Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Parrots and other pets

Customers ask me all the time, is it okay to have birds and other pets too? In most circumstances, sure! I have three dogs in addition to my pet parrots. The dog most trustworthy with my parrots is my german shorthair pointer - a bird dog! Almost all of my other parrot friends have dogs, cats, etc. in addition to their birds. I have found that parrot lovers are animal lovers too so there is usually a few four legged critters running around their homes.

You know your dog/cat better than anyone. So you will be the ultimate judge of whether a bird would be safe with your other pets or not. Here are a few things you should consider if you have dogs/cats and are considering bringing a parrot into the house.

1. What is the age of your dog/cat? Puppies and kittens are more rambunctious than adults and more inquisitive. If you have a 80 lb. labrador puppy bounding about the house or a kitten climbing the curtains, perhaps you should wait until the animal is more mature and settled before bringing in a feathered friend.

2. Predatory instincts. Some pets just cannot be trusted, period. Others are more laid back. Terrier breeds for example tend to be more predatory and more diligence will be required to keep your bird safe if you own such a dog. As I stated above, I own three dogs. My german shorthair pointer, a "bird dog" is the one I trust the most around my birds. He has a gentle personality, is well trained, and understands the birds in the house are off limits. My two small dogs (chihuhua and chihuaha/rat terrier mix) are not nearly as trustworthy.

3. How obedient are your animals? If you say "no" or "leave it" to your dog, does he listen? Cats that aren't too predatory can be discouraged with a few well timed squirts with a squirt bottle. Some people will put their animals in another room when the bird is out to be safe. Again, you have to know your animals and decide what is the best course of action to keep your bird safe when he is out.

4. Size of the bird. Smaller birds are more flighty/active and their motion tends to attract dogs/cats more. Larger birds such as amazons, african greys, macaws, etc. are a bit more intimidating in their size and stature. A cat is much more likely to go after a parakeet than a blue & gold macaw!

5. Funny story. My black headed caique was out on the hamper in the bathroom while I was getting dressed. My cat had wandered in to see what I was doing. She walked by the hamper where the bird was with her tail sticking up. The caique couldn't resist that tail swinging in her face and promptly chomped down! No problems with the cat and bird after that LOL!! I certainly would not recommend this approach though.

6. Be mindful that dog and cat saliva is toxic to birds. If your dog/cat gets a hold of your bird, take it to an avian vet ASAP for a check up and antibiotics. Even though the bird may look okay, just a small amount of saliva can cause serious problems. I had one customer who's dog got a hold of their bird and everything seemed okay. Two days later the bird became very sick and died. :-(

7. Reptiles are another issue. Remember, in the wild snakes eat birds and their eggs. It can be very disconcerting to your bird to be housed where it has to look at a giant snake all day! Also, wash your hands thoroughly before handling your bird after handling reptiles. Another consideration is safety. If your reptile escapes, can it get into your bird's cage? You'd be surprised the tiny spaces that a large snake can squeeze through. It is best to house reptiles and birds in seperate secure areas.

8. Caging. The large wrought iron cages built for larger birds are very sturdy. It would be difficult for a dog/cat to knock them over. But the smaller parakeet/canary type cages are not as strong and will need to be in a safe place when humans are not around to supervise.

These are just a few helpful tips to make you think when you bring a new feathered companion into your home with other animals. I have found that usually everyone settles in quickly and it takes just a little diligence on the part of the humans to keep things safe for the bird.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Let It Snow!

Our little caique was intrigued at the snow falling outside yesterday! Yes, that's right. Snow in Texas! We had quite a bit too, enough to cover everything in a beautiful blanket of white. It's rare we actually get snow that sticks around here so when it happens it is quite the event LOL! The cool weather stuck around until this morning (it was 25 degrees this AM), but temperatures have crept back up today and things are getting back to normal for this time of year. Enjoy the pictures!