Small Pet Socialization Tips

There’s lots of information about how to socialize dogs and cats out there, but what about small and exotic pets?  They can learn polite behavior too!

The San Diego Humane Society’s San Diego Pets Magazine recently shared some tips on how to socialize your rabbits, rodents, birds, and reptiles.  Here are a few highlights:

Rabbits

  • Some bunnies can be shy so let them approach you first. If you do approach a rabbit, do so slowly, at their level, and from the side.
  • Offering treats like fresh vegetables is a good way for your rabbit to associate human interaction with a positive reward.

Hamsters, Gerbils and Other Rodents

  • Young children may be excited to interact with their new small pets, but give the animals some time to adjust to their new surroundings first. Then start with a few short sessions each day.
  • Approach rodents on their level, not from overhead.
  • Let them walk onto a neutral object and work their way to your hand gradually.

Birds

  • Bird are very social, so they appreciate lots of interaction and being included in your family’s daily activities.
  • Avoid sudden movements around birds. They appreciate pets on the back of the head and back, and slow blinks (like cats!).

Reptiles

  • Not all reptiles like to be cuddled or held, so check your expectations if you’re looking for a snuggle buddy.
  • Treats can help them associate handling with something positive. Certain reptiles like turtles and tortoises enjoy being hand fed.
  • Your lizard or other reptile may not like to be handled, but some might appreciate being near you for warmth.

 

 

Environmental Enrichment for Pet Birds

The Veterinary College at Texas A&M University has put out some very helpful tips on how to provide your pet birds with environmental enrichment and mental stimulation.

They report that birds are happiest when given many different forms of enrichment.  Not surprising given their intelligence, curiosity, and sociability!

Here are a few tips, but be sure to read the full story for more ideas for your own bird!

  • Besides regular toys, birds also appreciate objects that provide visual and auditory stimulation like mirrors, music, bells, and rattles.
  • Birds are sensitive to the texture of objects; some prefer plastic, while some prefer wood or paper.
  • Birds are color-oriented and may prefer certain colored toys over others (some dislike red!).
  • Be sure to choose toys that are lead-free and made from safe forms of plastic. Be careful of toys with string as these can harm a bird.
  • Household objects can also be used as bird toys, such as paper towel rolls and popsicle sticks.
  • Place your bird’s cage in an area where the outside is visible through a window.
  • Lots of interaction with you (and even other animals in the home) is a key form of stimulation and enrichment for birds. Pay plenty of attention to your feathered friend.  You can even teach it some tricks!

Interested in learning more?  Check out this Avian Enrichment blog from the Association of Avian Veterinarians!

 

New Study: Escaped Pet Parrots Living Throughout the US

A study of former pet parrots living and breeding in the wild (called “naturalized” parrots) was recently published in the Journal of Ornithology.

The findings show that our escaped pet birds are living, and in many cases thriving, in nearly all US states, including those with cold climates.

56 species of naturalized parrots have been sighted living in the wild in 43 states between the years 2002-2016.  25 of these parrot species are known to be breeding in at least 23 states.

The most common pet parrot species living in the wild in the US are the Monk Parakeet, the Red-crowned Amazon, and the Nanday Parakeet.

Most naturalized parrots live in three states with relatively warm climates:  California, Florida, and Texas.

A story on this parrot study in National Geographic notes that escaped parrots can live in colder states, thanks to their nightly nesting habits and people putting out bird seed in the winter months.

Parrots live in all types of environments, from urban to rural, with many choosing to nest in man-made structures.

Here in San Diego, researchers report that we have as many as 13 parrot species living in the wild.  Locals can keep up with the latest parrot news and report sightings via the San Diego Parrot Project!

 

San Diego Humane Adopts Out 84 Cockatiels Rescued from Hoarding Situation

Back in January, the San Diego Humane Society took part in a large-scale rescue operation of 84 cockatiels from a one-bedroom apartment.  The rescue made the news and many interested adopters began contacting San Diego Humane about the birds.

The cockatiels spent several weeks at the Humane Society receiving lots of TLC and were ready for adoption at the end of February.

In a very happy ending to an unfortunate hoarding story, all the birds were adopted out in the first three hours!

Check out this video for more on the cockatiel adoption success story: