Hello, Possums!

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Hello! I’m Tahlia, a mid-twenties girl from a rural town in southern Western Australia. I live with my fiancĂ©, Corey, on a large block with gardens, lawns, lots of fruit trees and veggie patches aaaaand a chook pen (and a house).

We have a zoo. Close to 100 furred, feathered and finned friends we choose to share our lives with.

Yep.

My plans for this blog are for me to talk about my animals and for you, my reader, to talk about yours. Have you got a story, anecdote, photos or advice about your pets you want to share? Go for it!

Enjoy the read, whoever and where ever you are :-)

<3 Tahlia

Buddy and Wally

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These two chirpy little things are my pet budgies (if you can see them through the blur) They’re about 14 months old, from different clutches and we got them mid 2013. I work every day with hand taming and getting them to respond to commands. My biggest tip here is to clip their wings and use food rewards for reinforcing good behaviours, like coming back to you and answering when called (great for when such a tiny bird is lost somewhere behind a couch or cupboard). Wing clipping has its upsides and downsides but I find they fly out a lot less doors and windows and build trust with owners faster that way.

Budgies are cheeky, inquisitive, chatty and make great first birds for parrot lovers. They don’t bite all that badly, come in amazing colours and absolutely love company- plus they’re quite the talkers! My mum had a budgie named Pip for a long time when I was little- he’d hide under your hair behind your ear and whisper “kick your arse, kick your arse” as threateningly as he could at you. Pip had a penchant for washing machines. Twice mum had to pull him out of the wash cycle. Surprisingly he lived both times. We think he liked being dried off with the hair dryer and totally spoiled, given how readily he dove back in a few weeks later.

On that note: always supervise parrots when they’re out of the cage! Give a bird a choice of seeds or electrical cord and the idiots will hoe down on all the insulated copper wiring they can eat. Or, in the case of my rather large Corella, Sydney, they’ll destroy your mountain bike. Yep. Back when he was about a year old he got out of his cage while I was at work. I came home to find shredded tyres and inner tubing pulled out, all the cushion from the seat chewed off, the handle grips missing, a fair attempt made at my brake cables and one very proud parrot perched atop the fridge, hitting the busted bike bell against the wall absolutely fascinated by the sound.

Budgies need a good size cage, fresh seed, water and veggies daily. At night they need to sleep in a dark, quiet room, and during the day they will need some flying time and toys to play with to stop boredom or destructive behaviours. I have seen, sadly, what lazy parrot owners often end up with: pluckers. Give a bird no love and it does its own equivalent of bashing its head against a jail cell wall- it pulls out its feathers, tears at its skin and can end up eviscerating itself. Be careful and be kind, always, to your pet parrot. They are very long lived.

Yay!

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Turning a nice profit today after advertising some of the hens and ducks for sale! We’re putting the money towards more aquarium gear. You can never have enough stress coat, air stones, tubing, melafix or pemafix. Trust me.

One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish!

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Keeping aquariums is one of me and Corey’s favourite hobbies. Currently we run three tanks; a 400l peaceful planted tank, a 160l aggressive cichlid tank and a fourty litre coldwater axolotl tank.

Here’s a breakdown of what we have in them as of this evening :-)

discus fish
spiny eels
rummynose tetras
guppies (and a breeder net full of baby guppies..omg so many babies)
mollies
plattys
longfin black widow tetras
lace gouramis
dwarf gouramis
khuli loaches
corydoras
bristlenose catfish
neon blue acaras
jack dempsys
electric yellows
peacocks
powder blues
convicts
kribensis
rosy barb tetras

and Nards, our aptly named male axolotl. We used to have a female axolotl but our old cat ate her :-( Those two bred like aquatic rabbits! Females lay anywhere between 50 and 2000 eggs per brood- it used to look so insane. We’d go to bed with an empty tank and wake up to the whole thing almost jellified with eggs. Because they turn around and eat their eggs as soon as they’re laid I’d just take out Nards and Barry (we didn’t know she was a girl until we got her a tank mate) and plop them in a different tank until that batch hatched and grew out. Of course they’d often breed again in the new tank. Woohoo!

Zoo maintenance 101

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With a hundred pets comes a hundred responsibilities. Feeding, grooming and cleaning takes time!

The chickens, ducks and pigeons go through nearly 60 kilos of food a month. The cat, dogs and ferrets go through 25 kilos of dry food and 15 kilos of raw chicken mince a month depending on the season. The parrots chew through 5 kilos in four weeks and our fish and axolotl luckily eat blood worm and flake, which are tiny and don’t weigh SFA!
Our squeaky lawnmowers (the guinea pigs) get carrots, leftovers from the veggie patch and fruit trees and scoot around the yard all day eating grass. They’re the fattest piggies I’ve ever had, and finally a pet that’s pretty much free to feed!

If all is good in the ‘hood, it takes nearly an hour to check, feed and     handle our animals every day (except the fish.. They don’t like cuddles). Depending on the weather (it’s a bit soggy here this time of year) every day is an Easter egg hunt, too! Strangest place we’ve found eggs is in the gutter on our roof. Our hens are an adventurous bunch.

It’s pretty simple keeping them all clean. Link is smart enough to go sit under the shower on bath days, Sophie’s small enough to swim laps of the laundry sink, the parrots get shoved out in the rain for a few minutes when they need it and Abby…. Well, I’ve still got a scar on my chest from the last time we tried to bathe her. The fish are easiest- we simply up the water flow to the tanks and add dishwashing liquid. They come out sparkling like new :-D (I’m joking…)

Grooming is easy too, once a week the furminator is brought out and anything furry gets a brush. In summer we borrow our mates horse clippers and Corey shaves Link to look like a lion. He gets the benefit of scaring kids who look over the fence (“Mum there’s a lion!”) and we get the benefit of being able to see our hardwood floors sans “carpet le pooch fuzz”.

All I hope is that we do enough each day to keep our critters happy, healthy, hunger-free and mentally stimulated. They’re an odd bunch, but a good bunch.

Link!

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This is Link, Corey’s eight year old Rottweiler cross. He’s the perfect mix of guard dog and oversized lap dog and we love him to bits. Before we lived in our current abode we lived on a tree farm, and he would come kangaroo and rabbit and duck hunting with us.

In February last year he made the terrible decision to go for a swim in our dam. He didn’t come home. We searched high and low and only found him the next day. He looked so crook when we found him, and after a bath to get the mud off him we soon found his injuries. He had torn his side open internally after jumping into the dam and landing on a metal fence-post. Dam water, mud, algae and tadpoles came pouring out of the wound, and we quickly made the 50 kilometre drive to the vet hospital. He underwent two separate surgeries of 6 hours total and for a long time we were scared we’d lose him.

Turns out our boy’s a fighter though! He pulled through it well. He doesn’t hunt with us anymore. It hurts him to jump or run too much due to all the scar tissue on his insides. He’s gone from muscly to wobbly and cold days and nights hurt his bones. He shares his futon mattress with a kitten. He bails up the postie for pats.

But that doesn’t matter. We think he’s great.

Teeny tiny gremlin dog

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World, meet Sophie. She’s a very strange mix of other tiny little dogs and the brainless scarecrow of Oz fame. Two years old and two kilos light. Not easy to photograph due to being blacker than a black hole. Dumber than a box of rocks. Runs like the wind in circles around the yard with a plant pot on her head, routinely. Can be coaxed to climb trees! Cannot be coaxed down, however. Loses fights with our other dog, the cat, the cockatoo, chickens and ducks daily. Likes to sniff lit candles.

We don’t intend on breeding her.

Meow meow!

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Meow

This is our 6 month old kitten, Abby. She and her mum and siblings were found by our landlord, dumped near her house in a different shire. We got a call, checked her out and brought her home the same day. She was four weeks old and totally wild. It took a few weeks for her to relax enough for pats but we stuck with it and gave her so much love that she admitted defeat and now acts as my personal shadow. Her favourite thing to do is hide behind the toilet and jump out for pats at inopportune times (ahem). She can often be found having a personal crisis at the loungeroom window, contemplating “the great outside” and all the scary things there.

Surprisingly she and our dogs get along very well. They all share the same bed in the laundry at night and play chasey games and buzz out on catnip during the day. Such a relaxed and privileged life!