Category Archives: Exotics

Rabbits need fiber from HAY for healthy digestion

Young red rabbit in hay on green backgroundIf you have a rabbit, the number one thing to be mindful of is that your rabbit gets enough FIBER in his or her diet.  Most of this should come from fresh, thoroughly-washed leafy vegetables – such as romaine lettuce, parsley, cilantro and other greens.  (See some great information on rabbit nutrition as well as other rabbit care topics on the House Rabbit Society website at http://rabbit.org/suggested-vegetables-and-fruits-for-a-rabbit-diet/

But it’s also important to supplement fresh greens with HAY to aid healthy digestion and stool production.  Include TIMOTHY HAY in your rabbit’s diet as a good source of fiber.   One supplier of Timothy hay is Oxbow Animal Health.  Timothy hay should be provided to your rabbit in unlimited quantities daily.  Chewing hay will also help with natural wearing of your rabbit’s teeth.   (See my past blog on Rabbits need to chew to avoid dental problem.)

Rabbits that lack sufficient fiber are prone to a condition called GI stasis, a potentially deadly condition in which stool production slows down or stops completely.  Sufficient fiber – including Timothy hay – can help prevent this condition.

Should you notice your rabbit not eating, or is producing diminished or no stools, see your veterinarian* immediately.  GI stasis can be extremely painful and can cause death in a rabbit sometimes in a matter of hours.

*IMPORTANT NOTE:  Do NOT assume that the same veterinarian who you take other pets to will care for your rabbit.  Not all veterinarians see rabbits.  Therefore, it’s best to find a good vet for your bunny BEFORE you need one – and also to schedule annual wellness exams. 

AS ALWAYS, CONSULT WITH YOUR VETERINARIAN ABOUT YOUR PET’S OVERALL HEALTH AND WELLBEING.

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Rabbits need to chew to avoid dental problems

small rabbit sitting in hayPet rabbits are adorable, but need more care than many bunny owners might realize.

One thing that surprises many new bunny families is that rabbits have 28 teeth – including molars and incisors. Very few of these teeth are visible without a special instrument that your veterinarian* will use to check your rabbit’s teeth.

NOTE: Rabbits need veterinary care just like any pet. As prey animals, they mask their illness and often do not show signs or symptoms until it’s too late.  So at least annual preventive care is essential.

Your rabbit’s 28 teeth can grow tooth spurs and sharp edges that can prevent your rabbit from eating and cause extreme pain. So it’s important to help your rabbit keep his or her teeth properly worn down by providing things to chew on. Some options include:

  • Special bunny size lava rock blocks
  • Special wood blocks made just for bunnies (Get these at a pet supplies store. Do NOT use just any wood as some can contain toxic finishes that could be fatal to your rabbit.)
  • Timothy hay which should be provided to your rabbit in unlimited quantities. (Watch for my upcoming blog: Rabbits need fiber from HAY for healthy digestion.)

*IMPORTANT NOTE:  Do NOT assume that the same veterinarian who you take other pets to will care for your rabbit.  Not all veterinarians see rabbits.  Therefore, it’s best to find a good vet for your bunny BEFORE you need one – and also to schedule annual wellness exams. 

AS ALWAYS, CONSULT WITH YOUR VETERINARIAN ABOUT YOUR PET’S OVERALL HEALTH AND WELLBEING.

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Some basics to consider BEFORE you get a pet BIRD

Beautiful colorful Sun Conure parrot bird isolated on white background

Just like with any pet, getting one should NEVER be an impulse, but rather should be a carefully considered decision that takes into account the pet’s nutritional needs, habitat requirements, health issues and longevity.  Do your homework BEFORE you bring home that new addition to your family.

In the case of birds, because they are small, some people might think, how much care can they need?  The answer is that they need JUST as much – if not more – care than a dog, cat, rabbit or any other type of pet.

In deciding if a pet bird is right for your family, consider that:

  • Birds typically eliminate (poop and pee) just about every 20 minutes or so. This means that the cage in which your bird resides will have to be cleaned continuously.
  • Certain species of bird can be loud and relentless about chirping and cawing. If you are someone who values quiet time, a bird might not be the best choice for a pet.
  • Many birds tend to form strong bond with ONE living creature. This could be you – OR  – if you have another bird – your bird might choose the other bird as his or her soul mate.  In fact, there is a great likelihood of your bird bonding with another bird and not with you.  If a bird is not bonded to you, the result can be cage aggression toward its owner.
  • It’s not good for any bird to be alone in a cage all day. When lonely or bored, some birds will start self destructive habits like picking at themselves or plucking out all their feathers. If birds do not get along with each other, an option is to give each one his or her own bird cage and put them next to each other.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Keep in mind that most birds have a long lifespan.  In fact, your pet bird may end up out-living you!  Keep this mind as you are choosing a pet.

Sample bird  life spans

Finches – 15 years                   Canaries – 15 years                         Budgies – 15 years
Cockatiels – 20 years             Lovebirds – 20 years                      Conures – 30 years
Amazons – 50 years-plus     African Greys – 50 years-plus    Cockatoos – 65 years-plus
Macaws – 60 years-plus

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