Exotic Animal Care Center News
Here's an update of what we have been up to.
At the beginning of the summer, I actually took a REAL vacation. I traveled Italy for 2 weeks with my mother. It was amazing! I took over 700 pictures, and brought back some cool gifts.
No worries, no long vacations planned for a while! But I will be attending the annual exotics conference from October 18-24.
Earlier this summer, Exotic Animal Care Center had a table at the Birdmart at the Pomona Fairplex. We had a great time, saw many gorgeous birds, and got to meet many new bird people.
The end of summer brings us to another ending. Our beloved Dr. Stephanie Lamb has moved to Arizona to be closer to her family. Dr. Lamb was a talented and extremely compassionate part of our team, and her departure leaves us all very sad. EACC will be hiring a new veterinarian very soon, but these are hard shoes to fill. Dr. Margolin and I will be adjusting our schedules in September and October as follows:
Mondays: Dr. Kanfer & Dr. Margolin
Tuesdays: Dr. Kanfer
Wednesdays: Dr. Margolin
Thursdays: Dr. Kanfer - Surgery in morning
Fridays: Dr. Margolin - Surgery in morning
Saturdays: Dr. Kanfer
Mondays: Dr. Margolin
Tuesdays: Dr. Kanfer
Wednesdays: Dr. Kanfer - Surgery in morning
Thursdays: Dr. Margolin - Surgery in morning
Fridays: Dr. Kanfer
Saturdays: Dr. Kanfer
The end of summertime in California does not mean the end of the heat, so continue to be careful that your pets do not overheat. In addition, we have seen a few recent cases of fly strike and maggots in rabbits, so keep checking daily that those bunny butts stay clean, even on indoor bunnies.
Dr. Sari Kanfer
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|Dr. Kanfer and her mom Carole in Venice||Touring the Italian countryside in style!|
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|EACC at the Birdmart Birdshow||Dr. Lamb modeling a beautiful Italian mask|
Exotic Animal Care Adoptables
Ringo and Georgia are an adorable bonded pair, born March 2014. Both rabbits are healthy, with great personalities!
Marshmellow is a white Satin spayed 2 year old bunny that was dropped by a child and now cannot walk. She is very sweet and enjoys being petted. Marshy is looking for a loving home with a bunny parent that can spend time with her in her wheelchair.
Joey is a chill, 5 year old neutered male lop eared rabbit. He had his left rear leg amputated because he had a tumor on his foot. The surgery was curative, and he is completely healthy. Joey is very sweet and mellow, and would like a home with carpet for him to run around on.
Nickel is an adorable 2 year old neutered male rabbit. He is sweet and curious, likes to be petted and explore. He was given up by his owner who couldn't afford to treat his dental abscesses. We performed surgery to fix his abscesses, and going forward he will only require minor dental maintenance.
Thorn is a 2 year old neutered male rabbit. He came in emaciated and couldn't breathe. We were able to save him, and now he is fat & sassy! He will soon be having surgery to deal with his dental abscess.
Willow & Gladys: Willow is a 6 ½ year old neutered male brown lop-eared rabbit. He has E-cuniculi and developed headtilt last year. His illness has resolved, and now he just looks at life from a different angle. He is a nice bunny and loves to cuddle with his girlfriend Gladys. She is a completely healthy 5 ½ year old spayed female white rabbit.
Looking for a cuddle bunny? C.C. loves to be held and cradled like a baby. He is a neutered male born late in 2011 and was brought to Kanfer Rescue because his owners were unable to afford the amputation surgery required for his broken hind right leg. Kanfer Rescue performed the amputation and C.C. is ready to go to his forever home. He has proven himself to be a very laid-back bunny that loves to relax in your arms, upside down! He currently is a bachelor because he has not found his forever friend, but would be equally content remaining alone.
Zorro is a 4 year old gray neutered male dwarf rabbit with dental issues. He is very sweet and enjoys being petted as well as racing around and exploring. He just lost his bonded mate and is looking for a friend, if possible.
Sven is an 8 year old neutered male sugar glider. He lost his buddy several months ago and is lonely. His owner loves him and would like him to go to a home where he can have a friend.
Turtledove is an extremely cuddly bunny! She prefers to be held daily, as much as possible. She enjoys exploring and begging for attention. Turtledove is a 3 year old spayed female rabbit. She had a tooth root abscess that has been treated, and her dental issues are mild. If adopted, Turtledove's future costs of dental care will be heavily discounted. Turtle just wants someone to love her! And how can you resist those baby blue eyes!
Please call us at 626-405-1777 or email email@example.com if you are interested in any of the animals above.
Behavorial Issues and Redirecting Attention
By Dr. Stephanie Lamb, DVM
Behavioral problems are a common issue seen in companion avian species. These can manifest as feather plucking or chewing, self-mutilation, and screaming. Reproductive disorders may be encountered as well and can include excessive egg laying, masturbation, and cloacal prolapsing. When encountering these types of problems it's always best to have your bird be evaluated by a veterinarian as there are other medical disorders that can cause these signs. However, if behavioral causes have been incriminated as the source of the problem seen in your bird, there are important things to work on to help your bird resolve its issues.
An important place to start when discussing behavioral issues is to consider what is normal and natural. In the wild, birds perform a few basic behaviors during their waking hours. These include searching for and eating food, socializing, grooming, and performing reproductive tasks. Estimates vary but approximately 60% of this time is searching, or foraging, for food. One problem with captivity is that when we offer food in a dish the bird knows where the meal is at all times and does not have to work at all to find it. This means that 60% of their day looking for and eating food is reduced to only a small percentage of their day. Ultimately this means that birds will divert their attention to one of those other behaviors: socializing, grooming or reproducing. As these tasks take up more time they can turn into the above behavioral issues mentioned.
In order to deal with these behavioral issues, it is best to consult with an avian veterinarian in order to determine the root cause of the problem and develop a behavioral modification treatment plan. Often, part of the treatment plan will involve directing a bird's attention away from the problem behavior and focusing it on a more productive, acceptable behavior. This often involves getting the patient back to the more normal, natural behaviors. A great place to start is getting a bird to forage for its food. Other things to consider are offering interactive toys and trick training. Each of these will be discussed in turn.
To review, foraging is defined as the act of searching for and exploiting food resources. We can make our birds do this in captivity by hiding food throughout the cage in multiple places. There are many ways that this can be done but it is important to know that the bird must be taught how to forage. Owners can start this with their birds by first covering up the food in the regular dish with some sort of easily removable barrier, such as a tissue or piece of paper. The bird has to remove the object to get to the food. Once they figure this out, the next step is to wrap pieces of the food up in paper so that they have to rip into the paper to get the food.
Once a bird recognizes that its food is stashed inside of these pieces of paper, you can start to move these to different parts of the cage. It's best to start by hanging them close to the food dish. As the bird starts to get the hang of things, the food-filled paper objects can be moved to different locations all over the cage. People will next often ask how they are supposed to hang these things around the cage. There are many ways this can be done, but one way is to place the items inside of specially designed or homemade foraging toys.
There are many commercial foraging toys available that you can find through a variety of sources (www.Caitec.com, www.drsfostersmith.com, www.mysafebirdstore.com, petsmart, petco, etc.). They are often made of plastic and can be used again and again, or are made of destructible material and can be used until the bird decides to completely tear them apart. I recommend having a few of each, especially the plastic ones, since they can be used more than a single time. You can also make foraging toys at home out of cardboard objects like cereal boxes or paper towel rolls. For each foraging system, only put a small amount of food in each toy so they have to work hard to get a small reward. This causes them to want to keep searching and looking for more items to eat.
One additional recommendation I make is that you purchase several commercial foraging toys but only use a few at a time. This way, once a bird has figured a toy out well, you can switch it to a new one so they are not bored. Rotating through these toys keeps their mind stimulated. Use a new homemade foraging toy on a daily basis so there is always something new and exciting to destroy every day! There are many ways to make a bird forage and it's important to know that the limit of what you can do is your own imagination!
Another tip for directing a bird's attention away from unhealthy behaviors is to offer toys that it can interact with. Offering different colors, textures and toy types are important. Some are meant to be destroyed while others are puzzle-like. Some are quite intricate and require more complex thought while interacting with. Other toys make stimulating sounds or even talk to the bird when they press a button. It is important to note that toys should be rotated, just like foraging systems, in order to keep a bird interested and always thinking! Also, people will often get upset when a bird destroys a toy and they need to buy a new one. The fact is this is what birds do. They destroy things and it is natural and normal for them to do this. If toys are getting too expensive you can always make things from materials around the house. Pieces of cardboard, toilet paper rolls, rope, bottle corks, and plastic bottle caps can all function as toys if presented in an appropriate manner.
Trick training is another way to get a birds mind off of problem behaviors and on to something more acceptable. As everyone knows, parrots are smart! Learning new things keeps their minds sharp and stimulated. Also, training tricks can be fun for owners! Most birds know the command "step up" but there are many other things you can teach a bird to do on command. Examples of things to teach a bird include how to wave, turn around, and spread their wings. Many other fun tricks can be taught and more ideas can be found in bird magazines or on popular websites like You-Tube.
Ultimately, all these recommendations are focused on one goal: that the bird is given something productive and stimulating to do with its free time during the day. These tasks can dissuade a bird from problem behaviors and get them focused on healthy, purposeful ones. This can lead to reduced stress, a calmer bird and ultimately a happier and healthier life! One last thing to mention is that all these topics discussed don't have to be thought of as treatment options, they can be thought of as preventative measures. A young, middle aged, or older bird who doesn't have any behavioral issues can also be taught these tasks in order to prevent behavioral issues, and also relieve boredom and have a happy, healthy, well-adjusted life.
Free Rabbit Care Seminars at EACC
Download the flyer to see the remaining rabbit care seminars brought to you by EACC and Dr. Stephanie Lamb and Zooh Corner Rabbit Rescue. (Yes, Dr. Lamb will be driving from Arizona to finish the rest of the seminar series!) The next seminar is Sunday, September 21, and the topic will be Common Rabbit Diseases and Illnesses. Click on the following link to RSVP.
We have videotaped these seminars and you can view them on YouTube by clicking on the following link.
AVIAN ANNOYANCES: FEATHER-PLUCKING AND SELF-MUTILATION
By Tiffany Margolin, DVM, Dipl ABVP Avian, NAET Cert
Feather-plucking and self-mutilation are two of the most frustrating conditions for an avian veterinarian, the owner, and the birds themselves. The onset of feather plucking can be surprisingly rapid, and is one of the most disturbing and troubling problems bird owners can encounter. Your little friend may become unfeathered in a matter of one night!
Self-mutilation, as opposed to feather-plucking, is a life-threatening disorder. It is most common among cockatoos and lovebirds, although the problem can affect members of other species as well. Self-mutilators will chew into their own flesh, typically causing the most severe damage to the pectoral (chest) muscle, but damage can occur anywhere on the body. While feather-picking diminishes aesthetics and causes anxiety for the bird owner, self-mutilation can result in massive blood loss and death.
The phrase "feather-plucking" ranges from over-preening and chewing to complete removal of all body feathers within reach. Feather-plucking does not occur in the wild, where birds must spend time seeking food, avoiding predators, mating, and breeding and rearing their babies. In captivity, they do not have these survival tasks to keep them occupied and out of trouble. The most common species affected by feather-plucking are the African grey, eclectus and lovebirds. The temperament of these birds, their bonding behaviors and anxiety levels all contribute to the problem.
Often this problem will go on for several months, or even several years, before a bird is finally brought into the clinic. Owners frequently think that it may just be a "phase" that will hopefully resolve itself. Unfortunately, the longer the problem is allowed to go on, the more factors contribute to it and the more difficult, if not impossible, it is to resolve.
Feather-plucking seldom has a single cause. It is important to realize that once a parrot has begun this activity, it may never be completely controlled.
While it is easy to assume medical causes for mutilation of skin and feathers, it is not always a good first step towards resolution. I am often asked by pet owners, "Is he just stressed, doctor?" There is no way to answer that simple question without gathering medical and behavioral information. By doing so, we can see the "big picture." Medical causes include, but are not limited to:
Nutritional deficiencies (diet)
Organic disease such as liver and pancreatic disease
External parasites (uncommon)
Toxins - heavy metal
It is vital that your feather-plucking friend receive a thorough workup to rule out any underlying physical causes for the problem. Tests may include blood testing, x-rays, skin/follicle biopsies and other diagnostic procedures ordered by your avian veterinarian. Subtle physical changes may not be detected, but it is important that this step be completed.
Hormone levels can, and often will, play a role in feather chewing, plucking and sometimes self-mutilation. The increased levels of reproductive hormones in captive, non-breeding pet birds often create agitation and frustration which is then turned inward. Currently, there are no sufficient avian laboratory tests to measure hormone levels. Your vet must use the history you provide and the behavior of your parrot to determine if hormones are playing a role. If a hormonal cause is found, there are safe and effective treatments available.
Once a thorough inspection for medical causes is completed, avian veterinarians typically look for upsetting behavioral and environmental situations that result in anxiety for your bird. These may include, but are not limited to: creating a schedule when they are young (and then abandoning it), leaving town, adding or removing members of a household (animals or humans), cuddling frequently and then changing cuddle behaviors or time spent with your bird, moving the cage, and decreasing contact or play time. Less important causes include too few or incorrect toys and perches of the wrong size or material.
Some measures that you can take to prevent feather-plucking from the beginning are:
- Socialize the baby bird to everyone in the household.
- Do not cuddle or highly bond the bird to you (you may pet its head and allow it to sit on your arm, but do not continuously massage over the back or under wings.)
- Do not create a strict routine of feeding times and times out of the cage. Vary this routine from the outset. If you travel frequently, you should allow the young parrot to become used to periods without your direct contact or attention.
- Have approximately four to eight toys in the cage (depending on the size of the bird) and rotate the toys in and out every four to six weeks.
- Use foraging cups or toys, providing small amounts of food in multiple locations in the cage. This encourages food-seeking behavior and minimizes boredom. It works best if you do not place a large amount of food in any one bowl.
- If you know you can do this for the lifetime of your parrot, learn some training and games to play with him daily.
- Become well informed about the correct nutrition and care for your bird in order to avoid diet deficiencies.
Because diet and nutrition play a significant role in the prevention of disease, it is critical to get started on the right foot with your feathered friend. Although there is some variation among the species, the main tenants of feeding parrots are as follows:
- Minimal to no seed. The exception here is the cockatiel, in which 30 to 40 percent seed appears to be better than an all-pellet diet.
- A base diet of a complete, organic whole food. I recommend Harrison's Bird food.
- A sprouted legume mixture, often sold at quality bird stores.
- Fresh or steamed vegetables daily.
- Minimum amounts of fruit.
- Avoid nuts (especially peanuts) except in the large macaw species.
- Avoid overfeeding high-carbohydrate vegetables such as corn or mashed potatoes.
- An absorbable calcium supplement.
- Direct sunlight at least seven hours a week or a bird light. Sunlight through windows or screens does not count. This is in the diet section because sunlight is critical for vitamin D production. Without vitamin D, your bird cannot absorb other vital nutrients from its diet.
Further discussion of methods and medications to control feather mutilation is, unfortunately, beyond the scope of this article. It varies greatly from bird to bird. Achieving a resolution to feather-plucking and self-mutilation will often require working closely and frequently with your avian veterinarian. It can be a long and frustrating road, so be patient. If you have the opportunity to consult with an avian behaviorist, do so before the problem begins. It is well worth the effort.
Dr. Tiffany Margolin may be reached at Exotic Animal Care Center on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. She helps bird owners throughout Southern California and may also be reached at (800)403-2941.
Mark Your Calendars!
Los Angeles Rabbit Foundation Ebony and Ivory Special Adoption Event
Saturday, September 13, 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.
A special Saturday rabbit adoption and care venue featuring black rabbits and white rabbits, the "unadoptables" of the rabbit rescue world. Centinela Feed & Pet Supplies, 3860 Centinela, Los Angeles, CA 90066
Upcoming Free Rabbit Care Seminars held at EACC
September 21, 2014- Common Rabbit Illnesses and Diseases
November 16, 2014- Elderly Rabbits and Disabled Rabbits
Download event flyer for more information!
Bunny Bunch Bunny Expo 2014
Sunday, October 5, 12:00 to 5:00 p.m.
Download the flyer for Bunny Expo 2014
Dr. Kanfer will be speaking
Why Do I Have to Feed My Pet That?
by Dr. Sari Kanfer, DVM
What you feed your pets can directly affect their health. Humans can choose what they eat, but our pets are dependent upon the food that we give them. For dogs and cats there are numerous brands and food types to choose from, and the major pet food companies have extensively researched dog and cat dietary requirements to create diets to help pets live longer, healthier lives. They have also created special diets that help with treating certain medical conditions.
In the world of exotic pets, it is not so easy. There are herbivores that eat vegetation, carnivores that eat whole prey/meat, and omnivores that need to eat a combination of vegetation and meat. In the bird world there are herbivores (ducks, geese), carnivores (raptors), and omnivores (crows, jays), but there are also granivores (grain eaters, parrots, pigeons, doves), frugivores (fruit eaters, hornbills), and nectar eaters (lorikeets). Most mammals are either herbivores (guinea pigs, rabbits), omnivores (rats, pet pigs), or carnivores (ferrets), but there are also insectivores (hedgehogs) and nectar eaters (sugar gliders). Then in the reptile world, we also have herbivores (tortoises and some turtles, some lizards), omnivores/insectivores (lizards, some turtles), and carnivores (snakes, some lizards). With such a wide variety of animals and several different categories of nutritional requirements, it can be challenging to feed your pet the proper diet.
At the pet store you may see bags of food labelled specifically for your species of choice. In the wild, natural state, most exotic pets eat a very varied diet, depending on the season and location. It is difficult to replicate that diet fully in a simple pelleted form that can be fed exclusively. Extensive research has been performed on the needs of many bird species, and the pelleted diets by Harrison, Roudybush, and Lafeber's are as complete as possible to satisfy each species dietary requirements. But in the wild birds spend hours foraging to look for food, so we recommend giving them interactive toys to help satisfy their foraging and mental needs.
Herbivores have naturally developed to survive on a nutrient poor, high fiber diet, so that they must eat huge amounts of vegetation to take in enough nutrients. Think of a horse grazing all day. Rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, and tortoises also have the drive to graze most of the day on grass and hay. The diets of rabbits and guinea pigs have been researched to provide complete nutrition in a pelleted formula. But those pelleted diets were initially created for use with laboratory, breeder, and livestock rabbits and guinea pigs in mind, animals that only live a year or a few years. Newer pelleted diets, such as those from Oxbow, are geared toward a longer lived, healthier pet. In addition, it has been discovered that rabbits, guinea pigs and chinchillas can develop problems when they are fed only pellets and no additional source of fiber like hay. Rabbits especially develop dental problems and intestinal slowdown. This has resulted in the current recommendations for rabbits, guinea pigs, and chinchillas to eat a very small amount of pellets, with a very large amount of hay, and for variety their diet can be supplemented with a small amount of leafy greens each day.
Herbivorous reptiles may not eat as much vegetation as a mammal, but they do require high quality greens that are higher in calcium, like kale, chard, collard and mustard greens. Herbivorous reptiles may not receive enough calcium in their diet and need to be supplemented, especially if it is a female laying eggs. In addition, reptiles require the UVB rays of sunlight to supply them with vitamin D, which allows them to absorb the calcium in their diet. When herbivorous lizards or turtles don't receive calcium and UVB rays while growing, they will have soft, malformed bones, and may not survive. A pelleted diet alone would be insufficient for an herbivorous reptile.
Omnivorous reptiles, mammals and birds are easier to feed a variety of foods, and they are less likely to develop nutritional problems. The pelleted diets for turtles may be sufficient, but we still recommend supplementing with fresh greens and insects. Pet pigs can get overweight on a pelleted diet, so it is best to feed them a human type vegetarian diet, with very small amounts of pellets, and their protein coming from plant based sources, such as tofu and beans. Pigs on a vegetarian diet tend to live well into their teens.
Carnivorous animals such as snakes, raptors, and some lizards are fed whole prey, from mice and rats to larger prey animals. This is the closest to a natural diet for these species as we can get. Plus eating a whole prey animal provides 100% of nutrients. Cats and ferrets are the mammals we most commonly keep as pets that are strict carnivores. When we feed them a formulated diet, dry or wet food, instead of a whole prey animal, it is more challenging for us to completely replicate their natural diet. But it is hard for people who love fuzzy critters, to feed fuzzy critters to them.
Cats that roam outdoors may eat rodents and birds, which is very healthy for them. But indoor cats and pet ferrets rely upon the food we feed them. Many years ago, the cat food manufacturers learned that they had to add amino acids such as taurine and arginine to cat diets, or they would develop diseases. In addition, some of the earlier, cheaper dry cat foods contained more minerals, and affected the pH of the cats' urine, leading many cats to develop crystals and stones in their bladder. For ferrets there are diets that have been created for them that are very high in protein while still providing them with the amino acids they require. Similarly to cats, diet can affect their urine and lead to crystals and painful stone formation. One ferret diet still on the shelves, Zupreem grain-free ferret diet, has been linked in several cases over the past few years in causing cysteine bladder stones in ferrets.
How can you determine if you are feeding your exotic pet a proper diet that will keep it healthy and help it live a long life? Talk with your experienced exotic pet veterinarian and get involved with rescuers and other people that share your love for your pet. The internet has many rescue groups and animal lovers you can get information from. But beware, not everything you read on the internet is true. Check the source: is it a person trying to sell you food, or an animal, or is it a highly respected and experienced veterinarian that has devoted their life to exotic pets? If many different people are agreeing on the same thing, then it is more likely to be true. For exotic pets, the best thing is a diet that most closely reflects what that animal would be eating in the wild.
Our Very Own Scooty Puff Has Gone Viral!!!
Back in July, Scooty Puff and her mom, Laura McClellan, were featured on a local television station in Spartansburg, Virginia. Click here to watch the television clip.
BIG THANK YOU FROM BIG MAMA THE CHICKEN
Guess who is ALL BETTER! Yes, FINALLY she is over this whateverthehellitwas infection. She is blind in that eye now but alive and kicking!
You were not kidding when you said it would take a long time. This started in the middle of May. NOW she is in the middle of molting madness. HAH!
Thank you Dr. Tiffany!
Prescriptions and Prescription Refills
In order for us to serve you better and have your prescription ready on time, please give us 24 hours notice on all prescriptions and prescription refills. Thank you for your cooperation!
Donations to EACC
We occasionally admit 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 always 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!
We are in need of new or gently used towels, of any size, at the clinic. If you are able to make a towel donation we would very much appreciate it! We use them many times a day, for appointments, grooming, and inside the enclosures of pets that are staying for the day at the clinic.
WE VALUE YOUR COMMENTS!
There is a comment box at our reception desk. Please feel free to write down your comments, suggestions, or feedback for us. We are always looking for ways to improve ourselves to better serve you and your pets.
Thank You For Letting Us Take Care of Your Exotic Pets!
2121 E. Foothill Blvd.