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!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May - Month in Review

Here we are - already at the end of May - cripes!!

May was a pretty darn good critter month for us.  No major health issues - only one scary moment when Kai was choking.  Other than that everyone has been feeling good!

May was quite busy - new toys for the little critters from Auntie Laurie were a big hit - and still are.  New flooring in the critter area was the big happening this month and I can't express in words how much better things are down there.  Cleanup is a breeze - I am really loving it!

The other big May happening was the 8 critter vet visit which confirmed that the ferrets are all in good health. We did find ear mites which they have already had their first treatment for.  Other than that they are healthy little weasels.  We also did Winston's annual maintenance - physical, dew claws, blood work, tusk trim and vaccinations.  He is a healthy pig - who no longer has a heart murmur I might add!!  Woot!

I can't believe we are almost half way through 2016.... fingers crossed for a healthy and uneventful critter June.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

An Easy Saturday Evening

Since our big vet visit mid week things around here have been pretty calm and status quo.  I am so good with status quo!!  :)

On Thursday we picked up the Ivermectin for the kitties and the ferrets to treat the ear mites.  The hubs helped me administer 5 - 7 drops in each ear. Yes folks - that would be 20 ears.... We wait 2 weeks and repeat, wait another 2 weeks and repeat.  Everyone hates getting the drops but its over quickly and they are no worse for the wear.

Winston is doing well - we have had warm, sunny weather the last few days.  I worry about him over heating in addition to the danger of sunburn.  I ordered him a cooling mat - its pressure sensitive and supposedly it will be 7 - 9 degrees cooler than the ambient temperature.  I will put it on the patio so he has a cool spot to sleep.  I will post about it once I get it and determine if it actually works.  As I type this he is snoozing in the laundry pile....silly pig.

Emma is zonked out on the end of the bed.  She has had a good few days - she hasn't necessarily *been* good but she is doing well!  :)  Since she has gotten older she has decided that the rules no longer apply.  She gets into the garbage, blatantly does not listen and pretty much does what she wants.  Then she gets in trouble and is shocked.  She's lucky I adore her.  Even more so - she is lucky her dad is willing to look the other way on just about anything she does.... my pig - his dog....

The kitties are doing well - they seem happy and like they are feeling good.  We are down to very minimal hair balls - thank goodness.  They will be quite excited as a friend of ours was kind enough to give us a big comfy chair that will live in critter land.  I am pretty sure that they kitties will take it over.  It's in the back of the truck and will get moved in tomorrow morning.

Ferrets are fantastic.  Everyone seems so healthy and happy.  Great activity levels, great appetites, all normal outputs - things with the business of ferrets are good!!  This morning they got to play in the shower while I tidied their area.  This evening they all got loved on and all but Violet got a treat of Ferretone.  She doesn't like it for some reason so she got a tiny little bite of her favorite - yogurt covered pretzel.

Outside - the birds are active and a joy to watch at the feeders.  The squirrels and chimpunks are plentiful.  The wild turkeys are visiting often, as are the deer.  I haven't seen the possums in a bit - and I haven't seen our raccoon friend who dropped by.  Tons of lizards in many varieties and the frogs serenade us each evening with the lovely accompaniment of lightening bugs - its very cool!

So - as this Saturday moves into evening, my little zoo is settled in for the night.  I am going to continue with the laundry (working around the pig of course) and have a bite to eat....hope you are having a happy Saturday!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

8 Critter Vet Visit

Okay - it went great but wow - am I glad its over.  The whole vet idea stresses me out...what if they find something wrong with my babies?  But they didn't...  Then making sure they are okay - not scared, not upset, not reacting to vaccinations, etc.... and then there is vetting a pig - which just isn't all that easy.  Here are a few pics of the waiting for the vet to arrive:

Tabby - Kai in the background





First the ferrets -  they did great.  They were social little critters and for the most part pretty cooperative. First we did weights - everyone is in the normal range - not too fat, not too skinny.  Then we did vaccinations which entailed rabies and distemper.  Then we did physicals.  They check eyes, noses, ears, teeth, mouths, heart, lungs and then palpate the organs to make sure everything is located where it should be, is the right size, etc.  Everyone passed the physical exam with flying colors....no issues found on any of them!  The only bad news from the check up - and its not a super serious problem - is that they tested positive for ear mites. I will swing into the vets office tomorrow and pick up the Ivermectin (yep - same that we use on the pig - just a different dose) and treat all the ferrets and the kitties to as mites are quite contagious.  I am very surprised they tested positive.  We had mites before - I think Theo might have brought them to to the party and he had itchy ears and stinky gunk in his ears as well.  No symptoms - sneaky little buggers.  Oh well - if that's the worst thing that they found - I can most certainly deal with that.

What did you bring us Dr Dan??

Kai getting vaccinated

Theo thinking 'I am not sure what just happened.'

He might have poked me with needles but he isn't all bad - he put Ferretone on my belly

Fiona - getting rabies on one side

And distemper on the other

Kai getting checked out

Then we moved on to the pig.  I am not sure who was more stressed - him or me.  First they put meds up his nose to sedate him.  Didn't take long for him to be staggering around.  Then it was time to flip him on his back - he hated it.  I hated it...but once I started petting him and talking to him he settled down.  He got several vaccines today.  We did tetanus - mostly as a precautionary thing.  Its not out of the realm of possibility that he be out playing in the pasture and step on something old and metallic.  We also did Erysipelas, Bordatella, and Pasturella  - I was quite keen on getting the Erysipelas as that is found in the soil and I have read some horror stories about piggies that have contracted it.  It is the reason I have Penicillin in my fridge.  We also opted to do rabies.  There is much debate in the pig world about whether you should do rabies vaccines.  I figure he is in close proximity to quite a bit of wild life - possums, raccoons, coyotes, etc.  I would rather be save than sorry.  The vet also did a blood draw, checked eyes, ears and teeth and clipped his dew claws.  The other thing we did today which was not planned was trimming his tusks.  I had talked to the vet about filing them - which I think I will do since they are back down to the gum line now.  I think I can likely keep them from needing to be done again by filing them as a part of our maintenance routine.  Winston is fine with me filing away.  Since he was already sedated we decided to go ahead and trim them.  They used a gigli wire and slowly made a groove in the tusk, then sped up the process and voila - no more pokey teeth - thank goodness.  My shins have a chance to heal....Winston didn't poke me on purpose.  I am 100% certain he is unaware that there are sharp things protruding from the sides of his mouth.  Then he was done.  Didn't take him long to recover - within about an hour he was still a bit subdued but he was walking normally and was grazing.  He is napping now - waiting for it to be dinner time.

You guys are up to something - I can tell....

Sedation meds up the snout - let's just say - he wasn't a fan

Woozy pig

Getting vaccinated

IM vaccination

Sub Q vaccination

Assessing the tusk situation

All in all it was a good house call - that is such an awesome service the vet provides....  waiting to hear back on Winston's blood work and on everyone's fecal sample analysis. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Prepping for the Vet

So - we are getting ready for our vet visit tomorrow morning.  Prep looks something like this:

1.  collect poop samples - I am doing pretty well on this - only Violet is being incooperative....I hope I can get a sample before her exam in the morning or she will get an unfriendly poke in the rump.
2.  clean up the critters - I was going to give Winston a shower but it hasn't been very long since his last one and his skin gets so dry so I opted for cleaning up his handsome face.  He was quite well behaved while I washed his snout, cheeks, eyes, etc with a warm washcloth.  I turned on the shower for the ferrets and let them play - they had lots of fun!
3.  hooves and nails - Winston's hooves are actually in pretty good shape so not much needed there.  The ferrets all need a nail trim - that might be a morning task if I have time before the vet arrives.

I always get a bit nervous before vet visits....the whole what if scenarios run through my mind.  I am hopeful for a clean bill of health for all the weasels and the piglet.

My questions for the vet - so I won't forget them in the morning....


  • Tusks - what to use to file them and how short
  • Have on hand - I have PCN what else should I keep in stock
  • How to give a pig an injection
  • Ticks - they love him - geranium oil helps - anything else I should be doing?
  • First morning output is not great
  • Use of Vetasyl
  • Choking episode
  • Litter mate of Harlow - anything to watch for?  Same question for Tabby

  • Litter mate of Finn. Could there be the same congenital issue?
  • Had kidney stone - no issues since - should we be watching?  Doing anything different

Sunday, May 22, 2016

General Updates

As I type this it is POURING outside.  Thunder, lightening, the works.  Emma is handling it pretty well.  At the moment she is snoozing on the floor at the end of our bed.  I think her hearing is not what it used to be so she doesn't hear the thunder as much as she used to.  She had a pretty uneventful weekend - outside time, inside time - a pretty good couple of days.

Winston had a good day today.  He played outside for the bulk of the day.  It was a good rooting day because it has rained so much its a muddy mess out there.  I just tucked him in under his red fleece blanket.  He snuggled down and went to sleep - not sure if he is effected by the storms but he seemed ready for bed and covers for sure.

Ollie, Aggie and Phoebe - the kitties are doing just great.  They were quite interactive while I was down in critter land over the course of the day.  The great hairball season seems to be slowing a bit - thank goodness.  Only one for the whole weekend - woot!  :)

And last - the weasels.  I had lots of time with them today.  I was checking in on Kai to make sure he is still doing well.  The great news is that he is just fine.  He was quite cuddly and affectionate early in the day and then as it got later my wild child returned.  By this evening my leaping, biting, running, crazy boy was back which made my heart happy.  The calm, affectionate boy was fine but I missed his wild antics.  My other two boys - Theo and Bash are both doing amazing - happy and healthy and playful.

The little girls - Madison was her energetic, sweet, joyful and affectionate self all day.  Fiona was both playful and mellow - she played with toys and wrestled a bit but was also content to be held and loved on tonight.  Tabitha was quite interactive for her - she tends to be somewhat aloof.  Today she "helped" me clean up, she tolerated being held multiple times and she played with me - all great things.  And then there is Violet... each time I went down to critter land today Violet was snoozy, sleepy, not particularly energetic, etc.  I saw her eating and drinking and her outputs were fine.  She just wasn't interacting or playing.  It worried me a bit so this evening I decided to pull her out of critter land and let her play in our room for an hour or so.  I figured if she was feeling bad she would likely be sleepy down here as well.  Um - let's just say our schedules must have been off because she was WILD while she was here.  She was racing around playing, making her happy ferret noises, climbing on the furniture, investigating the closets and trying to get Emma to play with her.  She used up all that energy she gained by being sleepy today for sure.  I am fairly certain she is feeling just fine and that she was likely up and active during times when I wasn't down in their area.  Let's face it - after the Kai episode I might be just a little bit paranoid.

It was a good critter day today.  Can't believe it is already time to start another busy work week.... UGH!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Wild and Crazy Day Recap

So - it really has been a fairly crazy day around here....

KAI UPDATE:  First we had a bit of a scare this morning - in case you missed it here is my Facebook post from earlier today:  'Scary zoo moment....Kai (ferret) was in some sort of respiratory distress while I was cleaning down in critter land. I think he was choking on something. He was very frightened - tail and fur puffed out and he was trying to hide. I got to him and isolated him from the others. We did the finger sweep of the mouth which seemed to help somewhat...at least it calmed him a bit. I gave him ferretone with a bit of honey in case it was an allergic reaction. Honey is a natural antihistamine so it opens up the airways. Then we did a big drink of water with colloidal silver in it. He seems much better...an occasional little hack but breathing and heartrate are normal. He is napping, still in isolation. I would like for him to go potty before I let him back in with the others to be sure that end of the weasel is operating normally and we don't have a blockage. Fingers crossed by later this afternoon he will be back with his siblings....' 

I am happy to report that this afternoon I was able to put Kai back with his siblings.  He woke up from his nap and did his thing - outputs looked normal.  I made him some gravy (ferret food with warm water) which is one of his favorites and he ate the whole bowl.  Nothing wrong with his appetite for sure.  He was a bit subdued this afternoon - not my regular wild child - but I think the whole episode really scared him.  Hubs and I went out this evening.  It was hard to leave him....  we got home and checked in on him and the rest of the weasels and they are all just fine.  Kai was even up for a bit of wrestling and playing.  The kitties are all doing fantastic as well - they have been fed, medicated and given some kitty treats this evening.

PIG ON THE PORCH:  As if the whole choking episode with the ferret wasn't crazy enough....  Once Kai had settled in for a nap I decided to take all of the blankets out of the critter room and run them through the laundry.  I gathered them up and headed to the laundry room and then went back to continue to keep an eye on the ferret.  When I walked past the front door, much to my surprise, there was a pig on the front porch.  Seems the locking mechanism on the front gate had gotten stuck in the up position so the gate just needed a little push in order to open.  Winston made his way in front of the garage (thank goodness both the garage doors were closed) and into the front yard.  He rooted in the dirt, munched on some flowers, etc.  He had a lovely adventure.  Thankfully he didn't wander off and stayed very close to home.  He was quite happy to see me through the front door windows.  Silly pig.  He happily followed me into the back yard and we closed the gate and checked it twice.  We did a WD-40 repair on the gate locking mechanism and all was right in the world again....

THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE DAY:  So - after Kai was back with his brothers and sisters and the pig was secured in the yard I needed to get ready for our afternoon/evening out.  I started the tub and went to change over the laundry while it was filling.  I heard the doorbell ring but chose to ignore it, fairly certain that it was the postman with a package.  Then there was loud knocking.  Again I decided to head for the tub.  Once I was in there I heard it - a bump in the day.  Unfortunately when Emma woke me at 3 am I was on Facebook and saw this video about burglars and their method of operation.  So, of course I freaked out.  I drained the tub, wrapped up in a towel and went to investigate taking my trusty guard pig with me. Winston was hilarious.  He totally picked up on my anxiety and he stuck very close.  We slowly crept out to the living room and then to the entry.  Of course I was right and it was a package waiting on the porch.  Geez....  I am pretty sure that since Winston can be a pink turd to people I like he would likely be even worse of someone he thought was threatening me.  He could do some damage if he was so inclined.

Anyway - all was fine.  Everyone is fine.  Emma and Winston have been out for their last potty break. Kitties and weasels are in bed.  I will head in to tuck the piglet in shortly.  I am so thankful that Kai is feeling better.  There is no worse feeling than seeing your fur kid in distress.  I am also very thankful that Winston stayed so close and that we didn't have to initiate a search party.  Even though it was a bit of a stressful day everyone is okay and that's all that matters.

Friday, May 20, 2016

May Little Critter Snaps - including some on the new floor

Things here have been so busy I haven't had a chance to post any pictures of the awesome new critter land floor.  Here are some shots of the critters enjoying their improved space....

Fiona peeking over Theo










Kai on the left and Tabby doing her best meerkat impression




Aggie - (who hates the camera BTW)


Theo (left) and Kai


Did I mention they fit under the closet door now that the carpet is gone?