Tails Blog

Dog Disease and Faecal matter

Steve Coppell - Friday, July 23, 2010

Dogs smell it, roll in it, walk in it, even ingest it. Dog faecal matter is often where dogs pick up serious disease. The following diseases are examples of disease spread in this way.

Parvo Virus
is one of the deadliest diseases in the dog poulation, particularly amoung puppies. Gaining entry through the mouth, the virus attacks the digestive tract and kills cells that are critical in the absorption of nutrients. Severe fluid loss through diarrhea and vomiting can lead to death. Parvo also temporarily affects a dogs immune system, and can lead to heart failure in some young dogs.

are blood suckers, tunneling into the wall of the intestine for their blood meals. Vomiting, diarrhea, and wieght loss are common symptoms and in large numbers, these parasites can cause anemia. Difficult to diagnose they are even harder to eliminate because they are often present in very large numbers.

are blood suckers, attaching to the intestineal wall where they suck plugs of the intestinal tissue into their mouth structures. Anemia and or intense inflamation can result. Hookworm infections can be passed on to humans.

can affect the lungs and the digestive system, with typical signs being vomiting and diarrhea.Convulsions can occur with heavy infections and the disease can spread to humans.

are one celled parasites that can cause diarrhea in cats and dogs. Infection with giardia is often difficult to diagnose and treat effectively.

are also one celled parasites that can cause diarrhea, especially in puppies and kittens.

The best way to treat these, and the many bacterial infections dogs can acquire from stools is to remove faeces from your yard at least weekly, but more often if possible, and keep current on your pets vaccinations, and deworming.Try to pick up waste before a rain which breaks up or scatters the faeces and allows the worms or germs to spread into the environment.

Unrestrained pets in cars in NZ

Steve Coppell - Monday, July 05, 2010

We are often reminded about how important it is to buckle up. Social engineering, common sense, and hefty fines mean most of us now belt up in our cars without really even thinking about it. But how many of us consider the hazards unrestrained pets become when they roam free in the back seat.

Link to stuff.co.nz blog. Tails can offer you cost effective solutions so you can restrain your pets in the car.  Car booster seats, and Dog car harnesses, or Vehicle pet barriers are all good options for improved safety for your pet and for you in your car.

How to control litter box odor

Steve Coppell - Wednesday, June 30, 2010

There are a number of ways you can control litter box odour.

Clean the litter box regularly.
Cleaning your pets litter box is nobodys idea of a good time. But it is important if you want to keep those nasty odours under control.
Clear the box of debris daily, and change the litter at least once a week, depending on the material you use and the number of pets who use the box.

Ventilate the area
Make sure you park the box in a well ventilated area, preferabley close to an open window.

More litter boxes
Be sure to have enough litter boxes for the number of pets in your home.

Good Quality Litter
Buy a good quality litter like Silica litter crystals which is anti bacterial, absorbent, and has a deodouriser.

Teach your pet a new trick

White spot disease in fresh water fish

Steve Coppell - Friday, June 11, 2010

White spot or Ich (ick) as it is also known is one of the more common diseases found in fresh water aquarium fish. Anyone who keeps fish for any period of time will eventually have fish that develop white spot. Many hobbyist consider this disease to be a common nuisance, but the reality is Ich is probably responsible for more fish deaths than just about any other disease.
So what is Ich?
Ich is a protozoan disease. The scientific name for the disease is Ichthyophthiriasis. It is wide spread in all fresh water fish, but is more common in aquarium fish, most likely because they live in close contact with other species and because of stress.
Why do my fish get Ich?
Ich is so widespread it is found in the environment of most aquariums, especially in large holding tanks, rearing ponds of breeders, collectors and wholesalers. Its a fact just about every aquarium fish has come into contact with this protozoa several times during its life. Because it is so widespread , most fish have developed a good immune response against this disease to allow them to fight off this protozoan infection before it causes any symptoms. Captive fish that develop Ich  usually get this disease when their immune systems are not functioning as well as they should because of stress. Stress lowers the immune response and when fish are stressed that's when Ich is prevalent
There are many causes of stress in a fish`s life, many of which can be made worse or better by the owner. Water temperature, water quality, tank inhabitants, improper diet, but one of the leading causes of stress in captive fish is in the handling and shipping of a new fish. Whether coming from the wild or farm raised, the handling and shipping of the fish from their origin to a wholesaler, then to a retailer, and finally to your tank at home is extremely stressful. Because the ich protozoa is widespread, it is no wonder that many newly purchased fish are affected.
How do Identify ich?
Ich is characterised by white spots on the body and gills. In some infections the organism will only be found on the gills.As the disease progresses, the fish will become more irritated and may rub or scratch against the sides and bottom of the tank. The disease will cause respiratory distress, severe agitation, loss of appetite, and eventually death.

The life cycle of Ich
Trophozoites mature in the skin of the mature fish
Trophont (mature trophozoite) leaves the fish
Tropont produces tomites
Trophont bursts and tomites are released.
Tomites penetrate the skin of the fish, and the cycle is repeated.
The life cycle of Ich is complicated but very important in understanding its treatment and prevention.Once the ich protozoan attaches to the side of the fish, it begins feeding on the skin and tissue causing irritation. The fish's body begins to wall off the parasite to try to limit it's damage. The protozoan continues to move around in the cyst feeding and growing, while the body continues to further encapsulate and wall it off. This encapsulation by the body is one of the reasons that ich is so difficult to treat during this stage of the disease because medications cannot penetrate through the wall of the cyst to reach the ich parasite.During this stage, the ich protozoan is called a trophozoite. The trophozoite eventually matures and is termed a trophont. It will burst through the cyst wall and then fall to the bottom of the aquarium. It then begins to divide into hundred of new ich infecting units called tomites. This stage is very temperature dependent within its capsule, with the fastest replications occuring at warmer temperatures near 78-80 degrees farenheit.At optimum temperatures the replication will be complete in about 8 hours. At lower temperatures the replication takes longer making the treatment time for eradication much longer.
Once the replication is complete, the trophont bursts and releases the newly formed tomites into the water. The tomites are motile and swim around the tank searching for fish to attach to. Once they attach to a fish, the cycle will start over again. It is during this stage that ich is most susceptible to treatment. Many of the available medications will kill the tomites, thereby stopping the cycle of ich in your tank. It should be noted that these tomites will only survive for 48 hours, if they do not find a fish to attach to. these tomites will also attach to plants, filter material, etc. So if you move a plant from an infected tank into a clean tank, you have just infected a clean tank with ich. Depending on the water temperature, the whole cycle can take from 4 days to several weeks.
Treating ich
Now that we understand the life cycle of fresh water ich, many of our treatment recommendations make more sense. Because the life cycle is temperature dependent and the ich can only be killed in the tomite stage, we will want to raise the tank temperature to 78-80 degrees farenheit over 48 hours to speed the cycle of tomite formation and release. Theoretically, if the cycle takes four days to complete at this temperature, then the treatment should be complete in 4 days. On the other hand, if the temperature is much colder, for example at 60 degrees farenheit, the treatment would need to last for several weeks or longer.
Since we know we cannot kill ich while it is on the fish, we know that moving a fish to a quarantine tank to treat will not solve the problem in the main tank. The time to use a quarantine tank is before a new fish is introduced into a display tank. If a fish in a tank has ich you must assume that the entire tank is now contaminated with ich and must be treated.
Another way to get ich out of a tank is to remove all of the fish. Since we know that the tomites can only survive for 48 hours without attaching to a fish, if we remove all of the fish and then raise the temperature to 80 degrees, the existing ich in the tank should be dead after 2 days. To be safe, wait 4 days before returning the fish to the tank. But remember, you will need to treat the tank that the fish are moved to, otherwise, fish entering that tank could become infected.
Remember we are treating the tank not the fish, so all effective treatments are designed to kill the trophite form of the disease while it is in the tank. The mature ich organisms that cause the problems on the fish do not die from treatment, but fall off in a couple of days during their normal life cycle and then their offspring die from treatment in the water.
Some of the best treatments historically have been formalin or malachite green or a combination of the two. Copper, methylene blue, and baths of potassium permagnate, quinine hydrochloride and sodium chloride have also been used but do not appear to offer an advantage over the more readily available formalin and malachite green products.
When using formalin, make sure to use recently purchased. Formalin that is stored for long periods of time can convert to paraformaldahyde, which can be toxic to fish. An indicator that this has occured is thwe formation of a white precipitate in the bottle. Malachite green may also stain some decorations and silicone to a green colour and may be toxic to piranahs, neons, sunfish, and some scaleless fish, if given at the recommended dose. For these fish or other sensitive species, they should be treated at half strength and monitored carefully for signs of distress.
While we rarely recommend treating an entire tank for a disease, ich is an exception. Make sure to folloe individual label directions, and remove the carbon from your filter and shut off any UV sterilizers or protien skimmers during treatment because they will inactivate or remove any medications that are added.
Preventing ich
Ich is a very common disease and if your fish get it, you are going to end up having to treat the entire tank. Therefore, it is a much easier disease to prevent than treat, and the following is a list of suggestions for helping to prevent ich in your tank.

1/ Only purchase healthy fish that are free of all disease.
2/ Never buy fish from a tank that contains dead or diseased fish.
3/ Always place new fish in a proper quarantine tank for a minimum of two weeks before introducing them into your tank.
4/ Purchase your fish from as direct a sourse as possible to reduce shipping and handling stress.
5/ Remove to a quarantine tank and treat any fish that begins to show the first signs of ich.
6/ Avoid any fluctuations in temperature, pH, or ammonia levels as these are all very stressful to fish and can result in an outbreak of ich.
7/ Always feed a variety of properly stored food including freeze dried, frozen, and flaked.
8/ Do not overstock your tank. Most tanks have too many fish and not enough cover which leads to stress, disease, and increased mortality.
9/ Maintain excellent water quality and do regular water changes.

While ich may be the most common disease in aquarium fish, it does not have to infect your tank. By following these preventitive guidelines and promptly treating any infected fish, you can greatly reduce the damage that can be caused by this deadly disease.

Training puppy not to chew and destroy

Steve Coppell - Monday, June 07, 2010




What can you expect?

If you bring a new pup into your home and lives, teaching your pup what he/she is allowed to chew features as one of your earliest life lessons together.
My pup Jess took a fancy to power chords unfortunately. But by pure chance she came to no serious harm. But the same cant be said for my cell phone re charger, sub woofer power chord,an extension chord and two queen size electric blankets.

What can be done about puppy chewing?
1/ Puppy proof the confined area; If possible, remove all items your puppy can chew on, including socks, shoes, furniture, plants, etc.,from any area in which you confine your puppy. Make sure electrical chords are out of reach

2/ Confine your pup; in a crate, cage, or puppy proofed area when you are away. Because puppies learn with their mouths, giving your teething puppy free reign in the house is asking for trouble. Keep him confined; you do not want him to go to school on your expensive living room furniture. Make sure to supply the puppy with appropriate chew toys so the pup has something to do and teach the pup what to chew on.

3/ Closely supervise your pup.Not unlike caring for a toddler, you should always be aware of where your pup is and what he is doing.

4/ Give your pup chew toys; The sole focus of your dogs chewing should be directed toward items you select.There are a wide range of items from which to choose including many safe long lasting chew toys that are made especially for teething puppies that will keep them occupied and content for hours.Examples include knotted rawhide and durable rubber teething products, like Kongs toys, that satisfy your puppies need for chewing and gum stimulation. The items should not be similar to articles you do not want your pup to chew. Your puppy can not tell the difference between your new dress shoes and an old tattered pair.

5/ Make departures low key; to avoid causing separation anxiety, which is often expressed through non stop barking, whining, or destructive chewing. Before you leave, add your scent to your dogs toy. Rub the bone between your hands and give it to your pup 15 minutes before you leave.This should keep  the puppy occupied so you can leave without a fuss being made.

6/ Give your pup plenty of exercise; to relieve boredom and burn off energy- two significant factors contributing to destructive chewing.

7/ Correct chewing of appropriate objects; if you catch your pup in the act of chewing anything but his chew toy, remove the object and replace it with an acceptable chew toy. If your pup  then chews on the toy, praise him. You always want to reinforce desired behaviour with praise. If possible, treat the inappropriate object with a product designed to deter chewing.

8/ Teach your pup to ignore non toy objects;if he consistently chews the wrong things. Place tempting objects on the floor along with your pups chew toy and pretend not to pay attention to him. If (and usually when) he starts to put his mouth over one of the forbidden objects, correct with a firm No! and point out his bone. Once  he learns  he can only have the toy when you are in the room, it is time to leave the room for short intervals.

If he chews on forbidden objects after you leave the room, your quick return will catch him in the act - the only time when corrective action should be taken. Again, give him the toy, and praise if it is accepted.If he is chewing forbidden objects but you cannot catch him, he should be crated when unsupervised until he learns what is and is not acceptable to chew on. Make sure to leave several appropriate dog toys accessible at all times. It helps to have a certain location such as a basket that contains the dogs toys where he can go to get one when he wants.


Rat Reproduction: Mating, Gestation, Birthing, and Growth

Steve Coppell - Friday, May 21, 2010

Rats are very easy to breed. In fact, many people end up with unplanned baby rats. Rats can reach maturity at 5 weeks of age, so the sexes should be separated prior to this age. Rats do not recognize incest, so brothers, sisters and even mothers and sons must be separated.

Rats do not have a breeding season, although very hot or cold temperatures will reduce breeding. Females of breeding age come into heat all year round, every 4 to 5 days, unless they are pregnant, and even then they may come into heat once or twice early in pregnancy. Each female usually has a regular schedule that can be marked on the calender, but it can vary. Each heat usually begins in the evening and lasts most of the night.

As a female approaches menopause at about 18 months of age, her cycle will become more irregular until it stops completely, and if she is bred during this time, the size of her litters will decrease as her fertility wanes. It is possible for a female who has stopped cycling to get pregnant, although the preganancy may not develope normally.

It is possible for domestic rats (Rattus norvegicus) to mate with roof rats (Ratus ratuss) although the babies will not survive. The embryos will be reabsorbed, aborted, or born dead.

A responsible decision

Before deciding to breed your rats, you should consider a few things. Do not breed rats who have, or who have had mycoplasma infections.Only breed rats who are free of respiratory symptoms and therefore hopefully resistant to mycoplasma. Second,rats have large litters average is 10-12 so if you do not plan to keep all the babies, you will have to decide how you will find homes for them.
If you have decided to breed your rats you must also consider their age. The best time to breed a female for the first time is at four to five months of age. It can be dangerous to breed a female older than six to eight months of age for the first time since her pelvic canal will be fused in a narrow position. This will put her a risk of being unable to deliver her babies normally. In such a case a cesarean section may be necessary to save her life. If a female of any age has a difficult birth, do not breed her again.

Age is not such an important consideration for males. Males can be fertile into old age. If you plan to breed a female a second time, it is a good idea to wait several weeks after her litter has been weaned to allow her time to recover, both physically and mentally.

The mating process

You can breed rats by simply puting a pair together for ten days, insuring they are together through two heat cycles. But since the female might fight the male, a better way is to put the pair together only when the female is in heat. This workes especially well when you are breeding your rat to one who belongs to someone else because the pair only have to be together for one evening. When a rat is in heat her vagina will gape open; otherwise it's tightly closed. Usually there will be behavioral signs too. Stroking her back will usually cause a rat in heat to perform the mating dance. She may first dart forward or spin around, then she will brace her legs stiffly, lift her head and tail, and vibrate her ears! This display tells the male that she is ready for mating.

Most males will be interested immediately and will sniff and perhaps lick her. When mounting he will grasp her scruff with his teeth. During courtship, mounting will occur numerous times, but most of this is foreplay. Usually the male must mount many times before completing the act, and mating will continue for sometime however, it is possible for a female to get pregnant from a single mounting,so do not let your girls and boys play together if you do not want them to mate. Even if the female is not in heat, a determined and persistant male can sometimes stimulate her into coming into heat, so keep your unneutered males and females seperate! Females in heat will sometimes also escape their cage to visit a male.

Planning for the birth

The gestation peroid is normally 22 days, but can vary from 21 to 23 (and rarely to 26). A post partum pregrancy will last 28 days. Two weeks into the pregnancy the mothers abdomen will usually start expanding, but not always. As the birth approaches, you may be able to see the pups moving inside her, or feel them if you gently feel her abdomen. her mammary glands will also start to enlarge two weeks into the pregnancy. The mothers needs are simple; a nutritious diet, exercise, and extra nesting material a few days before the expected event. If you've been letting the male live with the female you should remove him before the birth. The father would very rarely hurt his babies, but all females come back into heat within 24 hours of the birth. So if you leave them together she will immediately become pregnant again. If the pregnant female has been living with another female or a neutered male, it is alright to leave them together during the birth and the raising of the babies, as long as the cage is large enough to allow the mother privacy. However, it is not a good idea to leave two pregnant females together because although they will not intentionally hurt each others babies, they may steal them from each other. if this turns into a tug of war, the infants tender skin can be severly damaged by the females sharp teeth. Never put a new rat in with a pregnant or nursing female, because she will viciously attack it. The exception to this is babies about the same size as her own. A nursing mother will almost always adopt other babies, even babies of other species, allowing easy fostering.

Sometimes a pregnant of nursing rat has a change in personnality due to hormone changes. She may become more aggressive, or less interested in playing. In rat society, a mother rat is usually dominant over all other rats, even if she is usually submissive. However, when her job of child rearing is over, the mother will usually regain her former status and personnality. It is also common for a nursing mum to have soft stools.

The birth process

The birth process normally takes about  an hour or two. In general, the mother rat will deliver a new pup every five to ten minutes. In rats, the average litter size is 6 to 13 pups. The first sign is a bloody discharge from the vagina. Next, the contractions will cause her to stretch out while her sides suck in, in a most amazing way. Once the babies start arriving, the mother will sit up and help deliver them with her hands and teeth. Then she will clean off the birth sac and lick the new born. The mother will usually eat the placenta and the umbilical cord. During this process a healthy baby will wiggle and squeak, which inhibits its mother from eating it to. However, if a baby is weak is weak or dead this inhibition will not occur.

Most female rats are wonderful mothers, but rarely there can be problems. If the mother is stressed, either because of pain from a long difficult birth, or from enviromental disturbances such as unusually loud noises, etc, she may kill and eat some healthy babies. A poor diet may contribute to this problem. You can try removing the babies and giving them back to the mum when she calms down.

Difficult births

Birth in rats usually proceeds without need for assistance, but occassionally and especially with first time mums older than eight months, there will be problems. I have seen three rats that have died during birth and have heard of several others. The danger of an obstructive birth is that a mother can go into shock. A cesarean section may be possible if done soon enough.

Once the birth process begins, if no babies are delivered within two hours, there is defenately a problem. The rats uterus is shaped like a Y and a baby can get stuck across the bottom of the Y. Gently massaging the mothers abdomen may help reposition the problem baby. If a bay is stuck in the birth canal, it may be possible to lubricate it with baby oil and pull it out with forceps. Then the rest of the babies can be delivered normally. If the mother survives the birth but has retained one or more unborn fetusus, she may be able to expel or reabsorb them. in this case it is a good idea to treat her with anti biotics to prevent infection.

If the mother dies and leaves surviving babies, or if the mother refuses to nurse them the best chance for the babies is to foster them to another nursing mother.

Growth and weaning

At birth, the pups are born hairless, toothless and have short limbs and tails. They will start to have hair when they are seven days old, and their eyes generally open when they are thirteen to fourteen days old.

Most mum rats know just what to do and take great care of their rats. Occassionally, there will be a tiny runt who cannot compete with his siblings for the nipples especially in a large litter. You will be able to see if each baby has nursed by the white milk in their stomach which is visible through their thin skin. The best solution is to temperally seperate some of the other babies into another container to give the runt a chance at the nipples. Leave about four to five babies with the runt to stimulate the mum to suckle them. If the runt is all by himself, the mum may not pay attention to him. As long as the other babies are kept warm, there is no harm in them being away from the mum for up to four hours. You can put their container on a heating pad on low, or near a light bulb (be careful not to let them get to hot). Rotating the groups of babies with the mum every two to four hours will give the runt the best chance.

Baby rats grow incredibly fast I recommend you hold and look at them everyday to witness this miracle. This handling will also stimulate and socialize the babies. When they are two weeks of age you should play with the  babies as much as possible. The more you handle them, the better socialized they will be. At this age they will also start to eat solid food. They will either walk to the dish, or their mum will carry food to the nest. You do not need to provide special food for them. Babies can be weaned at four weeks but you can leave the girls with their mum for as long as you want. Remove boys before five weeks or they may breed with their mothers or sisters.

What your bird is trying to tell you

Steve Coppell - Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pet birds have been described by some as moody: playful and loving one minute, demanding and aloof the next. Sometimes very obvious and sometimes very subtle,a birds body language can give you insight into what your bird needs and wants. Although parrots and other birds communicate through different body languages, the following behaviours are observed in most pet birds. Observing your birds eyes, vocalizations, wings, beak, and overall posture can be very telling.

Unlike humans, birds are able to control their irises, enlarging and shrinking their pupils rapidly. This display is called "flashing" or "pinning" and birds may do this when they are excited, greatly interested in something, or when they are angry, frightened, or aggressive. Eye pinning should be taken into context with the birds immediate environment and body posture to get an accurate emotional reading.

Wings are not always meant for flying; they often are used to communicate.

.Wing flapping: Wing flapping, or flying in place, is used as excercise, to get your attention, or just to dislay happiness. Birds may often simply lift their wings as a means to strech or to cool themselves

.Wing flipping: Wing flipping can mean many different things such as being angry or in pain. Flipping can also be used to fluff the feathers or to get the feathers to lay just right. Wing flipping accompanied by hunching of the shoulders and head bobbing is attention getting and often means the bird wants to be fed.

.Wing drooping: Young birds must learn how to fold and tuck in their wings and often let their wings droop before learning this. However, in older birds, wing drooping may indicate sickness. If the bird has just physically exerted herself or has recently bathed, she may droop her wings frm tiredness or to let the wings dry.

A birds body language includes how she holds her feathers.

.Ruffled feathers: Birds will ruffle their feathers during the preening process. This helps remove any dirt or feather dust, and also helps return their feathers to their normal position. Birds may also be observed fluffing their feathers as a way to reieve tension. If cold a bird may also fluff her feathers. Finally, if a birds feathers remain ruffled, it could be a sign of illness and she should be checked by a veterinarian.

.Crest position: Birds such as cockatoos and cockateils have a large expressive crest. A contented, relaxed bird will usually have the crest held back, with just the tip tilted up. If she is excited about seeing you, a new toy, food etc, she will often lift her crest. If however the crest is held very high, it indicates fear or great excitement, and should be taken as a warning. An aggressive or alarmed bird may hold the crest flat while crouching and hissing.

.Quivering: Quivering may occur when the bird is frightened, overly excited, or part of  breeding behavior.

A birds tail feathers, like other pets tails are also used to communicate.

.Tail wagging: A bird, like a dog, may wag her tail to tell you that she is glad to see you. Tail wagging may also be a precursor to defecating. This is often helpful if you are trying to house train your bird.

.Tail flapping: Tail flapping is a general sign of happiness and can be seen when she is happy to see you, plays with her favorite toy, or gets a treat.

.Tail bobbing: Tail bobbing accompanied by rapid breathing that follows strenuous exercise is your birds way of catching her breath. If however , your bird is bobbing her tail feathers and and breathing hard without activity, she may be showing signs of respiratory distress or infection. If this occurs, see your veterinarian.

.Tail fanning: Fanning the tail feathers often accompanies other behaviors in a show of aggression or anger. Spreading out of the tail feathers is a show that displays the birds strength and vitality.

Legs and feet
The legs and feet are not used as often as other body parts to communicate but they are some of the most interesting of bird behaviors.

.Foot tapping: Some birds especially cockatoos, will tap their feet as a sign of dominance over their territory. This usually only happens when they feel their territory is being threatened.

.Weak legs: Some birds that do not wnt to stand or perch for themselves diplay the sudden onset of "weak legs." This most often occurs when you have been handling them and must put them back in their cage; it is their way of resisting. Simply hold and pet the bird a while longer and, when she feels she has been given adequate attention, her legs will suddenly become strong enough to perch. Some birds become very good at this behavior and make it routine.

.Hanging upside down: Some birds consider hanging upside down a natural part of their behavior. When doing this, they are happy and content with their environment.

.Scratching on the cage bottom: Birds from those species who normally forage on the ground for food, like the african grey, may scratch on the floor of the cage, much like a chicken.

In the wild, birds use various vocalizations to warn others of danger, attract mates, protect their territory, and maintain social contacts. Most birds are highly vocal and many times may be trying to communicate with you.

.Singing, talking, and whistling: These vocalizations are often signs of a happy, healthy, content bird. Some birds love an audience and sing, talk, and whistle the most when others are around. Other birds will remain quiet when others are watching.

.Chattering: Chattering can be very soft or very loud. Soft chatting can be a sign of contentment or can be the practise of a bird learning to talk. Loud chatter can be an attemp to gain attention, to remind you they are there.In the wild, birds often chatter in the evening before going to sleep to connect with flock members

.Purring: Not the same as a cats pur, a birds pur is more like a soft growl that can be a sign of content, or a sign of annoyance. When purring, the birds environment and other body language should be taken into consideration to determine what the bird is expressing.

.Tongue clicking: By clicking her tongue against her beak, your bird may be entertaining herself or asking to be picked up or petted.

.Growling: Not heard in all pet birds, growling is an aggressive vocalization. If your bird is growling, examine her environment and remove anything that may be bothering her. Growling birds should not be handled as they do not want to be touched.

The beak is used for several functions from grooming to cracking nuts and seeds. It can be used as a weapon or to build a nest. There are also many ways a bird uses her beak to tell you things.
.Grinding: Beak grinding is often a sign of contentment in birds and is heard most often as the bird falls asleep. It is characterized by the side to side sliding of one beak over the other. It is believed by some experts that birds grind their beaks to keep them in their best condition.

.Clicking: Clicking of the beak, or the back and forth sliding of one beak tip over the other, can mean several things. If she clicks once and pins her eyes but is otherwise unthreatening, she is greeting you or acknowledging something. If she clicks several times in a series, she is giving a warning and should not be handled. Beak clicking is most often seen in cockatiels and cockatoos.

.Wiping: It is common to see a bird wiping her beak after eating. Often the bird will wipe her beak on a perch, the cage floor or the cage sides to get it clean. Some birds use beak wiping as a way to mark their territory. This behaviour may be seen in birds when introduced to others or kept in areas where other birds are near.

.Biting: Birds will bite for several reasons so it is important to observe other behaviors and the birds immediate environment to determine the reason behind it. Defending territory, being fearful, or being angry can all cause birds to bite. An open beak combined with a crouching position and hissing is a definate indication that the bird is prepared to bite.

.Chewing: Most birds enjoy chewing and do it for many reasons including to condition their beaks and to entertain themselves. A variety of chew toys should be provided to keep your bird stimulated and interested and to keep her from chewing, and possibly injesting inappropriate things.

.Regurgitating: Regurgitation is the expultion of contents from from the mouth, esophagus,or crop. If your bird pins her eyes, bobs her head and streches out her neck, then regurgitates her dinner she is actually showing you a great deal of affection. Birds feed their young by regurgitating food and breeding pairs often do this for each other as a part of bonding.

.Mouthing: One way birds play is to grab each others beaks and wrestle. They will often use their beaks to joust at one another during play.

. Head shaking: It is very common for African Greys to shake their heads. The reason for this is not well understood.

.Head bobbing: Birds who want attention will often bob their heads back and forth.

Flea control and prevention

Steve Coppell - Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Attempting to control fleas on our pets is a multi step process. Adult fleas spend most their time on an animal, but the flea eggs, (larvae) and (pupae) are found in abundance in the environment such as in carpeting, rugs, bedding, and grass. For every flea you see on your pet there are likely to be hundreds of eggs and larve in your home and yard. Therefore a truley effective flea control program always includes treating the environment as well as treating your pet. These are the essential steps for a successful flea control program.

1/ Remove fleas from the indoor environment.
2/ Remove fleas from the outdoor environment.
3/ Remove fleas from your pets.
4/ Keep immature forms of fleas from developing.

Flea control in the indoor environment

1/ Start by vacuming thoroughly, especially below drapes, under furniture edges, and where your pet sleeps. It is estimated that vacuming can remove up to 50% of flea eggs. Vacum daily in high traffic areas, weekly in others. Each time seal your vacume bag in a plastic bag and discard it immediately. Do not place moth balls or flea collars in the vacum, since toxic fumes could result.

2/ Use a product that will kill any remaining adult fleas and also stop the development of eggs and larvae. You will need a product that contains both an adulticide and an insect growth regulator (IGR) such as Nylar (pyriproxyfen) or methoprene. This can be in the form of carpet powders, foggers, or sprays.

3/  Wash your pets bedding weekly and treat the bed and surrounding area with a product that contains both an adulticide and an insect growth regulator.

Flea control in the out door environment

Flea control in the out door environment generally involves eliminating the habitat in the yard and kennel areas where fleas are most likely to occur. Fleas tend to like it where it is warm , moist, shady, and where there is organic debris. they tend to be where pets spend more of their outdoor time. So be sure to concentrate on areas such as under patios, under porches, dog houses etc.

Flea control on your pet.

Now that fleas in your home and in hot spots in your yard have been treated, it is time to eliminate the fleas that are on your pet.There are a number of flea control products for use on pets, including once a month topical products, sprays, dips, shampoos, collars, powders, oral and injectable products. With any product applied directly to pet, please remember that you may see some live fleas on your pet for a short time after spraying, shampooing, dipping, etc. In order for the fleas to die, they must come into contact with insectiside, and absorb it.
Keep in mind that until all of the fleas in your home have died, you will probebly still see some fleas, even on a treated pet, since some imature forms may continue to develope. This is especially true if you had a big flea problem to start with. Persistance is the key here. It is essencial to keep following an effective flea control program for a long enough time to get rid of all the fleas, in all life stages. This may take several weeks.

My dog eats grass should I be concerned?

Steve Coppell - Saturday, April 10, 2010

Eating grass is basically a normal behavior for dogs, one which experts have given varying theories as to why they do this. Some believe that since dogs commonly vomit after eating grass, they eat grass in order to vomit. They may have an upset stomach or have eaten something bad and thus feel compelled to induce vomiting. Those who believe this think then that it's important that you not discourage your dog from eating grass when he feels so inclined.

Another theory is that, in the wild, the normal diet of canids like wolves and foxes includes grass, whether they're actively seeking it out or eating herbivores. Because of this then, grass can also be considered a normal part of a dog's diet.

And yet another theory is a rather simple one. Dogs eat grass simply because they like it. In fact, there may be certain species of plants and grasses that are particularly appealing to dogs. Unless your dog is eating grass excessively, it's really not a concern and you needn't be worried about it.

How do I sex my pet rabbit?

Steve Coppell - Saturday, April 10, 2010

It can be very difficult to determine the sex of a young rabbit. Although the explanatin and the picture above will help you, it is best to have an experienced person show you how to sex rabbits of different ages.

To determin the sex of a rabbit

1/ Hold the rabbit on his/her back on your lap with the hind legs facing away from you. with a larger rabbit, you may want to hold the rabbit with his/her hind legs facing towards you. Placing a rabbit on his/her back will put the rabbit into a state almost like a trance. Rabbits still feel pain while in this position , and it should not be held this way for a prolonged period of time.
 2/ When first learning to sex a rabbit, it will be helpful if another person gently restrains the head of the rabbit while you use both hands to part the fur and apply gentle pressure on each side of the vent, which is the area including the anus and the genitals. Once you have more experience you can restrain the the rabbits head with one hand, and apply the gentle pressre with the other.

3/ While applying pressure to the vent area, you will see the anus, the opening closest to the tail.

4/ The opening farthest from the tail is the genitals.

In male rabbits, the penis will appear as a tubular protrusion. It is round in diameter, very light pink in young males, and has a rounded tip with a small round opening at its centre. In most bucks (male rabbits) older than 10 weeks, you will notice the testicles on each side and slightly cranial to the penis. They will feel like small mounds under the skin, and in older males, are not covered with fur. Bucks can withdraw the testicles into the abdomon, so even if you cannot feel the testicles, the rabbit may still be male.

When the gentle pressure is applied to the vent area of a doe (female rabbit), you will see a pink protrusion, but the protrusion is slanted, more oval, and has a slit verses a small round opening.

Other sexual differences in older rabbits
As rabbits age, more physical differences between the sexes will become apparent. Bucks have blockier heads and are smaller than does of the same breed. Most adult does of medium or large breeds will have a dewlap, which is the large fold of skin under their chins. Does have nipples, where as bucks do not. However the nipples may be difficult to find on a doe that has not had a litter. So, similar to the testicles in the males, even if you can not find the nipples on a rabbit, the rabbit could still be a doe.