not sure if i’ve mentioned this but bc i am a mother to my son, alfred, a veiled chameleon, im constantly buying him crickets from the pet store and have been deemed the cricket lady, i walk in and no matter whose up front they just look up and are like “crickets?” and i’m like :) yup :)
I dont want to make a post on my own blog(but no one will see it, it could be somewhat important) BUT, I work at a michaels craft store and of course every store is different, but generally theyre pretty dog friendly, so it may be a good place to train after pet stores, but also be careful about other dogs in there. As a cashier who fears for losing my job i can't do shit to make people leave even when i want to, but it's not obvious that we tend to allow dogs so not many people bring them.
Ey! Good info for our owner trainer followers! I would still talk to a manager before going into the store, but it’s definitely a place I would check out to move forward with training!
Seriously though, the number of grown adults who pitch a WHINY HISSY FIT when I tell them that they can’t take an animal home is astounding.
My favorite one from this holiday season was a man with a young girl (about 5 or 6 years old) and a teenage boy. The man approaches me and, without me even asking what I can help them with, says:
Man: So we had a goldfish in a bowl and my son changed the food and it died! Son: (clearly offended, yet texting) It wasn’t MY fault! Me: Actually the reason it more than likely died is because goldfish REALLY shouldn’t be kept in bowls. Man: Well it’s a big bowl, like this! (mimes about a gallon-sized bowl shape) Me: Yeah, that’s actually pretty darn tiny. Man: Well anyway, we want to get another one. Girl: I want three! Me: Unfortunately I can’t sell you a fish today– your setup really isn’t going to work for a goldfish. You’re going to need at least 10 gallons for just ONE and even then you’re going to have to upgrade within a month or so. Goldfish really aren’t a beginner fish…
As I say that I brace myself knowing what’s coming up. Almost every time I refuse sale of a fish, I get the same reaction: outrage and demanding to talk to the manager, etc.
Man: Well I HAVE a tank. Me: …I really don’t feel comfortable selling you the fish since I really feel like you’re not going to give it the proper care it needs for a long and healthy life. Man: What?! I said I have a tank! Why won’t you sell me the fish?! Me: How big is the tank? Man: 10 gallons! Me: I still don’t feel comfortable selling you the fish. I’m going to have to refuse the sale, I’m very sorry. Man: What do you mean?! Me: I’m not going to sell you fish today, I’m very sorry. Man: I demand to talk to your manager!!! Me: -points to nametag- Sir, I AM the manager. Man: -takes a full pause, not expecting this- Man: So you’re not going to sell me a fish, really? These 15-cent fish that you feed to turtles, you’d sell it for that but not to me?? Me: If you had the setup for it, I would be more than happy to. Man: I told you I have a tank! Me: You told me you had your fish in a bowl. I honestly believe you are just saying this to get the fish at this point, sir, I’m sorry. Man: What do you I have to do, bring in a picture to prove I have it?? Me: -calling his bluff in a cheerful tone- Absolutely! I would love to see pictures of your tank and I would be more than happy to help you stock it after seeing your setup! Man: (He takes another full pause) I’m going to call the company and COMPLAIN about you! This is ridiculous, what’s the number to complain?? Me: I’m afraid I don’t know that off the top of my head sir. Man: You don’t know the company number??? Me: No sir, but I believe it’s on our website.
While this was going on, the teenage boy was in the reptiles aisle texting and the girl was watching the turtles swim around in our tank nearby. The man then grabs his daughter by the hand and does this in front of other customers:
Man: Let’s go– the lady’s not going to sell us fish. She’s a MEAN LADY. (he’s staring directly at me as I stand there with no expression on my face) Girl: Oh we’re not getting fish? -not even upset- Man: Yeah because she’s a MEAN LADY. (he says these words at a higher volume and with more emphasis)
He continues to repeat that phrase as he exits down the reptile aisle, making customers uncomfortable and I just shrug and go back to what I was doing before this scene.
An hour later I get a call from corporate.
NC: Hi, this is the national center, we just wanted to ask about the conditions surrounding a complaint we received about you. A customer has complained that you wouldn’t sell him a fish even after stating he had the correct setup. We just would like to hear your side of the story. Me: (I tell him about the fact the guy had a goldfish in a bowl and then changed his story saying he had a tank and that I refused sale because I didn’t feel he was being honest or would care for the animal) Me: And then he left the store, calling me a “mean lady” several times in a loud voice and said he would call you guys. NC: Ok Christina, I just wanted to let you know that we agree with you 100% and that you did everything you were supposed to. We wish you a very happy holiday season and I hope your shift goes well! Me: Thank you! You too!
I did a little happy dance and told the other manager on duty, who didn’t believe me when I said the company would have my back on the issue (he thought the company would bend over backwards for the guy and it would bite me in the butt)
BUT WAIT IT GETS BETTER
The next day I come in for work at 2PM to find out from my general manager that the guy had called the store (after the nat center told him I was correct, mind you) to complain about me and saying that my behavior was “irresponsible” and that I was “unprofessional” and that I should be reprimanded or fired.
My general manager just said “Well I’m sorry to hear that sir but you see, she has NEVER gotten a complaint as long as she has worked for the company and the national center has already stated that she has done everything according to policy. Sorry you feel that way, man, but there’s nothing I’m going to do against her in this situation.”
Made my week.
So, yeah, my company defended the life of a 15-cent “feeder” goldfish.
I’m sick of the pet industry always fucking animals like the betta over so let’s get some things straight
MYTH: bettas like small spaces, they live in small rice paddies in the wild
REALITY: No they absolutely do not, sure some survive this, but it’s a cruel life to live. Rice paddies are actually quite big although shallow, the average male betta has about 3 feet of its own territory in the wild. Bettas need AT LEAST 2.5 gallons, but a 5-10 g is even better. You can get a 3 g tank from petco for like $10
MYTH: you should feed your betta whenever it is hungry
REALITY: a bettas stomach is the size of its eyeball, it is very easy to overfeed. I feed my betta 3 pellets twice a day, but lots of people feed at different times with different food so I suggest doing some research and deciding what works best for you.
MYTH: bettas are lazy
REALITY: bettas are inactive in small tanks because they’re aware that they have no space to swim and will hit walls, in larger tanks bettas are very active
MYTH: bettas can only be kept alone
REALITY: it is true that male betta fish cannot be kept with any other betta, but (depending on the bettas personality) bettas can be kept with fish that are smaller and drab looking that won’t bite your bettas tail. I keep my betta with 2 snails and 5 ghost shrimp and he rarely bothers them. Female bettas can be kept in groups of 5 which is called a sorority. Keep in mind that these options are only possible in large tanks with lots of hiding spots.
MYTH: bettas will eat live plants so you don’t have to feed them if you have plants in the tank
REALITY: bettas are CARNIVORES. They won’t eat plants, they will eat blood worms and brine shrimp which you can buy frozen. In fact feeding real prey is good along with pellets or flakes.
MYTH: bettas don’t need filtration or heat
REALITY: they need both. As far as filtration goes, strong currents don’t mix well with bettas so a sponge filter is best.
MYTH: bettas only live a couple months anyway, why should I be doing all this?
REALITY: with proper care, bettas can live 5 years.
MYTH: bettas and all other fish are dumb
REALITY: bettas are actually very smart and trainable. Mine was taught to jump out of the water on command and come when called (by wiggling fingers). Some people have taught bettas harder tricks such as going through a hoop. They can even learn when meal time is and be ready for it.
MYTH: My child will take care of the betta
REALITY: your child will lose interest within a week, YOU will be taking care of their fish. If you’re not okay with that don’t buy your kid a fish.
MYTH: I should completely change the tank each time I clean it
REALITY: you should instead do frequent partial water changes of about 40% of the water
MYTH: bettas are throw away pets
REALITY: there is no such thing as a throw away pet and if you think there is you shouldn’t own pets
Please always read care sheets before buying a pet because -newsflash- PET STORES LIE.
It’s honestly such a shame that in order to “sell” proper husbandry, I have to make it appeal to the consumer and tell them how it’s going to make their responsibilities easier.
I can’t say “pellets are healthier for your goldfish because they won’t gulp air at the surface,” I have to say, “these are much easier to clean and won’t dissolve and get all gross like flakes!”
I can’t say “this pleco is way too big for your 20 gallon aquarium,” I have to say, “plecos actually create much more waste than they clean up, so don’t bother!”
Why can’t I just tell someone that what they’re doing is hurting their pet and that be enough for them? Why does making the right decisions for your animals have to also benefit you, otherwise they aren’t worth doing?
So I was tagged by @why-animals-do-the-thing in a post about what not to say in a job interview. It’s a bit overdue, but I figured this was a good opportunity to continue some of “How to Zookeep” and give y’all some insight on interviews. I’ve actually conducted quite a lot of interviews for an entry-level position. Here are just a few Do’s and Don’ts…
General Maybe Do’s:
Wear an outfit that looks pretty nice, but don’t go too formal. You should be able to get muddy or hop a fence - just in case. Most of the time you’ll know if it’s a true working interview, but some interviews will involve a tour, meeting an animal, or other situations where you might get messy.
Show that you’ve researched the facility and the position. This is especially true for phone interviews or if you’re not from the area. If you’ve ever visited the facility, mention that. Mention specific parts of the job description and why you’re interested or why you would excel at it. I know I always make a good note if candidates reference something on our website or from the job description because it lets me know they’ve done their homework. (One time a candidate quoted something verbatim and it was a little jarring only because I wrote that part of the website and it was strange to hear someone quote me).
If at all possible, have specific examples from your past experiences that you can talk about. These could be examples of training, working well with others, strengths & weaknesses, general animal care, etc. Try to be able to tell a story about when you worked around a training difficulty or resolved an issue with a coworker. And yes, have a real answer for “strengths and weaknesses”.
Try to use the most ‘updated’ zoo language you can. Zoo terminology changes so fast it’s hard to keep up. Try to use some of the research (website and job description) to see what kind of language this particular facility uses and attempt to mirror it. Examples are “in human care” instead of captivity or “habitat / enclosure” instead of cage/exhibit. It’s just a bonus way to make a good impression.
General Maybe Don’ts:
Don’t get political. This is what @why-animals-do-the-thing was asked about - mentioning animal rights activist groups in the interview. Unless you are completely sure that it is specifically relevant to the position try not to get into any heavy areas of debate, any controversial news stories (think Harambe), or politically charged organizations like PETA, HSUS, etc. And even though you might think that everyone in the zoo world agrees that US politics are terrible for zoos/the environment or something along those lines, a job interview is not the time to mention it.
Don’t ask for tips about a specific facility on a public forum. It’s important to do research, but this one crosses a bit of a professional line. I would advise against going on any public forum (like the facebook groups You Know You’re a Zookeeper When and Zookreepers) and asking for interview advice about a certain facility. Most people won’t want to comment publicly about their facility as it can be seen as unprofessional and a lot of their coworkers will see it. Most of the time the research you need can be done on the website and with some googling, but if you feel you just need to talk to someone who works there, try flexing your networking muscle a bit.
Don’t say you love animals. This sounds contradictory but hear me out here - this job is about much more than loving animals. A lot of interviewers are used to hearing this answer or seeing it in cover letters of people who think that liking animals is all you have to do for a job. Yes, you love animals, we know that. But what do you love about working with them? Do you like enrichment, exhibit design, training? What do you love about the career of zookeeper / aquarist / etc? It’s important to go beyond the surface of just wanting to be around animals and go into the details of how you will improve their lives when you literally have their lives in your hands. I’ve heard from a lot of interviewers that they’re tired of hearing about ‘passion’, they want to hear about action. They want to hear about cleaning, hard work, the real nitty-gritty of the job. This don’t also leads to a general tip (what if you don’t have examples of what you like yet?)
Here’s a common problem: you’re applying for your first entry-level position and you don’t have any animal experience yet. What do you talk about? Here’s some ideas:
Academic research or fieldwork - did you go on birding trips? Did you do mist-netting? Have you worked in a lab that uses live animals? Those things can be beginner animal experience.
Volunteering - zoos, vet clinics, etc.
Formal domestic animal experience - even if it’s not with exotic animals, the basics of caring for small domestics (cats, dogs, rodents, fish, etc.) in a formal setting (vet, pet store, rescue) has some aspects that apply in zoos, such as restraint and medical care.
Personal pets (very carefully) - It’s not that personal pet experience isn’t helpful when you’re just starting out, but sometimes newer keepers come in with an idea that their pet experience is on the same level as caring for animals in a formal career setting. It is not. Caring for your own animal in your own home is VERY different from caring for it in a zoo, aquarium, vet’s office, etc. In a formal setting, there are legal guidelines to follow, teams of people to communicate with about animal care, and lots of formality/red tape that doesn’t exist in a home setting. Pets can be useful as examples in interviews if it is relevant (medicating, enrichment, restraint) but they are almost never seen as an actual qualification. Side note, please don’t list personal pet care on a resume.
Overall in an interview, you want to try to be as collected and confident as possible. BUT if you get nervous and you’re really struggling, just tell us! It’s better to just laugh a bit and say sorry, I’m nervous, than to completely freeze up. I have done plenty of interviews where the person is nervous and that’s okay. I’ve hired people who were nervous or misspoke in their interview.
If you have any other questions, feel free to drop me a line. I’ve interviewed and hired people for just three years now, so I may not be particularly seasoned, but I can lend a little of my expertise.
[submission] I’m an animal person. Well, mammals specifically. Worked with them for years and never really *got* keeping reptiles, but I didn’t knock it. I live in one of those big apartment complexes with indoor hallways, and about a week and a half ago I was just chilling, minding my own business. I got up to grab a snack… 15 minutes into netflix and chill I walked by my foyer and a random noodle gave me this look
I….was…a bit taken aback. Reptiles aren’t my thing but I surmised he was A) not venomous and B) probably not from the united states east cost.
I discovered he was scared but not aggressive and I figured he’d escaped from someone, and since I knew snakes needed to be kept warm I put him in my bra and went to knock on some doors. Nobody knew anything about him and eventually I went back, and looked up reptile rescue centers and the closest one was a hundred miles away. This was on a Sunday and I wouldn’t be able to get him there till Saturday, and I couldn’t just keep him in my bra for a week. I did a google search and came up with your normal rubbermaid and paper towel setup and…it seemed…idk. Reptile person I wasn’t, animal person I WAS and I decided to browse the tungle to see what I could see.
I found your blog.
I learned he had stuck shed like crazy, and that there was much more to keeping a snake than $20 worth of stuff from target. I also figured if I was going to shell out to give a temporary home…well…I’d just make it his permanent one. I didn’t have the chance to scour your blog as much as I wanted, since I felt bad for keeping him where he was for so long, but I went to the pet store and set up this
(it’s heated from underneath and 2 temp and humidity monitored) it’s not exactly what I want it to be, but I did what I could with what I had and since then I’ve made a few modifications (bigger water bowl for a start)
I’ve been all over your blog and your frustration with the people who claim ball pythons are completely sedentary are starting to anger me too, because from what I learned and what I can tell this dude is doing a lot better.
The fact that there are people who just their snakes nearly immobile and tucked away astounds me.
(ignore old tape, tank was sanitized and salvaged from apartment recycling room)
He climbs. Sometimes when I stay up I’ll take a peek at his tank and he’ll be all over his bamboo pole or plants or on his hide.
He choses places to chill other than his hides (that’s a super low powered heat lamp I used to warm up my budgie for spray baths; wondered if he’d like some ‘sun’ on his scales)
He has, thus far, been nothing but an enthusiastic eater.
I went from seeing people collect reptiles like trading cards and thinking that was all there was to it, to being absolutely fascinated by this chill little noodle and loving to see what he’s up to . I went from complete ambivalence to becoming more and more passionate about proper reptile husbandry.
You don’t have to post this, I just want you to know that for every asshole who should probably stick to those morimo moss balls, you inspire another person to learn everything she can about properly caring for these guys, enriching and monitoring their environment, and trying to make sure they are as healthy and happy as possible.
You ARE making a difference.
I really dont have any words that describe how i feel, but this is one of the sweetest things anyone has ever sent me. Thank you so much for sharing!!!
I need all your photos and evidence of products labelled “perfect for [x]” species when it very clearly is not. Examples:
A. A product that claims to be a “complete” hermit crab enclosure. It is not large enough, contains no substrate, does not have water conditioner, nor does it have salt mix. It is NOT a complete habitat.
B. A product that claims to be “ideal for bettas.” This product is NOT because A. Its too small and B. The filter is too strong for such a small tank. (Additionally, it has a purposefully deceptive photo of a gourami in the tank - I would NEVER keep a dwarf gourami in a tank that small)
I need more images and examples of blatantly wrong and misleading advertisements on pet care labels.
Why? Because I’m gonna sue the absolute shit out of them. And anyone who helps my cause will A. Help it further along, causing pet supply stores to be honest with their claims and B. Likely get a slice of the settlement. Now, I’ll be honest, an ideal settlement would be twice what the companies make off these products in one year donated to the ASPCA and other animal-welfare organizations - I’m genuinely not looking to get a cent. But the possibility of getting reparations remains.
So I need your photos. I need your peer-reviewed studies. I need your stories of animals suffering and dying in these environments, and your stories of your animals thriving in others.
My goal is to cause the FDA to test every claim like this - making it that much more difficult for companies to swindle people into abusing their pets for the company’s profit.