Marc Morrone Newsday columnist Marc Morrone

Marc Morrone was born in 1960 in the Bronx and, when he was 2, his family moved to Long Beach, where he quickly became enchanted with the natural world of the seahore. This is when he started to keep any pet that he could get his hands on: It mattered not if it was an insect, fish, amphibian, bird or mammal.

When he was 7, the Morrones relocated to Cold Spring Harbor, where Marc was introduced to the natural world of Long Island's North Shore. The larger house his family had there allowed him to keep more and more pets, and this passion has continued to this day.

The experience and knowledge that he gained by keeping any kind of pet in all lifestyle situations has opened many doors for him, and he currently shares his knowledge with other petkeepers in many media formats. In addition to his weekly column in Newsday, he hosts a weekly TV show on Cablevision’s News 12 Long Island called Animal Island that airs on Saturday and Sunday. He also hosts a TV show called Petkeeping with Marc Morrone that airs Monday through Friday at noon on The HallMark Channel.

He is the petkeeping expert that appears on Martha Stewart's daily TV show as well as writer for the pet columns in the magazine Martha Stewart Living. In addition, he also hosts a live call-in radio show every Friday night at 8 p.m. on the Martha Stewart channel on Sirus/XM radio channel 112/157.

Morrone has written 5 books: Ask the Dogkeeper, Ask the Catkeeper, Ask the Birdkeeper and Ask the Fishkeeper, all published by Bowtie Press. He also has a memoir book, "A Man For All Species," published by Random House.

Marc Morrone lives in Oceanside with his wife and son and a houseful of pets.
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Q: My 9-year-old cat was just diagnosed with diabetes. I am not giving him shots/insulin. I'm giving him the Hill's prescription diet the vet has recommended. My cat is not that crazy about the food, but will eat it. Can the diabetes be controlled enough with diet and no insulin? --Claire Sanderson, West Islip

A: This is one of those questions that can cause endless debates. You had a vet who examined the cat and has been monitoring the levels. Knowing the cat's situation intimately, he or she is best able to answer this for you.

I have had two cats and one dog with diabetes. I was going through a "holistic" period in my life when my first pet was diagnosed with this. I tried to manage the situation without insulin, but I had no success. I ended up throwing in the towel for the sake of the cat and gave her the insulin every day. Quite frankly, it was not a big deal at all and she lived another 12 years with the insulin.

Later on, when my vet diagnosed my other two pets with it, we just went right on the insulin and all was uneventful once we had the dosage tweaked.

So I would advise you to put your trust in your vet as I did. Most likely things will work out as well as they did for me.

Q:  Lately we have seen three species of small snakes around the foundation of our house, and that is too close for comfort. We spread something called Snake Away around the house and mothballs, too, but they just crawl over this. I know that snakes are beneficial and I do not want to kill them, but I just do not want them around my house. Any advice? --Lottie Carrabus, Middle Island

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A: I am not making light of your situation, but I wish that I lived in an area where the natural habitat could support three species of snakes. I cannot even remember the last time I saw a snake on Long Island in its native habitat.

Most likely the snakes you are seeing are DeKay's snakes, which burrow in soft soil to eat earthworms, garter snakes that look for toads in moist areas and green snakes that eat insects they find in grass and shrubs.

To deter the snakes, you have to make the areas that you do not want them to frequent devoid of food and hiding places. Make the beds around the areas of the house where you see the snakes as barren as possible by spreading those white marble chips that are sold in garden centers as a ground cover to a depth of two inches or so. Insects, toads and earthworms have a hard time hiding in those marble chips. Snakes do not like the sharp edges, so they will avoid the areas covered by the marble chips and look for better hunting grounds in other parts of your yard.

Q: I have a green and yellow parakeet named Marco, who is madly in love with a little wooden toy. He spends all day making love to it and regurgitating seeds all over it. As fast as I clean up the seeds that he has spread over the toy, he eats more and regurgitates all over the toy again. I do not know how to handle this. He used to fly out of the cage and play with us, but these days he just makes love to the toy. Should I remove it from the cage? --Anna Rizzo, Lindenhurst

A:  Marco is obviously full of testosterone and has transferred all the affection that he would show to a mate to this toy. That is OK in most situations, but it seems that Marco has gotten obsessive about that the toy does not return his affections as a real mate would. That is why he is so goofy about this. The unrequited love is causing him anxiety.

The best thing to do here is to get another parakeet, male or female, as a real mate for him. Two parakeets are as easy to care for as one and are twice the fun.

If you cannot do this, I suggest that you remove the toy from the cage and put it back in with him for half an hour twice a day so that he can spend time with the toy but then act normal the rest of the day.

Birds that are paired are not in close contact together 24/7 all the time anyway, so this is a bit more of a normal life than he is living now.