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Store Hours:
Mon., Thurs 10-8
Wed., Fri., Sat 10-6
Sun 11-3
Closed Tuesdays

(301) 424-7387

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June 15, 2016

Can Birds Talk?

Filed under: Bird Care,Seasonal,Store News — admin @ 3:17 pm

YES!   That does not mean they will.

Every member of the parrot family can learn to speak just like you do regardless of what language you speak. New research has demonstrated that birds communicate with their chick even before it hatches out of the shell so the birds that we raise in our homes that hear us all the time are a good bet for learning language. Since we usually hand raise our babies, they are even more promising.

Right now we have Mr Bubbles in the store. He is a Red Fronted Kakariki who greets us in the morning with a delightful Good Morning and then goes on into his complete repertoire. It sure starts the day off right. Come meet him while he is still here.

January 21, 2016

Snowstorm Warning

With a big snowstorm coming here are a few tips for your pets:

— Have extra pet food in your freezer just in case.

— Power failures and falling temps will cause Birds and Mammals to eat more to keep their body temperature up.

— Reptiles can be put in a cloth bag securely tied and you can provide the heat they need. Yes, sleep with your snake…

— Birds need light to eat. Keep them in a bright area. Covering at night will help retain the heat they generate.

The animals at the store will have extra supplies in their cages with special attention going to extra water bottles for Guinea Pigs and other heavy drinkers while birds will have extra surfaces of food  e.g. spray millet. We may not get in on time but we will be here!

November 14, 2015

Mega Millet

Filed under: Bird Care,Seasonal,Store News,Uncategorized — admin @ 4:03 pm

It’s actually Milo but if you and/or your birds or small animals are fans, we have been able to locate an organic, local source of freshly harvested Milo. We are talking to the farmer about providing other seed heads for our pets both as food and enrichment also. Try some and let us know what your pets think.

Your dog will probably agree with our test dog that the tiny new training treats we found at the show are irresistible. You can get a lot of mileage from even a  small package whether you are training or just loving your favorite canine. Especially since the busy holiday season will be here soon It’s good to have a distraction available so pets feel treated too.

November 5, 2015

Where do you store seed?

Filed under: Bird Care,Seasonal,Store News,Uncategorized,Wild birds — admin @ 10:00 am

The new seed harvest of the year is on our shelves now. All this wonderful, nutritious fresh food that has been growing outdoors without pesticides comes with occasional extras that you may not appreciate. So what to do to avoid seed moths and weevils in your house? FREEZE. I routinely freeze what I take home, at least overnight. I never store it in the refrigerator where the moisture will permit bacteria or fungus to contaminate this excellent bird food. My mother always said the bugs chose the best corn in the field and she had no problem when there was an occasional worm.

August 14, 2015

Balcony Alert

Filed under: Bird Care,Store News,Uncategorized — admin @ 2:25 pm

This is a story about Shamus, a lovely Brown Headed Parrot. He lives in an apartment in Gaithersburg and had to be temporarily put on the balcony in his cage at midnight last week. The weather was fine and he slept until 7 A M when a Hawk, flying over head saw him and tried to take him out of his cage ! His owner brought the cage inside and discovered a talon sized puncture on his chest. Shamus is fine now but will never again camp out on the balcony.

Hawk’s vision is amazing and their memory is not bad either. In fact the Hawk returned to the balcony and looked under things hoping to find what it considered brunch later that morning. We have pictures at the store of both the Hawk and the hole in Shamus chest. Ask to see them when you are in.

It’s interesting to think about what would have happened if the cage had been covered with a sheet or blanket. If Shamus were not visible when the Hawk flew by, there would have been no problem unless the predator  had a good sense of smell like a Fox does. Most pets are safest indoors.

July 3, 2015

Summer Specials

Filed under: Bird Care,Seasonal,Store News — admin @ 2:29 pm

This Summer I have finally admitted that I have too many Antique Bird Cages. They fascinate me with their craftsmanship, materials and design but not with their size. In fact it’s amazing that birds actually lived as long as they did in them. So they will be occasionally available at the store, some with the marvelous heavily weighted brass stands that they  hang on. They are beautiful  historic treasures that are great with an artificial bird, plants or even just empty. Stop by and see them.

June 2, 2015

Why do birds eat so much?

Filed under: Bird Care,Seasonal,Store News,Uncategorized,Wild birds — admin @ 10:21 am

This question has come up a lot recently and for right now the answers are:

#1 It’s breeding season and if you are feeding a family it requires more groceries.

#2 Day length is still increasing so even your single pet bird is seeing the food for a longer period and eating more.

#3 Birds body temperature is higher than ours, about 104 degrees and so they always eat more in proportion to body weight. It takes fuel to maintain 104!

So what do we do if the Vet. says our bird is a perch potato and needs more exercise?

#1 Move the food farther away. If you have a tall cage, put the food in one of our blue and tan ceramic bowls on the floor of the cage – not directly under the perch.

#2 Feed lower calorie foods like kale and carrots in the morning from the regular food bowl.

#3 Do not feed on playpens. Encourage them to play instead with rotating toys. We have some great new toys in right now.

#4 Hide favorite foods in foraging toys that make the bird work for those nuts.

#5 Share your summer salads with the bird.

March 31, 2015

Pink Chicks

Filed under: Bird Care,Store News,Uncategorized — admin @ 8:52 am

They are not dyed but they are and will stay a beautiful pastel pink color. They are the rosy mutation of the Bourkes Parakeet. These little guys that we are just finishing hand feeding will be ready to go to new homes right after Easter and are very different than most parrot family birds. They have a lovely sweet voice, are very gentle and have even been kept with other species like canaries successfully. If you are on our newsletter mailing list, you can see a lovely photo of them there.

July 28, 2014

35 Years…

Please forgive me if I reminisce about the last 35 years of Animal Exchange in Rockville, Maryland…

In 1979, I had been working for three years at Gaithersburg Pet Center (GPS), originally part time to distract myself from my father’s battle with cancer. When it became apparent that I could do a better and more honest job on my own, I offered to purchase GPC for $35,000, but was turned down by the owner who subsequently sold it for ¼ million. I began searching for my own space, not realizing that many landlords, including Giant, would not lease to a pet store! Finally a realtor got me a space of 1500 sq ft in the back of the Ritchie Center. The managing partner had recently absconded leaving 2 investors on their own. Fortunately they did not know to ask for a business plan or even a financial statement, neither of which I had or understood.

The initial check for rent was written and before it was even cashed, I secured 424-Pets as the phone number with the phone company and then went looking for money. It turned out that a wife was not a financial entity and even with securities in hand, no loans were offered. My Mother was 76 at this point but agreed to lend me enough to open the doors, and we did on August 5, 1979!

Much of the building, painting, and display were done by my son Daniel, 14 at the time, and me. We hung pegboard from the ceiling, designed and built the small animal racks that are still in use today, and stocked the shelves with the help of owners of four other pet stores. The Fire Marshall wanted us to use fire proof peg board (non-existent) and install sprinklers until we pointed out that neither was required for our space. The City of Rockville assured us there was no Pet Shop License (two years later they realized their mistake) and we ordered our Psittacine Permit from the State (later changed to include all birds). After $27,000 the store opened fully stocked with birds, small animals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish.

Using my Mother’s retirement money made me very nervous so I repaid that during the first year instead of paying myself. By year three, when the adjacent store became available, we doubled our size and gave the groomer a separate section. Salt water tanks were becoming readily available so Mother and I signed up for a Marine Biology course Cornell offered in St. Croix and expanded from fresh water fish into salt water.

Seeing the salt water fish in their own world was so inspirational that in 1985 Mother and I took off to see our Australian bird species in their country. What a fabulous experience! New Zealand had the most amazing collection of birds owned by a private individual and many private collections of finches and parakeets. And yes, we did see even more salt water fish!

The first local organization we joined was the Rockville Chamber of Commerce. As Legislative Vice President, I had been addressing animal related legislation and also local issues such as sign regulations. In a 1989 Chamber meeting, I learned the Budweiser Clydesdales would be in town for the Hometown Holidays parade on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. They were available Friday afternoon so I rounded up Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish clerics for a 4:30pm Blessing of the Animals at the store. Wow, what a way to celebrate my 50th Birthday! We’ve done blessings ever since.

Here are the Budweiser Clydesdales at Animal Exchange's 1st Blessing of the Animals.

The next few years, as Mother went through her 90’s, we learned about fractured hips as she recovered from hers and began walking again. When she hit 98 years old, I could not continue with seven days a week at the store. Mother needed attention.

Packing up 3000 sq ft after 22 years to squeeze into 1800 sq ft was not only a logistical nightmare but very costly.  We discontinued fish, reptiles and amphibians, and a lot of dog, choosing to specialize even more in birds and small animals and so we have for 13 years.

Small business is tough. The only business harder than Pet is Restaurant. We’ve had extraordinary good luck and support from a clientele of honest, altruistic, and very intelligent people. Our goal of selling only locally raised animals is here with every bird, from our Umbrella Cockatoo, to all the parakeets bred by customers. The mice and hamsters are bred with focus on behavior and genetics. We never have animals that we do not love and appreciate the great homes they go to. Okay, so it was really hard to have our Hyacinth Macaw Andy go to a new home after 22 years, not to mention Buttons, the Sulfur Crested Cockatoo that was ours for 28 years.

So as we celebrate 35 wonderful years, we give thanks for all the amazing animals that have passed through our hands and all of you who love pets too!

Ruth

June 2, 2014

Treats for your Pet Bird

Filed under: Bird Care,Store News,Uncategorized — admin @ 3:13 pm

“My birds always lay eggs because of your food.”

What greater compliment could we get? What you feed your pets determines how well they do. Reproduction does not happen on a poor diet. Here are some of our considerations with food choices:

-Clean fresh seeds for birds with just natural color. Have you ever noticed that the artificially colored seeds or pellets result in unusually colored droppings?

-Variety! There are over 10 bins of foods that your parrot can try. Because birds depend so much on vision, changing the appearance in their food bowl is a very good idea. Our suppliers sometimes have shortages of various ingredients and leave us without a particular mix and we too have to shift to a substitute. It sure helps if they have seen it before.

-Natural treats. Today all the birds got red and yellow peppers and cucumber. Yesterday was corn and kale. Bok Choi is a favorite. As soon as the bird at my house hears me cooking eggs, he is stomping his little feet demanding I put a ladder up to the table so he can get his share. Most pet birds love to share your plate and he will try most anything when we are eating together.

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