Exotic Pet Habitat Maintenance: Keeping it Clean and Safe

Exotic Pet Habitat Maintenance: Keeping it Clean and Safe

The Adventure of the Unknown

You know, every time I get a call about a project involving exotic animals – whether it’s bears, moose, ostriches, big cats, or alligators – I can’t help but get a little excited. It’s probably the kid in me who grew up in the country, trying to catch any critter I could get my hands on. Who knew porcupines could climb trees, right? And let’s not even get started on my parents’ idea that hybrid wolves would make good pets… with kids involved, no less. But I digress.

Along with this excitement comes the adventure of the unknown. Venturing into new waters seems to bring a set of unique challenges that can’t always be anticipated. And you know what they say – challenges are just opportunities in disguise. So, when a customer comes to me looking to create the perfect habitat for their exotic pet, I welcome the chance to put on my thinking cap and get creative.

Feathers and Fangs: Overcoming Exotic Challenges

Now, you’d think that with all my experience, I’d have seen it all. But let me tell you, sometimes the most obvious things can slip right past me. Take, for example, my encounter with Peter from Arizona Aquatic Gardens. Peter’s day job is supplying the freshwater aquarium world with some great fish and water treatments, but he’s also got a ranch full of exotic animals – no small feat, let me tell you.

Peter and his family have implemented nationally recognized conservation and breeding programs for animals that I’m not even sure how to pronounce. He was kind enough to share pictures of a few of his world-class habitats, including his ostrich enclosure. The main event, of course, is the ostriches, but in the background, there’s a simple concrete pond with a fountain.

The fountain was down, and Peter needed a submersible pump to get it back up and running again as soon as possible. We quickly shipped him one of our top-selling pumps, and all was well… until a few weeks later, when Peter called to inform me that the pump had quit again. He told me how dangerous of a job it can be to venture into the enclosure with the aggressive birds to service the pump.

We shipped Peter a new pump right away, so he could swap it out in one go rather than risk a swift kick from an angry Jurassic Park-sized bird at two different entrances. And you know what? Once the failed pump arrived back at our warehouse for inspection, I felt equal parts relieved that the pump was actually fine and embarrassed that I hadn’t thought of giant bird feathers plugging up the pump from the very beginning. Based on what we dug out of the impeller during our inspection, we realized that some simple pre-screening was all that was needed to make Peter’s life much easier. Needless to say, a new question has been added to my checklist when it comes to enclosures with large birds.

Another success story I was able to take part in was the tiger exhibit at the Roosevelt Park Zoo in Minot, North Dakota. I don’t think I’ll forget Irv Geffre from Alta Falls, a long-time distributor based in Minnesota, calling me and saying something to the effect of, “I’ve got a really neat project that’s wide open for whatever we want. It’s going to have tigers in it, and a couple of lined ponds for them to swim in.”

My list of questions for this one got long quickly, but the primary goals were straightforward: protect the pond’s liner and equipment from some pretty wicked claws, give the cats clean water to drink from and play in, provide a feature that was simple and safe for the zoo’s maintenance crew to maintain, and create an aesthetically pleasing feature to catch the eye of the zoo’s many visitors. But, of course, goal number one was to protect the liner, because what good is a pond that doesn’t hold water?

For this, all the credit goes to Irv. His plan of installing Porous Pave over the liner has proven to be an extremely effective paw-friendly solution. The zoo was more than willing to give it a try, and everyone involved couldn’t be happier with the results. Goal number two, keeping the water clean, was accomplished with two skid-mounted filtration systems that include cartridge filters and 400-watt commercial UV lights. We chose cartridge filters because they’re simple to maintain, and without fish or plants, the biological needs of the ponds are low. The UV lights provided a safe alternative to chlorine, yielding clear water that’s safe for the cats to drink and doesn’t affect the EPDM liners.

To help keep the zoo’s maintenance staff safe, these skid systems are tucked away in a nearby building, protecting the filtration systems and the zoo’s staff from the curious cats. This location was critical in keeping the zoo’s staff and the cats in their respective areas. If you haven’t gathered it already, the Roosevelt Park Zoo has been a great partner in this project, both during the planning and construction phases, and more importantly, the maintenance of the feature.

This project was full of out-of-the-box solutions, and while credit can’t go to just one person, Irv’s creative solutions really helped hit this one out of the park. If someone were to ask me what I see that makes exotic animal projects successful and why they’re worth the extra effort, I think it starts with someone being willing to step outside their comfort zone and have perseverance. I’ve seen customers bring this to the table time and time again, and in almost every instance, they get to walk away with a really neat addition to their portfolio or private escape.

Embracing the Unexpected

I end up with a whole new category of customers and some cool stories to tell. For my part, I feel blessed to be able to contribute my small piece, helping folks do what they do best, while getting a chance to remember what it was like to have my bedroom pillow become a wolf’s habitat. I think I’m going to have to get that pillow back.

When it comes to exotic pet habitat maintenance, the key is being willing to adapt and think creatively. Whether it’s dealing with aggressive birds, powerful felines, or any other unexpected challenge, the solutions are out there. You just have to be willing to step outside your comfort zone and embrace the adventure of the unknown.

And you know what they say – the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know. So, if you’re tackling an exotic pet habitat project, don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions, do your research, and be prepared for a few surprises along the way. After all, that’s half the fun, isn’t it?

If you’re looking to create the perfect habitat for your exotic pet, head on over to Golden Exotic Pets. Our team of experts is ready to help you navigate the adventure of the unknown and keep your furry (or scaly) friend safe and happy.

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