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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



December 2, 2010

In category: Uncategorized


Sainsburys Song

For the last few days Hassocks Community Action group have been trudging through the snow collecting signatures against a fresh proposal for a supermarket giant to arrive like the death star on Hassocks High street.

This gets right up my nose. Back in the summer our local council refused the planning permission after receiving more than 2,000 letters of complaint, a multitude of signatures and I got blisters on my fingers planning my “Say NO to Sainsbury’s” protest song on the streets to amused onlookers.

The failed developer has decided to take a new approach to getting it’s own way and, this gets right up my nose, has lodged an appeal with the planning Inspectorate in Bristol to overturn the decision. Bristol! I mean what do they know about it.

I expect a lot of you don’t care, after all it’s not your back yard. Seriously though when a community has actually bothered to stand up against something they don’t think is right and actually DO SOMETHING about it they should at least be rewarded for their efforts.

STAND AND FIGHT is my suggestion (or maybe sing) Nobody in Hassocks seems to want this and if these big boys think they can muscle in while we all lie back and take it then they are mightily mistaken. Once again the Hassocks Community Action Group is out in force and good for them. I’m stuck in a snow drift but I’ve still got my song and I guess this is all I’ve got.

please to tell as many people as you can!
Until later,

The rumours that it is Sainsburys that want to develop on 22-24 Keymer road are not confirmed. That it IS a supermarket giant is a definite. I’m off to modify the lyrics so as not to offend any wrongly accused superstore. Whoever you are I don’t want you to win.

Please join our Facebook Group against this proposal!

Say No To Supermarkets. Hassocks Community Action Group

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…

June 18, 2010

In category: Lindsay's posts

Crow makes local news.

hoping he doesnt poo on Steve's carpet.

Here is a photo of Scout and I that was taken last week, when he was too young to be left in his aviary.

The last time he was in the shop was on Monday.

Nicky, the lady who had brought the crow to me had written to the paper and got them to run a story on Scout.

This is why I found myself trying to hold the fledgling bird still for a photographer from the Mid Sussex Times, whilst trying to subtly brush out the straw from my hair and stand over the poop he had just deposited on the floor.

The photo-shoot felt a little bit silly but at least it is for a piece on thinking before picking up baby birds “to help”

One of the curious thing about Scout is that he has white feathers on his wings, which I assumed must be a natural chick coloring.

Since talking to Vanessa from CorvidAid (a charity that rescues injured/orphaned crows) I found out that it’s more likely to be a calcium deficiency from eating foods like Macdonalds and not a natural diet.

She told me that he may have been abandoned by his parents for being different and that because of this he is best to be kept in captivity for at least another twelve months! I will keep you updated on his progress. Maybe I will have to roll lumps of cat food in calcium powder or similar. Sounds squidgy!

 Today was another crazily busy Friday. Customers and animal enquiries lined up without breaks and much hay lay on the floor for most of the afternoon.

Somehow even the most rushed days at the Pet Centre come with interesting new animals and events. A strange caterpillar to look up, a kitten just opening his eyes and a tank full of snails bought off a young boy.

 These one-off moments with animals come unplanned. Because we encourage handling animals at H.P.C there is pride in my job that I am selling the tamest pets around. I’m also learning from the animals.

Amanda’s kittens are now starting to open their eyes. It won’t be long before they are tearing around the shop causing the usual mayhem.

“How old are the kittens?” is a constant daily question.

They were born on the 29th May.

No, we are not talking about selling them yet (I know that you just can’t resist) Let them grow up a bit first. They are in the best place and are about to enjoy their kittenhood. Besides they currently have the whole of Hassocks cooing over them.

June 12, 2010

In category: Uncategorized

Sky One- Pet Nation – Link.

So if you did miss it, here is another chance to watch us online!

I believe this should work. Please can you tell me if you are having any problems watching it!


In category: Uncategorized

Of Snooks

Wow! What a treat to see Miss Snooks on television. Because she is so shy of strangers, I have never seen some of the behaviour she demonstrated on the footage from the Edgington family archive! I particularly loved seeing her rushing in from the cat flap, knowing that she would rather be around people than out in the wild.

It may seem strange to many of us that it is possible to keep a wild animal as a pet. Miss Snooks is an exceptional animal. Steve’s relationship with her is a special one which is bought with a lot of time and sacrifice.  To own a fox is to go without sleep, never to change your routine and to never leave them. Local customers know Steve is never far from his pet shop.  The hours he keeps are as strange as his foxy companion and while many of us might envy him the moments he shares with Miss Snooks, we do not encourage others to go out looking for foxes as pets.

 It is hard to interract with any animal without bonding with it. There is something in the action of touching and talking to a pet that draws out out our emotions to want to look after it. I love showing off our animals to those eager to learn about them.  The more information shared about a creature the more we want to know these creatures! 

I’m in the lucky position of being able to sell animals only if I am really happy with the homes they are going to. Here at the pet shop we try and encourage that initial bond which comes from a rush of learning with a test of patience that the fascination will last.

For this reason there is a one week wait for all animals that have just come into the store, a “go home and think” reservation policy and the promise that we will help with all queries or problems you might face when adopting your new pet.

Anyway, going to try and put the footage of Miss Snooks onto the Internet!

June 10, 2010

In category: Lindsay's posts

Live from The Animal House



On the eve of Miss Snooks television appearance I have finally got around to sorting out an old laptop and updating the website. Considering it has been my day off, I have been somewhat productive.

I made myself a new office (in reality a shed at the bottom of my parent’s garden) and built a large wildlife rehabilitation cage for the latest creature to come into my care.

Scout is a fledgling crow that was sitting duck in a children’s play park in Burgess Hill. It’s worth mentioning at this point that in most cases IF YOU FIND A BABY BIRD LEAVE IT ALONE! 

Many of the animals that get rushed into vets, animal sanctuaries and us too are completely fine. They just haven’t learnt how to hide from people that well yet. It may look harsh but this isolation from “mummy” is part of bird’s life cycle and is called the “fledgling stage”.  Too many animals are picked up because they were sitting stupidly on the ground apparently abandoned.  

Obviously if the bird or animal is injured or in immediate danger there may be something that we can do to help. Any serious casualties are normally referred to Rodger’s Wildlife in Woodingdean – an excellent local animal charity.

Scout’s rescuer was pretty desperate by the time she phoned me. Apparently neither the RSPCA or the local vets would help her at all. I said I would after I realized that there really was no safe place to leave him. So along comes Scout with his gaping mouth that indicated he wanted food. He promptly devoured tweezers’ full of mealworms and deposited a sticky dropping down the side of my leg!

It is easy enough to feed him, although it’s a messy job, so I took him back to my parent’s house* for my days off and put his cat basket in the Summer House which is also home to Rat-Tat the chipmunk. Scout quickly escaped and settled into a nest on top of Rat-Tat’s cage! Tucking his head under his wing he fell asleep as Rat-Tat sniffed at the giant corvid above him.

To keep an eye on the inhabitants of the shed, I have moved in too. I’ve set up a desk for my laptop and dragged as many books on pets and wildlife as will fit. So this is my first office too and I’m going to update the blog from either here or at the shop, which let’s face it, is another room full of animals. I wonder how long this computer will last before it is destroyed by droppings or hair. Hopefully long enough to tell you a bit more about my life working at Hassocks Pet Centre.

I am reluctant to let Scout go straight back into the wild. He is far from his mother now and is still gaping for food. His downy feathers need to grow a bit before he can fly but I took him out into the fields yesterday and watched as he rooted around in the grasses and pecked at cow pats.

Scout is back in the Animal House tonight but a new cage has been constructed at the bottom of the garden with a large door that can be left open when the time is right. My Father would rather that time is tonight because crows are rather messy but the weather is terrible and I don’t want him to get cold and wet. This new enclosure will come in handy for chipmunk exercise or any other strays that come my way. There are no cats in the area and it’s situated on mature farmland teaming with wildlife. My Mum has managed to encourage every animal imaginable here from shrews to deer. So Scout should be at home. 

Part of a crow’s life cycle is to hop around on the ground before it can fly and it relies solely on it’s mother for food. I guess it probably learns to feed itself at this time too so I’ve left handfuls of mealworms scattered around for him to practice pecking.

Stimulating wild behavior is so important with any animal, be it wild or a pet. I know that Steve hides baby chickens around his flat (the kind you buy frozen to feed to pet hawks) to allow his vixen Miss Snooks the enjoyment of “Hunting them” herself.

I do worry that not enough people realize that animals get bored. So if your cat is scratching the carpet -buy it a scratching post! Or wear the tiger out with one of our laser chase pens. Barking dogs? There are so many dog toys in the shop that we have a whole wall dedicated to them. You don’t need to spend a fortune. Stimulate the animal before you spend £80 on an anti-barking collar or moan that your pet drives you nuts.

Speaking of nuts, shoving a monkey nut into the bars at the side of your hamsters cage will keep it busy all night trying to prize out this treat. My chipmunk is rather good at it so I have to wedge them in but maybe start with a loose one for your hamster, at least till he gets the hang of it.

I’ve got to go now and feed this ever hungry crow. It’s back to work tomorrow and I’ve got a host of rodents, cavies and rabbits to feed, a shop to stock up, Smokey the parrot to talk to, Funny Bunny to train and of course, most of Hassocks to talk to.

Till tomorrow,


* I am happily living here until September. Originally on a “no animals” rule which seems to be forgotten now!

December 27, 2009

In category: Lindsay's posts

Shop re-opens after Christmas

Christmas came with a rush of hamsters. A jingle filled store and Steve in a Santa’s hat.

I am now back home in Hassocks, after family visits and eating too much turkey.

The shop was open as usual today and I went to work knowing that there were less faces to feed.  I felt a little bit sad when I looked at the hutches and found that there was no surge of sawdust to pick up off the floor under hutch 6. This had been a daily chore from the messiest two guinea pigs “Porridge” and “Rufy”. They made a funny pair, one of them was a Texal- a complete furball and the other a Smooth – fat, white and porky. They were friendly and docile animals. perfect to show to kids and I had known them for a long time.


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