You’ll be my favorite creature
And here’s the reason why:
Your eyes are bright, your feet are swift
Your ears hear round the bend
But your very simple humbleness
Will steal the heart of men.
Together we shall thwart the pains
The gods do throw to earth
And turn aside their fiery darts
With merriment and mirth.
And when time comes that men forget
The lessons animals render
T’will be the humble rabbit
That mankind will remember.–S.J. Tucker, “Rabbit’s Song”

Rabbits have been increasingly popular pets, not only are they cute and fuzzy, they are also quite intelligent able to learn a number of tricks and even (to the delight of parents) learn how to be potty-trained.

Rabbits make great pets for a variety of home situations. Whether you have time on your hands or are a busy bee, Rabbits are more than capable of entertaining themselves while retaining their tameness and docile natures. However, it’s important that your Rabbit is able to interact with all members of the family on a frequent regular basis.

Though people often think that rabbits are content little animals put into small cages, it’s important to understand that these are active little guys and it’s important to have a relatively large cage for them to interact in, as well as sometime outside of their cage. It’s important to have a close supervision while a rabbit is roaming and playing outside of the cage else you might find it chewing your wires, your furniture and your walls!

Rabbits are also smarter than people realize, they are more than capable to learn tricks (such as sit or play dead) as well as certain behaviours that will benefit you as well–such as potty training.

Properly introduced rabbits can also make wonderful pet pals with other animals in the home, including dogs and cats.

Being a prey animal rabbits are often timid animals, quick to run at loud noises and sudden movements, it’s important to train your children (if you happen to have any) how to approach and handle rabbits appropriately and respectfully. Rabbits are loving and cuddly pets (though there are exceptions) and with their gentle natures and brain of theirs they will often come and play with members of the family voluntary. Some are even eager to play, standing on their hind legs.

Let’s talk about diet. It’s important get a good high value diet specifically geared for rabbits, you should be looking for a higher fibre content–for example Living World Extrusion. However, you should also be giving your rabbits hay (such as Timothy Hay), it is one of the most important factors in a rabbit’s diet. It’s full of fibre, which is instrumental to keeping that gut in good working condition.

Though not technically a “food” source, appropriate chew toys and treats (such as yogurt drops) are wonderful sources of entertainment, cutting down the teeth that continuously grow and provide a good balance of vitamins to a rabbit’s diet.

Of course there are various fruits and veggies that you can feed your rabbit as well to help balance and maintain a good diet. Stay away from potatoes, avocado, cabbage and onions (there are just some foods they can’t eat). Good foods you can give are dandelion (be careful of pesticides and insecticides), radishes, carrots, apples (no core or seeds), strawberries, raspberries, plums, celery and pears.

Playing with your rabbit can be one of the most rewarding experiences, not only are they quick to pick up concepts, they are quite engaging. Once you’ve gained their trust they are more than happy to interact. Capable of learning their names, like dogs many come when they are called, loved to be petted and played with, but thankfully like cats rabbits can also entertain themselves and take care of themselves. They are good pets for both the busy and not so busy household.

Rabbits, however, if playing outside should be carefully watched–not only are there predators on land and sky, but they are also quite susceptible to heat and are quicker to get heat stroke than we are. They should be given fresh, clean and cool water on hot days, and if you find the heat hard to deal with imagine how your rabbit is feeling.

There are countless species of rabbits, the most common are your lion heads, dwarves and regulars. There are also dutch, angora, rex, mini rex, silver marten and much, much more. Each equally making great pets.

These humble animals will be quick to win your hearts and affection, they are one pet that is quickly over looked, but perhaps shouldn’t be. They are simply wonderful pets to own, with their easy maintenance, ease of learning tricks and behaviors and their affectionate natures.

Who said bunnies were small?

Who said bunnies were small?

lion head


You Don’t Sell Dogs? Than You Aren’t a Pet Store!

“Oh… You don’t sell dogs? What kind of pet store are you!?”

Believe it or not we get this question at least once a week, and people are always surprised when we say: actually no, we don’t sell dogs here. How by not selling dogs we aren’t a pet store, is beyond us. Many pet stores don’t even sell PETS anymore.

Their reactions are always the same, some or less vocal about it, but for some it’s hard to hide their disappointment (which sometimes turn to anger: “WHAT KIND OF PET STORE ARE YOU!?”). People often forget that things are fluid, things change, and in some cities it is required by law to only sell rescued dogs.

The main staple reason as to why we, The Urban Zoo, do not sell dogs is quite simple: KIJIJI.

A wonderful and free advertising website has given the ability to people to promote their animals for sale, and when it comes to dogs in particular, effectively ruins our market. Though we are more than capable by law to sell dogs in our store the truth is KIJIJI has simply granted anyone the ability to advertise and sell whatever they want.

There is also a stigma attached to pet stores, especially with dogs, that these animals come from inhuman living conditions, such as puppy mills. Which, quite frankly, is less frequent today than it was twenty years ago. Though puppy mills do still exist today, and it’s a tragedy, just because a pet store is selling a cat, or a dog or even a bird, doesn’t necessarily mean that these animals come from such places. Unfortunately, that is the popular stigma and misinformation people have when we did sell dogs or cats–that we were selling animals from mills or similar conditions.

Many of our animals come from local breeders and our community (such as our cats), but many of our animals as well are also bred and hand raised by us (specifically our birds). The odd animal we can’t get in through our community or ourselves, come from reputable breeders, companies and organizations.

Yet, people still hold this stigma. Making it difficult to sell dogs.

We’re also not as big as we were in the old store, we don’t have the room to effectively manage and care for dogs properly. Puppies require time, effort, training, veterinary check ups and space. Unfortunately, at this time, we don’t have a facility equipped to take care of dogs effectively and efficiently–though we have in the past taken dogs that have been dropped off on our door step and raise them back to health in our store, but that’s a whole other topic for a later date.

These people that drop off these dogs at our doorstep are the same people who are selling them on KIJIJI most of the time. We’re not saying all KIJIJI members who sell dogs are like this, far from it, many are local breeders and people who want to find their animals the right home… but what happens to those animals that AREN’T sold? Sometimes people do cruel things, like leaving them on our doorstep only for us to find these animals in a box the next morning.

So when people ask us: Why don’t you sell dogs?

We tell them it’s for a variety of reasons. The most obvious is KIJIJI, we can’t compete with prices like those–unfortunately people also don’t realize that those cheap dogs also don’t come with the many benefits that we provide for our own (like shots, flea treatment, deworming etc.). KIJIJI has effectively ruined our market for dogs, but unfortunately not everyone can understand that.

There are those underlying problems and threats as well, it hasn’t been the first time where we’ve got phone calls from the SPCA or similar groups asking about the puppies we’ve had sold–you know the ones that have been dropped on our doorstep? Luckily, for us we know the members of these groups, we can show our paperwork, run them through our routine when things like this happen. Phone calls like that, however, can really slow us down, give us a bad reputation and stop us from doing the good work we do.

So whether it be KIJIJI ruining or market, or misinformation and a lack of education on bystanders who come into the store when we do happen to have puppies, it’s simply a hassle worth avoiding altogether.

To best places to get a puppy or dog is the SPCA. Not only do have so many animals (not just dogs folks) running around our streets our shelters are struggling to maintain and keep these animals alive due to overcapacity–which leads to euthanization of these animals that are struggling to find a home.

People looking for dogs should seriously consider the SPCA and adoption programs they have at your disposal. Who knows, you just might find what you’re looking for.

Indian Ringneck Parakeets

Green indian ring-necked parakeet


Ten years ago you probably wouldn’t have seen these birds on the market nearly as much as you do today. They are by far one of the fastest growing medium sized parrots in popularity due to their high intelligences and their remarkable abilities to speak. Not only do they possess unique and wonderful abilities to entertain and captivate us, they also have a variety of mutational colours–from whites, blues, yellows to exotic colors like browns, reds and purples.

In India and Pakistan it’s not that uncommon to see the remarkable birds performing–with their intelligence they are quick to pick up tricks and routines that other similar birds tend to struggle with. It isn’t uncommon to see the birds ridding suitably formed bicycles, running along rope upside down and even playing basketball.

Their intelligence paired with their vocal skills have made this particular species of parakeet by far the most popular of its species. They also happen to be sexual dimorphic (except in a few mutations such as albino), meaning you are quite able to tell the males and females apart. Generally speaking females have a vague ring around their necks that is sometimes hard to spot, but the males often have a beautiful black ring around their neck that turns into a moustache. Lutino males (yellow feathered mutation) often have a soft pink ring that goes around their neck into a moustache.

They make wonderful and loyal pets. This parakeet species is by far the most misunderstood, and one only needs to look at their history to understand why. It’s best to have a hand raised and reared bird as they tend not to be as flighty.

Though they are quite capable of entertaining themselves on a regular basis this doesn’t give an owner the excuse to ignore and neglect their bird. It’s understandable to be hurt and even put off by the behavior of a bird that seems like it wants nothing to do with you, but the truth is Indian Ringnecks are careful observers. It takes them awhile to gain trust, but once you have it it’s almost unshakable. Sometimes the process is fast, and in others can take a very long time (just ask Darla and John! Nikki has taken almost a year to fully get comfortable with people, and even now she’s still flighty, and John once had an Indian Ringneck and he can attest to the time and effort it takes to train them!).

These birds also require a bit of time, especially in the beginning, we recommend at least 1-3 hours a day with this particular bird species. Eventually that standoffish nature that put you off will gradually reshape itself into curiosity and enthusiasm with everything you do. You’ll find them actively seeking your attention, time and affection.

In general Indian Ringnecks, unlike other birds, have steady personalities. Far to many owners get rid of these beautiful birds when the Bluffing stager (or puberty) gets to much… not knowing that AFTER the bluffing phase that once aggressive bird settles down, becomes stable and steady. After the bluffing phase the Indian Ringneck often goes an aggressive bird to the bird people want.

One that is tame, one that is obedient and one with remarkable skills. If you are able to preserver, remain patient and consistent with this bird you will reap many rewards and all that time and affectionate given will be rewarded tenfold.

They tend to pick favourites and prefer quieter households, but they are quite adaptive able to fit any household situation. They are also quite quiet, they don’t shriek nearly as much as some other bird species, making them suitable for apartment dwellers as well. One thing that should also be noted is that they aren’t particularly cuddly, but they are more than happy to express their affections in other ways that are quite unique. Such as running up to, leaning forward, and saying “Muah! Kisses!” Indian Ringnecks make excellent pets for the right home. They have stable personalities and can cope with minimal attention during busy times (does not mean they are content alone and as mentioned above ), and are great companions.

Due to their curious natures they are also avid learners, they love nothing more than learning new concepts, ideas, tricks, sounds, words etc. It’s important to keep these birds stimulated with a variety of toys in and outside of their cage. Due to their long tail feathers (as all parakeets have) it’s also important to have an appropriate sized cage to be able to support it’s tail (height is more important that length at this point).

Due to their stable personalities they are wonderful to interact with, they aren’t nearly as quick to bite and aren’t easily frustrated. They bond incredibly strong bonds with the members of the household, even if they choose a favourite. Making each and every relationship unique and special in it’s own way. Though this kind of bond can cause problems to outsiders, as they tend to chase away, bite and lunge at what (or who) they perceive as being an intruder. For those people they don’t like, luckily they are more opt to stay away from that person altogether.

Overall, this particular parrot can be a challenge at times (pushing your patience to the limits at times) this doesn’t detour from the fact that they make wonderful and excellent companion birds. With their intelligence, clear vocal skills and their strong forging bonds they can easily become one of the most memorable and best pet one could ever have.


Tiger Oscars

A Tiger Oscar given to us, coming out to say hi to one of our employees!

A Tiger Oscar given to us, coming out to say hi to one of our employees!


Cichlids are fierce and powerful fish, and among them the Tiger Oscar is by far the most commonly known (even if people don’t recognize them as cichlids) in and out of the hobby. They are well known for their beautiful colourations and for the variety of mutations that they often come in–such as greens, albinos and golds to name a few. They are commonly found in South America, but they have also been noted to be found in China, Australia and the United States. They are sometimes even considered a delicacy.

Oscars are slow growers (though this isn’t a hard or fast rule!), but in the end they can reach massive lengths of up to 18 inches!

Tiger Oscars are sometimes described as wolves–when put together they seem to hunt in pacts. They are ferocious, veracious and aggressive hunters. They enjoy getting their tanks messy with their remains.

What makes these cichlids widely known and popular, despite their intriguing appearance, is the fact that they are relatively hardy fish able to live in cooler temperatures of waters of 55 Fahrenheit. The ideal temperature, however, like most cichlids is anywhere between 75F to 85F.

Despite popular myths, Tiger Oscars are monomorphic, this meaning the sexes cannot be distinguished by physical or apparent features. They require at least a 70 gallon tank, because they do reach great lengths, and also because of their notorious carnivorous appetite endoparasites are one of the biggest threats to this particular species of fish. Take care that if you have plants (alive or synthetic) as they often enjoy uprooting them, in this case we generally recommend using floating plants which is a good compromise.

For the fact they are well known for their hardiness as a fish species pH levels (unless they are wild caught) are rather irrelevant for this particular fish species♥ I’m not saying throw away the notion of pH altogether, what I am saying is that the levels of pH is irrelevant if you are sustaining and maintaining your pH levels. In general a pH level of 6-8 is suitable for Oscars.

Tiger Oscars are well known to live up to five years in captivity, therefore they should have a committed owner.

Tiger Oscars also have a wide range of foods that they eat, from insects to specialized geared diets such as OMEGA ONE Natural Protein Formula Cichlid Flakes. They’ve even been known to eat various leafy greens. With such a wide range of foods keeping a Tiger Oscar healthy with the appropriate temperatures, lighting and diet is relatively easy to maintain.

Oscars should have a good number of rocks, plants (plastic or real) and other similar camouflaging and hiding tools. Good examples of these are the AquaFit products. Generally speaking Tiger Oscars are interior decorators at heart, they will take these plants, rocks and tools and re-arrange them to their liking–making Tiger Oscars rather eccentric fish.

Though Tiger Oscars can and are often put into tanks with other fish, generally speaking with their seemingly unquenchable hunger and their large sizes for the beginner it’s best advised not to do so.

It’s important to understand that Tiger Oscars (like most Oscar species) are very susceptible to Hole in head. Be sure to keep a close eye on your fish as all Oscar fishes can jump (we’ve found our Oscars once in a completely different tank and had eaten all the other fish) so it’s important to keep a lid on their tank to prevent and discourage such behaviours.

Intelligent fish, Oscar fish are calculating if not sometimes cold. They are more than capable of recognising their owners, which isn’t very common among fish. We once had an Tiger Oscar who didn’t do much of anything until our fish department expert came into the building–in which the Tiger Oscar would come out of hiding and interact with our employee.

With vibrant colours and their curious, almost bold natures, they are active fish than enjoy a personal relationship with their owners; making them unique fish to own. Though health can be sometimes a tricky thing with Oscars, don’t let this discourage you–they are hardy and well maintained fish. Pick the surrounding fish carefully when adding them to the tank, and you will have yourself a beautifully filled aquarium with the Tiger Oscar easily your center piece, pride and joy.


The Suits Game


We all like to save a little money, and we all like to learn something new! As such we’ve decided to create our own little game which we like to call “the Suits Game” it’s a simple game really, all you have to do is read our blog posts and find the symbol! Each symbol has a “%” value, this percentile value is specific to the product mentioned in that particular blog post. So if we look at our wonderful blog post of MBD we find we mentioned REPTI-CALCIUM, that particular item would be the item deal. So keep your eyes open and sharp because not every blog post will have a suit for your needs.

It’s not enough to identify the suit of the particular blog post and to know which product (or sometimes products!) are found within our blog post you will be questioned about the blog post itself to see exactly how much you’ve learned from it. That way you can apply your knowledge, test yourself and reap the benefits of your hard efforts!

The following suits have a numerical percentage, and this chart can be referred to so you know exactly how much you will be saving:

Hearts (the symbol, “♥”) will be used to indicate all items mentioned in a blog post are 10% OFF!
Spades (the symbol, “♠”) will be used to indicate all items mentioned in a blog post are 15% OFF!
Diamonds (the symbol, “♦”) will be used to indicate all items mentioned in a blog post are 20% OFF!
Clubs (the symbol, “♣”) will be used to indicate all items mentioned in a blog post are 25% OFF!

*All EXPIRATIONS occur a week after the blog post has been posted when a particular suit and product has been added! So be sure to be attentive and don’t allow these good deals and prices go to waste!*

So before we end this post, we would love to know what SUIT are you? Below we will describe a suit and if that matches you leave a comment bellow and let us know! We want to know which suit you are! Now, because we ARE a pet store it’s important we try to tie animals into this, so each suite also has a ‘category’ of animal. These categories tie into our OWN store. At the end of this blog post there will be a very important question to answer dependent on your suit, so be sure to answer it!

Leave a comment below letting us know your suit and your animal of choice in the respective category and actively join our community! Tell us a story about birds if you are Person of Spades, or maybe about fish if you are a Person of Hearts.

People of Hearts are often passionate and spiritual people who put ideals into practice. They are creative and powerful. People of Hearts can also describe someone who is more sensitive than others. Often times People of Hearts are generous, affectionate and some of them can be described as having ‘hearts of gold.’ In some cases this suit is more suited for people who are emotionally stable and independent. It can also represent someone who is shy or a person who isn’t afraid to speak their mind without apology. THE FISH IS THE ANIMAL OF HEARTS!

People of Spades are sometimes called hot headed. Though this certainly those describe some People of Spades it’s more accurate to say People of Spades are aggressive, which can sometimes tie into hot-headed nature. People of Spades are often intelligent and proud people. They can be egotistical, macho and confident; very few things can get them down as they seem to barrel through life. They know what they want and they take it, because of this some can be sneaky–doing anything to get on-top. Some are introverted, hard to express their feelings. They are the people who get things done. THE BIRD IS THE ANIMAL OF SPADES!

People of Diamonds can be materialistic, enjoying the finer things in life. They are often hard headed, stubborn and successful. They have a strong head for business. Many are kind and resourceful. They can be intense people to be around, but they are genuine and trustworthy friends. People of Diamonds are often goal-oriented and with a strong disposition. They can also be friendly and creative. THE REPTILE IS THE ANIMAL OF DIAMONDS!

We’ve all met the People of Clubs, the jokester. Someone who doesn’t seem to take life seriously; however just because People of Clubs might make light of certain things, it doesn’t mean they can’t take things seriously. They are often the center of attention using their charms (whether joking or nice smiles) to reel people in. They often confident, intelligent and in many cases knowledgeable about various things. People who are eccentric are perfect for the suit of clubs. People of Clubs often play fair and work hard. Despite People of Clubs being the clowns, many are also tough as nails. With their clownish ways it’s no surprised they are passionate and confident people, with strong beliefs and high values. They tend to get the last word in argument wise and they some of them are said to be ‘know-it-alls.’ THE SMALL ANIMAL IS THE ANIMAL OF CLUBS!

Can you name ONE of our animals in THE TRAVELLING ZOO that fits your suit and animal category? Leave a comment on our blog post or on Facebook page with this blog post specifically mentioned within the next week and you get 10% OFF a single item within that respectable category (example: THE REPTILE IS THE ANIMAL OF DIAMONDS; 10% OFF a single item in the reptile section!)

Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) in Reptiles


Metabolic Bone Disease (also known as MBD) is among one of the most common diseases found in reptiles in captivity, and it is a complicated issue all together which doesn’t always stem from calcium deficiencies (however, by far the most common reason). MBD is an umbrella term referring to abnormalities of bones caused by a broad spectrum of disorders. For reptiles it is generally an improper calcium to phosphorus ratio in the body as well a lack of Vitamin D. As such, with a lack of calcium, the body compensates by taking from other areas of the body, such as bones. This leads to the softening of bones, which in turn makes it easier for fractures to appear.

It also causes disposition of fibrous tissue as the body tries to strengthen the bone in an absence of available calcium.

MBD symptoms vary depending on severity, however, commonly noticeable signs of MBD are as followed:

* Limping
* Bowed legs
*Hard lumps along the legs, spinal column and/or jaw
*Softening and unusual flexibility of the lower jaw
*Difficulty raising off the ground
*Tremors, jerky movements and twitching
*Lameness and anorexia
*Lethargy, weakness and paralysis
*For tortoises and turtles their shells become soft and may cause the shell to “pyramiding,” the shell starts looking like a pyramid.

Though there are various treatments that can be done for MBD, they are often expensive, hard to find and can take years. If you suspect your animal to have MBD it is advised you make an appointment with an appropriate veterinarian and get a proper diagnosis.

However, there are measures one can take to help prevent the cause of MBD in your reptile.

Lighting and heating is essential to the prevention of MBD, it’s important to know the appropriate temperatures for your animal (as all reptiles require different temperatures), as prolonged exposure to coolness can cause MBD. Lighting is also essential, by lighting we aren’t talking about the light from the basking bulb, we’re talking about specialised bulbs that emanate ultraviolet radiation, these bulbs are known as UVB bulbs, they generally come in various different watts, sizes and types that are appropriate for your lizard.

Another important factor is how your animal will get it’s calcium, as the main staple diet often rarely fully donates enough calcium for their bones. Generally speaking most reptiles eat insects, as such these insects are sprinkled with a mineral or calcium powder to help supplement and augment the diet. Reptiles that often have a mammalian diet tend to get plenty of calcium from the bones of their prey item. Choosing a high quality calcium and/or mineral powder is crucial because a calcium supplement with too much potassium will actually increase your reptile’s chances of getting Metabolic Bone Disease.

Next on our list is a Vitamin D3 supplement. Though calcium dust and mineral powder are important, it wouldn’t matter if your reptile ate nothing but calcium if he also wasn’t getting enough Vitamin D3. The best way to insure your animal gets Vitamin D3 is a combination of certain calcium powders alongside with a UVB Bulb, make sure you read the label of your calcium powders carefully for the indication of Vitamin D3.

The most commonly used, and one of the highest grade calcium powders (which come in a variety specific to certain reptiles), is REPTI-CALCIUM by Zoo Med which can be a little tricky to get a hold of–luckily we sell it here.

Lastly, regarding feeding, it’s important to use the highest quality insects or animals around. This will guarantee that your animal will get the most of what it’s eating and with the calcium powder and the UVB bulb you will not only be preventing MBD you will also help prolong the life and providing excellent animal husbandry.

It’s also important not to overfeed your animals, as this can also be a factor in causing MBD. Many new comers to reptiles often make the mistake of overfeeding their animals and one should do proper research on the animal of choice before any big purchase.

*It’s very important that you witness signs of MBD that you take the animal immediately to an appropriate veterinarian clinic. As they have the equipment, knowledge and experience to deal with this issue accordingly. Consult the chart above if you feel that your animal is at risk as MBD kills reptiles. The process of MBD may be as simple as injecting the animal with a calcium shot, or it may be a long and gruelling experience for others. This disease and issue should not be taken lightly!*