Exotic Animal Care Center News
 November/December 2010

Dear Friends,

As the holidays arrive, there are often more hazards to our family pets. We all have to be careful to keep our pets safe from eating Halloween chocolates, nibbling Poinsettia, chewing Christmas lights and wires, and swallowing small toys and trinkets.

We should also remember those less fortunate. Everyone has their own chosen charity. Mine is offering high quality veterinary medicine to homeless exotic pets. So many rabbits, rodents and other exotic pets enter the shelter system, where employees are inexperienced in caring for species other than dogs and cats. So I help out as much as possible, like performing an eye enucleation surgery for a bunny at the Irvine shelter, amputating a badly fractured leg on a bunny from the San Gabriel Valley shelter, and repairing a congenital eye defect on a guinea pig from LA Pet Rescue. In addition to shelter animals, I frequently help the following rescue groups care for their foster pets: Bunny Bunch, Zooh Corner Rabbit Rescue, LA Pet Rescue (Guinea Pigs), Ferrets Anonymous, Bunny World Foundation, and others. During this season of giving, I ask you to help needy exotic pets. Please donate money, supplies or your time to any of the mentioned rescue groups.

Thank you for your continued support,

Dr. Sari Kanfer
Halloween at EACC 

We decided to decorate the hospital and dress up to celebrate the occasion. From angels to demons, witches to kitties, we had a good time. Some may prefer a sedate and professional environment, but I wanted to create an environment where people and pets feel comfortable and relaxed. Where people want to visit, and staff members enjoy working. We may have fun, but we are able to put it away to concentrate on sick pets and give them personalized and high quality veterinary care. 


Come See Dr. Kanfer...


Zooh Corner Hoppy Holidays Bunny Boutique Saturday, November 20 from 12 to 5 at Highlander Pet Center. Dr. Kanfer will be available for your questions at the event. 

  Animals for Adoption at EACC!

At times, our clients find themselves unprepared to treat a pet that has developed a major illness. We offer to take in these pets, treat the illness and nurse them back to health out of our own pockets. When the pet has recovered we find it a new home. Since our hospital opened last March we have taken in and treated a bearded dragon that wasn't eating, a large snake with a severe infection, several sick guinea pigs, a few injured pigeons and a blue jay, baby squirrels and a raccoon, a blind water turtle that needs to be hand fed, a desert tortoise with a chewed up foot, a baby rabbit attacked by a cat, two rabbits with fractured legs, a cottontail bitten by a dog, and a few others. In order to continue our quest to help these animals we need your help. Donations are much appreciated. We also need to find homes for some of our rehabilitated and homeless animals.  Please click here to view some of the animal photos.

         Chlorine:  A red eared slider water turtle, found at Cal Tech. She had head trauma and is now blind. But, she still swims and suns herself, and appears happy. She needs to be hand fed a few days a week, but it's fun to feed her and she loves to eat her little shrimps!

          Cal Tech: Another red ear slider, also found at Cal Tech, with minor shell trauma. Because she is a non-native species, she really shouldn't be released into the wild. She doesn't have any special needs, she just needs a good home.

         Olyphant: A 50 year old California desert tortoise, he had his rear foot damaged by a Rottweiler. He is recovering from surgery and looking for a good home. He is accustomed to living outdoors and definitely prefers being outside. 

      4 SINGLE guinea pigs for adoption.  Scooter and Max, males both about 1.5 years old, shy.  Ethel and Pixel, about 1.5 years old, females, very sweet. 
         Loki:  A male neutered rabbit, reddish tan in color, he was abandoned at Dr. Domotor's Animal House as a baby, with both rear legs fractured. He is very healthy and sweet, and is eager to get a girlfriend. He flirts with and grooms whatever rabbits are penned nearby.

        Isis:  Also abandoned at Domotor's, Isis is a healthy spayed female rabbit, reddish tan, about 2 years old. She is outgoing and friendly. She is a medium sized rabbit with big feet.       
         Peanut:  If you want a cute older bunny that thinks the litter box is just there to hold the hay, then Peanut is for you. He is a 7 year old, neutered brown dwarf with those cute little ears. He was a classroom bunny until his left eye was injured. It healed with a scar, but he doesn't notice.
         Rosebud: She survived Santee Alley and bottle feeding, then was attacked by a cat. Her back was broken, she was in shock and had a bad wound on her head but she survived! Because she was so young and the back injury was so far down her back, she has completely recovered. She races back and forth at high speed, and loves to perch on top of a box. She is about 7-8 months old, and is an adorable petite little white bunny with red eyes.
         Petie: Is he really up for adoption? If the right person came along, that could give him the care he needs. Petie is an 8 year old neutered black and white rex rabbit who is an ex-classroom pet.  He has a spinal injury and can't use his hind legs. He needs his bladder expressed twice a day, and needs his butt bathed and shaved regularly. What he really needs is someone to spend time cuddling him and perhaps even get him into a bunny wheelchair.          

Please call us at 626-405-1777 or email Kim if you are interested in any of the animals above. 

Cal TechPetielokLoki
photosPhotos of Animals for Adoption



Contributions to EACC

We are always getting in local wildlife that needs our help and in these cases, EACC pays for the care and medications to make these animals well again.  Additionally, we have a few individuals who are struggling to cover their EACC bills, as well as rescue organizations whose bills mount up quickly helping rescued and homeless animals.

If you have a few dollars or more to spare, EACC welcomes donations to help cover the costs of care for these animals.  We appreciate any help you can give.  Thank you!

Bunny Bunch SPCR Adoptions at Unleashed In Monrovia

Monrovia is one of the lucky cities to now have "Unleashed" by Petco.  The big plus that this new chain of stores offers is that no animals are sold in the store.  It does carry a more natural, healthy variety of cat and dog food, and lots of pet supplies.

Unleashed will be the host to many animal rescue groups and will have a variety of cats and dog groups.  The Bunny Bunch  will be there every Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. with rabbits, chinchillas, guinea pigs, rats and hamsters for adoption.  The Bunny Bunch will also be offering bunny dating, free care information, free nail trims and scent gland cleaning.  For more information email caroline@thebunnybunch.org or call (909) 591-7200.  The address for Unleashed is 614 W. Huntington Drive in Monrovia.

Bird Brains: Creating the Mindful Parrot
by Dr. Tiffany Margolin, ABVP-Avian, NAET and VOM Certified

When you think, "birdbrain," that rarely conjures up pictures of soaring intellect.  Most likely often you might be throwing out a caustic comment about one of your friends or colleagues.  So many of us have birds as pets, and companions, but did you know a parrot has the developed mind of a three- or four-year-old child?  Forever.  Which means they never grow out of that stage for the 30 to 50 years they may live! 


It is essential to know some things about your bird's brain in order to save both his and your sanity.  The actions you take when acquiring a new bird will set the tone for your life together.  To be sure that you are starting with a healthy parrot, find a qualified avian veterinarian who will counsel you and conduct appropriate testing.  Any behavioral issue may be a sign of underlying disease, and cannot be addressed without first resolving the illness. Just the other day one of my favorite clients, Judy, brought in one of my least favorite patients, Rowdy, her oversized scarlet macaw.

This bird had been chewing on itself and was naked over the front of his neck.  "Please fix his stress disorder, Doctor, I'm so frustrated and I know if he could just calm down..."  Some requests for psychotropic drugs followed.  I evaluated Rowdy and ordered some medical testing before jumping into sedating drug therapy. It turned out that he had an infection of his crop, a food storage organ located in the right region of the neck.  In this case Rowdy was simply trying to point out the problem to his human caretakers.  We resolved the infection and never had to use psychotropic drugs.



Treating a young bird like a child may seem like a good idea at the time, but it can lead to problems that may be irreversible.  Just as with children, those first few months together are the most impressionable period for your little feathered friend.  If you allow a young parrot to sleep in your bed (not as uncommon as it sounds!), there are several risks.  You may actually roll over and hurt your own pet.  He/she may nip and hurt you.  If this bird is carrying a transmittable disease, you may be putting yourself at risk.  As your parrot ages, it can become territorial and aggressive about its "space" in the bed.  This often results in a severe bite wound to YOU.

One good option for large species is to have an exercise cage and a sleep cage.  Polly will feel secure in a smaller cage at night, one that may be covered to promote rest.  During the day you can have several perching areas or a large  cage in which a parrot can fully stretch its wings and easily flap around.  You may have all of these options available.  It is critical that none of the perches or tree stands puts your bird in a position above your head or chest level.  If they are routinely perched this high, aggression and dominance will develop towards you and other family members.  This will be explained later in the "dominance" section.  A very important point to remember is that you NEVER leave the cage door open, allowing your bird to enter and exit at will.  This specifically teaches them that they are the authority in the household, and they will become very territorial about both the inside and the outside of their own cage.  If this has not happened yet, it will.  Although it may be convenient right now not to have to get up to let the bird out or place them onto a perch stand, it is even more inconvenient not to be able to reach into the cage without being bitten or challenged.

In many households people teach their birds to take food directly from a human mouth.  You may be saying, "gross!" but it is done in a lot of households.  This can lead to problems for both you and your feathered friend.  Since birds naturally produce very little saliva, they have very few bacteria in their mouths naturally.  Humans, on the other hand, have some of the most polluted mouths to be found in nature!  You may unwittingly transmit a bacterial infection to your trusting pet.  In addition, this "beaking" behavior is recognized as such by your parrot, and if he/she decides to beak you back, your soft vulnerable skin is no match for that bite. 

Another controversial subject is that of wing trimming.  Should you allow your parrot to learn to fly?  Should they have a "baby trim"? What is the right thing to do for your bird? My advice is to allow a young bird to gain balance skills and practice early flight skills, and after that occurs, start with a modified (partial) trim.  You MUST see an experienced avian veterinarian to help with this transition.  If a parrot is trimmed too severely at too early an age, they can injure themselves by falling to the floor while trying to fly.  This may cause a bird to lose confidence and remain timid and fearful. Work closely with your avian veterinarian as soon as you bring your new "baby" home, and both of you will be happier.



The first year or two of life for a psittacine are like the early months of your child's life.  No hormones have kicked in yet.  When birds were captured out of the wild and brought into captivity, the young did not reach sexual maturity until three to five years of age (large parrot species).  Since the advent of domestic breeding and all of the manmade diets fed to growing birds, and with artificial light cycles created by indoor illumination, parrots are reaching puberty as early as one year of age.  This brings with it a multitude of problems.  Just like its human counterpart, the teenage bird will start to rebel, test bite, and challenge previously respected boundaries.

Some of you may say, " but Doctor, he's NEVER bitten anybody...he certainly doesn't bite ME," about your eight-month old parrot. Typically, as the medium to large bird (Amazon, cockatoo, macaw, eclectus, African grey, etc.) nears puberty, all sorts of interesting and not so pleasant behaviors emerge.  Often this starts with "test biting"-i.e. reaching out to administer a fairly gentle bite.  Your reaction to this is critical in determining what happens next.

When a bird is first test biting, it is just that.  They are checking for both stability and status.  If you continue pushing your hand towards them and give the command, "Step up," your pet will assume you are not afraid, are also a stable perch, and will step up on your hand.  On the contrary, if you pull back in fear, the next nips will be harder as Polly learns to take the lead and dominate you.


Another frequently encountered problem is allowing your bird to walk the floor of the house.  It may be easier or more convenient to do this, but it will lead to disaster.  As a large bird is allowed to freely get down from a cage or perch stand and walk where they want to (usually to where you are), they assume "ownership" of the entire house.  This results in chasing and biting family members' feet and generally terrorizing the humans in the household.  If you never allow the bird to come down, but rather make him wait until you come get him, using the command "step up," this puts you in the position of leader of the flock.  When a bird steps down onto a perch, use the command "step down," as a reminder that you are making the calls.


In addition, another inconvenient truth is that you should not allow shoulder perching at all.  "What???? How do I do the dishes/clean/check e-mail with my bird?" You ask.  Well, if it's worth a body part like your nose, lip or flesh of your cheek, then have at it.  But most people like their faces arranged just the way they are.  So please keep that large feathered friend on your forearm, below your head, on a perch stand (below the level of your head), or INSIDE the cage.  Remember not to allow Polly to exit and enter the cage on his own terms.



Many, many, MANY behavioral problems stem from inappropriate bonding to you.  This means your parrot sees you as a MATE, not an owner or flock leader.  Things that create this include heavy cuddling, petting over the back- especially toward the tail- and scratching up under the wings .  Yes, I realize those of you with cockatoos just cringed or yelled out an expletive.  However, I assure you this will result in mate-bonded behaviors that are detrimental to your bird.  These include regurgitating, masturbation and possible prolapsing cloaca, abnormal egg-laying and egg-binding.  If that hasn't happened yet, consider yourself lucky.  Obviously, the problems are worse with a female parrot.  But males can also have cloacal problems from being mate-bonded to owners.  They can be so stimulated that they push out rectal-type tissue; this condition, if recurrent, is life-threatening.



-Treat your baby bird like BIRD, not a human being

-Do not allow your feathered pet to sleep in the bed with you

-Start wing trimming at a few months of age, after balance is obtained.

-No shoulder perching!

-Do not feed from your mouth to your bird's beak

-No floor walking allowed

-The cage door is kept closed and you remove and place your pet on a separate play stand

-No high perches (above family members' heads), including top of cage

-Avoid heavy cuddling and petting over back

-Avoid feeding by hand after one year of age (stimulates mate bonding)

If you pay attention to these simple rules, you will subtly establish a hierarchy with you at the top, and you will less biting and bad behavior to contend with later in life.  Here's wishing you many happy years together!




Happy Thanksgiving from EACC!

Thank You for Supporting Exotic Animal Care Center!  We truly appreciate you and your precious pets!

2121 E. Foothill Blvd.
Pasadena, California 91107