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Jessi shares some of the stories she's been told about sad or terrible things that have happened to animals. But, there's always something good that can come from every situation. So she also shares how to prevent the stories from happening in the first place.

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Hi guys.  In a surprising turn of events, we're back here at Animal Wonders.  An interesting thing happens when I start talking to people after a public presentation.  They start telling me these terrible stories about an animal that they used to have.  Maybe it's because they feel the need to get it off their chest and I understand that.  I'm also a sharer, but wow, I've been told so many sad stories, and I've heard similar stories from different people, which leads me to believe that there are some common mistakes that happen with certain animals.  So I'm choosing to use those stories to help fuel my passion to educate and hopefully prevent some of the horror stories from becoming stories in the first place.  


A young girl once told me that her favorite animal that I shared at a presentation was Cheeks the rabbit because she used to have a rabbit too.  Used to.  Those words.  That's my first warning that it's going to be a terrible story.  Her rabbit was so cute and she loved him very much.  One day, her mother fed the rabbit some lettuce she bought at a store.  The next thing she knew, her rabbit was dead.  Apparently the lettuce had been sprayed with pesticides and since they hadn't washed it, the rabbit was poisoned.  Lettuce can be a great supplement to a rabbit's diet when fed in small amounts and washed thoroughly.  Unfortunately, unwashed lettuce can make a rabbit really ill or even cause death if the toxic substance is a substantial amount, so wash your lettuce.

At another presentation, a boy told me that his favorite animal was Ginger the Conure because his mom used to have a conure, too.  The conure was allowed to free fly around the house and one day, it flew out the front door.  They put up flyers but they never did see their beloved conure again.  I really hate these stories because it's so easy to prevent these things from happening.  If you don't want to trim the flight feathers on your bird, then you need to have a safety protocol in place to make sure that they cannot fly out a door or window.  Most parrots can't survive if they fly away from the human care that they're accustomed to.  To keep a flighted bird safely in your home, you either need to keep them in a separate room that doesn't have direct access to an unpredictable exit like a front door, or build a secondary entrance so all doors have a double door system and both are never opened at the same time.  I've heard too many escaped bird stories to say that just being careful when opening the door is a viable option.  It's just not safe enough.  

Another time, a boy said that meeting Freckles the leopard gecko made him sad because he used to have one just like her, but it died from eating too much sand.  When you house an animal on substrate that they can consume, you're endangering them to compaction.  Reptiles are especially susceptible to this.  Here's a video on how to properly house a leopard gecko.  

Every time we bring Pickles the guinea pig out to a presentation, we have a handful of audience members who have one as a pet and I've heard the sad story of diarrhea, sneezing, or crusty eyes too often to count.  Guinea pigs really aren't a low maintenance pet like a lot of people think, which is mostly due to their dietary needs.  I've already made an episode about guinea pig diet, so check it out if you want.

Okay, here's another one.  A mother came up to me after a birthday party and said that she was trying to move their gerbil from one place to another and she did it by picking it up by its tail.  I cringed as I guessed what she was going to tell me next.  The gerbil grabbed on to something and she continued to pull on its tail.  She didn't realize she was pulling that hard until the skin on the gerbil's tail came off, leaving behind exposed bone.  Ughh.  I have this story.  Don't pick up a gerbil by the tail and don't pick up any small animal by the tail.  There are some exceptions to this, but if the animal is grabbing hold of something, don't keep pulling.  

My next story comes from an older woman who said that she loves seeing Sprinkles the parrotlet because she used to have one.  Used to.  There it is again.  She said that she used to love to have her parrot sit on her shoulder while she cooked dinner.  One day, she overcooked her meal and she quickly removed her parrotlet from the kitchen to avoid the smoke.  An hour later, her parrotlet died.  She realized later that she had been cooking with non-stick Teflon pans, and the fumes from the special coating are what killed her bird.  This isn't the only time that I've been told this sad story, which is why I recommend throwing out any non-stick pans that you have if you bring a bird into your home.  A tiny mistake is all it takes.

And here's my last horror story.  A few years ago, a teenage boy came up to a public booth while I was holding Slither, our gopher snake, and he proudly told me that his dad had killed a snake like her in the backyard just the other day.  He told me that his dad knew it wasn't a rattlesnake but he killed it anyway just because he didn't like snakes.  So I responded by informing him that gopher snakes are actually territorial, so they keep out other snakes, including rattlesnakes.  So by killing the gopher snake, he had actually invited a whole bunch more snakes into his yard.   The boy was pretty excited to share this new information with his dad, which made me really happy.

Let's end on that happy note, which is where I always like to end up.  There's always room to turn a horror story into something positive if you're willing to learn from the mistake.  Thanks for watching and if you'd like to go on adventures with us every week, subscribe to our YouTube channel, AnimalWondersMontana.  If you have any questions for, you can leave them in the comments below and we'll see you next week.


So I want to give her treats, but I'm not gonna offer my--I'm not gonna--I'm not gonna--I'm not gonna--I'm not gonna offer her my fingers.