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Tips for Enriching Your Animal’s Aquatic Habitat

enriching device for aquatic animal polar bear

Summertime brings many visitors to zoos and public aquariums. It is no secret people love watching animals have fun in the water. But as any animal care professional knows, it takes more than just water to keep the animals engaged with their environment.

Ursids are inquisitive. Bears need interesting things to keep them curious and active in their environment. Bears really enjoy wrestling with large objects on land and in the water. The Funny Float is designed to provide large animals like bears and tigers with a toy that is the right size and shape, and able to stand up to the rough treatment dished out by these animals. Instead of taking a one size fits all approach, the Funny Float is available in a variety of sizes and wall thickness so you can match the float to the animal. Funny Floats are available in over twenty color patterns, making it easy to select the right design for your exhibit.

If you are caring for polar bears, penguins, otters, turtles, and other animals that enjoy the water, the Ice Flow has proven to be a winner. The Ice Flow is a floating platform for penguins and other birds. It’s also something for bears and tigers to push around. To increase engagement and curiosity, the Ice Flow has a food chamber that slowly releases food scent and flavor through six grooves molded into the structure.

Creating the proper environment for penguins is key to their long-term wellbeing. Many of the more common enrichment tools are not interesting to the birds. Some Penguin keepers have given up on the idea of using enrichment toys. Georgia Podmore from Penguins International notes that birds are sometimes nervous around the balls and other objects. She suggests experimenting with a mirror suspended under water. This is good advice. Our Underwater Mirror is built for this purpose! The exhibit-safe Lexan mirrors and stainless-steel hardware are durable and will not corrode. The Underwater Mirror provides penguins (and other aquatic life) an engaging focal point within the underwater environment.

An otter environment requires land and aquatic habitats to reduce stress and keep the family groups cohesive. It is recommended to provide otters with complex shapes in the aquatic side of the display. Aussie Dog Zoo designed their Otter Float with this in mind. The Float provides a stable platform for lazing in the sun and playing with others in the group. A Lexan mirror completes the package for full sensory, physical and interactive enrichment. Penguins and other seabirds also find the floating platform appealing.

A simple way to stimulate many of the animals in your care is with our Teaser Balls. More than a regular ball toy, Teaser Balls are a ball within a ball. This design has proven popular with many animals because it provides physical and auditory stimulation. The sights and sounds of the rattling balls are like a puzzle to solve. Whether on land or in the water, your animals will love chewing, pushing and playing with a Teaser Ball.

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Customer Favorite: Kong Quest Wishbone

dog excited by kong quest wishbone

Like most animals, dogs need to play. It is how they socialize, explore their environment and burn off excess energy.

A good game of fetch or tug-of-war can be great fun for you and your pup, but there are also a few games that only dogs can play alone – like the Kong Quest Wishbone.  

kong quest wishboneDogs that don’t have the opportunity to play with different toys or people can get bored quickly and begin to exhibit problem behaviors, like anxiety, chewing, digging, jumping up, biting, and even depression. As with all animals, it’s essential to have a variety of dog toys.  

Dog toys like the Kong Quest Wishbone have different functions, and to get the most fun out of your dog toys, you can also stuff them and freeze them for your pup and keep some other toys hidden away for later on.  

Dog toy trunks come in handy for this, especially if you’re like us and enjoy perusing the pet product sections, whether for dogs, horses, cats, or livestock. 

The Kong Quest Wishbone is an excellent toy for dogs that like to chew. It’s crafted from non-toxic, durable rubber and has a hollow center that you can fill with treats as a tasty reward. The Kong Quest Wishbone is also great for interactive playtime. You can hold one end of the toy while your dog chews on the other or use it to play tug-of-war. 

The Kong Quest Wishbone is available in two sizes: small and large, and is crafted in a few colors like purple (large breeds) and orange (small size).  

Kong toys are known for their durability and quality, and the Kong Quest Wishbone is no exception. It is made from high-quality materials and is built to last. It’s also dishwasher proof for an easy wash!  

If you are looking for a fun pet toy that will keep your dog entertained and mentally stimulated, the Kong Quest Wishbone is a good chew interactive dog toy. Here’s the takeaway: 

The Wishbone is a treat dispensing toy with loads of personality! 

  • Features a unique design to challenge and engage 
  • Cleans teeth and helps with teething 
  • Allows for high-value treats and kibble insertion for fun, interactive play. 
  • Crafted in assorted colors 
  • Suitable for all breeds and life stages 

Fill the Kong Quest Wishbone with your dog’s favorite treats or kibble, and watch them have a blast trying to get to the goodies inside. Not only is the Kong Quest Wishbone a great way to keep your dog mentally and physically stimulated, but it also helps to clean their teeth and massage their gums.  

The takeaway with this interactive dog toy is that it keeps your pup entertained while also being suitable for their health! The Kong Quest can be helpful for the following: 

  • Separation anxiety 
  • Puppy teething 
  • Boredom 
  • Canine depression 
  • Excessive barking 
  • Noise sensitivity 
  • Minimize destructive behaviors 
  • Anxious behaviors 
  • Mental stimulation 
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder 
  • Recouping from surgery 
  • Suitable for rescues and shelters to ease boredom and stress 

All-in-all, remember that dogs feel a bunch of emotions just like us. From boredom, sadness, anxiety, and stress to excitement and a need for play, our interaction with our dogs via interactive dog toys allows for further bonding and a deeper understanding of our dogs.  

Ultimately, interactive dog toys like the Kong Quest Wishbone help to create a well-rounded dog that is happy and healthy. Also, they are less likely to develop problem behaviors when combined with positive training, dog sports, pet vacays, and more.

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Making the Right Choice for Enrichment

When making choices for animal enrichment Jeff Otto, owner of Otto Environmental, emphasizes the importance of choosing the right product to meet the specific needs of the animal and its unique situation.  Jeff stresses the need for enrichment as a means for captive animals to duplicate species-typical behavior in order to reduce boredom and stress associated with captivity.  “It’s important to find the right enrichment product to achieve your enrichment goals.”

In order to provide proper enrichment,  Jeff recommends asking a few simple questions before making any decisions:

  • Is durability important?
  • What materials work best for your
    situation—rubber, vinyl, plastics, stainless
    steel, etc.?
  • Does color matter?
  • Do existing products meet your needs, or
    should we consider custom-made
    products?
  • What are your size requirements? What
    will fit in your cage?
  • Do you want a toy or a treat?
  • What is your budget?

But regardless of what specific enrichment program you determine is right for your situation, no program is possible without the dedication of your staff.  The most successful and rewarding programs are those that give the animal treats and toys with enthusiasm, and are routinely rotated.

Our Otto Environmental online store offers a full line of enrichment products organized by species for your convenience, although you may find the right item for your situation in any category, so browsing is suggested.  Many of them are custom-made products available exclusively through Otto.  Whether it’s for large animals or small rodents, Jeff and his staff are able to find the right enrichment solution to meet both your animal’s needs and your budget.

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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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Animal Enrichment: We Are Molding Products to Fit Your Needs

How things are made can be fascinating to most people, so we thought you might want to see how some of our own exclusive Otto Environmental’s animal enrichment items are produced – right here in the USA!  Many of our most fun and creatively designed toys are made of colorful thermoplastic, injection molded here in Southeastern Wisconsin, and ready to stand up to amazingly extreme punishment from a host of various animal species, from canine to primate.

Click on an image below to go to our online store and find out more about some of the most durable and unique enrichment items you’ll ever see.

The Zoy ($9.45) The Zigg ($10.45)
The Z-2 ($9.45 ea.) The Zyro ($8.80 ea.)
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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.

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The Versa-Rod, For Innovative Mouse and Small Mammal Enrichment

Spring-loaded, made from stainless steel with washable plastic end caps, the Versa-Rod is a simple and extremely versatile device designed to improve enrichment for all small rodents.

The video below shows some of the ways you can use this new, exclusive item from Otto Environmental.

Adding one or more Versa-Rods to your mouse, gerbil, or hamster cage can provide many opportunities for not only basic climbing enrichment, but for behavior control, to hang instruments for testing and toys for more advanced play.  7 1/2″ long.

Animal enrichment has never been better at Otto Environmental, with new products being added all the time. Visit our online store often to find many unique enrichment items, in-stock and ready to ship.

Caging and equipment is our other area of expertise, with loads of solutions for small to medium size animals.  We even offer custom solutions when something other than what we have in-stock is called for.

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Some Happy “End Users” of Otto Environmental Products

In today’s technological world we usually think of an end user as someone with a mouse in hand, but here at Otto Environmental we think of the mouseas the end user… and the tiger… and the horse… and the kangaroo… and the ferret… and, well, you get it!

Check out our online store for more animal enrichment items to make your end user happy!

 

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BIG FUN for Your Big Friends – The Aptly Named TITAN!

A big package of fun for the large animals in your care… the Titan, an Otto Environmental exclusive.

This is the largest in a line of similar toys for animals of all sizes, which also includes the Weeble and the Weeto, all designed and manufactured by Otto Environmental.

The Titan measures 36″ high, with walls of 7/16″ thick polyethylene, weighing in at 200 lbs. and able to take lots of punishment.  Great for teething!

See more about the TITAN in our online store »