Ask Marc: Pet Questions
LISA: My veterinarian recommends that I get my ferret inoculated against rabies. But my ferret never leaves the house and certainly never comes into contact with wild animals. Why is the rabies inoculation advisable?
MARC: Although the chance of a pet ferret contracting rabies is remote, vaccination will prevent problems with the state health department if someone should claim that your ferret has scratched or bitten him. A letter from your vet stating that your pet is current on shots will save a lot of time and worry.
LISA: I just set up a 20-gallon freshwater aquarium a week ago. The water was clear at first, but now it has a haze in it. I cleaned the filter and changed the water, but the haze came back. What should I do?
MARC: Called new-tank syndrome, the haze in the water of new aquariums is caused by an imbalance between the ammonia produced by the fish and the common bacteria that consume it. Since the haze cannot be removed or filtered out, the only solution is to wait until the bacteria builds up in the tank enough to counteract the ammonia as soon as it is produced. It usually takes three to four weeks for a freshwater aquarium and six to eight weeks for a saltwater tank.
JACQUIE: My bunny keeps chewing through the wires of my husband's computer. I tried using bitter sprays on the wires, but he still gnaws on them. Is there anything else I can do?
MARC: To prevent rabbits from chewing on electrical cords, run the cords through lengths of PVC pipe. This will also tidy up any tangled wires on the floor.
SHEILA: We have a hamster in a 10-gallon tank, and he loves his exercise wheel, but it keeps falling down in the tank, and the poor guy can't use it. Is there anything better than an exercise wheel?
MARC: Actually, there is nothing better than an exercise wheel for maintaining the health of hamsters. The way to secure one correctly is to hang it from the top of the cage using garbage-bag or electrical-cord twists. This frees up space and ensures that the wheel will not tip over.
JOE: My son is nagging me to get an iguana as a pet. He would be happy with any reptile, but an iguana seems to be the least expensive. Are they good pets?
MARC: Iguanas are extraordinary creatures. Watching them grow from small, curious creatures into adulthood is a fascinating lesson in reptile development. However, it is best to keep the following in mind if you are considering adopting one: They can grow to 6 feet in length; they live up to 10 years; and they require much care. In other words, owning an iguana is a serious commitment. A smaller alternative is the Australian bearded dragon. As intelligent and responsive as an iguana, it grows to only about 20 inches.
Marc Morrone, pet expert