Marc Morrone was born in 1960 in the Bronx and, when he was 2, his family moved to
Q. My children have a lop-eared bunny and a guinea pig, and when they are out of their cages together they seem to get along just fine. Right now they are each in their own cage right next to each other. I was wondering if we could just get one larger cage and keep them both in it. We do not have as much free time as we used to and housing them together would make things a little easier. They do seem to eat the same food anyway. --Rita Smith, Manorville
A. Anybody who has seen me on TV knows that getting different species to live together is my specialty, but this is one situation where each pet should have his or her own cage.
Although they may enjoy each other's company when they are out of the cage, I have found that when kept together long term, many rabbits get annoyed by guinea pigs' nudgings and pushes. I have also noticed that guinea pigs will chew on a rabbit's fur when given the opportunity.
The diet is also an issue. Yes, they both enjoy fresh greens, vegetables and hay, but the pelleted foods you give to them are different. Although guinea pig pellets and rabbit pellets may look the same, the ones for guinea pigs contain vitamin C and this is very important for this species. Pellets for rabbits have a lot more fiber in them and, without lots of fiber, rabbits can get all sorts of digestive issues. Both animals have different protein requirements.
So housing the two pets together just isn't the right thing to do.
Q. Some members of my family spend entirely too much money on sweaters and coats for our two Maltese, and the dogs certainly do not seem too happy when they are wearing these color-coordinated outfits. Everybody else in my family insists that the dogs will be too cold outside without the sweaters. Is this true? --T. Williams, Baldwin
A. The Maltese breed was bred to be a house pet in the Mediterranean where winters there are not as severe as they are here. The breed does have a long flowing coat, but it is not designed to insulate against cold weather.
Naturally, this breed will need some sort of sweater or coat in the winter months. I cannot comment on how much the coats should cost or what color they should be as long as they keep the dogs warm and are easy to put on and take off.
Q. We set up a bird feeder close to our kitchen window and have enjoyed seeing the chickadees and nuthatches. Lately, a small brown hawk has taken to snatching a bird from it every afternoon. The little birds seem to be unaware of what is happening and go right back to the feeder after the hawk is gone. What can we do about the situation? --Ann Davison, Glen Cove
A. The bird in question is most likely a Sharp Shinned Hawk, and, although its daily diet of a little bird may seem excessive to you, this situation is natural, and the wild bird population can handle it just fine as long as their habitat is secure.
I can see how this may upset you, though, and if you want the hawk to move on to another person's backyard for its daily meal, then all you need to do is take the feeder down for a week or so. Then, little birds will stop being such easy marks and the hawk will move on. When this happens, you can then put the feeder up and the little birds will go right back to it.
There are so many feeders set up around these days that the birds will be fine for the week or so that you have taken yours down.