Marc Morrone was born in 1960 in the Bronx and, when he was 2, his family moved to
Q: We replaced our old concrete bird bath five weeks ago with a newer ceramic one. Why does it seem many weeks later that we still see none of our regular visitors? The location is unchanged.
-- C. Z Neet, West Babylon
A: A watering place can be dangerous for birds. It is the one place where they have to let their guard down. A bird is never more vulnerable than when it is taking a bath and its feathers are wet and reactions delayed. So birds want to be certain that all is OK with the new bath. In their minds, it is better to be alive and dirty than clean and eaten by a cat or a hawk. Most likely they will start to use the new bath any week now.
Q: My son has a 1-year-old Australian cattle dog who loves to chase bubbles. He gets great exercise running around after them and every now and then is able to catch one. I was wondering if the soap from the bubbles would be harmful to him. We do exercise him in other ways but he really seems to like chasing the bubbles.
-- Beth Altimari
A: I have used bubbles as entertainment for my pets for decades. My dogs, cats, all types of birds, ferrets, rabbits and even monkeys have all enjoyed chasing and popping bubbles. It seems they never lose hope that they will be able to grab or catch one that does not pop on impact.
I've asked vets if there were any issues with this and I was told that, while there have never been any scientific studies on this subject, the tiny bit of soap that is actually ingested will not cause the pet any harm.
Several companies make a soap scented with catnip for cats that love to chase bubbles.
Q: My Syrian hamster Ginger has been chewing on the bars of the cage lately and she is rubbing the fur off her nose. I am afraid she will damage her teeth, plus the noise of this keeps us up all night. We have every kind of wood block in the cage for her to chew on, but she prefers to just pluck at the bars. I tried coating the bars with bitter apple spray, but she will just try different bars until she gets to an area that does not seem quite as bitter tasting as the others. What else can we possibly do?
-- Kelsey Green
A: It seems that there is no choice except to put her in a glass tank like we used to do years ago. She has no conception of the future or that there can be any consequences of chewing on metal all night long. Since it brings her pleasure, for whatever reason, she is going to continue to do it.
So get a 10-gallon tank with a screen cover and a water bottle and holder. Since she seems to be a hamster with a purpose in life you will also need to have a pair of clips to hold the cover down tight, as a hamster like Ginger will most certainly climb up the water bottle to push the cover off and then wander about the house. When she realizes that there are no more metal bars to chew on she will most likely start to chew on the wooden blocks that you have been providing.