It's important with hedgehogs - if you let them go too long he can have foot issues.

Baths - well - 2 of my critters get consistent baths - Nigel and Emma.  Both are pretty cooperative and its usually a non drama event.  As for kitties - they don't get bathed very often - they don't go outside - how dirty can you get lounging on the couch all day?  I have bathed Zoey in the past and she actually didn't hate it.  The others say pretty clear of water.  Clooney occasionally gets a bath - usually associated with his assistance with some sort of painting task.  He has accidentally joined me in the tub a couple of times.  He is a pretty good swimmer which is unusual for ferrets.  Let's just say - baths are easier than toes....

Friday, April 22, 2011

RIP Little Meal Worms

While I am totally loving Nigel and so so happy to have him as a part of our family - I do hate the daily feeding of worms.  He so enjoys the bugs and is always so excited to get his treat but I can't help but feel sorry for the little guys.

The pet store folks said I could also feed him crickets - I said that his cage was open.  He said - no problem - just take off the legs.  UMMM - NO!  Cripes!  So - worms it is.

So this post is dedicated to the worms.  Thank you for making the ultimate sacrifice, for making my little hedgie happy and for giving him the protein he so needs in his diet.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Nigel Curl Up

I posted a few days ago about the Clooney Curl Up where he snuggles in and sleeps with his back up against my palm.  I have been trying this same thing with Nigel and I am happy to report that he also loves it - in fact - today he was so comfy and content that he did his famous sprawl with his adorable little back legs pointed straight out behind him.  This has become the standard position now for him hanging out to watch TV in the evenings.  I have also noticed that he is starting to climb in my hand when he is ready to get out of the tub (no water in there - just one of his favorite play spots).  We've come a long way on the road to a tame little hedgie.....

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

It's Official - Nigel can Swim!

It's official - Nigel can swim.  I knew he could as I have seen several videos on the internet showing little hedgies paddling away.  Since our upgrade from the sink to the big tub went so well I decided we could try a bit more water for this bath.  Our tub has a tiny slope to it so if he moved towards the back it was more shallow and if he moved towards the drain it got a bit deeper.  He stood on his tippy tippy toes and then was brave and started paddling.  It wasn't really deep so he didn't swim for long - we will work up to more water over time.  He seemed to enjoy it.  Now that I know all will be good I will try to capture a video of this new skill.....in many of the videos I have seen they flip on their backs and float around when their little legs get tired.  We will see if he gets to that point as well.  Stay tuned!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Someday - wish list

I have lots of indoor critters - and like I have said before - if it wasn't for the voice of reason of my husband I would probably be the crazy cat lady with more critters than I would know what to do with.  Eventually, its our hope to buy a piece of property somewhere, build the house we really want and have a host of outdoor critters to take care of.  Here is my wish list for the farm section of our zoo:

First - I would love a couple of teacup pigs.  These guys only get to about 60 pounds fully grown:

Then - to play with the bitty pigs - we need some pygmy goats:

On of our goals is to be "off the grid" using wind and solar to power our place and having our own food to sustain us.  While I am a meat eater - critters who come to live with us are not candidates for food - EVER.  I would, however, love a dairy cow:

And some hens to give us fresh eggs:

Of course we would love a natural pond so we could have some visiting turtles, fish and birds as well.  My outdoor critters will have the life of luxury - a lovely barn with heat and A/C and lots of space as well as outdoor areas for them to romp and play.  I can't wait....ah to dream!

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Okay - today is the day after a completely wild and crazy weather day where we live.  When the earthquake and tsunami happened about a month ago I was inspired to create emergency kits for the humans and critters in my family.  After yesterday I am so glad I did and I am very motivated to finish them up and get them into their rightful spots.  I thought I would do a post to talk about what I put in there:

For the humans - food (similar to MRE's), water (the kind in pouches that has a 5 year shelf life), batteries, flashlight, battery powered cell chargers, change of clothes, toiletries, first aid kit

For the critters:
Nigel - cage bedding, food, water, blankets and the snap and use heating squares to ensure he stays warm, and I put all of the kit items in a large plastic bin so he could live in there if necessary
Clooney - food, water, ferretone (his daily supplement), treats, toys
Kitties - litterbox, food, water, toys, treats
Emma - food, water, toys, treats

I also have a critter first aid kits that I picked up on line

Kits will live in vehicles and one in the garage.

We have an exit plan for our house should we ever have a fire (yes - I am a fire chiefs daughter).  We also have a meeting place that is somewhere other than our house so we can find each other should we not be able to get to our house and not have a way to communicate.

Have you made your plans or kits?  Days like yesterday make me happy we have......

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Clooney Curl Up

There are days when the crazy weasel sleeps too much resulting in late night/very early morning visits while we are sleeping.  These visits tend to be much more pleasant for me than for my husband.  Clooney views me as his mommy - the one who takes care of him, feeds him, loves on him, etc.  I think he views the hubs as another playmate who wrestles with him and gets him all riled up.  Unfortunately this results in the foot game for my husband - foot attacks from the ferret playing under the covers.  For me it results in the Clooney curl up - which I love.  He heads my way and lets me pet him - sometimes playing a bit and sometimes some little ferret kisses on my hands.  Then he curls up with his back pressing up against my palm.  I used to "hold" him like this when we first got him - more for my enjoyment than for his.  Sometimes he will snooze this way for up to an hour - usually I get about 30 minutes and then he is off the bed and into the closet for a more lengthy nap.  Some of my favorite times with him are right before he sleeps or right when he is waking up - he is so affectionate and sweet. As I post this at 7 am on a Saturday its apparent that this morning was one of those foot attack/curl up mornings - UGH.  Wouldn't trade that little guy for anything in the world - even when he does wake me at 6 am on the weekends.....

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tax Day - no critter deduction

I am of the official opinion that I should get to count my critters as dependents.  I mean really - its like having 7 infants right?  They are totally dependent on me for their care - how is this any different than a two legged child? I don't have any kids in school yet I get to pay the taxes for education - seems only fair I should get to write off my gang!  :)  I am sending a letter to my congressman -- HA!  Not holding my breath....  Happy Tax Day.....

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What's More Fun Than a Barrel of Monkeys?

When you have 7 critters somehow those around you think you should have more, more, more!  This is dangerous as I would love to have more, more, more but thankfully my husband is the voice of reason and keeps me from becoming the crazy cat lady!

One of the girls at work sent me the cutest email yesterday - thought this would be a great place to share....just what Clooney and Nigel need according to her - finger monkeys:

Oh good lord - are they cute or what???  I tried my luck with the hubs and got a resounding no - no barrel of monkeys here....

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Emma's Trip to the Lake

Last fall we went to the lake.  I am finally getting around to editing videos from our trip.  Emma had such a great time.  The house we rented had a boat that came with it - at first she was a nervous Nellie. After a couple of trips she got much more comfortable and by the end of our trip she was quite the boating pooch.

We would pull the boat into the shallow coves and allow the dogs some swimming time.  Emma was too cute - splashing like a crazy dog when she was getting started.  She had much fun with my parents dog Quincy.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Cow Sighting

This just in - the favorite cherished cow toy was sighted today - it was relocated by Clooney from the craft room to the husband's closet where it was safely hidden under a backpack....

Nigel's First Bathtub Bath

My little Nigel has had many baths in the sink - commonly called foot baths.  He has never had a bath in the big bathtub though.  So - last night after my lavender and vanilla bubble bath I drained all but a couple of inches of water out and put him in.  He seemed to like the big tub much better than the sink....

He loves to get cuddles in the big fluffy towel after he has a bath as well.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Nigel the Investigator

Last night after a snack of worms Nigel the Hedgehog decided that investigating the bed would be much fun.  He proceeded to climb over and under the pillows, over the cat, under the covers and away from the ferret.  He also crawled all over the hubby showing him much affection!  He is really getting so tame - he seems to enjoy being picked up and loved on much more these days....

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Nigel and Zoey

The other night Nigel got on the couch with Zoey - he was checking out her tail and decided she needed some grooming.  He proceeded to give her a little bath, comb through her tail hairs with his paws and anoint himself when he found a cat tail smell he thought was interesting....

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Toys, Toys, Toys

In abundance there are toys for the critters everywhere in our house.  Piles of them in every room....a trunk full of them in the living room.  There is no lack of entertainment for my four legged kids.  Each of them play in a different way.  Here are a few of their favorites:

Phoebe's ball - at least it used to be a pretty pink ball with little pieces of ribbon hanging out.  She has had this one for years and plays with it every day.  She is definitely the most interested in toys - she plays frequently and chooses a wide variety of toys each day.
 Nigel's stuffed hedgehog.  I just got this one in the mail a couple of days ago - when I put it in his cage he was pissed there was another hedgehog invading his space.  He was puffy and aggressive - biting the cute little stuffed critter.  I left him in there - the next morning I discovered they were friends and Nigel had dragged him under the covers and they were cuddled up together.

Emma's pink wiener dog. She goes through fits and spurts with what toys are her favorites.  This one is top of the list.  It has two incredibly annoying squeakers - one low pitched and one super high pitched one.  She is well versed at squeezing the low one with her mouth while she stands on the high pitched one with her front paws.  Oh joy....
 Zoey's catnip bunny.  This toy has been the source of many laughs in our house.  The pants are actually an elastic pocket -  you can open and put a pouch of catnip in there.  Zoey loves it and we make bad jokes at the toy's expense about it having stuff shoved in its pants.  Hey - whatever makes you laugh - run with it.....
Yes folks - that would be bubble wrap.  Aggie loves it.  She plays with it, lays on it, lays under it - basically has a ball with it.  Nevermind the zillions of dollars you spent on cat toys.....  Aggie is funny about playing.  She is a very self conscious cat and she doesn't want to play if anyone is looking.  If she sees you looking she stops - embarrassed.  What a funny girl....
Ah - the simplicity of a simple cat toy - a ball with a rattle in it.  Oliver will chase and bat this around for hours.  He loves the ones that make noise.  I have some with a bell inside - he likes those as well.  
Yep - its a hair clip.  Pony tail holders are also favorites with all the critters.  Emma loves it when you pluck the ponytail holder and it makes noise.  Kitties love to chase them.  Clooney loves to hoard them and Nigel likes to bite on them - maybe it feels good on his teeth?

And then there is Clooney's cow.  It is his absolute favorite.  He has is hoarded somewhere in the craft room. The only reason I have that much info is that a few weeks ago I saw him streaking down the hallway with it in his mouth.  He found that cute little cow in a pile of cat toys on his first day home and he has loved it ever since.  It is a black and white cow - you will have to use your imagination.....