The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : March 2015 The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : March 2015

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Parrots Can Be Amazing Companion Animals, But Do They Really Make Good Pets?

It is estimated that there are 11 million birds living as pets within the United States. Parrots are now thought to be the fourth most common household animal after dogs, cats, and fish. So do they make good pets? You may be surprised to learn that for many Americans the answer is no.

Parrots can be amazing companion animals. They are highly trainable, they can be cuddly and affectionate, and if treated correctly they will form very strong bonds with their care takers. The flip side is that they are such social and intelligent animals that they demand a huge amount of attention and mental stimulation in order to thrive. 

Many people eventually find that they can’t give enough time and energy to

their pets, especially in the long run when the joy of a new pet begins to ware thin. To make matters worse, many parrots can be aggressive, especially once they become sexually mature. A parrot bite is not a fun thing to endure.

If you want to get a parrot of your own, there are several things you should consider before purchasing. Read through the 5 following questions and answer them honestly to your self to see if a parrot is the right fit for you.

1. Can I afford a parrot?

If you get a small parrot the cost can be fairly cheep. A budgie Parakeet will only cost you about $20 in the US and a decent sized cage for the bird probably won’t cost over $50. Larger and less common parrots demand a higher price. You should expect to pay anywhere between $400 and $10,000 for a larger parrot and then you will need to spend about the same on a cage.

Once you get the parrot you will need to spend more money on food, replacement toys, replacement perches, veterinary care and other continual costs. The price for the average small bird (parakeet or love bird) will cost between $315 – $500 a year to keep alive and well. A large parrot like a Macaw will cost about $650 – $1,275.

Are you honestly willing to spend that kind of money on a pet? If not, I suggest you look for a different kind of pet.

2. Do I have time to take proper care of a parrot?

The average parrot needs 2 – 6 hours of direct interaction outside the cage from you or one of your family members every day in order to maintain mental health. Remember that depending on the species, your parrot could live to be 80 years old or more.

Can you consistently dedicate that kind of time to your parrot in the long run?

When you go on vacation you will need to leave your parrot with someone who is also willing to give your bird all the special attention he needs. Even then, things may not work out. 

Sun Conure

One alternative to one on one interaction is to build a large aviary and get several parrots that will interact with each other. Keep in mind that these birds may bond strictly to each other and can become aggressive to people unless they are constantly socialized to humans. Parrot that live together in groups can also become aggressive to one another. Make sure you know what you’re doing before creating a multi-parrot aviary.

Parrots also need enrichment exercises to stimulate their minds. 

Tip – Make as many friends with other parrot owners as you can! This way you can take turns watching each other’s birds when needed and you can share tips on how to better care for your parrots.

3. Do I have the patience to be a parrot keeper?

Parrots have all sorts of strange behaviors that can be very annoying. Sun Conures are great parrots, they are playful, loving, loyal, beautiful, and easy to train but they come with a voice so loud that the entire block knows when one gets upset. Sun Conures are so loud that they can easily get you evicted from your apartment and because of this they often end up in bird rescue shelters after their owners decide they just can’t stand the noise.
Quaker Parrot

Other species of parrot have different problems. The Quaker Parrot, for example, becomes extremely territorial of his cage during breeding season and the Lorikeets have a way of shooting their poop all the way across the room when relieving them selves after a meal. 

Parrots are wild animals and don’t naturally know how to behave appropriately around humans or inside of houses. You are the one the decided to take them from their natural habitats and place them in your home, it is your responsibility to put up with the problems that are bound to arise as a result of this decision.

With careful training and loving patience, your bird can be taught many house manners and can become a wonderful member of your family but this takes time and lots of hard work. Are you truly up for it?

4. Can I handle getting bitten by my parrot?

Even the nicest birds will have a moment where they feel threatened or mistreated and will decide to attack.

Parrots tend to get most aggressive during breeding season (breeding season varies from species to species) and a parrot that used to be perfectly tame can suddenly seem to go crazy. This of course is true of virtually all pets but the signs of aggression are particularly hard to see with birds. An attack can seem to come out of nowhere from a bird who is usually very loving.  As a result, people tend to develop phobias of their own parrots after just one incident.

No matter how sweet and wonderful your bird may be, no matter how good of a bird owner you think you are, You will get bitten…and it will hurt! 

If you own a small parrot this may mean a simple little puncture wound. If you own a mid sized or large parrot, stitches (or worse) may be needed.

At the Knoxville Zoo they have all sorts of dangerous animals in their bird show: hawks, owls, a vulture, a crane, and a giant African Ground-Hornbill but the one bird that has sent the most staff members to the hospital is their Scarlett Macaw – one of their only birds that can legally kept as a household pet. He bit one trainer on the mouth and tore her lip open so far that plastic surgery was needed in order to properly heal the wound. She was a pro bird handler working with an animal she saw every day. If it can happen to her under the best of circumstances, it can happen to anyone.

Can you forgive a bird after receiving a bite like that and then be willing to continue working with and loving your parrot? If your answer is no then you really need to consider a different hobby. Parrot keeping is not for you. Once a parrot owner develops a fear for their own bird, the bird will be left inside his cage all the time and will suffer. This is not good for your bird or for you.

Tip- The smaller the bird, the weaker the bite. If you have a low tolerance for pain, get a small parrot. There is no shame in this and there is an amazing selection of small parrots to choose from. You would be amazed to discover just how much personality, beauty, and charisma these small parrots really have. You don’t need to go out and buy the biggest macaw you can find.

5. Am I willing to study and learn about parrot keeping?

Most of us have never had much contact with birds before. We know how to deal with cats and dogs but as soon as we get our hands on a bird we quickly realize we have no clue what we are doing. As a result you need to be willing to study and learn.

There is a lot to learn and you are a busy person. Are you willing to make the sacrifice of time needed in order to learn about your birds needs?

The Joy of Parrot Keeping

For those of you who actually do have the money, time, patience, pain tolerance, and the desire to learn that is needed for the life long hobby of parrot keeping, the joy associated with the hobby is unlike anything else you have ever experienced. Your parrot will change your life and the way you view the world.


People With Disabilities from the Misercordia Heart of Mercy House, Are Invited to Watch as Staff At the Brookfield Zoo Give a 450 Pound Lion a Check Up

Brookfield, IL - In a small but state-of-the-art medical room at Brookfield Zoo, this 450-pound lion is about as dangerous as a sleeping house cat. Doctors put Zenda under to give him a good once-over and give people a chance to learn about the animal and conservation.

“We look at everything,” said Dr. Michael Adkesson with the Brookfield Zoo. “So we look at him from head to toe on a physical exam, we draw blood for various testing, to look at his organ function. We do a full set of X-rays on him, ultrasound, really everything we can do we take care of him while we got him here.

In addition to making sure the 8-year-old is in good physical shape, the Brookfield Zoo invited a few people over from the Misercordia Heart of Mercy House. It’s a facility that helps people with mental and physical disabilities, and on this day, they are learning about the lion and conservation.

Before they got comfortable shaking hands with the sleeping giant, they admit they were more than just a little nervous.

But within minutes and a few reassuring words from the zoo’s staff, their fear quickly transformed into just plain fun.

“For us to able to share that and showcase the care we provide the animals, as well as the conservation messages behind that, with some really amazing people today, a very neat opportunity,” Adkesson said.

While they may not remember everything they learned about the lion this day, you can bet no one will forget the time they got to try and make the “king of the jungle” purr.

The Brookfield Zoo medical staff says they put Zenda and the other lion under every two years for their checkup and they say he’s in really great shape.


Washington Humane Society Announces 28th Annual Bark Ball: DC’s Premiere Black-Tie Gala for the Four-on-the-Floor Crowd

Washington, DC – Shake out that suit and brush off your tails, the Washington Humane Society Bark Ball returns for the 28th year on Saturday, June 20, 2015 at the Washington Hilton, 1919 Connecticut Avenue, NW. Guests are invited to celebrate in style at DC’s original black-tie gala for humans and their canine companions.

This year we welcome back Larry Michael, the Washington Redskin’s Senior Vice President and Executive Producer of Media, as our Master of Ceremonies. The gala will also feature stage design by Design Foundry.

The benefit kicks off with a reception, an extensive silent auction, and Bark Bar at 6:00.p.m, followed by dinner, a formal program, live auction, and special surprises from 7:00.p.m. – 10:00 p.m. Leashed dogs are encouraged to attend (no retractable leashes please).

General tickets are $250 each and tables are $2,500. Once again, we are offering a limited number of Young Professionals tickets for those 35 and under at just $150. Tickets and tables are available online at

Last year’s event brought together 1,000 animal advocates and 500 dogs, raising over $620,000 to benefit the critical programs and services of the Washington Humane Society.

This event will sell out!

To purchase tickets and for more information, including sponsorship information, visit us online at, call 202-735-0324, or email

A limited number of Bark Ball Press Passes are available. Please contact Zenit Chughtai at or 202-735-0321 for information.


Website: Washington Humane Society

Take a look at some of the photos from last year's Bark Ball
27th Annual Bark Ball To Benefit The Washington Humane Society

Redskin Cheerleaders Teleza, Madison, Monique and Adriana with Scrappy. (Photo Credit: Sarah MacLellan)

Rachael Hesling of the Garrison Breck Group (Sotheby’s) holding Henri, pictured with Jessica Van Buskirk of Rob and Brent (Sotheby’s) holding Sam. (Photo Credit: Sarah MacLellan)

Dr. Leanne Kalinsky of Suburban Animal Hospital (Arlginton, VA) holding Monty donning a top hat! (Photo Credit: Sarah MacLellan)

DC London’s Sean Nobel pictured with Frank Luntz and Renee Hudson with husband Congressman Richard Hudson (North Carolina). (Photo Credit: Sarah MacLellan)

WHS Ambassador of the evening, WUSA’s Howard Bernstein pictured with his very own pup, Ahsoka. (Photo Credit: Sarah MacLellan)

WHS volunteers Laura Gabatino and Meg Milroy pictured with Andi and Tigger. These dogs are available for adoption through the Washington Humane Society! (Photo Credit: Sarah MacLellan)

WHS Board Member Louie Dweck pictured with dedicated WHS volunteer Susan Wedlan. (Photo Credit: Sarah MacLellan)

Rebecca Oliver (Director, Chairman’s Program at U.S. Chamber of Commerce) pictured with Judah. (Photo Credit: Sarah MacLellan)

Group photo of Ryan Ward, Kathleen Goudling, Scott and Jill Openshaw with Boone. (Photo Credit: Sarah MacLellan)

Guests Jessica Lemos and Rodger with Mary Ann and Cassie. (Photo Credit: Sarah MacLellan)

Tickeled pink (and purple): Joy the Poodle and mascot of Doggie Washerette. (Photo Credit: Sarah MacLellan)

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Two Clouded Leopard Kittens Born March 9th in Miami Zoo: A Victory in the Fight to Preserve a Vulnerable Species

Two clouded leopard kittens were born this month at the Miami Zoo, a treat for the doting keepers and a victory in the fight to preserve a vulnerable species.

The medium-sized cat, which is not closely related to the African leopard, lives in forests of South East Asia and fewer than 10,000 are thought to exist in the wild.

The zoon said the kittens, both females born on March 9, are in an enclosure with their mother to "avoid any external stress and allow the mother to properly bond with them."

Their mother Serai and father Rajasi were born in 2011 in other American zoos. The kittens are the parents' second successful litter.

"Both offspring are doing well and the mother continues to be attentive and nurse them on a regular basis," the zoo said.

They already sport the clouded leopard's characteristic large, dark and cloud-like spots on a light background.

Visitors should be able to view them in the coming weeks.

Found in the wild in southern China, Myanmar and Malaysia, adult clouded leopards usually weigh between 30 and 50 pounds (14 to 23 kilograms) and have a very long tail with relatively short legs and large paws.

They eat birds and mammals such as monkeys, deer and porcupines, and are turn prey to human hunters who prize them for their pelts.


The Dog Missing After Car Crash in Banks County Georgia, Has Been Reunited with Her Owner

On March 23, 2015, the Love family, from Banks County, Ga., was traveling on Interstate 85 with Georgia, their son’s 14-month-old German Shepherd. A drunk driver hit their forcing it to roll over multiple times. Fortunately Mr. and Mrs. Love walked away from the accident unharmed, but Georgia got spooked and ran away from the scene. 

Five days after the accident, and after dozens of volunteers stepped up to help search for Georgia, the pup was found and reunited with her owner.

As soon as the accident happened, Eric Love, Georgia’s owner, took to social media to ask for help finding his dog. He posted pictures of the pet and asked everyone in the area to keep and eye open for his dog.

Many volunteered to drive around and search, but no one had any luck spotting or finding the dog.

On Saturday, March 28th, Georgia was finally spotted off exit 160. Love rushed to the area to find and reunite with his dog.

Many expected a long chase. Usually when a dog gets lost the pet goes into survival mode, and even though a strong bond exists between the pet and the owner, it takes a lot of coaxing for the dog to come around, trust those trying to help and recognize his or her owner. However, this was not the case with Georgia and Eric.

“She walked right up out of the woods and into my arms,” Love told Fox 5 News.

Five days apart seemed like an eternity for Eric, but in just one second that Saturday morning, Eric’s life and heart became whole again when Georgia walked into her owner’s arms.

Georgia was unharmed and Eric said that “after three cheeseburgers, eight pieces of bacon, and a bag of treats, this little girl is trying not to fall asleep!”

You may be interested in reading the initial story when Georgia went missing: Banks County, Georgia - Family Searching For Lost Dog After Car Crash: Have You Seen This Dog?


Monday, March 30, 2015

Woman's Beautiful Lullaby To Her Sick Pig Will Make You Feel Better, Too

Bentley the piglet has been in the hospital for a little over a month now, recovering from an illness, believed to be meningitis, that has left him blind.

Adoptive mom Corinne DiLorenzo, the founder of Illinois-based EARTH Animal Sanctuary, goes to visit Bentley most days. And when she does, the trained opera singer sings an old Irish lullaby, the "Connemara Cradle Song," to her 9-month-old, 14-pound piglet.

"It just comes out naturally to me, when there is someone who needs comfort," DiLorenzo says.

Traditionally, the lullaby's lyrics celebrate fishing for herring. But DiLorenzo has changed the words a little, so now the song's about sailing with the herring instead of sailing with them caught aboard the boat.

"We need to start changing the way we view animals," explains DiLorenzo. Until Bentley is discharged, she'll keep going to the hospital, singing a version of the cradle song that she used to croon to her own son when he was a baby.

Home for Bentley, DiLorenzo, and her now 13-year-old son is a 7-acre farm in central Illinois, where DiLorenzo takes in primarily, sick, elderly and special needs animals.

"Mostly our sanctuary is for the unadoptables," says DiLorenzo, who bought the property about a year and a half ago. She hopes in the future to open a bed and breakfast and vegan restaurant on site.

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Multicolored Collars Resembling Scrunchies Claim to Stop Cats from Catching Birds by Ruining the Cat's Camouflage

Brightly colored neck attire can hamper cats from chasing birds, however researchers warn that non-safety versions can be lethal.

Dr. Michael Calver of Murdoch University, Western Australia, has published several studies on techniques to reduce the toll domestic cats are wreaking on native wildlife. Calver and his PhD student Catherine Hall discovered a website, Birdsbesafe, selling multicolored collars resembling scrunchies that claimed to stop cats catching birds by ruining the cat's camouflage.

While the website claims the collars reduce bird kills by 87%, at that time there was no independent evidence to verify the claim, so Hall went to work. Her results have now been published in Applied Animal Behavior Science.

Hall couldn't back up the 87% claim, but she did find the collars cut down kills by 54% compared to similar periods with no neck attire. This could make a big difference to the hundreds of millions of small animals killed each year. Numerous native species are being pushed to the edge of extinction by cats, and while much of the damage is being done by those that have gone feral, domestic animals are also a big factor.

Hall found that the 114 cats unwillingly enrolled in the program brought home far fewer lizards and frogs when wearing the collars, and that there was also a reduction, albeit smaller, in the number of birds they caught. She observed the cats did not seem to adapt to the collars as some do to bells, and received reports that birds were more likely to avoid the ground when a collar-wearing cat was on the prowl. A study run around the same time in North America found the collars to be even more effective for protecting American birds, but did not investigate reptiles or amphibians.

However, Calver stresses that no one should be rummaging around the back of their cupboards for a scrunchy the 90s forgot, as some have suggested after the story broke. “That's really dangerous,” he told IFLS. Birdsbesafe products attach to safety collars with breakaway buckles that prevent the feline from throttling itself if snagged.

“Captures of mammals were not significantly reduced,” the paper reports. Calver attributes this to most small mammals lacking color vision. He acknowledges, “Some marsupials have color vision, but they are mostly nocturnal and the cats probably hunt them at night so it may not do much good.”

Rodents' lack of color vision could prove an advantage, however. Cat owners who want their pets to control rats and mice but stay off the birds can use the scrunchy collars to achieve both effects. In this way, the scrunchy-style collars do much better than previous control mechanisms Calver has tried, including cat bibs that prevent pouncing and alarms that sound when the cat charges its prey. Unlike all the previous methods Calver's team have tested, the scrunchy-collars protected frogs and lizards as well as birds.

The cats spent more time at home now that their hunting was curtailed. A few dropped out of the trial because the owners believed the scrunchies had given them dermatitis, but 96% either showed no signs of distress or quickly got used to wearing the scrunchies, proving the study was done in Perth not New York. Most of the owners planned to continue with the collars after the study finished. However, one cat left the trial because its owner reported the household dogs wouldn't stop barking at it.


Cat Food Recall: Primal Pet Foods is Voluntarily Recalling a Single Batch Production Code of Feline Turkey Raw Frozen Formula 3-Pound Bag

Primal Pet Foods is voluntarily recalling a single batch production code of Feline Turkey Raw Frozen Formula 3-pound bag. FDA tested product in response to a single consumer complaint. Primal Pet Foods was alerted by FDA that the testing of two bags of this lot resulted in a low thiamine level. Neither FDA nor Primal have received any other reports concerning Thiamine in Primal products. No other product manufactured by Primal Pet Foods is involved in this voluntary recall.

Only the product with the following Best By date and production code is included in the voluntary recall.  It is best to check the production code on the back of the bag to determine if the product has been recalled or not.

The lot involved in this voluntary recall is:

Primal Pet Foods Feline Turkey Raw Frozen Formula 3-pound bag (UPC# 8 50334-00414 0) with Best By date 060815 B22.

Primal takes very seriously, the need for adequate Thiamine levels in our feline diets. We include Organic Quinoa Sprout Powder as a natural B-Complex supplement to ensure that adequate levels of Thiamine are met. Additionally, Thiamine occurs naturally in other ingredients contained in our Feline Turkey Formula such as: Turkey Muscle Meat (including heart), Turkey Liver, Organic Sunflower Seeds, Dried Organic Kelp, Organic Collard Greens and Organic Squash.

Consumers who still have bags of cat food from this lot should stop feeding it to their cats and call at (866) 566-4652 Monday through Friday, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm PST.

Cats fed only diets low in thiamine for several weeks may be at risk for developing a thiamine deficiency. Thiamine is essential for cats. Symptoms of deficiency displayed by an affected cat can be gastrointestinal or neurological in nature. Early signs of thiamine deficiency may include decreased appetite, salivation, vomiting, and weight loss. In advanced cases, neurologic signs can develop, which may include ventriflexion (bending towards the floor) of the neck, wobbly walking, circling, falling, and seizures. If your cat has consumed the recalled lot and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian. If treated promptly, thiamine deficiency is typically reversible.