Animal Diaries Archive
25 April 2008
Those of you who checked out our previous instalment of Animal Diaries would have read about some of the conditioning work we do with Teela, our dromedary camel. But conditioning training doesn’t stop there, and some of the more recent work we’ve been doing with our shy little foxes has involved exactly the same sort of training! You see, the diets of all of our animals are constantly under review and consideration, as we are constantly keeping our eyes and ears open for any ways to keep our animals happier and healthier with regards to what they eat. Part of Kit and Roxy’s most recent diet review has involved keeping a close eye on their weight, after all, as many of us are aware, diet schedules and body weights just go hand in hand!
Looking for a way to be able to regularly, easily assess the foxes weights, we decided that the first step was to buy them their own personal set of scales, and a set of regular electronic bathroom scales was just the trick. The next step was of course to introduce the scales to the foxes. Being cautious little creatures, Kit and Roxy needed to meet this new piece of equipment on their terms and in a completely positive way. So for the first week or so, the scales simply became a discreet new furnishing of their den, frequently sporting a few tasty treats on top like peanuts and dried cranberries. When the girls became quite used to their new treat dispenser, it was time to step things up a notch, and try to encourage them to actually stand on it! Easier said then done. You’d be amazed at what lengths Kit and Roxy would go to, to avoid standing on the scales.
Licking off treats is one thing, but actually putting their precious paws into contact with this silly smooth white device was another matter entirely. Moving around in circles, jumping over them, stretching out to stand with their front paws on one side and back paws on the other with only their bellies hanging over the scales, and even resorting to jumping onto our shoulders and trying to climb down our arms rather than actually get onto the scales! You would think we were asking them to step into a dish of hot coals! Talk about being weight conscious.A solution came in the form of the all-purpose milk crate, the top of which being absolutely perfect dimensions to sit a set of bathroom scales on. Suddenly, Kit and Roxy couldn’t stretch over the top; in order to reach the treats placed right in the centre, our little foxy ladies realised they just might have to put their front paws up! With a lot of gentle coaxing and encouragement, we finally managed to convince the girls that bathroom scales don’t bite, and before long we had both of them readily perching on top of the scales (on top of a milk crate) to earn their rewards.
Getting accurate weights of our little foxes is now a very simple, efficient task that we can undertake as often as we like, and the girls are more than willing to oblige. Their new diet is going wonderfully, and both Kit and Roxy have been maintaining ideal body weights... ‘weigh’ to go, girls!