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!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Sick Aggie Kitty

My poor Aggie girl had a rough weekend.  On Saturday afternoon she started throwing up - not much coming out but she went through the motions probably eight or ten times over the course of the evening.  She doesn't like any kinds of "medicine" like hairball treatment but she does love wet cat food.

First thing we tried was some of the wet cat food - a little food, mostly the gravy, with the hairball stuff stirred in.  She kept that down for about 45 mins or an hour.  A bit later I used some feline probiotics mixed in warm water and used a syringe to get some in her system.  That seemed to settle things a little - a few more heaving episodes but nothing came up.  I finally gave up around 2 am and went to bed.

When I woke up Sunday around 6 am she was at the water bowl drinking.  This is a good thing.  She had one more heaving episode around 8 am and then all was kind of quiet.  Around 11 am I gave her a very small amount of canned food, lots of gravy and 4 ml of the probiotics.  She was able to keep that down with no issues.  I repeated the same process around 2 pm - she scarfed it up and kept it down.  At about 4:30 she visited the food bowl on her own and had some dry food.

Somewhere in the midst of the morning the ferrets broke into a bag of chips.  I think at least 2 ferrets, the dog and possibly Aggie helped themselves to the bounty.  It didn't seem to upset her - maybe the salt was good in that it replaced some of her electrolytes.  Since Sunday morning she has been resting comfortably and does not seem to have any distress of any kind.

I think this episode was one of two things - either a) she had a stubborn hairball that would not come up and with the hairball medicine and the probiotics it managed to go out the other end or b) Emma got into the garbage on Saturday night and pulled out a paper towel with queso cheese on it.  Perhaps Aggie ate some cheese and potentially the paper towel.

Either way - whatever was ailing her seems to have subsided.  I will continue the probiotics for another day or two and watch her very closely to determine if we need to get in to see the vet.  Poor old girl - so glad she is feeling better.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

How Much Work....

This is the question I get asked the most is "how much work is it to take care of all those critters?"  I will be honest and say that it is a lot of work - but its so worth it for me because the joy I get out of having these little furries in my world far outweighs the chores that go along with them.  But, since you asked, the chore list goes something like this:

Ear meds for Zoey and Ollie 2x a day
Check food and water feeders
Give Nigel his worms
Pick up messes - mostly ferret and cat messes of various types
Pick up what seems like a thousand toys every day
Take attendance - I make sure I put hands on each critter at least 2x a day
Give Emma her wet food
Give ferrets sticks and ferretone
Give Nigel out of his cage time

Clean out cat boxes - this happens every 2 days or so
Clean out Nigel's cage
Critter laundry - Nigel's blankets, various rugs and pet beds

Every 2 weeks:
Clip 5 ferrets nails - 20 nails each - that's 100 nails every 2 weeks

Every 3 weeks:
Bathe and mani/pedi for Nigel

Emma's heartworm/flea/tick treatment
Clip Emma's nails
Clip Kitty nails - they only have back - only 40 nails
Bathe Emma - as needed - she usually needs it

Every 6 Months:
Nigel and ferrets to the vet

Kitties and Emma to the vet

That's my list...

Saturday, September 28, 2013

How do Ferrets Communicate?

I am pretty convinced that there is some sort of communication between ferrets.  I did some reading and they do have 2 primary modes of communicating with each other - vocal and body language.  I have a couple of examples of the communication we see around here.

First let's start with the girls.  Violet and Madison chat frequently.  They climb up on our bed and get under the covers and then they start to gossip.  You can hear that Madison makes some noises very similar to dooking (the happy noise a ferret makes). You can tell its her because she is smaller and has a higher pitched voice.  Then Violet responds with a lower pitched set of the same type of vocalizations. Back and forth the go - its quite sweet.  They remind me of 2 teenage girls at a slumber party.

The boys - Finnegan and Theo.  Not sure what type of communication they were using but the were definitely in cahoots.  It was time to change the bottle in the water machine - resulting in an empty five gallon water jug in the kitchen.  Theo and Finn were fascinated with the bottle and managed to tip it on its side.  After a few minutes of sticking their heads in the opening they decided it was important to hoard the water bottle.  The location they picked was the hutch in the dining room.  Finn grabbed the opening of the bottle and dragged it from the kitchen, through the living room and entry and into the dining room.  He proceeded to go in through the back of the hutch and push on the door to make it open.  He was standing in the hutch with the bottle in his mouth pulling with all his might and Theo was standing with the side of his body pressed up against the bottom of the bottle pushing to help get it in the door.  Of course the plan was flawed all along because the giant 5 gallon bottle wouldn't fit in the hutch no matter how hard they tried.  It was an interesting demonstration of them working together though.

I wish sometimes that they could communicate with me - tell me if they aren't feeling great, etc.  I guess I will have to settle for knowing they have each other to "chat" with....

Friday, September 27, 2013

A Morning in the Life of....Theo

I have said multiple times - that Theo boy is wild.  The other day my dad was here and he got to observe first hand - he is WILD!  So - I thought I would try to capture a morning in the life of my newest addition so you could see...he is not bad - he is just W I L D:

4:47 am  Visit humans in the bed to see what they are doing
4:48 am  Leave humans because they won't play with me
6:24 am  Try again to get the humans to play with me - its starting to work
6:40 am  Bite human feet - this always works
7:01 am  Wrestle with Finnegan under the covers
7:05 am   Stop to kiss the dog on her face - I love the dog
7:11 am  Play on the tub deck and knock over all the bottles
7:13 am  Oh Boy!  Finn is in the bath tub - time for ferret wrestle mania
8:03 am  Shower's on - must play in the water
8:06 am  Get dried off with a towel
8:08 am  Investigate what is under the bathroom rug
8:13 am  Chase Violet
8:14 am  Stop chasing Violet - jump on Oliver
8:15 am  Munch on some breakfast
8:20 am  Follow human downstairs - right under his feet no less
8:22 am  Investigate the lazy susan cabinet
8:28 am  Investigate the laundry room
8:31 am  Play in the ball pit
8:32 am  Wrestle, no fight, no wrestle, no fight with Clooney
8:34 am  Jump around like a freak because Madison is downstairs now
8:39 am  Get a stick - I LOVE STICKS
8:40 am  Back upstairs

Are you tired yet - its not even 9 am.  He is up usually until around 11:30 and then he naps until 2ish - then up til 4ish and then naps again.  Around 8 all the ferrets are up and active until about midnight.  Wow - if I could only have a tiny sliver of that energy - I could conquer the world!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

How to Bathe a Hedgehog

Hedgehogs are kinda pokey, you know?  And therefore, they are somewhat challenging to bathe and perform the other grooming items that need to happen.  I am quite lucky in that Nigel is really quite tame as hedgehogs go, and he has a pretty mellow personality so he kinda goes with the flow.

Hedgehogs need occasional baths - they can get kinda stinky at times.  I think this happens for Nigel because he runs on his wheel.  There are no potty breaks for running hedgehogs it seems so he gets all messy.  This also causes icky feet so sometimes baths are necessary.  They also need their nails trimmed - this can be really tough and it took me years to find a way and I can get done what I need to without upsetting or stressing Nigel out.  Nail clipping is a must or else the nails will curl around and grow back into his feet - that would be bad and painful for him....

The shower solves a couple of challenges for us.  First - he likes to get in and play so he gets out of the cage stimulation.  Him running around through the water loosens the ick up on his feet and softens his nails.

I let him play for a bit and then hop in and use the shower to spray off his quills - he runs in and out of the water and for some reason is obsessed with climbing over my feet.

Then we get to the furry parts.  This part is not captured in photos because I don't have enough hands but it goes something like this.  I pick Nigel up and flip him on his back.  He seems to love the way the warm water feels on his belly which results in him sticking all four legs straight out.  This puts them in the perfect position for nail clipping.  I go as fast as I can - snip snip snip and then I rub his tummy - which he also seems to like.  And that's it - hedgehog mani/pedi is complete.  I put him back down and let him play for a minute or two more.

Then I get out to get his towel:

And then we wrap up in a blanket for a nap:

And that - is how you bathe a hedgehog...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Ferret Chew Sticks...Oh My

Clooney loves his ferret chew sticks - he gets one every morning, has since he came to live with us.  Some days he begs and gets one in the afternoon as well.  He is too cute to resist.

For whatever reason - Miss Madison Moo is not a fan of said sticks.  When Finnegan came to live with us he was offered a stick and he took me up on the offer.  He is a fan and also gets his stick every morning.  For whatever reason - Miss Violet is not a fan.

Every day since Theo has come to live with us he has been offered a stick when Clooney and Finn get theirs. He has passed.... until now.  Have you ever had something so good you just couldn't contain yourself?  This is what happens...  He not only likes the stick - he LOVES it and gets so excited.  He races around with it in his mouth.  He does the weasel war dance.  He basically freaks out - throwing the stick in the air.  And then - the eating commences and he chows it down.  He is quite entertaining.  I am glad he likes it!  Perhaps I will be able to catch it on video - I will try.

Not sure why the boys like it and the girls do not... interesting.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A New Wheel for Nigel

Nigel's big blue wheel has an awful lot of miles on it.  I think it might be time for a new one.  There are two cracks on his wheel I currently have covered up with duck tape.  He doesn't seem to care but it looks ugly and it makes it hard to clean.

I was looking on PetCo and on Amazon to order him a replacement when I stumbled on these instructions to make him one from scratch - wow - how I love DIY!!!

I just may have to give this a try:

 *1 Bucket big enough for a Hedgehog to run in(I got my 5qt Wide Mouth Bucket from Home Depot, but you can use any bucket big enough for your hedgie to run on!)
1 length of the smaller diameter PVC Pipe(the diameter isn't too important; just not too thick, not too thin)
2 PVC Elbow Joints
3 PVC End Caps
1 PVC Three way joint
1 Roller Blade Wheel with exposed holes around the bearing whole.
1 Roller Blade/Skateboard Ball Bearing
1 Carriage Bolt; See Detailed Picture(I forgot the measurements of it, so take your Ball Bearing to your local hardware store and find a Carriage Bolt that fits snug, and isn't too short.)  IMPORTANT!:  Make sure that the nuts and bolt you got don't impede the spinning capabilities of the Ball Bearing, and have them only secured onto the inner metal ring.
2 Washers
3 Nuts
4 Mini Zip Ties

Optional, but Recommended:
Dremmel Tool, but if you have your own way of cutting PVC and making precise holes in the bucket, go for it.

There are detailed instructions and pictures here should you be inclined to take a look.  I will post pics if I decide to be adventurous and try this one out.... 

Monday, September 23, 2013

What's Up with the Pup?

Haven't done an Emma update in a bit.  She is doing well.  Thankfully she seems to be bug free after our little flea incident.  She has had a few play dates with my parent's dog Quincy in the last couple of weeks.  She loves those.  She also has had lots of attention from guests over the last little bit as we have had a couple of occasions to entertain here lately.

Healthwise I am quite pleased.  No ailments to report.  We have actually found a wet food that she likes and can eat without it upsetting her oh so sensitive stomach - its the Beneful Lamb and Rice and she seems to really love it.  She has to wade through kitties to get to it as they gather around her bowl when the package is opened.  She is still scratching on the carpet - sigh - but I do think it has been a little better than normal.

She has been playing with the wild child Theo - who is much more fascinated with the dog than any of the other ferrets.  She has also been trying to keep the little ferrets away from her toys and treats when they try to steal them.  She is funny giving them a little high pitched warning bark that usually does the trick.  They will hoard just about anything that isn't too heavy....

All in all I think Miss Emma is doing pretty well.  For 10 years old I have no complaints about her health or energy levels.  She desperately needs a haircut as she is shedding all over the place.  Maybe this week I can get that done.  She is my sweet and beautiful pup....

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Zoo Logo

I am playing with new ideas for a Zoo logo just for fun.  I want something simple that represents the gang without being giant or cluttered.  Here is what I have come up with so far.  What do you think:

I have a handy dandy sewing machine that you can load images to that will turn it into embroidery.  I thought maybe a shirt for me and some new ferret and hedgehog bags for the little ones might be fun.  I also thought it would be fun to use somewhere on the back cover of my books I make from the blog and for label seals for cards and notes.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The State of the Business

My fabulous ferret five - they are doing fabulously!

Theo is bug free and he seems to be a happy boy.  He has done well with making further progress on the biting front.  He still forgets sometimes but we are making progress.  Even better - he is making progress with the hubs - they have shared some more quiet time with no biting involved which is good.  His markings continue to darken - I can't wait to see how his coloring looks when his changes are all said and done.

Violet has been very active as of late.  She has been playing with her siblings and investigating what the humans are doing.  She is being quite patient with being picked up and loved on.  All in all she seems happy and grow more beautiful each day as her markings continue to evolve.

Finnegan seems to be doing great after his day of tummy upset.  He is active and sweet and he so loves Theo and the ability to rough house with someone.  He is my handsome boy.  I wish he wasn't quite so much the fraidy ferret - not sure what exactly he is afraid of but it doesn't take much to spook him.

Madison is doing just great - she is happy and active and oh so affectionate.  She decided that taking up residence under the sink was her new sleeping spot.  That was short lived as I didn't want her in there among the cleaning supplies.  She has moved back into the blue piece of felt in Nigel's room for snoozing since her eviction.

Clooney...he is so good - I am really happy with how things are going with him.  He is spending tons of time with the humans - sleeping where we are at night and during the day.  His appetite seems good - he still loves those sticks and ferretone as his treat each morning.  He is willing to interact with his ferret siblings more and more - but every so often he pulls his bully routine.  I have read that this is fairly common for older male ferrets.  He is just a grumpy old dude....love him.

As for the ECE threat - we have had Theo for more than four weeks now - can you believe that?  In some ways it seems like he has been here forever and in some ways it seems like he just came home with us a week ago.  The good news is that if you make it past 30 days you are usually okay.  Clooney got ECE from Maddie at 21 days - but they had limited contact because Clooney was pretty anti social.  The little ones have been together non stop so I am guessing we are most likely in the clear...woohoo!

I haven't said this in awhile - but I cannot imagine my days without these guys (and the kitties, pup and hedgehog as well).  Each one is so different and their personalities bring so much to our little menagerie.  I am truly so lucky to have them....

Friday, September 20, 2013

Technology Is My Friend

Technology is my friend in this instance.  I thought I should write about it since it's such a rare occurrence.  I have a tablet - fairly new - that I have to use some brain power on in order to figure out how to do things I normally do on my laptop on the tablet instead.  One challenge I did have was there was not a USB port on the tablet.

I solved this in two ways.  First I hopped over to Best Buy to see if they had some sort of cord or something.  Voila - they did - a gizmo you stick in the same spot you put the charger.  Instant USB.  This worked well but - I still could not download pictures off my memory card.  Here is where the technology comes in.  I purchased an eye fi memory card for my camera.  This is the best invention I have seen in a long time.  You pop it in your camera and take pictures as normal.  Then you download the eye fi app on your tablet and like magic - your pictures move from your camera to your tablet with no cord, no removing of your memory card - no effort required on your part.  It's brilliant!!!

I also found a great photo editing software for my tablet as well - its called Aviary.  It allows you to do your normal edits - cropping, auto fix of lighting and colors, etc.  It also has many treatments you can apply - similar to Instagram.  Lots of frame choices as well.  Then you can share your snaps - I have been uploading mine to Picasa web albums.  Lots of changes to my current process of posting pictures but it seems to be working well.

Here are a few snaps I took to try out the eye fi,  Aviary, uploading and then using uploaded pics in my post.  It was a pretty easy process.  I love learning new technologies: