Bunnies! Bunnies!

We have three five-week-old bunnies in the store. They’re fairly calm and easy to handle, and, of course, cute as a button.


It’s also close to the end of pond season. David will be taking down the pond section out at the back of the store. Some of the larger fish will be coming in. The Tiger Shovelnose, Dr. Wellfish, has had a happy summer out in the large pool. There are a few other large fish still available.

Bunnies!

This week we received nine dwarf bunnies. The parents look like they weigh two pounds maximum. These little guys are really small – definitely one-hand bunnies – and in a variety of colours, including black and white spotted. 

We also have some large striped Raphael catfish in the pond fish bins near the front of the store, and we’ve moved the large tiger shovelnose cat up there, too.

Now that fall is here and people are back from vacation, things are picking up in the pet store. David’s made good use of the summer quiet to get the store arranged. It’s airy and open, easy to move around in. There are lights on the reptiles and fish now, and Victoria is getting the stock sorted and arranged.

This new location is much better than the old one. Next step – paint! We want to get away from the dull greyish green we inherited and move to some brighter, more cheerful colours.

The cricket orders are starting to increase again. We still don’t know when we’ll get the large crickets in, but we are getting more of the medium ones. This has been rough on everyone, and we appreciate the patience of our customers.

We’ve sold all the specially-priced aquariums. All right, there might be one left, if you get there before someone else does.

And on this farm he had a cricket, E-I-E-I-O

Breeding crickets is a full-time job. In the pet store, where we have, at most, 20,000 crickets in ten tanks, cleaning and feeding is perhaps a half-hour’s job. (Victoria can do it in fifteen minutes.) But we’re not in the business of breeding crickets. All we have to do is keep them alive until they’re sold. Breeders keep over 100,000 crickets, and they can’t crowd their crickets like that if they want them to breed. They need a lot more space, and have to do a lot more work.

I’ve heard cricket breeders referred to as “cricketeers”. That’s an incredibly light and cheery word for someone who spends his or her time feeding, cleaning, sorting, counting and shipping crickets. I’d say “cricket farmer” myself. After all, the word for a building where crickets are bred is “barn”.

There are some differences between farming crickets and farming, say, sheep. For one thing, you can’t train dogs to herd crickets – the dogs keep stepping on them. Also, as crickets have no external ears, ear-tagging is a bitch. On the upside, you don’t have to erect and maintain electric fence, and I daresay if I’d been farming crickets instead of sheep in the nineties I wouldn’t have been chasing my flock all around the Wharncliffe cemetery from time to time when the fence failed.

Flippancy aside, cricket farming has its trials. The barn must be heated, because crickets are cold-blooded, and will go dormant, or even die, if the temperature drops too low. A cricket farmer needs ear protection; the thousands of crickets mature enough to breed are also chirping nonstop.

One thing all farmers have in common, though, is this: If you have livestock, you have dead stock.

A couple of months ago a disease wiped out almost all the breeding crickets in the cricket barns of North America. I can’t say I’d ever thought the phrase “because of the cricket shortage” would ever cross my lips, but it did, and still does. Some breeders took the hint and switched to another field. For weeks, now, our cricket orders have been short-shipped, and the crickets have been smaller than usual. We’re not the only ones to whom this is happening. Our supplier, who buys from a breeder in P.E.I., told us a few weeks ago that a flood in the breeder’s barn had wiped out all his recovering stock, just when he was ready to ship larger crickets again.

Some pet stores have been able to get larger crickets from a different supplier, but our supplier says that’s not going to last long. One of the cricket barns in the States that was still able to ship large crickets has closed.

So far the reptile keepers who are our cricket customers have been understanding. We offer other food animals, such as mealworms. Now that summer is here, it’s possible for reptile keepers to catch insects outside, provided they can be sure the insects haven’t been exposed to pesticides. All in all, it could have turned out a lot worse than it did.

Our cricket shipment is due today, along with the mealworms, silkworms and hornworms we ordered. Whether we’ll get our whole order, and how large the crickets will be, remains to be seen. But we keep our fingers crossed and hope for good weather for the cricket farmers.

Welcome to the Hotel Animalia

One of the things we started early on in the life of the store was a boarding service. Several customers complained that if they went away, there was nobody reliable to take care of their bird, ferret, or – surprise – snake.
We said, “We can do that!”
We don’t board cats or dogs, but we’ve had snakes, lizards, birds, rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs and fish. Yes, fish!

A gentleman came into the store a few years ago and announced that he had three discus which he’d owned for five years. He had to go to Europe on business, and he didn’t trust any of his family to be able to care for the fish. Would we do it?

We cleared a tank for his fish. Discus are a South American cichlid, and as adults they can be six, sometimes even eight, inches across. These three were almost five inches across, and beautifully marked. For two months we kept them, checking their pH daily.
Daily, and several times daily, we also had to tell people that they weren’t for sale. It’s the “instant gratification” gene – instead of buying a toonie-sized discus and raising it to adult size, people like to have the adult ones now.

We could have sold those fish ten times over in the time we had them. But we resisted, oh, yes. Their owner was delighted to find them alive and happy when he returned, and they’re still occasionally guests at the “Hotel Animalia”.

Other regulars are Kivi, a Senegal parrot, April, a sweet and gentle rabbit, and Eragon, a bearded dragon. Once or twice we also kept Cato, a Congo African Grey, whose vocabulary and obvious intelligence were impressive.

Oh, and you can check out any time you like.
But you’ll be back.

Here comes Peter Cottontail…..

We have BUNNIES! Four adorable little lop-eared bunnies, just weaned, came into the store yesterday. There’s a black one, a tortie (brown with grey points) and two blue.

Renovations on the fish room are coming along. Right now all the tanks are lined up on two sets of racks down the middle of the store, but when the fish room is done, ’twill be a thing of beauty!

Speaking of fish, look at our “Schedules” page for information on the next fish order. It shows the next three delivery dates, and when the order is in for the current one, we’ll show what we’ve ordered.