DEAR LABBY: I try my best to act normal even though I haven’t been feeling well lately. I don’t like to show when I’m sick because it makes me worried I might get picked on by my cage mates. Should I keep trying to fool everyone or is it time to sit on the bottom of the cage so that my featherless parent will notice I’m ill? -BELOW PAR BUDGIE
DEAR BELOW PAR: It’s totally normally for feathered friends such as yourself to pretend you are 100% well even if you are not. What you are doing is called a survival mechanism. Even if they are not well, your cousins (wild birds) will pretend to eat, continue to perch and try to groom until they are so ill that they can no longer fake it. It is then that they start showing signs of distress such as loss of appetite, fluffed up feathers and unusual behaviour such as spending time on the ground instead of on a perch. This trait is so ingrained even in house birds such as yourself that it can be difficult for your humans to know anything is wrong unless they are watching you very closely for even the slightest unusual behaviour. You my friend are not doing well and it’s time you let your owner know that you need to see an avian veterinarian – once you are showing signs of illness, it is an indicator that you have been unwell for much longer than you’ve been letting on.
DEAR LABBY: I love my pellets. I can eat pellets all day every day and then some! My human mom offers me some veggies sometimes and they’re pretty good too but most of the time I have my beloved pellets to munch on. Problem is, I was taken to the vet a couple of days ago and apparently I have pointy/overgrown molars. What can I do about this and how can I prevent it in the future? -TROUBLESOME TOOTHED RABBIT
DEAR TROUBLESOME TOOTHED: As you probably know, your teeth grow continuously throughout your life. When most people think of bunny teeth, they think of the front incisors. Most, however, aren’t aware that molars can cause problems in rabbits. A diet heavy in pellets can cause a multitude of issues for our hoppy friends, one of which is oral. Pellets do not allow you to grind down your teeth like you need to. Good news though! You should start asking for more veggies in your diet – particularly dark, stalky and leafy greens such as kale, parsley, carrot tops etc. These types of veggies force you to use your molars in a way that helps grind them down and keep their length in check. And while veggies are good, the gold standard of keeping those teeth in tip top shape is hay! Lots and lots of timothy hay! You should cut back on those pellets and opt for as much hay as you can eat. If your molars are already overgrown, there’s a good chance you’ll need to have dentistry at the vet but once you get that taken care of, you can help keep your teeth at a normal length with lots of hay, some veggies and you can still enjoy your pellets but more as a treat.
DEAR LABBY: I used to love eating all my mealworms and crickets and whatever goodies found their way into my home but lately I am not interested at all. I don’t feel as active as I used to and something’s just not right but I’m not sure what’s wrong. Do you have any suggestions? -FEELING LOUSY LEOPARD GECKO
DEAR FEELING LOUSY: Keeping reptiles such as yourself healthy is not as simple as caring for cats and dogs. Many of our non-scaly friends do not realize how important husbandry is for your overall health and wellbeing. Reptiles have very specific requirements for lighting, temperature, humidity, feeding, enclosure size, bedding – all sorts of things! If any of these things aren’t correct, it can make you feel pretty crummy and it can eventually lead to some pretty serious health issues. I would suggest that your human takes you to your vet for a checkup and to discuss your current husbandry. In the meantime, have your person check out some awesome information from Melissa Kaplan at anapsid.org