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October 28, 2013

In category: Lindsay's posts

Blowy Afternoon

Bubbles the bunny has found his owner! Not through the WebBlog. They were actually in the store buying African Land Snails to replae the rabbit that they had lost. Overhearing the lost rabbit I checked with them our white liohead and now everyones happy.

The storm that ravaged the UK last night was nowhere near as dramatic as predicted. Still glad I brought all my rabbits and guineapigs in from the hutches – which are completely soaked.

We are missing a long haired chocolate coloured cat called Marcell. He is a bit of a roamer and has gone AWOL before but I’m missing him today. If you spot him, let us know.

Have ordered more hamsters and African Land snails for this week.

Busy and blowy…

October 25, 2013

In category: Lindsay's posts


A white lionhead rabbit has turned up in Grand Avenue, where he has been spotted hopping about for a few days now. We have him here in store so if anybody know where he came from let us know.

In other news we have had some bumper sales in the mouse department. These lovely little rodents come with a long tail which they use to balance with like a climber uses a rope- which means that they grip well on little hands.

The gerbils are still here gnawing away and the cats watch them with their industry.

Halloween is on the horizion… no doubt something creepy this way comes (maybe a big spider or an albino rat visiting this Saturday!


October 15, 2013

In category: Lindsay's posts

Tuesday 15th October.


God, it’s quiet in the shop today. Wonder if everyone has abandoned us to shop at the new Pets at Home in Burgess Hill.  Steve points out that it is always quiet at this time of year and that people don’t tend to think about buying animals until nearer to Christmas. That’s probably true. Our pets are pretty fab though and hope people are not simply opting for the mass produced- cheap – variety.

No doubt those that do will come to regret it. It takes time and effort to train any pet. Even hamsters have to be handled if they are not to bite. It’s the handling time and effort that we put in which makes for pets rather than prisoners.  Makes my job more fun too and those that visit get to hold an animal under supervision.

So who’s in store? Today I have been counting.

37 Cats and Kittens

6 Rabbits

4 Guinea pigs

6 Hamsters

4 Chinese Dwarf Hamsters

4 Gerbils

4 African Land Snails

1 African Grey Parrot.

Oh yeah and STACKS of bugs. These are live food for pets such as Bearded Dragons and Geckos. Normally by Monday we have sold out but they are all left on the counter and I wonder if these are discounted at the new chain store- I have reduced them to £2.60 a pot with 4 for £10. They are gut loaded with all kinds of food (which I pick from the ground) and are of an excellent standard but if people don’t start buying them we might have to stop selling them!

On a more upbeat subject the next PET CLUB is coming up this Sunday at 2pm. We will all be attending, minus Sid the snake who has joined Steve Irwin in the big snake pit in the sky, and Jackson the Jackdaw * see above note re. 37 Cats.  Think it’s best that he stays at home til I have a feline-free venue to invite you all to although I will continue to do a pet club of sorts within the shop.




October 6, 2013

In category: Lindsay's posts

Saturday 5/10/13. Theme of the Day. Comings and Goings.

Yesterday I said never a dull day. There are sad days.

I woke up this morning to find Sid the beautiful corn snake dead in his tank. I have had him two years and he’s been amazing. He has been to primary schools and pet clubs and never once been aggressive. Some of you might have met him as Kellogs, which was what I called him during lessons because Kellogs corn snake sounds like Kellogs Corn Flake and it helps us remember. The last owner had Sid/Kellogs for 7 years before he was rehomed with me. I was surprized this happened though as has never shown any signs of sickness and always fed well.

He’s there laid out, perfect and not a scratch on him, I am going to do some research as to why it happened and whether snakes have heart attacks.

Animals come animals go and I go to work with this sad thought in my mind.

I walk in to see a customer with Steve, we have run out of frozen mice and, as this is my job to order them I am already in trouble! So I apologise to the customer and we talk about her snakes and what they eat and how people say she should split them up but they seem happier together.  I don’t tell her that mine has just died.

Funny thing, next customer wants to talk about Sid “What type of snake was that you gave me to hold at Pet Club?” I reply quite blandly but she continues “Thank you so much for letting my husband hold a snake.”

Coincidences. Or just another Theme of the day.

The day goes on and the gerbils I put in the shop display are doing well, I gave them lots of cardboard to chew which they soon buzz-sawed up into a nest. Smokey the parrot, another chewer had managed to destroy one of her perches and it was lying on the bottom of the cage completely useless. Thinking that I was a: recycling and b: being helpful I decided to give this now shortened perch to the tame pigeon that Steve has hand fed.

I’m pretty quick when it comes to handling animals. I teach handling animals to children. I don’t know if it was sad thoughts of my snake, or the fact that I never expected it from such a friendly simple little bird but the pigeon barged past me, flapped it’s wings and took off. I said something very rude and very loudly, which turned a couple of amused heads from the Horse Feed Garages. The ladies said cheerily that at least it could fly (and boy did it) but Steve was concerned that it couldn’t feed itself (it is rather simply sitting by it’s food bowl waiting to be fed) so I was even less popular.

What a sad and terrible day I thought, although I sat tiny bunnies on childrens’ laps and scratched Marcell the cat behind the ears and then somebody brought me this:

I have brought home because it is so fragile. This rabbit is an albino wild rabbit. I wondered if it mother had shoved it out of the nest because it looked odd, or more likely if it had just become lost and separated. The cat that brought her in hasn’t left a scratch on her, so maybe she will survive. She cant be more than three weeks old. I am currently soaking some rabbit pellets that I can feed her with a syringe. Baby animals need to be kept warm so she is on a hot water bottle.

Meanwhile, Steve was mixing up the cats dinner outside when he heard a familiar mewing. His pigeon flew down from the sky and landed on his head! He is now safely back in his enclosure, none the worse for his little adventure in the wild. When he is able to feed himself we will release him.

Day not so terrible anymore. Spent the evening feeding albino rabbit and talking to Steve from Raven Haven on the telephone. I have rescued a magpie that cant fly and am taking it up to him next week. Cleaned out Sid’s viv and fed all the other animals while chatting. Jack the jackdaw seemed to sense who I was talking to and croaked away – only to be answered by a raven at the other end!

Jack and Tyrion wait for their dinner!

Sorry, It’s been a long one. Just like to talk about the animals,




October 4, 2013

In category: Lindsay's posts

Friday 4th October – Bunnies on the Counter

It’s a rainy Friday and not much is going on in Hassocks apart from the lazy cats mincing about the store.

There was a brief moment of excitement when a man came in carrying a hamster cage full of nine gerbils for me to sex. Those cats love the clockwork-like way gerbils move and they peered with twitching whiskers at what I was doing. but they wouldn’t dare. Not on my shift. Not so much because of animal magic but because I carry a water pistol.

Anyway, the gerbils were cute and I took four of them off his hands.

They make funny little pets and are happy as long as kept in pairs. So I’ll be selling them as such, anybody interested should called 01273842392, come visit me at work or send an email to

Once the gerbils were safely behind glass, the cats returned to lounging about. The kittens played with dangly toys to much “oooohing” and “awwwing”. All day people stopped me and said “they are so cute” and I nodded for the 100th time.  After 5 years of daily exposure I am quite immune to the cuteness of kittens.

Still, hand feeding the little kitten called Rolly Polly is very cute! He is a lot smaller than his peers so we are feeding him Applaws tuna, which he seems to like a lot. We give our shop kittens and mum cats extra food because they need the protein. So if you see a group of kittens in a cage eating, don’t disturb them until they are finished!

People ask me a lot of questions about the cats- but the truth is, that’s Steve’s department. Not that we are a big store with departments, we leave that to Pets At Home. We all look out for the animals here but the cats are Steve’s pets and if you want to buy one you have to convince him.

A lot of the cats on display are rescued or have been here such a long time they have become residents. We do sell kittens to responsible homes but we require a photograph of where you intend to keep your new cat.

For myself, I specialise in the small animals. I sell several guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters (Syrian and Chinese Dwarf), mice, gerbils, rats and the odd reptile. I can help with rehoming animals (for example the new gerbils) and advice on wildlife rescue.

A note on selling animals. If you have a specific pet in mind we can probably order it in for you – but you might have to wait while it’s tracked down, going through it’s socialization training, or until you have the correct enclosure at home.

I am always happy to answer questions and talk about animals and will happily expand on this blog if people could give me an idea what topics would be useful. I am currently running Open Cages Animal School pet club once a month in store which anybody is welcome to attend. I bring in a selection of my pets and let children hold them. I teach lessons in handling and socialisation. Again contact me for more details on this.

For me even a rainy day is a day shared with animals. I brought my little lion head rabbits in to sit on the counter and be stroked by customers, I had a little dance with Smokey the parrot. I chatted cats with Steve, we loaded cars, cleaned out cages and fed apples to African Land Snails. A rainy day maybe, but never a boring one!




October 3, 2013

In category: Lindsay's posts

Animal Schooling.

This website has been here a long time now and I rarely find the time to post. Which hits home as a shame when people leave lovely comments for me to approve (thanks for that)

Working with animals everyday means that I have lots of stories to tell but rarely find the time to tell them. So many incredible encounters have occurred during my 5 years working at Hassocks Pet Centre- and with the beginnings of Animal School, yet I don’t post them on here  as I’m probably cleaning out or feeding something, although I promise to try more often.

The last Pet Club, held at the shop on 20th September, went to show that people really love animals. You couldn’t move within the Animal Room for people holding animals. My pets that I bring from home are always well behaved and I am amazed by their trust for me and the work they do with the children. I am amazed at the enthusiasm by the children, that they remember the facts from the month before and share them with younger kids, including the correct way to hold them.

I am also amazed that the cats, normally stalking and hunting small rodents, chill out and sit back for the two hours so I can do my show. I’m amazed because it works. Animals are best met out of cages!


November 22, 2011

In category: Lindsay's posts

The Christmas Photographs

You know the festive season is coming when you see Steve and Nola lined up with their fox family for the Christmas photo. Even though the season is not quite upon us yet, the cards need to be. We give out cards to our customers to thank them for their custom and it has become a tradition for foxes and santa’s hats to appear in the frame.

We hope you enjoy the following selection of images.  All the animals were very well behaved during the shoot!

The smaller fox is Lobo, a yearling fox that was rescued earlier in the year. Of course the larger fox with Nola and Steve is the famous Miss Snooks (she wouldn’t wear a red nose though)

Nola and Tink


Steve and Miss Snooks



August 12, 2010

In category: Lindsay's posts


Below are the lyrics to my latest song, which I have been handing out in the format of a letter addressed to Mr Watt of Mid Sussex District County Council.

I have been singing on the street for most of the day and have a wad of signatures to pat myself on the back for.   Which is good, my feet are tired.

For those that have not heard I am singing about the proposed closure of the large antiques shop on Keymer road and it being bought out by a supermarket (which is rumoured to be a Sainsbury’s) The local shops have a petition which is getting loads of signatures so thank you Hassocks residents!  Keep spreading the word.

As for me and my song, I’m just trying to raise awareness.  I ask somebody to listen and to read through my letter, if they agree if they could sign.


Mr Watt,

Planning Devision,

Mid Sussex District County Council,

Oaklands, Oaklands Road,

Haywards Heath,


Dear Mr Watt,

I have heard what’s happening to the building down my road. You want to tear it down from the heart of the town and build a new Sainsbury’s store. I guess you hope I will think “Well maybe.  I like to taste the difference”  but you should realise this idea is not wise and here is my resistance.

I say NO to Sainsbury’s, I don’t want a superstore.  There are quirky shops here, which I really hold dear.  I think this idea is flawed.  I say NO to Sainsbury’s because there is no parking planned for customers or staff. You’re having a laugh, our streets will be rammed.

Besides, where will all our traffic go when those big lorries start to offload? In the bus stop? In the road?  You’ve got no parking planned for your big refrigerated Sainsbury’s vans!

We already boast a Budgens that’s a one off star franchise.  It sells the local produce and is a decent size. I say NO to Sainsbury’s because it is a badly planned proposal.  I don’t want small shops to close so I’m casting my vote. Let’s keep hassocks local.

I say NO to Sainsbury’s being built up by the station. It seems my only choice but to stand and voice  my growing indignation.

I say NO to Sainsbury’s. This is my decision.  I want to make this perfectly clear to you for you to hear Mr Watt of the planning division.

I don’t think it’s fair to build it there and give us no time to tell you it’s not fair how your survey says we have no traffic but you took that survey in Ditchling, classic.

NO! This idea just has to go.  It threatens to spoil a place I hold dearly,

Thank you for listening,

Yours Sincerely,

July 9, 2010

In category: Lindsay's posts

Life’s Lessons.

Cheeky Ginger. One of Amanda's kittens

It is unrealistic to expect children to understand animal strait away and tell them off when they seem too rough, or too nervous with their pets.

Today at 3:00 there was the usual after-school rush.

I hear it coming like the wildebeest stampede in the Lion King.  I get prepared.  If all goes to plan, I’ve had a cup of coffee and a sneaky sit outside before the animal room gets rammed and I’m on duty.  Interacting until 4:30 with kids, adolescents and mum with buggies.

 Today was melting hot before the rush. All was quiet. Smokey was outside enjoying the sunshine, the rabbits were leaning against their icepacks and  was chatting with Mummy Bunny outside. Guess I was slightly late back in because I wandered back into mayhem and the scene that greeted me made me spill my coffee.

Bobalong’s kittens were on the move.  They had been little more than slugs lying in their bed last week.  Now they are three weeks old I guess now was the time for exploring.  All four were wobbling into eager hands, from what I could see between the little people and the buggy wheels. I barged my way  in and watched the scene. 

It can make you wince. Small children when faced with four week old kittens for the first time are overcome with that urge “I want to pick them up” and it’s a learning curb. Up until this point they have only played with toys and the kittens have only been stroked by people.

Picking them up? Hmm, it’s not such a good idea. Three week old kittens should really stay on the ground. I had two options:

- Demand a mass exodus of kids and guard the kittens with an anti-public scowl


-Find a happy way in which kittens and children can interact.

I sat down on the ground between the kids and said that they should let them crawl onto their laps but, in the likely event they should want to leave to let them go. Funny thing with animals, the more space and trust you give them the more they want to be around you.  The only way to control animals is to do it without them realizing it!

The kids sat down and the lesson began. The mothers all helped and within no time we had Bobalong’s babies walking from lap to lap and enjoying the attention. It was working really well even though I still had to watch everyone like a hawk. One little girl, who was was clearly smitten, did the obvious and kept trying to grab at their bodies as if they were toys.

Honestly, how can we expect children to know otherwise? This mistake is the chance for the lesson.

“Look! It’s not a toy. It’s like another kid. This one’s alive. Watch it and it will come to you. Be gentle and it will like you.” The kitten responds, liking the gentle scritch of tiny fingers.

I swear sometimes you can see them learning. I’m talking about both the kitten and the child.

Bobalong's Babies (before they were mobile)

Anyway, this lesson lasted for a couple of minutes until Bobalong returned and mewed at her babies to be fed. As the last little kitten crawled into the basket with mum, there was a general sigh from the kids. It seemed unfair that the game should be over so soon. From round the corner a little lad shouted “I wanna hold Eric M the giant snail”

Now here was a game everyone could enjoy. Impromptu snail lesson coming up.

With more enthusiasm about mollusks than your average girl I yelled out “Who wants to hold some African Land snails?”

There was ripple of nervousness from the mums but another stampede to the snail tank from the kids.

Taking the snail tank down to floor level, a crowd had built up around our little snails. Eric M, our chief snail had disappeared into his shell so there was nothing to see. I didn’t want to disappoint the kids so I plucked out him and held him in my left hand as he slowly retracted to safety. I mentally told him to come out but the only response I got was a couple of bubbles like he was blowing me a raspberry. I felt like a raspberry. Come on, snails are cool…

“Where is he?” muttered the crowd. I spotted a little snail sliming its way along the branch and brought him to everyone’s attention.

“Watch this” I said, pulling out the branch for everyone to see.  Gently I poked his eye with my finger so the snail rolled it back into his head. “Don’t worry kids, this is how snails get safe. His eye will come back out again” I said and sure enough, not too offended from this poke the snail peered out his eye again. I took him off the branch and he waggled his body in space.

Somehow the kids were amazed and as I passed this little creature around as Eric M, who had been wondering what the fuss was about emerged. “He’s huge!” yelled the little boy  who had wanted to hold him. Another little girl shouted out that the snail’s whole body is called its toe. Goodness only knows how she knew that but she’s right and our snail lesson did not disappoint. Thankfully.

So for probably the first time in history snails have been used as a successful distraction from kittens. There was almost a fight when I brought out the cucumber and the water sprayer so we could give our pets something to eat and drink.

The mothers were relieved I provided hand wash afterwards.

And I think we all learnt something.

July 1, 2010

In category: Lindsay's posts

Rabbits as small children’s pets?

Funny Bunny is my favourite rabbit in the world, but even he has to be handled with care.

Somebody comes into the shop and says that they want to buy a rabbit as a pet for their children.

I ask two questions: “How old is your child?” and “Can I meet them?”

Age is essential. The screaming tones of excited small children blast through the giant ears of a naturally nervous animal and makes taming near impossible. You need to be old enough to be able to keep quiet, at least until the rabbit really gets to know you. Otherwise expecting it to keep still is like asking the same of you next to a controlled explosion.

I will be honest, for first time pets? I’d always recommend going for a couple of guinea pigs.

Why? Rabbits can scratch you. Guineapigs can’t.

The difference is in the power of the back legs. While both animal have sharp claws which they use to dig and root in the ground with. Rabbits have extremely powerful muscles that can kick out, causing nasty wounds. Unlike a cat, the rabbit cannot take it’s claws back into it’s soft foot pads. The claws are always there, making cuddling difficult, like with Edward Scissor-hands.

It’s unfortunate for rabbits. They don’t mean to hurt their owners.

Today I was walking Funny Bunny round the garden with a collar and harness. Don’t groan. It irritates me when people come into the store and state how ridiculous the process is. I was walking him with a collar and harness in my garden because he is on holiday from the shop and I am trying to train him to come when I call. The lead helps, even though he tends to drag me around.

Accidental Scratches like this one are common among rabbit owners.

My niece and nephew thought this was great and I allowed them to help me work (although I stated no pulling the rabbit.) and everything was ticking along nicely until Mabel said “Let’s stroke the rabbit” and I caught him on my lap and allowed them to touch him. Perfect moment, perfect pet, that is until my father boomed the words “chocolate ice cream” from the kitchen and sent the kids running amok. Which, scared Funny Bunny, which scratched me. Ouch.

So if you are going to buy a rabbit- be aware. I’m not saying that they don’t make good pets. I love Funny Bunny to bits and will talk for hours about him (just ask my co-worker long suffering Georgie) Rabbits are wonderful, intellegent, incredibly rewarding animals.

I just want to make sure that you do have tame rabbits and that you don’t give up after the first accident.

Firstly, it’s not too hard to learn how to handle rabbits but it takes a certain amount of bravery and a lot of responsibility. That is why I like to meet the children who buy my pets. The lesson they have with us at the store might make the difference between a lifetime friend or the feared animal at the bottom of the garden.

That’s it from me tonight. More funny stories about rabbits, chipmunks and crows to follow…

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