Category Archives: Tech Talk

Caring For Your New Reptile

Your new reptile can be a great addition to the family. Since they are cold -blooded, they depend on their environment for all their comforts and needs. Here are some tips to help your new relationship get off to a great start:

MAKE SURE TO KNOW HOW TO PROPERLY CARE FOR YOUR PET. CONSULT A REPTILE VETERINARIAN ON:

        • Choosing the right cage ensuring the proper size and substrate.

            • The preferred optimal temperature range (POTR) that your reptile requires

                • What is an appropriate diet for your reptile; and does it change as they mature

                    • How to provide humidity/water. For aquatic reptiles, ensure the water is properly cared for.

                        • The lighting and UVB requirements for your pet

                      your new reptileWE RECOMMEND SCHEDULING A NEW ADOPTION EXAMINATION WITH A REPTILE VETERINARIAN. THESE VISITS ARE IMPORTANT TO ALLOW THE VETERINARIAN TO HELP YOU WITH THE TOPICS ABOVE AND FOLLOWING:

                                  • A reptile’s body systems are closely related to the conditions of its environment. Ensuring proper husbandry is extremely important. The Veterinarian will work with you to make sure your reptile’s care and needs are optimized to ensure a healthy, long life.


                                            • Reptiles show illness in very subtle ways. Regular examinations will help to detect these conditions before they may be outwardly apparent to pet owners.


                                                      • As your reptile ages, its environmental and dietary needs may change. The Veterinarian can guide you through these transitions.


                                                                • It is difficult to perfectly mimic a reptile’s diet in the wild. Supplementation is often needed. The Veterinarian can explain what your new reptile may need and signs to look for that may show nutrient deficiencies.


                                                              IN ADDITION TO REGULAR WELLNESS VISITS,

                                                              YOUR NEW REPTILE SHOULD ALSO BE SEEN BY THE VETERINARIAN IF YOU NOTICE ANY OF THESE SIGNS:

                                                                    • Diarrhea or change in eliminations

                                                                        • Decreased appetite

                                                                            • Quivering or muscle tremors

                                                                                • Any swelling, especially on the limbs or around the face/head

                                                                                    • Decrease or change in activity level

                                                                                  PLEASE CALL ANIMAL HOSPITAL OF DAUPHIN COUNTY TO SCHEDULE YOUR NEW ADOPTION EXAM AT 717-652-1270

                                                                                  Caring For Your New Pocket Pet

                                                                                   

                                                                                  Pocket pets include rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, chinchillas, mice, rats, hamsters, gerbils, and the list goes on and on. Don’t let their small size fool you; they are a big responsibility! Here are some tips to help your new relationship get off to a great start:

                                                                                  MAKE SURE TO KNOW HOW TO PROPERLY CARE FOR YOUR PET. CONSULT A VETERINARIAN ON:

                                                                                    • Choosing the right cage ensuring the proper size, material, and substrate.

                                                                                    • Knowing of any specific requirements for your pet. For example: dust baths for chinchillas, vitamin C for guinea pigs

                                                                                    • Choosing a balanced diet for your pet that will meet its nutritional requirements without overfeeding.

                                                                                    • Ensuring that your pet receives appropriate exercise and stimulation to keep them fit and healthy.

                                                                                    • Learning about your new pet’s delicate GI tract. A healthy GI tract is essential to a pocket pet’s survival.


                                                                                  WE RECOMMEND SCHEDULING A NEW ADOPTION EXAMINATION WITH A VETERINARIAN. THESE VISITS ARE IMPORTANT TO ALLOW THE VETERINARIAN TO HELP YOU WITH THE TOPICS ABOVE AND FOLLOWING:

                                                                                  • Since many pockets pets are prey animals, they have adapted to hide signs of illness. For this reason, regular examinations are helpful to uncover illnesses that may not be outwardly visible.
                                                                                  • Many pocket pets have teeth that grow continuously. Chewing inappropriately, or misaligned teeth can result in serious dental injury. The Veterinarian can check for, and address, these problems.
                                                                                  • Nail trims are a regular part of owning pocket pets. The Veterinarian can show you how to perform this procedure to avoid injuring your pet. Many people opt to have the Veterinary Team perform these procedures instead of doing them at home.
                                                                                  • Since a pocket pet’s life span is much shorter than ours, every year of their life is equivalent to up to 50 years of our life. Since our pets age much faster than we do, it is important to have regular visits to the veterinarian to check their overall health.

                                                                                  IN ADDITION TO REGULAR WELLNESS VISITS, YOUR POCKET PET SHOULD ALSO BE SEEN BY THE VETERINARIAN IF YOU NOTICE ANY OF THESE SIGNS:


                                                                                    • Abnormal of decreased eatingrabbit-2431030_1280

                                                                                    • Sneezing or trouble breathing

                                                                                    • Overgrown front teeth or trouble chewing

                                                                                    • Sores on the feet

                                                                                    • Loose or soft stool*

                                                                                    • Not eating for 24 hours*

                                                                                    • Small, dry, or decrease stool production

                                                                                  • Hunching in a corner or lack of energy

                                                                                  *While loose/soft stool or not eating may not be emergent for larger mammals, these issues can be life-threatening for pocket pets.

                                                                                  PLEASE CALL ANIMAL HOSPITAL OF DAUPHIN COUNTY TO SCHEDULE YOUR NEW ADOPTION EXAM AT 717-652-1270.

                                                                                  Tech Talk: Before You Buy

                                                                                  By Dae Ceresini

                                                                                  What comes to mind when you hear the term “exotic pet?”  To many, it means any domesticated species that is not a dog or cat.  “Exotic pet” can mean anything from small mammals like rabbits, hamsters, or chinchillas to reptiles and birds such as iguanas, pythons, and parrots.  These fun and unique pets may be just what you need to complete your family.  As with any new family member, you want to first be sure there will be the right fit.

                                                                                  Today, we will focus on some important considerations to take before choosing to add a reptile or bird to your home.  There are many different species of reptiles and birds; and each one requires unique care.  It is crucial, before adopting one of these pets, to research to find out as much as possible about the care required by that specific animal.  You’ll want to give your new pet the best life possible, so here are some considerations to research and learn more about before making a decision:

                                                                                  Habitat:


                                                                                    • What is the optimum temperature and humidity for your specific pet?


                                                                                    • Is special lighting required? For example – UVB or heat lamps.


                                                                                        • What type of bulbs are need to supply the appropriate lighting and heat, and how often do they need to be changed?





                                                                                    • What type of substrate/bedding should be used in the enclosure?


                                                                                    • How much water is needed in the enclosure, and how should it be supplied?


                                                                                    • What dimensions should the enclosure be?


                                                                                        • You will also want to consider how big your pet will get and how fast they will grow. Enclosures may need to be changed/upgraded to keep your pet happy and healthy.





                                                                                    • Should nesting or private areas be incorporated into the set up?


                                                                                    • Can the specific pet be housed with others of the same or different species, or does it need to be housed alone?


                                                                                    • Where should the enclosure be kept in your home?


                                                                                        • For example: It can be unsafe to keep birds in/near a kitchen as fumes from certain cookware can be harmful.







                                                                                  Chloe, a Moluccan Cockatoo, came in for a visit.

                                                                                  Feeding:


                                                                                    • What food must be given to meet the nutritional needs of your pet for their lifetime? Some reptiles must be fed whole prey or live insects, so the potential owner would need to be comfortable with doing this.


                                                                                        • Do adjustments need to be made as they age?


                                                                                        • How must this food be kept? For example, how do you care for the crickets to be sure they are providing the best nutrition when ingested.





                                                                                    • Frequency of feeding and amount of food required each feeding to keep your pet at an ideal weight and prevent possible health complications?


                                                                                    • Are supplements needed and how should they be given?


                                                                                        • Many reptiles require a multi-vitamin or calcium supplement







                                                                                  Dr. Balmer with Gunther the Snake

                                                                                  Other things to consider:


                                                                                    • Lifetime costs?


                                                                                        • Including: cost for pet itself, initial set-up of the enclosure, food, veterinary care, supplements, replacement/upgrade costs of enclosure, etc





                                                                                    • General temperament/behavior?


                                                                                        • Will this pet be a good fit for you?





                                                                                    • Time needed/attention?


                                                                                    • Common illnesses/problems to give preventative care and watch for?


                                                                                    • Is there a vet in your area that sees your species of pet?


                                                                                        • Dr. Balmer sees reptiles and birds at Animal Hospital of Dauphin County







                                                                                  This list serves as a cheat sheet of questions for you to consider before buying. It is also a good idea to talk to your AHDC veterinarian about any questions you may have. Be sure, when researching, that you are using accredited, verified sources. Below are a few recommended links:
                                                                                  www.anapsid.org – reptiles
                                                                                  www.kingsnake.com – reptiles
                                                                                  www.veterinarypartner.com – small mammal, rabbits, and birds

                                                                                  Should you choose a new exotic pet, or if you need care for your current reptile or bird, Dr. Balmer will gladly see your pet!

                                                                                  Animal Hospital of Dauphin County also has several doctors, including Dr. Balmer, who sees small mammal “pocket pets”!

                                                                                  Tech Talk: Bringing the Heat

                                                                                  Tech Talk: Bringing the Heat

                                                                                  By: Heather Zimmerman
                                                                                  Kioki and Nishibi - my adorable shell covered children

                                                                                  Hi, this month we wanted to give you some general information about the importance of temperature control for our reptile pets and patients.

                                                                                  When it comes to cats and dogs, besides temperature extremes, we don’t think much about the temperature of their environment.  Basically, if we are comfortable, so are they. heatThis rule does not apply with our scaly patients.  Reptiles (turtles, snakes, and lizards) are cold blooded and therefore rely entirely on environmental temperature control.  Mammals sweat, pant, loose some layers if too hot and shiver or put on a coat if cold, but reptiles need to correct their body temperatures by relocating along environmental temperature gradients.  What’s a temperature gradient you ask?  Well, in the outside world it is the difference in temperatures from 1 area to another.  Any given area has several temperature gradients.  Take your yard for example:  Under the tree, in the sun, under the ground, in a puddle.  Although these areas can all be within feet of each other, they all have different temperatures.  Things are a little less complicated when it comes to our pets’ cages but we still try our best to provide a variety of temperature gradients by having warmer and cooler ends of a cage as well as hiding and basking spots for them to choose from.

                                                                                  So what is the ideal temperature for your pet?  Short answer…it depends.  Every species has their preferred optimal temperature zone (POTZ).  This is the temperature range that allows them to function at their best and is based on their natural habitat, ie where they live in the wild.  There are many resources available to determine your reptile species POTZ, including www.anapsid.org which contains a lot of general reptile information.

                                                                                  Using the POTZ, you can determine how to set up your pet’s environment.  The low end of the range should be the temperature of the “cooler” end of the tank and the high end should be the temperature in the “hot” end or basking area.  Often the POTZ, may change at night or seasonally which also should be taken into account to best care for your reptile.

                                                                                  Besides maintaining the reptile’s comfort, proper temperature control is important for many other reasons.  If reptiles are too cold, they will become sluggish.  It also causes their immune systems, digestive system, and other important body functions to not function correctly.  Reptiles often will not eat is too cold and even if they do, their bodies cannot process the nutrients.  Reptiles kept outside of their POTZ are often smaller and get sick more easily.

                                                                                  One last word of caution.  Not all heat is created equally.  There are many ways to control the temperature of your pet’s enclosure but there are those out there that can be dangerous.  Avoid heat rocks and other direct heat sources as these can cause thermal burns.  You also want to make sure any lights or other heat sources are out of reach of your reptile.  Lamps on top of the enclosures lid are often the safest, as well as heating pads placed under the tank on medium or low if lights alone do not maintain a correct temperature.

                                                                                  branchAHDC recommends annual wellness exam and husbandry checks for our reptile patients.  Call to schedule yours with Dr. Balmer so we can make sure you are “bringing the heat.”

                                                                                  Tech Talk with Sarah: Chinchillas

                                                                                  Chinchillas don’t need water to stay clean! Their bodies produce oils & those oils are controlled by a dust bath. Yes, a dust bath. The chinchilla rolls around in the dust multiple times until he/she feels satisfied. For excellent hygiene, a chinchilla needs to have a dust bath twice a week.

                                                                                  Tech Talk: Chinchillas

                                                                                  By: Sarah Elizabeth

                                                                                  Hello fellow readers! This month, I will be discussing chinchillas. Admit it, we all love to go to the pet store to watch them sleep & snuggle. I think the attraction is in how fluffy they are  & how little their paws are. If you are considering adding one of these furry friends to your family, I am here to give you the information you need.

                                                                                  If you have young children, it is not recommended to have a chinchilla as a pet.  They can scare easily, overstress & possibly become injured from the child playing or being overly affectionate.  They may even bite out of fear. However, as long as you are supervising your child & the chinchilla, there is no reason why this can’t be a family pet. Once they are adapted to their surroundings, chinchillas are actually quite social, vocal, & entertaining to watch! They are nocturnal & very active & they are nearly impossible to catch! These little bundles of fur are smart, inquisitive, & can live up to 20 years!

                                                                                  Chinchillas can have multiple different fur colors such as gray, black, tan, beige, or white, and are all fur. Their fur is very dense, soft, & can be up to 1-foot-long in length. Their average weight is 1 pound to 1.5 pounds! They are so little & fragile!

                                                                                  Cage & Habitat

                                                                                  Chinchillas have continuously growing teeth just like rabbits and are known to be chewers! Always be sure to get a chew proof cage that is a minimum size of 16” x 20” x 16” for just one chinchilla.  A pelleted or shredded paper bedding is best. Avoid bedding made from pine & cedar as pieces tend to be sharp & can cause the chinchilla pain or respiratory issues from the amount of dust they produce. When looking for a cage, you want to avoid cages with a wire floor because their feet can become injured, and glass aquariums provide poor ventilation.

                                                                                  Chinchillas are sensitive to heat, humidity & drafts. Heat stroke is LIFE THREATENING and can be the result of poor environments. Try to avoid an area with direct sunlight, heaters, & away with drafty areas with high humidity.

                                                                                  Chinchillas do not like dirty environments, so it is necessary to clean their habitat once a week.  Along with their habitat, it is best to clean their food & water containers & any cage items with no scent soap & warm water. Everything MUST be dry before returning to the environment for your pet. Another important question is what kind of water bottle should a chinchilla use? You want a water bottle with a stoppered opening & one that can hang on the side of the cage for easy access. An average food bowl will suffice for your pet’s food, but don’t forget a hay rack.  This will keep any hay added to the diet from sitting in urine/feces. Because chinchillas are social, they obviously like to play. Chew proof toys & untreated wooden toys are great for chinchillas to chew on & so their teeth can wear down & avoid any overgrowth of the teeth.

                                                                                  Chinchillas are native to Chile & Peru. They live in the mountains where the weather tends to be chilly. The dense fur that covers their body protects them from the harsh environment.

                                                                                  In the wild, chinchillas live in groups. They make their homes in burrows & crevices of rocks in the mountains.

                                                                                  Diet

                                                                                  Chinchillas are little vegetarians & boy do they love their veggies! They are known to have very sensitive stomachs & are commonly seen for GI tract issues at the vet. Most chinchillas need a commercial pelleted food in their diet. Pelleted diets are designed so that chinchillas are getting the correct amount of protein, fat, & roughage. They are compacted into small pellets to make it easy to eat. Most pet stores will have this in stock.   They should be given 1-2 Tbsp per day.  Chinchillas need to have a source of fiber & roughage in their diet such as timothy hay, which should be the majority of their diet. This is something that they tend to munch on continuously throughout the day. You want to have pellets & fresh hay available at all times to avoid hypoglycemia.   Fruit and greens can be fed in small amounts as a healthy treat but avoid sugary and fatty foods as these little guys stomach are not designed to handle this type of treat.  Chinchillas partake in coprophagy, this means that they eat a form of feces they produce called cecotropes, or “night feces” because they are usually only produced at night & they are eaten as soon as they are passed. Cecotropes provide necessary nutrient that a chinchilla needs to obtain on a daily basis.

                                                                                  Sexing

                                                                                  If you have multiple young chinchillas housed together & they are all intact, you are most likely going to have babies in the near future. Yes, that sounds so fun & wonderful, but it is a lot of work & responsibility.  Also females that are not bred until later in life often have difficulty giving birth as their pelvis loses the ability to stretch to allow the babies to pass through.  If you do not want to have the issue of having a preggers chinchillie, you will need to know how to tell the males from the females. Males have a patch of bare skin between the anus & urethral opening. The distance between the urethral opening & the anus is also much farther apart in males. Females have a small slit opening & no patch of bare skin. If you do happen to run into a situation where your chinchilla is expecting, here are the need to know facts:

                                                                                  Breeding Facts

                                                                                  Chinchillas tend to reach sexual maturity by 8 months. They mate seasonally upon the light cycle which is November until May. The gestation or pregnancy period of a chinchilla is 110 days long. Once the Kits or babies are done cooking, they are generally born within a few minutes apart from each other. There are usually only 2 babies per litter, but there can be as many as 6!  They are born with their eyes open & their bodies covered in fur. A healthy weight for a new born is around 2oz.

                                                                                  Helpful hint! Chinchillas love willow tree wood. Not only is it safe for them to chew on, but if branches are added to their environment this can add enrichment.

                                                                                  Health & Illness

                                                                                  As is possible for all of us, chinchillas can get sick. It is best to know your chinchilla’s personality so you know when he/she is not feeling well. Here are some physical symptoms to watch for in case of illness.

                                                                                  • Poor coat
                                                                                  • Diarrhea
                                                                                  • Constipation
                                                                                  • Unusual feces
                                                                                  • Trouble Breathing
                                                                                  • Not eating/Not drinking

                                                                                  If your pet is experiencing any of these symptoms, call to make an appointment with Dr. Balmer at AHDC.

                                                                                  Tech Talk with Sara: Red-eared Sliders

                                                                                  Hello readers!

                                                                                  Today I am going to be talking about Red-eared Sliders. These little guys are one of the most common type of aquatic turtles kept as pets. If you’re thinking of getting an aquatic turtle for a pet & have children, keep in mind that they are a high risk of carrying salmonella. Always remember to practice good hygiene when handling these animals. That being said, I can stop ranting and we can get to some fun facts!

                                                                                  • The scientific name of the red-eared slider is Trachemys scrita elegans and they received their name from the red stripe behind their eyes.
                                                                                  • Their life span ranges from 20 to 40 years, making them friends for life!
                                                                                  • The average size of Red-eared sliders will range anywhere from 6 to 12” in length, and they can reach adult size around 12 to 18 months depending on the conditions in which they are raised.
                                                                                  • Something you want to keep in mind as they grow is that you will need to upgrade his/her habitat so they remain comfortable throughout their life.
                                                                                  HOUSING NEEDS

                                                                                  Aquatic turtles are NOT a low maintenance pet. They need to have fresh clean water and plenty of space to swim.  A good rule of thumb is that the turtle must be able to turn around completely without an issue, and aim for about 10 gallons per inch of total turtle length. A deeper swimming area is nice to have since the turtles like to stick their heads out of the water while their bodies are still submerged. In general, the water depth should be about twice the length of the turtle’s shell and there should be several inches of air between the water and the top of the tank to prevent escaping.  Tanks with lids are best to prevent the turtle from being able to crawl out.

                                                                                  It is important to keep your slider’s water clean since the turtles drink the water in which they swim, no matter how nasty I think it is.  This generally requires cleaning and water changes at least once a week.  Always try to keep the water clean & fresh.  Daily removal of any uneaten food & feces right away will help to avoid any illness. Getting your sliders accustomed to eating in a separate container will also help keep their tank clean, which means less work for you.  The habitat needs to be thoroughly cleaned & disinfected at least once a week with a 3% bleach solution & water.  After thoroughly washing & rinsing the enclosure, make sure the area is free of the aroma of bleach. Once done, add clean, dechlorinated water with a temperature ranging from 70 to 75° before returning your turtle to their home.

                                                                                  While plenty of healthy water is essential to sliders, this is not everything.  Sliders also need a dry dock, such as a slate, rock, or area of gravel, to give the turtle an optional area to eat, sunbathe, and dry themselves.  Like all reptiles, their environment should provide a temperature gradient so they can self-regulate their internal temperature.  The air temperature for the warmer basking side needs to be around 95°F & the cooler end, where the water would be, should have a water temperature of 75°F.  Basking bulbs are most commonly used for the area with the turtle dock and a submergible heater is most commonly used for the area with the water.  UVB rays with full spectrum lighting must be used for 10 to 12 hours a day.   This is required daily for the turtle to allow them to properly process the calcium their bodies need.  These bulbs are usually only good for 6 months, so be sure to change them regularly even if they are not “burnt out.”  Be sure your slider cannot burn or injure themselves with any of the objects in and around their tanks.

                                                                                  DIET

                                                                                  Aquatic turtles are omnivores & their main diet usually consists of a commercial pelleted diet with leafy vegetables, non-toxic aquatic plants, & sliced vegetables such as squash & carrots.  However, juvenile sliders are more carnivorous and become more herbivorous as the mature (trading in meat-based nutrients for plants and veggies).  Even adult sliders should to have comet goldfish, earthworms, & insects offered to them as treats to stimulate their hunting ability that may be lacking from their captive lifestyle.  As adults, sliders only need to be fed every couple days and try to maintain a ratio of 30% pellets and animal protein to 70% plant matter.

                                                                                  HEALTH AND BEHAVIOR

                                                                                  When thinking of getting an aquatic turtle for a pet, it is important to remember they do not enjoy being picked up or handled very much, and they are known to bite when frightened. Of course, they are excellent swimmers & they love to jump off their docks into the water. When the light is on for your turtle, you will see him/her basking regularly under the heat lamp to be warm & dry. Your turtle should be active & alert regularly. Of course he/she should be eating regularly. If not, then you should contact our hospital and have Dr. Balmer examine him/her.  You might notice as your turtle is growing that their shell looks to be slightly rough around the edges. This is normal!  It is normal for turtles to occasionally replace their individual scutes as they grow.  However, watch for lesions, sores, bumps, discoloration, or spots on the shell or skin; any discharge from the nose, eyes, mouth, or vent; or if he/she seems to be lethargic.  If you notice any of these signs, you should contact the Animal Hospital of Dauphin County for a physical exam.  Even if your pet is healthy, annual wellness visits are recommended and can reduce the risk of illness/injury. Some commonly seen health issues that aquatic turtles develop are listed below:

                                                                                  • GI Tract Parasites
                                                                                    • Signs & Symptoms: poor appetite, lethargic, diarrhea, & anal prolapse.
                                                                                  • Respiratory Infection
                                                                                    • Signs & Symptoms: Open mouth breathing, eyes, nose, or mouth discharge, sneezing.
                                                                                      • This can be caused by a cold environment
                                                                                  • Shell Rot/Ulcers
                                                                                    • Discolored or foul-smelling patches or pits on the shell that can become infected
                                                                                      • Most commonly seen in cases with poor unclean habitats or improper diets
                                                                                  • Eye or Respiratory Infection
                                                                                    • Swollen eyes & sides of head
                                                                                      • Most commonly seen in cases with vitamin A deficiency

                                                                                  Tech Talk with Sarah: Macaws

                                                                                  TECH TALK

                                                                                  By: Sarah Elizabeth

                                                                                  PET BIRDS

                                                                                  MACAW

                                                                                  Hello! My name is Sarah & I am a vet tech from AHDC. Each month I will be posting a new blog about exotic pets. Things like at home care, pros & cons of having the responsibility of caring for an exotic pet, & general information.

                                                                                  Today I am going to be talking about Macaws! These colorful feathered friends of ours come in many sizes & colors. The personality of a Macaw is very unique.

                                                                                  MACAW

                                                                                  Socialization and Behavior

                                                                                  When first starting the socialization process between you & your new pet macaw, it is best to first allow your pet to adapt to his/her new environment. Not only for them, but also for yourself. For a few days, interact from a distance. Let your new pet get adjusted to your voice, your smell, ect. Macaws are known to build a very strong bond with one specific person of their choosing & can become very protective of this person. They can even potentially become violent if felt threatened. Therefore, at a young age it is best to have multiple people handle your pet so he/she will not feel easily threatened.

                                                                                  Besides proper socialization, macaws need exercise and room to do this.  Macaws are active birds that love to climb, swing, chew, and need adequate mental stimulation (toys) so screaming or plucking doesn’t become a habit out of boredom.  Macaws should have a minimum of 2-3 hours of playtime outside of the cage each day.

                                                                                  If you are interested in learning more about socialization and other macaw facts, check out this website: https://animal-world.com/encyclo/birds/macaws/MacawProfile.htm

                                                                                  Housing/Care

                                                                                  Macaws need very large cages in order to have a comfortable habitat. Although they come in all different sizes, larger macaws have a very wide wingspan  and their housing should allow them to spread their wings and stretch to preen (a minimum of 30in x 40in, height varies but usually about 57+in). Wooden perches are amongst their favorite places to rest, and they enjoy jumping from perch to perch safe from any harm below.  This also helps to stretch & move their muscles to avoid muscular dystrophy, or weakened muscles, which is common in poor environments.

                                                                                  Part of providing a good environment means providing a warm home as macaws come from the warmer environments of Central and South America. A good room temperature is between 70-75 degrees year round.  A heating lamp is a great way to heat an area for your companion, but be sure it is out of reach so your bird cannot harm itself.  Macaws are playful birds, and it is best to have objects that the bird can use to trim down its beak or nails naturally. Many people are under the impression that mirrors are a great thing for a bird so they can look at their reflection, but this is false information! Macaws & other birds tend to become very aggressive toward their own reflection, thinking that it is another bird in their space. Bowls should not be placed under perches, but rather near and beside perches so there is less chance of them soiling in their food & water.

                                                                                  It is best to have your macaw groomed frequently. Having the nails trimmed will keep both of you safe.  Some birds may also need their beaks smoothed or reshaped if they have overgrowth or peeling.  This can be done during an annual wellness for your macaw at AHDC or more frequently as needed.  While the vet and tech are performing such tasks, they are also monitoring your pet to make sure their stress level is okay & they are safe. During your bird’s annual examination, the veterinarian will do an overall exam of your pet & check for any signs of illness such as poor feather quality, damaged blood feathers, irregular breathing, and any other changes.  Blood feathers are new feathers that are developing on the bird and can be damaged due to wing cramping or a poor environment.  A way to keep their feather quality pristine & to be sure your pet macaw has great hygiene is to bathe your pet macaw regularly. It is common for macaws & many other avian breeds to bathe in the shower.  No shampoo necessary! In fact, although we love the flowery smells of most soaps, perfumes, and hand lotions, the smells are very overwhelming and irritating to birds.

                                                                                  I hope you enjoy this first newsletter and that we can help you and your companion enjoy a long and happy life together.

                                                                                  Nutrition

                                                                                  The average weight of a macaw is about 1.75 to 4 lbs. In length, a macaw can range up to about 30 to 35 in. long. Their wingspan can range between 40 to 45 in. long. Although macaws come in all different sizes & colors, I would like to focus on my personal favorite, the Blue and Gold Macaw.  Blue and golds are one of the most popular large parrot kept as companions due to their beautiful coloring and their overabundance of personality.  Most are a blue/turquoise color & have a yellow chest & belly. Their turquoise wings vividly flow into a beautiful green along the side of their bodies to the tip of their tail feathers which will sometimes fade into a dark green. The top of their head is caped with a vivid color of green, while their face is all white & will obviously blush red when excited. Their beaks are very large, curl, & are black in color. The average lifespan is about 50 to 60 years in captivity! A lifelong companion to have by your side.

                                                                                  General Information

                                                                                  The average weight of a macaw is about 1.75 to 4 lbs. In length, a macaw can range up to about 30 to 35 in. long. Their wingspan can range between 40 to 45 in. long. Although macaws come in all different sizes & colors, I would like to focus on my personal favorite, the Blue and Gold Macaw.  Blue and golds are one of the most popular large parrot kept as companions due to their beautiful coloring and their overabundance of personality.  Most are a blue/turquoise color & have a yellow chest & belly. Their turquoise wings vividly flow into a beautiful green along the side of their bodies to the tip of their tail feathers which will sometimes fade into a dark green. The top of their head is caped with a vivid color of green, while their face is all white & will obviously blush red when excited. Their beaks are very large, curl, & are black in color. The average lifespan is about 50 to 60 years in captivity! A lifelong companion to have by your side.