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Nibbly bunny needs some chew sticks

Arnold does what I know rabbits do: He chews on everything. He has nibbled on my carpet, furniture, wires, bed linens, everything. How can I stop him from doing this? Arnold is tame and lovable. I don't want to do anything to harm him.

Clearly, you love your rabbit. And you're right, rabbits do chew; they must do so to maintain their teeth. However, chewing on carpeting, furniture and linen doesn't do much for the look of your home.

Lucile Moore, author of A House Rabbit Primer (Santa Monica Press; $14.95), suggests using a spray product (which shouldn't harm fabric or carpet) like Bitter Apple to deter Arnold. You can purchase such spray deterrents at any store where pet products are sold.

Meanwhile, visit a hardware or home improvement center for materials to protect your rabbit from the wires. Buy some type of covering for electrical cords, or buy Plexiglas to cover the cords. For the time being, simply don't allow Arnold in your bedroom or on the furniture without you or another adult supervising.

Since rabbits do need something to nibble on, Moore says you must provide chew sticks and other manufactured products for your pet to chomp on. If Arnold still tries to snack on carpet or furniture, simply clap your hands, say "no," and redirect him to something more appropriate.

Outsmart your parrot

There's trouble when our half moon conure (a kind of parrot) is out of his cage. He loves to chew on the drapes. I want to find a way to stop this. I've tried spraying my bird with water, but it hasn't helped.

"If you're a conure, being sprayed with water is rewarding, and parrots love drama, so being hollered at may not be so bad," says parrot behavior consultant Liz Wilson, certified by the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. "After all, conures scream at one another; it's what they do."

Keep your bird farther away from the window. Adult supervision is a must.

What your conure needs are toys appropriate for him to use that beak on. Also consider toys that make him think. Teach your conure how to seek out or forage for food that you hide inside toys. Or put toys inside toys. For example, take a paper sack, place a few toys inside, then close the top with a bag clip. Parrots are incredibly smart and inventive and will create their own fun if you don't offer better alternatives.

Steve Dale welcomes questions/comments from readers. He will answer those of general interest in his column. Write to Steve at Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207.

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