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, November 30, 2013

November Month in Review

Wow - November is a blur...a really rough month for the critters and the zookeeper.  We have seen quite a lot of the vet this month.  First we had Finn's flea allergy/skin infection/ear mites.  Then - Violet, Clooney, Theo and Madison's ear mites - plus a check of Nigel to make sure he had no ear mites.  Then another trip to the vet for Theo when he developed a cough which turned out to be allergies.  Then yesterday - Emma did her routine wellness appointment and found that she has elevated numbers that have to do with her liver.  She is now on medication.  In addition - Oliver most likely needs to go in as he has been quite pukey lately.  He may need an adjustment of his thyroid medication.  Cripes.  This is a particularly bad run - most of the time I am very lucky with no vet visits at all.  Thank goodness for pet insurance.  :)

We managed to eradicate the fleas this month - that is a very good thing.  I am happy to report that at this moment all the ferrets are doing just great.  No coughing or sneezing from Theo - I think our bout of cold, cold weather has frozen whatever it was that had his system upset.  Finn is just great - skin is healed up and hair is starting to grow back.  Violet, Madison and Clooney are all doing amazingly well.  Kitties are doing pretty well - just Ollie who has been better the last couple of days.  We will see if he does need to adjust his meds...Emma seems fine - would never know something was outta whack.  I hope she is okay.

Nigel is a healthy three year old hedgie - he celebrated his birthday this month.  Madison also celebrated her birthday early in the month - she is 2 years old.  We also celebrated a human birthday this month - I choose not to disclose how many years old the husband is...

Christmas is up - so far the little ones aren't as bad as I anticipated they would be.  Theo is so curious and tries to get the ornaments at the bottom of the tree.  Finn and Violet are more interested in the boxes and bags than the trees.  I wonder how much that will change once everything is put away?

I am looking forward to December - knock on wood it will be less time in the vet's office....

Friday, November 29, 2013

Decorating and Emma's Vet Visit

Christmas decorating is in full swing around here today.  So far, three trees have been unpacked and "fluffed".  Stockings have been hung - 13 on the fireplace (2 human, 11 critter), another 13 human and 5 critter for other family members and the stockings have been stuffed with stocking stuffers.  Mantle is done as well.  Lots and lots left to do - taking it slow today though.

As I suspected - the baby ferrets were so very excited about Christmas decorating.  They played downstairs for hours checking out bags and boxes.  They are interested in the trees but so far, no climbing.  Not sure if that will change once the trees have ornaments and are lit.  I have decided that the majority of ornaments this year will be the unbreakable type and the breakables will be somewhat heavy duty just in case the little ones get exuberant.  Makes my heart happy to hear those joyful little ferret squeaks and all of them - even Madison and Clooney were happy today.

Miss Emma has missed out on decorating so far today - she has spent the day at the vets office having a spa day.  It was her prize for winning the Halloween costume contest.  In addition to being pampered with a bath, pedicure and Furminator treatment she had all of her annual stuff done - physical, blood work, vaccinations, etc.  Everything looked pretty good with the exception of an elevated liver number.  As a result she is going to take a pill a day every day for the next month to see if they can get it to come back down.  Her prescription is called Denamarin and hopefully that will fix her elevated level.  Her ALT (alanine transaminase) level was high - 297 - normal is 10 - 100.  Her GGT (gamma glutamyl transpeptidase) level was also high 11 - normal is 0 - 7.  Fingers crossed this is fixable and not the start of something icky like liver disease.

Emma truly was pampered today - she got the furminator treatment twice today - just look at how much hair they got off my girl...the first image is pre bath and the second is after her bath.  She looks amazing and smells nice too!!  Thanks to the office for sending me hairy pics!  :)

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Turkey day has come to a close - whew - I am tired!  Food was amazing and abundant.  Critters were surprisingly well behaved.  Kitties were chilling out and not causing issues, Theo and Maddie came downstairs for a visit but everyone else slept through the festivities.  Emma and my parents dog Quincy were quite well behaved and they both loved the turkey dog food I picked up for them.

Now the food has been taken up and put away and the dishwasher turned on.  The evening is winding down and the dog and the kitties are sacked out.  Ferrets are up and investigating.  I am getting ready to go downstairs to get just a tiny little bit of turkey for Nigel.  He will love a little treat.  Then maybe a soak in the tub for the zookeeper...

Tomorrow morning Miss Emma goes to the vet early for her spa day that she won at Halloween - while she is getting pampered I will be dragging out the Christmas decorations.  So excited!

Hope you and yours had a happy Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving

It's Wednesday night - the night before Thanksgiving.  Humans had to work today, prep work for some of the dishes for tomorrow was accomplished as well.  Now we are all winding down for the evening.

I am thankful for the following things critter related today:

  • Above all - I am thankful I have these babies as a part of my life - I would be lost and lonely without them
  • Theo has quit coughing and for the most part quit sneezing - I think he is feeling good
  • Finn seems to be fully recovered from his flea allergy ordeal - now we just have to wait for the hair to grow back
  • Oliver seems to be feeling better today - he has been pretty pukey the last few days
  • Clooney and Nigel both seem bright and happy and healthy even though they are getting to that scary milestone of hitting the lower end of the "average lifespan" numbers
  • Madison and Violet continue to be BFFs and healthy girls
  • Zoey is hanging  out with me more and more and spending lots of time with Aggie - I think both of us are loving it
  • Phoebe is playing with her toys - she loves them and I love that she has fun playing with them
  • Emma has braved the rain today - multiple times - and is not in under the bed mode
Tomorrow will be cooking and spending time with family and friends.  I am hoping for a relaxed and easy day.  As for the critters - I decided to go the safe route of Turkey dog and cat food as a special Thanksgiving treat rather than people food.  I want to avoid any risks of upset tummies.  The ferrets will likely just get their regular treats - they are pretty finicky and won't want to try new things.  Nigel will get a little bite of cat food as well.  He loves meat so I think he will find that tasty

Then Friday will come along - yipee - we get to start decorating for Christmas - I LOVE IT - can't wait!!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Winter Storm Boreas

Its been a cold, rainy, gloomy day here.  We are getting rained on courtesy of winter storm Boreas.  Luckily its not anticipated to turn into icky winter weather - that is happening further north.

The critters have been laying pretty low today - Emma has been hiding under the bed for most of the day - she hates the rain. Cloudy and rainy days are sleeping days for the ferrets - all of them have been sacked out for the majority of the day.  Kitties have been laying around snoozing all day as well - although - that's pretty much every day for them.

Mr. Nigel Hedgehog has been snoozy too - I have pestered him all day though because its his birthday today - the big 3 years old.  He has gotten extra treats, cuddles, pets, etc today in honor of his big day.

So - not much in the way of shenanigans to report here today.  Tomorrow is supposed to be more of the same.  After 2 days of downtime the ferrets should be wild children on Thanksgiving....oh joy!  :)

Monday, November 25, 2013

What to put in Critter Stockings

At our house, each Christmas each critter gets their own stocking full of goodies.  The contents are something like this:

  • Kitty stockings - each kitty gets a bag of kitty treats and a package of catnip - all my purr pots love catnip.  Ollie gets toys with bells - he loves bells for some reason.  Phoebe gets stuffed toys and pom poms - she loves pom poms.  Aggie and Zoey get a toy as well - usually the ones with ribbons or other dangly things.
  • Ferret stockings - Finn and Theo will get a big toy - they both love bigger toys.  Violet and Madison will get toys that are small and make noise.  Clooney might get a new cow - not to replace the original but to add to the herd.  The boys will get a bag of sticks, Madison will get some ferretone and picky Miss Violet - maybe she will get some yogurt covered pretzels...
  • Nigel stocking - he will get a new stuffed hedgehog, and a jar of dried worms.
  • Emma stocking - Emma will get new toys, treats, and maybe a new collar and leash.
On Christmas morning we get the stockings down and put them on the floor and let the critters check them out.  The ferrets especially enjoy checking out their stuff and everyone elses.... I am excited for Christmas this year....

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday Chores

The weekend is quickly coming to a close - boo!  Today was full of critter and other kinds of chores.  We managed to fit in some carpet shampooing - stains courtesy of "Sir Pukes A Lot" aka Oliver.  That boy bathes himself, Phoebe, Zoey and the ferrets and as a result is the king of hairballs.

We did litter box cleanouts, water station cleanouts, feeder refills, Nigel laundry, walked the dog even though it was really cold for here - ick.  I am happy to report that everyone seems quite content today - happy and healthy.

The downstairs heater is out - hopefully repairs happening soon - part to be ordered tomorrow....but that results in bed sharing.  Critters play downstairs and think its cold so they come upstairs and hang with us in the bed.  It's all good til Theo or Clooney nibble on a toe.  Theo's allergies seem to have subsided and he was helping with all kinds of things today.  Violet and Finn have been spending lots of time snoozing together. Madison has taken up residence with Nigel in the closet.  Clooney seems happy and is quite snoozy today.

Now its the sounds of the transition to bedtime here - Finn and Theo are wrestling in the hallway.  Violet and Nigel are munching on some food, all four kitties are giving themselves baths - how dirty could they possibly be - all they did was sleep all day....Maddie is sleeping in the dresser drawer and Clooney is snuggled up in his bed under his quilt.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Resurrection of the Sacred Cow

Clooney has a cow - a cat toy that he adopted on his first day home with us.  The cow has been his toy over the years and he loves it.  I have written about the cow before:

Clooney's Sacred Cow

Clooney the Ferret

A few days ago I was straightening up a closet and low and behold there was Clooney's cow.  He had hidden it very well and I think he may have forgotten where it was.  I stopped what I was doing and took him his cow - he was sleeping.  I woke him - he was excited and ever since he has been playing with his cow.  I think he is happy to see his long lost friend.

Mr. Cow is not in great shape.  Clooney let me have it for long enough to snap a couple of pics.

I got some snaps of him playing with his cow:

After playtime - we rest:

Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday Follies

Friday evening - its warm out so the screen door has been open which the kitties love.  Now that the door is closed they have all moved upstairs are all sprawled out on the bed.

Nigel is hanging out - he had a snack and a drink and some cuddles and now he is sleeping the evening away.

The little boy ferrets were wrestling and racing through the house earlier this afternoon - now they are sleeping.  The little girl ferrets are curled up together under the comforter snoozing and chatting occasionally. Clooney was up and about earlier and has been snoozing in his bed for the bulk of the afternoon.

Miss Emma spent some time outside while we did the futile effort of trying to clean up leaves.  She has had a bone and is napping in her favorite spot in the hallway.

Its been a pretty good critter day - they seem pretty happy and content so this zookeeper is happy too!!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ferret Health Status

Since the little furries have had furry issues lately I thought an update was in order:

Ear Mites - I believe the sci fi critters that were inhabiting the ears of the ferrets to be gone.  None of the fuzzbutts are scratching at their ears and Theo has been back to the vet since they got an antibiotic injection and he was in the clear.

Fleas - Knock on wood I think the flea epidemic is over - I have not seen any bugs on any critters for about 8 days!  This is good.  I have them on Frontline and have it autoshipping so when it arrives I know its time to re apply.

Skin Infection - Finney is doing great - his skin infection has cleared up nicely and he is done with his antibiotics.  His hair has started to regrow and he is as handsome as ever.  He seems to be feeling really well.
Allergies - Theo is active and feeling pretty well I think.  He does still have his cough - most of the time its right when he wakes up.  I have religiously been checking his eyes and nose for any watering or icky goop - he looks great so no worries there.  I think he is good - he has been playing and very engaged.  I am still watching him like a hawk.

Everyone is doing quite well - t minus 8 days for Christmas decorations - should be interesting so stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Nigel Update

Nigel - cute pokey dude is doing just great.  He has been away from his cage for a bit now - we did the flea bomb in his room and I haven't had time to open it back up - things around here have been crazy.  So, in the meantime he did a short stint in the hubs closet with the baby gate up - he seemed to like that.  Then when I sprayed the bedroom and closet he moved downstairs into the living room in his pen.  He seems quite happy down there in the middle of the household hustle and bustle.  I am hoping that in the next day or two I will have time to open up his room, vacuum, wash down all the surfaces of his cage and get him set up again. For today he seemed quite content to let me get him up and pose for some pictures:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Clooney Update

My darling boy Clooney is doing just great.  He seems to be very happy and healthy these days.  He is quite interactive spending lots of time with his humans and critter siblings.  There have been a few days here recently where he has felt especially frisky, hopping around like a young pup making his little happy ferret noise.  He doesn't do that all that often being a mature ferret...but I love to see him have a few minutes of fun.

He is quite engaged with the little ferrets - granted - its mostly to be mean to them but its engagement none the less and I think it goes a long way to keeping him active and young.  He is not all that interested in Christmas stuff - he checks it out and moves on.  He is easy in the fact that he doesn't disturb the gifts or mess with the tree.  I am guessing we won't have that same luxury with the little ferrets.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Theo's Trip to the Vet

Wow - November has been a tough month for the zoo - Finn went to the vet on the 4th, all the other ferrets went to the vet on the 5th and today Theo went again.

On Saturday Theo developed the start of a cough.  I wasn't sure what it was.  Sometimes Clooney gets hacky and I give him some honey to open up his airways and that usually fixes him right up.  I tried with Theo - he very much enjoyed the honey but continued to cough.  Then I thought maybe it was a hairball.  I gave him some Laxatone (hairball meds for cats) which he loved - but no relief.

Today I was very on the fence about taking him in.  He seems normal in all other aspects - just the cough.  I decided it was worth it to rule out anything contagious - we don't need 5 hacking ferrets!!  So - off to the vet we went.

Dr M checked him out - no rattling in the lungs, no wheezing, no problems with the trachea and nothing stuck in the throat, no blockage, no fever, no gunk in the eyes or nose....these are all great things.  He thinks its either allergies - which my seasonal allergy kitty Miss Phoebe has been sneezing up a storm - or that all the flea killing tactics may have irritated his system.  Either way - he should be fine!!  He got a little injection of ferret cough medicine and he is curled up with Violet sleeping behind the TV cabinet.  He was such a good little boy.

So - very glad I took him in.  Peace of mind knowing he is fine and that he won't make all his siblings sick is a good thing!!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Holiday Ferret Proofing

© Erika Matulich
One of the biggest holiday challenges for ferret owners is the Christmas tree. Consider putting your tree up in a room not accessible to ferrets. If this isn’t possible, put your tree on a table that ferrets can’t climb. Some ferret owners do without trees altogether, and a few even suspend trees from the ceiling! However, for you ferret folk who have a traditional floor tree, let’s look at a variety of safety precautions.
Live Trees
If you have a live tree, don’t let ferrets drink the tree's water! Tree preservative water additives can be fatal if ingested. Even “just plain water” becomes a breeding ground for germs that make ferrets sick. Additionally, the tannic acid that leaches from the tree into the water can cause anemia and heart problems in ferrets. Ferret-proof your tree stand with wire screening, which keeps ferrets out but lets you have access for watering. Ferrets may also get pine pitch or sap stuck in their fur. Remove this sticky mess with a light vegetable oil or linatone/ferretone. Note that as a live tree dries out, needles become brittle and can cause injury to a ferret nose, eyes, paws or skin as the sharp needle ends pierce rather than flex. Vacuum often! Don’t have a flocked tree; the flocking produces gases that ferrets’ lungs are particularly sensitive to. Additionally, ferrets may eat the flocking, which is toxic. If you have a potted tree, screen over the dirt to prevent your ferret from digging up your holiday plant!
Falling Ferrets
Some ferrets may climb up Christmas trees, so make sure the tree will not tip if there is a ferret hanging from a top branch. Ferrets who fall are likely to get hurt because they don’t have the ability to right themselves during a fall like a cat. Weighting the tree stand with paving stones or cinder blocks may help stabilize the trees. Putting a squirrel guard partway up the trunk may prevent climbing past safe levels.
Decorations on the Tree
One memorable holiday x-ray was of my ferret Bobbin, who had lost her appetite. Her radiograph showed a sparkly load of tinsel. Fortunately, a large dose of Laxatone took care of this problem. Avoid tinsel and tinsel garland.
A few ferrets ignore trees and their ornaments, but usually holidays are a humorous nightmare as the ferrets turn themselves into living tree decorations or play with every ornament hung within ferret reach. Be sure that ornaments hung on the lower levels are not edible, breakable, or chewable. One year I tried satin-covered Styrofoam, thinking these were a safe alternative, but the ferrets shredded off the satin and ate the Styrofoam! Now only plastic and metal ornaments hang from lower branches. Avoid wire ornament hooks to prevent eye and mouth injuries; use soft yarn for hanging instead.
Decorations Under the Tree
Most ferrets love to tunnel under tree skirts; some owners have tried heavier fabric, safety pins or velcro to keep the skirt in place with some success. Small holiday decorations under the tree may appear to be treasures ripe for stealing to your ferrets. Thor religiously steals all barnyard animal figurines out of any nativity scene. Another ferret, Rachel, ends up with a sleep sack full of dreidels after Hanukkah celebrations. A bunch of bouncing ferrets can wreak havoc on train sets and miniature holiday villages. Moving parts, in particular, must be hunted down, so don’t expect to see animated skaters, sledders, or train cars to last for long around your ferrets.
Ferrets like presents too, but they can't read labels and think all gifts are for them! They remove ribbons and bows, spill confetti, shred wrapping paper, and steal smaller boxes to stash away. One couple once had a “mystery” gift exchange because their ferret had removed the nametags from every present. Consider putting gifts on a ferret-proof table instead of on the floor or under the tree. Additionally, ferrets may eat wrapping paper and gift decorations, which can cause life-threatening blockages if swallowed. Balloons are especially dangerous.
Unwrapped gifts can pose hazards as well. Piles of wrapping paper make great ferret hiding places. Don’t step on any paper unless you are sure there are no ferrets under it. Gift packaging materials like plastic or Styrofoam may also seem like a tasty ferret snack. Foam peanuts are highly sought-after treats for many ferrets, but should not be eaten. Desiccant packages are another potential problem. These are small packets of pellets or crystals that come with gift items to reduce humidity. Desiccants should not be consumed by ferrets! Finally, don’t throw away any trash without first knowing where all your ferrets are. You may accidentally throw out a gift box that has a ferret curled up in it!
Have a Tree-mendously Wonderful Holiday!
I hope these tree tips will help you and your ferrets have a safe and happy holiday! Be prepared for lots of laughs when your ferrets help you decorate your Christmas Tree!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

General Goings On

It's Saturday morning here at the zoo.  Everyone, including the humans, is lounging about having a very slow start this morning.

The kitties are currently all sprawled out on the bed.  All of them seem to be doing just great.  Ollie and Zoey need their ear meds but I am waiting til a bit later because they didn't get their dose last night until very late.  Aggie seems to be flea free - no bugs or "flea dirt" at all for the last two checks - thank goodness.

Ferrets are all bright a full of energy this morning.  Finn had his antibiotics - he loves those - and he seems to be doing quite well.  The others are flea free, ear mite free and seemingly quite happy and active.  Violet and Madison are on the bed under the covers having some girl talk.  Finn and Theo are eating and Clooney  is snoozing in his bed.

Emma is sprawled out on the bedroom floor having just consumed one of her favorites - Busy Bone.  Nigel is downstairs sleeping in his pen.  He has been out of his cage for a bit now - we bombed his room for fleas and I just have not had the time to get in there and wipe everything down - its on the list of to dos for today. I think little dude kinda likes the change of scenery every once in awhile.

So that's what Saturday morning looks like around here.  I hope yours is as easy and relaxing...

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Zzzzzzz - Snoozers

Ah the life of a critter...napping abounds around here - at least for the furries.  Sadly, its a rarity for the humans.

Phoebe snoozing on a newly wrapped gift

That's Clooney - can't you tell??

Miss Violet snoozing in the dresser drawer

Phoebe and Oliver snoozing on a box

Aggie and Clooney sharing the pillows

Finn snoozing in the pirate hat bed - with his giant giraffe

Sleepy Madison


Clooney on our bed

Clooney on his bed