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Nesting Boxes

nesting box

Animals have a strong desire to nest in a secluded area of their environment. Nesting boxes are an essential enrichment method for stress reduction, bully prevention, and improved well-being.

Find the right nesting box for your animal!

 

Nesting Box – Small Animal

Nesting Box – Small Animal

This nesting box is designed for small animals like hamsters, hedgehogs, mice, rats, ferrets, guinea pigs, and chinchillas. The box is made of 3/8″ thick white polypropylene. It has an inner chamber for added seclusion. The nesting box has pre-drilled holes for hanging and drains. The box is available with an optional removable floor. We also can build boxes to your specifications. The nesting box is suitable for all animal care facilities requiring effective environmental enrichment including zoos, animal rescues, veterinary clinics, and research settings.

Features:

  • Can be suspended
  • Dimensions: 17″ x 15″ x 11″
  • Reduces stress and aggressive behavior
  • Autoclavable and washer safe

Nesting/Transfer Box

Nesting/Transfer Box

We designed this dual-purpose box with the help of animal care specialists. The clear polycarbonate box is 12” x 12” x 12” and has a sliding door that is controlled by a metal rod. This makes it easy to safely capture an animal by luring it into the box with food. It also serves as a handy animal transfer chamber. Small animals like hamsters, hedgehogs, mice, rats along with ferrets, guinea pigs, and chinchillas find the box ideal for nesting. The clear 3/8” plastic allows you to observe behavior. Three side ports accommodate 60 cc syringes. All hardware is rust-proof stainless-steel. The nesting/transfer box is suitable for all animal care facilities requiring effective environmental enrichment including zoos, animal rescues, veterinary clinics, and research settings. The box is autoclavable making it easy to maintain hygiene and IACUC standards in laboratory settings.

Features:

  • Door can open from left or right
  • Included eye bolts for hanging
  • Makes capture and transfer easy
  • Autoclavable & washer safe

Small Animal Nesting Box

Small Animal Nesting Box

The Small Animal Nesting box is made of stainless-steel with a removable ½” polycarbonate floor. It is ideal for laboratory and zoo use where durability and ease of cleaning is paramount. Options include a solid or perforated floor. Ideal for rats, rabbits, hamsters, hedgehogs, mice, rats, ferrets, guinea pigs, and chinchillas. 10″ x 10″ x 20″ long. The box is recommended for all animal care facilities requiring effective environmental enrichment including zoos, animal rescues, veterinary clinics, and research settings. The box is autoclavable making it easy to maintain hygiene and IACUC standards in laboratory settings.

Features:

  • Rust-proof 304 stainless-steel
  • Rugged construction
  • Removable floor
  • Autoclavable & washer safe

Nesting Box (3 Variations)

Nesting Box (3 Variations)

We designed three variations of this popular nesting box, based on requests from animal care professionals. These nesting boxes are suitable for all animal care facilities requiring effective environmental enrichment including zoos, animal rescues, veterinary clinics, and research settings. Use this nesting box with tamarins, spider monkeys, capuchins, marmosets, squirrels, and similar animals to provide a quiet space for rest and stress reduction. These products are autoclavable making it easy to maintain hygiene and IACUC standards in laboratory settings. Custom sizes are available.

White and Black Nesting Boxes

  • Made of 3/8” polypropylene
  • Sliding access door
  • 3 7/8” opening
  • 6.5″ x 10″ animal space

Stainless Steel Nesting Box

  • Made of rust-proof stainless-steel
  • Sliding access door
  • Includes stainless-steel eye bolts for hanging
  • 3 3/4” opening
  • 8″ x 10″ animal space

Jerboa Nesting Box

Jerboa Nesting Box

Jerboas are secretive and thrive in zoo, pet, and laboratory settings only when they have proper environmental enrichment. Their natural predator avoidance instinct is to dart for shelter. Our Jerboa Nesting Box is a dual chamber design with an inner quiet nesting area for sensitive rodents like Jerboas. The box and inner divider are constructed of polypropylene with a stainless-steel hinge on the lid. Measures 14.5″ x 6.75″ x 6.75″. Use this nesting box with jerboas, mice, rats, gerbils, hamster, moles, and similar animals. The box is autoclavable making it easy to maintain hygiene and IACUC standards in laboratory settings.

Features:

  • Reduces stress and satisfies nesting instinct
  • Durable construction
  • Easy to clean
  • Autoclavable & washer safe
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Creating Habitat Enrichment with Ladders, Rafts, and Hammocks

primate in a round hammock

Periodically changing your animal’s environment creates new experiences that stimulate mind and body.

Physical and cognitive enrichment counter “under-challenge” situations where animals become bored. Research suggests that when animals learn to “conquer” a new challenge, it results in better emotional health and less stress. Marian Stamp Dawkins (Dept. of Zoology, University of Oxford) notes that when animals are prevented from performing desired activities, abnormal and sometimes harmful behaviors come to the surface. Cage biting often leads to mouth damage. Birds may scratch about or fight with other birds. Elephants rock back and forth.

Adding enrichment items that mimic vines, trees, and perching areas stimulate animals to explore their environment, exercising mind and body. It is not necessary to “remodel” your animal’s habitat to keep them engaged and healthy.

Here are a few time-tested enrichment devices that are easy to install and work with a variety of animals.

The Tirezan Primate Swing was developed for monkeys, apes, and orangutans. But we found other animals like Pandas and Koalas find the Tirezan appealing. The natural rubber tire hangs from three stainless-steel chains. The polypropylene upper deck prevents the chains from getting tangled and makes it easy to hang the Tirezan from a tree or other mount.

tirezan swing
Tirezan Swing

Smaller primates like Tamarins, Marmosets, Gibbons, and Macaques love to hang and swing from the Dream Swing. Made from sturdy, high-density plastic, the Dream Swing can take rough play and multiple primates climbing aboard. The swing is 16” wide and comes with an 18” stainless-steel chain for hanging. You can even add Hanging Snack Balls to add food-based enrichment. Small primates enjoy moving about above-ground, much like their behavior in the wild.

Dream Swing

The Collapsible Ladder provides small primates an elevated place to climb and explore. The 1” PEX plastic rungs are easy to grasp with paw or claws. You can hang the ladder between posts, trees, or attach it to a wall. Need a longer ladder? Just join two ladders together with the clasps. The ladder also works well with larger parrots as a perch.

collapsible ladder
Collapsible Ladder

Rest time is not time wasted, animals need a comfy and secure location to nap or lounge.

The Banana Hammock is a favorite among ferrets. The soft fleece and pouch-like hammock creates the ideal bedding and social meeting place. Large animals need a sturdy hammock that can handle the weight and wear caused by heavy animals. The Aussie Dog Borneo Hammock is three meters in diameter. Made of rip-stop canvas, the Borneo Hammock will support large primates, bears and other heavy carnivores.

Aussie Dog Borneo Hammock

Mammals like otters, seals, sea lions and other pinnipeds enjoy gathering on a raft or just lazing in the sun. The Aussie Dog Seal Float provides a stable raft made of rip-stop webbing and a stainless-steel frame. The smaller Otter Float with mirror appeals to otters but also attracts seabirds.

Aussie Dog Seal Float

We offer many more swings, ladders, and rafts, in a variety of materials and sizes for just about any animal in your care. If you need enrichment ideas, please contact us.

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Preparing Your Facility for Hurricanes and Other Natural Disasters

preparing for natural disasters

Hurricane Ian left extensive damage as it passed through Florida. Homeowners and businesses did what they could to prep for the storm.

Zoos and other animal care facilities couldn’t simply evacuate until the storm passed. Ashlee Sklute, public information specialist with Florida Fish and Wildlife, told reporters that all licensed captive wildlife owners have a Critical Incident Plan (CIP).  A CIP outlines what steps will be taken to reduce the risk of escape and harm to the animals during an event such as Hurricane Ian. Days before the hurricane hit the coast, zookeepers, veterinarians, and other animal professionals stocked up on food, water, medications, and other supplies required by the animals. Many animals were temporarily housed in raised pens and containment areas.

No one likes to think about emergencies and that’s the reason a facility must scramble to find solutions when an incident arises. Zoo Miami had to heard their Caribbean Flamingos into a rest room when Hurricane Andrew hit back in 1992. Today they have an aviary that can withstand the force of a hurricane. Having a plan and proper equipment can make an otherwise chaotic event pass with minimal stress, and save precious time that could be spent on other tasks.

Here are some simple ideas that you can adapt to your facility.

  • A large animal cart is an easy way to quickly roll individual animals to another location. You use the same cart to transport several smaller animals at one time too. Carts with bars can be less stressful than an enclosed crate, depending on the animal and temperament.
  • If you’re moving large reptiles, like crocs and alligators, an enclosed cart has proven to work well. Instead of having thrashing arms and legs sticking out of the bars, an enclosed cage or wheeled cart keeps the animal contained.
  • A rolling bird cage can function as a temporary home for a large bird, like macaws and cockatoos. It can also make it easier to transport a collection of small birds like finches. Be sure to provide a perch or two.
  • Facilities often use raised flooring to keep pens and animals above ground level. This can help with sanitation and minor flooding. An old pallet can do the job in an emergency but there are also engineered devices that raise pens and animals above water and dampness that are more sanitary in daily use.
  • Don’t forget to keep supplies elevated too. An aluminum dunnage rack is easy to move and makes it simple to stack supplies wherever they are needed.
Dunnage Rack

 

Need more ideas? The Zoo and Aquarium All Hazards Partnership has a series of online videos that provide guidance in hazard preparedness. Once plans are in place, put the plans to the test and see if they can be refined.

Otto Environmental products are easily incorporated into emergency transport and housing plans. You’ll find more information on our website. Contact us for assistance with specifications and customization.

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Enrichment Tips & Toys for a Happy, Healthy Big Cat

healthy big cat playing with enrichment toy

Keeping lions, tigers, cheetahs, leopards, and other big cats emotionally and physically healthy has always been a challenge.

healthy big catStudies and experience prove habitat enrichment is an effective antidote to stress, nipping, and boredom. When the habitat is sufficiently enriched with items the cats like, you’ll see less pacing and prolonged sleeping behavior. 

The Aussie Dog Big Cat Bungee is perfect for enclosures with limited height.

For instance, the bungie has a D-ring for easy attachment. The soft tail and blue color keep lions and tigers interested and occupied in a temporary pen or permanent enclosure. Smaller and young cats will love the Aussie Dog Small Cat Sam. 

It’s no secret cats like to roll and bite a ball.

But big cats need a large, tough ball that is fun and durable. Our 31” Polyethylene ball is designed to be clawed, rolled, and bit by your cats. The ball is available in a variety of wall thicknesses and color options. Tough enough for all weather play. 

Big cats require a variety of enrichment items to satisfy curiosity and prevent stereotypic captive behavior. The Otto 46” box is made of sturdy polyethylene and can be modified to hold meat treats and olfactory stimulants. In addition, it even floats in water. We also offer a 48″ x 20″ x 8″ box that is easy to modify for your cat’s habitat. The boxes are available in many colors and wall thickness options. 

Tigers enjoy the water, especially in summertime. Keep your cats active with the floating rectangular 47” box.

And it’s easy to bite and carry around, even in the water. The Otto 22” box makes a great “throne” for your cats. It provides a comfortable resting place in the shade or in a temporary enclosure. The Otto Cylinder can be used anywhere but really shines in the water. The hollow polyethylene cylinder has safe, smooth edges. It can be rolled, tackled, and bit in the water and on land. Cylinders are available in several sizes for large and small cats. 

Experience shows that effective enrichment devices result in natural behavior. The Lion Sam 2 Bungie Toy is hung from a tree or other overhead mount. Tigers, lions, and other cats love to bat and bite the ball and tail. They’ll tug and pull the Lion Sam bungie as it “fights back”, stimulating hunting behavior. 

The Jingle Ball is a favorite at zoos because it provides big cats with auditory stimulation in addition to the challenge of rolling and biting the ball. The bells are safely sealed inside the tough polyethylene ball.  Visitors will enjoy seeing and hearing the cats playing with the Jingle Ball. The Jingle Ball is available in 18-36” diameter and comes in a variety of colors including bright blue and translucent. 

The key to successful big cat habitat enrichment is to experiment with a variety of enrichment tools. For example, an Ocelot may like one toy while a panther will prefer a different color or shape. Try several products to find out what your cats like. 

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Keeping Your Pigs Happy and Healthy Through Habitat Enrichment

happy healthy pigs

Keeping Your Pigs Happy and Healthy Through Habitat Enrichment

Swine are naturally curious and thrive in social groups. Pigs spend about 75% of their time exploring their surroundings by rooting, biting, pushing and sniffing objects in their environment. If their living space is not interesting, the pigs become bored. This leads to undesirable behavior like biting, tail nipping and fighting. Habitat enrichment solves the problem of boredom and unsafe behavior. Enriching your pig’s enclosure is easy with these time-tested swine enrichment products. 

The EasyFix Luna 142  has been tested at universities and swine environments throughout the world. The Luna 142 consists of 12 food-grade rubber spikes. Pigs can safely chew the spikes and push the LUNA around the piggery or play area. Four sizes are available for piglets, weaners, finishers, and sows. 

Pigs like objects that that can be chewed, licked, and pushed with the snout.

The Pig Bite Ball on a Spring  is designed to be mounted on the floor or wall. Pigs love to bite the plastic ball, but there’s more! The spring provides a challenge by “fighting back” when the pig pulls and pushes the ball.  

If you want to hang chewable balls above your pigs, our Biting Balls are the perfect solution. Made from tough polyurethane, Biting Balls stand up to the roughest play. Installation is easy. Biting Balls have a stainless-steel connecting pin making it simple to attach to a chain or rope. Biting Balls are available in 2” and 3.3” diameter sizes. 

Stop tail nipping with the Bite Block. Designed to be suspended from a chain, the Bite Block allows pigs to bite at “tail level” instead of nipping at their pen mates.  

Research shows pigs fare better when their environment is enriched with objects pigs enjoy exploring. The Animal Farm is a wall-mounted entertainment center packed with sights, sounds and textures for pigs to explore. It rattles, rolls, bounces, and even has a refillable treat dispenser.  

Finishers, sows, and other hooved animals benefit from suspended toys, like our EasyFix Astro 200. Hang the Astro 200 at eye level. Hooved animals will bite and pull the rubber legs instead of neighbor’s ears and sides. 

Enrichment Products Should be Swapped Out Periodically

Enrichment products should be periodically swapped out to prevent boredom. For example, The Pig Bite Moon  and Pig Bite Star provide interesting shapes that enrich any hooved animal environment. Designed to be hung from the stainless-steel chain, the Pig Bite Moon makes it easy to keep your animals entertained. These are great additions to the Animal Farm. 

Happier Pigs Eat More

Happy pigs have better feed conversion, so be prepared for hungry piglets. The Easy Pan Feeder dispenses starter food. The circular design, sturdy materials and easy use make it the favorite feeder around the world. 

Our enrichment devices are proven to keep pigs occupied and entertained. This translates into improved mental and physical health. Whether your animals are living in a lab enclosure, zoo enclosure or farm, our enrichment devices will improve your pig’s environment and result in less aggression and a healthy social environment. 

 

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Thank You Zookeepers for All That You Do!

A group of young zookeepers, feeding of a african manatees in the Zoological Garden.

Zookeepers – our animal friends in everyone’s favorite parks around the world would be lost without them. With last week being National Zookeeper Week, we took some time to reflect on how important these members of the community are, both for the well-being of zoo creatures (big and small) and keeping the public educated about them.  

Many typical zoo-goers may not realize this, but a zookeeper’s role extends far beyond feeding animals and making sure their enclosures are tidy. Did you know…a typical zookeeper usually has the following responsibilities:   

  • Administering an animal’s medication 
  • Keeping detailed reports on animal behaviors and disclosing any unusual changes to vets or managers 
  • Assisting with certain veterinary procedures 
  • Keeping detailed records 
  • Feeding the animals 
  • Keeping the animal’s enclosure clean and maintained 

Now that’s nothing to roar at! In addition to all of these duties, zookeepers are typically equipped with a background in animal science, zoology, or biology. So, the next time you have a zoo day and attend a presentation about penguins (or the animal of your choice), rest assured that these workers really do know a thing or two about their furry, feathered, or slimy friends.   

Without these well-educated folks, many animals would still be on the world’s endangered list. It’s thanks to the tireless efforts of zookeepers that species can revitalize, repopulate, and rehabilitate, both in zoos and in the wild.  

 Thank you, zookeepers!  

We would like to recognize our zookeeper friends at a few zoos around the country:

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Otto Environmental Teams up with the Rio Grande Zoo

Hornbills, like many bird species, have their own needs when it comes to enrichment.  Diane Longenecker, who is the Senior Keeper-Birds at ABQ BioPark-Rio Grande Zoo in Albuquerque, NM, approached Otto Environmental about creating unique enrichment devices that utilize natural Abyssinian Hornbill behavior.

Otto Environmental owner and Senior Enrichment Designer, Jeff Otto, has now designed two different enrichment devices for Hornbills: the Hornbill Forage Tube and the Hornbill Forager.  Watch Maybelline, the Abyssinian Hornbill, enjoy working for her meal as she explores the depths of the Forage Tube.

While initially made for Hornbills, these unique feeders can provide many opportunities for enrichment of many large avian species.

The Forage Tube’s spinning drum is made of heavy duty fabric, with slats in which to hide food and treats.  It is adjustable, so the openings can be sized appropriately for the needs of the bird.  It includes an eye-bolt for hanging high or low.  It measures 23″ long and 7.5″ in diameter (58cm x 19cm).  Go to our online store to see more or to purchase.

Go here to see and read more about the Hornbill Forager.

Special thanks to Diane Longenecker of the Rio Grande Zoo in Albuquerque, NM.

 

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Swine Housing & Enrichment – Over 70 Products in Our Online Store

With five dozen enrichment items in stock, our online store provides lots of solutions to boredom for swine everywhere!

And the options we offer for housing and caging have been known to make our customers’ lives better, too.

See more of our swine enrichment items in our online store, starting at $3.49.

And check out the Swine Pens category of products, too!

 

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Tree Kangaroo Claws: An Animal Enrichment Case Study

One of our favorite things is to get creative when our local zookeeper friends need a solution for a particularly “sticky” animal enrichment issue. See what we mean in this video we shot at the Milwaukee County Zoo.

While we offer existing solutions for animal enrichment of all kinds, we also welcome requests for custom solutions.  Contact us and we’ll help find something in our vast stock or we may be able to develop something special for your needs.

We work with zoos and animal habitats worldwide.

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Wintering Zoo Animals in Northern Climates

Zoos across North America are home to many species of animals from around the world that are not native to cold climates and, in fact, would perish if special care were not taken during the Winter months.

The most obvious consideration is temperature.  Many species only require what might be considered a relatively wide range of temperatures and can be housed indoors during the Winter, in an environment controlled by a somewhat standard thermostat and heater.  Some species need to be kept at a more even level constantly, with a variance of as little as five degrees Farenheit in some  cases.  These animals typically live in completely enclosed habitats year-round, but may still require special treatment in Winter months.

Another factor in keeping animals healthy and happy is their food, which can be affected in Winter.  Animals whose habitats include edible trees and shrubs that they are used to eating in Summer may not even have leaves in Winter.  Some zookeepers harvest the plant foliage in the Fall and freeze dry it for Winter feeding.

Animals that are moved inside during the Winter still need exercise, so regular exercise periods in and out-of-doors may be called for.

Enrichment is key for Wintering animals, with strategies deployed to make foraging for food more challenging and to encourage daily play.