Belinda Says Hay: “Hack Top 10 Cuties”

Hello. It’s Belinda.

If you’re reading this, it means I still have a job.

Why wouldn’t I, you ask? Because of something I got into at work. I may have crossed a line.

It all started last Saturday, at Midwest BunFest. We were cleaning up our booth after the event and Josh was fiddling with his laptop.

“Wuuf,” he said, but he meant Wolf. “What’s the new whatchamacallit for the email?”

She said a bunch of numbers and letters. Then she said them again. Josh hit some keys and said that works.

And I thought: Hold the hoe.

Did I just overhear the password for the company email?

It was none of my business. I’m not supposed to send emails out to customers, not even to say hi. I write this Sunday blog on the website and Wolf emails the link to everyone. Not my job.

So I tried to forget about it. But every time I nodded off and woke up, I thought about those numbers and letters.

Then came the big blow up on Monday. It was brought to my attention that I was not invited to the House Rabbit Society conference. Wolf, the brand manager, and Jessica, the customer service representative, were invited and they’re at the conference now. In San Diego. Representing Small Pet Select.

But Belinda, the spokesrabbit? Nope. Just leave me behind with nothing to do. Bored out of my mind and usually that means carpet is coming up but not this time.

I typed in the password and it worked. I clicked around and next thing you know I hacked into the Top 10 Cuties email.

Jessica puts that email together every week, collecting the photos and stories about rabbits, guinea pigs and chinchillas. She does a very good job but I have a different idea about which rabbits are the cutest in the country.

I assume she was too busy yesterday at the HRS conference to see how I fixed her email. But I hope Daisy, Emmy, Morgan, Tibbar and that tall rabbit saw it.

And since this might be my last blog post, I need to say something important.

Small Pet Select is giving away $15,000.

I saw it when I was snooping around in the files.

The money is going to rescues, like the one that saved me when I was living outside in the city. You can nominate your favorite rescue to get some of this money.

A large rescue will get $5,000. An chapter of a large organization, one independent rescue, and two therapy programs will each get $2,500.

You have to get the form done by Tuesday, October 31. It sounds pretty easy to me for such a big stash.

You can read how it works here:

I wish I could nominate the rescue that helped me. But I’m not allowed because I’m an employee of Small Pet Select.

At least for now.



Spokesrabbit, Small Pet Select

911: Signs Your Chinchilla Needs Emergency Care

Today’s just a great day. You’re getting everything you planned to get done finished. At the rate you’re going, you’re finally going to get ahead.


Wouldn’t you know it? Just as you’re gearing up to get ahead, you look over at your little chin and notice something’s just not right.

Welcome to life as a pet parent, a life in which a health emergency pops up when you least expect it. And, your reaction to that emergency often means the difference between life and death.

Getting to know you...

Chinchillas are prey animals. That means, no matter how safe they are with you, their natural instinct is still to hide signs of illness. Prey animals can do a pretty good job of hiding illness until it’s too late for a veterinarian to do much.

That’s why it’s so important for you to get to know your chin. Know her daily habits. Her eating habits. Her personality. Maybe, for example, she runs up to nudge you every day at treat time. But, today, she just sits in the corner of her cage, not looking interested at all. That's a pretty big clue something is wrong.

Knowing your chinchilla really well will make it much easier for you to spot when she starts to feel under the weather. Then, you can take immediate action before things get worse.

Click here to read about spotting the early signs of illness in a chinchilla.

Signs of an emergency

Let’s take a look at the common signs that signal you need to get your chinchilla to a veterinarian immediately.

Lack of an appetite. Always keep an eye on your chinchilla’s eating habits. If you notice she hasn’t eaten within a 12 hour period, get her to a veterinarian immediately. She may be suffering from gastrointestinal stasis (GI stasis) or bloat, both of which can be fatal if not treated quickly.

Less poops and urine production than normal. Both can be a sign of stasis or bloat or something entirely different. Fewer poops and urine production than normal, as well as diarrhea, warrant a trip to the vet.

Suffering from an injury. If your chin has a wound, what appears to be a broken bone, or any kind of injury, consult with the vet as soon as possible.

Other signs that you need to hightail it to the vet include if your chin is:

  • Bleeding
  • Breathing through her mouth/struggling to breathe
  • Having discharge from the nose, the ears, or the eyes
  • Having seizures
  • Hunched over
  • Lethargic
  • Suffering from an intestinal prolapse
  • Unresponsive
  • Wheezing

Even if you aren’t sure if you’ve got an emergency on your hands, your safest bet is to contact your veterinarian for direction.

Chin-friendly vets 

Before you face an emergency with your chinchilla, take action now. If you don’t already have a chin-savvy veterinarian and an emergency veterinarian, find one of each as soon as possible. The last thing you want is to have to rush around to find a qualified vet in an emergency. Click here to read about how to find and build a relationship with a vet.

Moral of the story? Take action immediately if you suspect your chin is sick. Not sure if she's needs vet attention? Call the vet. Not sure what to do? Call the vet. Your chin's survival could depend on how quickly you react.


Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital

Forever Feisty Chinchilla

Merck Veterinary Manual  

NC State College of Veterinary Medicine 

Belinda Says Hay: “Meeting Josh”

Hello. It’s Belinda.

I guess by now it’s all over the internet. What happened at BunFest.

But in case you haven’t seen the videos, I spent the day working the Small Pet Select booth with Josh from the warehouse.

I know.

I’m still in a fog from that and being off my schedule and eating too much and other things. But yesterday was perfect, minus the nonsense from my roommate on the ride home.

Turns out Midwest BunFest is not outdoors, like I expected. It’s indoors and they don’t let the rabbits run around loose. They’re wheeled around like I was in my Belindamobile or carried. Sort of an all-day parade but random.

But I was there to work, not wander around visiting. So mostly I stayed at the Small Pet Select booth, which was really just tables lined up covered with boxes of hay and treats and toys.

Sounds like mayhem but it wasn’t. If you had a booth, you stayed on one side, with your stash, and the other humans didn’t dare cross over. No humans got into a fight all day so this table setup did the trick.

Same with the rabbits. I even met a few English rabbits and, unlike the one at home, they knew to stay back. It’s a shame the one who needed to see that spent the day in the petsitter’s basement.

Best of all, no one asked for my credentials. Plenty of Lionheads stopped by the booth and I did not hear one word about how a fluffy breed would be a better spokesrabbit. And nobody laughed and said I’m as big as their dog. At BunFest you don’t say things like that because, if you do, you turn around and 10 rabbits are giving you the skunk eye.

So back to business.

What did J. and I do all day? Said hi to rabbits from all over the country. Passed out sample bags of Vitalicious, Flower Power Berry Boost and Heavenly Green Crunch. Hay samples too. Basically had each other’s back.

Speaking of back, every time my roommate was distracted, Josh slipped a pinch of alfalfa to me.

“Here you go, B’linda,” he kept saying. That’s how they say my name in his part of the country. Their words are missing letters and slower.

When he saw me eyeing up the herbal blends, he opened one under the table and let me have the entire bag.

Hours and hours of this sort of thing at the booth. Of course I wanted to stay all day but my shift ended at noon. And to be honest, that was plenty. I was exhausted but not Josh.

In fact, when he realized I was leaving, he stopped everything he was doing and sang to me. That’s right, in the middle of Midwest BunFest, with humans staring at him and rabbits staring at me, Josh from the warehouse sang a song.  Something about “Hay baby.”

If I had a normal life the story would end there. You would see everyone smiling and clapping. My roommate loading me into the Belindamobile and steering me through the big room and out of BunFest. It would end on a high note.

But not with you-know-who. She’s not happy until she finds a way to “frost the crops.”

On the way home, she said it was smart for Josh to find a “gimmick” to bring people to the booth. I thought she meant the free samples but she meant the song. My song!

“And by the way, Belinda, you need to start working on reviews for all the products he sent last month.”

But those boxes of hay and healthy snackers and chew balls were gifts. Not work assignments. They are gifts from Josh, sent straight from the warehouse.

I tuned her out. She went on about UPC codes and cost per click and I don’t know what else.

But I had the last laugh.

When we got home, she was lifting the Belindamobile out of the trunk and when she turned it sideways to shake out the hay, seven bags of Vitalicious fell out.

Or should I say, “Vit’licious.”



Spokesrabbit, Small Pet Select

Your Castle Awaits: Creating The Perfect Chinchilla Cage

Welcome home, little chin. Your castle awaits.

Yes, castle. Well, at least that’s how you want your chinchilla – who will spend a significant amount of her 15 to 20 year lifespan in that cage – to look at it.

Chins can live quite a long time, up to 20 years or more as we just mentioned, and you want to make sure those years are happy and comfortable. That’s why it’s so important to spend time thinking about and preparing her cage for her.

Go for durability. 

Sure, you may want to upgrade your chin’s cage – whether to make it easier for her to move around as she grows older or to provide her with even more space – as the years pass. Still, there are a few types of cages you want to avoid now and in the future.

Never, ever buy plastic or wood housing. Those little chinny teeth love to chew. Two of their favorite things to chew? You’ve got it. Wood and plastic. That gorgeous wood or plastic home you’ve fallen in love with online? It’s no match for your chin’s teeth.

You want durability. Metal provides that durability and your chin won’t be able to chew through it. Win-win.

Avoid toxic materials 

Not all metals are safe for your chin. Avoid the toxic metals, including brass, copper, and zinc. Instead, always look for cages (and toys) that are made from the safe metals – stainless steel, aluminum, and nickel, gold or silver plated. 

The bigger the better 

Good philosophy when considering the best cage for your chin: The bigger the better. Ask yourself: If you had to live the cage for 20 years (minus time out for playing and socializing), would you be happy?

The perfect habitat 

Let’s take a look at all the things you need in the cage to ensure your chin gets the royal treatment:

  • Solid floor. Never, ever, ever keep your chin on wire floors. Can you imagine if you had to stand barefoot on wire floor all day? Agony, right? Well, your chin will feel the same and she’ll have no way to escape it.

  • Bedding. A few rules you’ll want to keep in mind when choosing bedding. Never use cedar or undried pine. Both are believed to cause liver problems and respiratory illness in chins and other small animals. Opt for a paper based-bedding, such as shredded newspaper.

  • Water bottle. Avoid water bowls, especially with energetic chinchillas. A water bowl is just an accident waiting to spill, causing your chin’s bedding and other belongings to become soggy. Instead, opt for a sturdy water bottle that will attach to the side of the cage.

  • Hay rack/basket. Keep those tiny chin teeth healthy with unlimited hay. Use a hay rack or basket and always refill as soon as you see it get a little low on the green stuff.

  • Food bowl.   Choose a food bowl that works best for your chin's needs. A sturdy bowl on one of the cage's levels will work. Or, you may find a stainless steel bowl that you connect to the side of the cage works better for both you and your chinchilla. 

  • Wheels. This is for you. A cage sat atop wheels will just make your life, especially on cleaning days, so much easier. Just wheel the cage into a different spot instead of having to bend like a contortionist trying to clean behind it.

  • Exercise wheel. This is for your chin.  An exercise wheel, with a solid floor (not metal or grates at all when it comes to delicate chinchilla feet), will help your little one get the exercise she needs, usually in the morning or in the evening. Despite popular belief, chinchillas are crepuscular. Click here to read how to keep your chin safe when using an exercise wheel. ​

  • Hiding spaces. We all have times when we just want to hide out alone, right? Your chinchilla is no different. Provide plenty of spaces – such as cardboard tubes and wooden hides – so your chin can get away when she wants to.

  • Shelves. Chin cages typically come with floors, identified by shelves. Their little teeth will destroy plastic; how quickly really depends on your chin’s determination. Some people make their own wooden floors – also chewable. It all comes down to your personal preference as to what type of shelves to use.

  • Toys. Chins need mental and physical stimulation just like you and me. Toys help provide that. A chin may destroy a wood house but will certainly love wooden toys. Consider rotating your chin’s toys – giving so many one week then replacing with others another week and so on – so she doesn’t become bored.

These are just some of the basics that every chinchilla house should have. You can be as elaborate or as simple as you want. Just keep in mind that your little one will live in that space for much of her life and you want her to be happy.


Chinchilla Rescue

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Belinda Says Hay: “Midwest BunFest”

Hello. It’s Belinda.

Midwest BunFest is in six days and I am not ready. I am not ready at all.

I am “working the booth.” Josh from the warehouse will be there. I’m not sure where I’m sleeping. And my hair is flat.

Thanks to all of the above, I have been unable to focus all week.

Instead of helping me to pack or practice my lines, my roommate keeps nagging.

“Why do you keep hanging out by the front door?”

“For the last time, stay away from that alfalfa box!”

The thing is, the FedEx truck comes willy-nilly. I like surprises but not when I’m waiting for a box from somewhere or someone, nothing in particular but you never know. It doesn’t hurt to look out the door.

As for the alfalfa, my nerves are shot from worrying about Midwest BunFest and I need a mood hay. There’s a time for a nice legume and this is it.

You might wonder, “What’s to worry about?”


The crowds.

My roommate says rabbit rescues from all over the country travel to Midwest BunFest. I assume they bring their adoptable rabbits with them. Hundreds of them. So I guess BunFest is an outdoor festival with camping and activities.

I don’t want to be a pessimist, but how can 500 to 1,000 rabbits spend the weekend running around loose without causing complete mayhem? I don’t want to get caught up in that. 

Working the booth.

I still don’t know what I’m supposed to do at the Small Pet Select booth. But I can help Josh from the warehouse with whatever he needs.

The others can walk around the campground with hay samples or snacker bags. No reason to stay with me and J.

Also, I haven’t seen the schedule. I can be flexible, but I need time for breakfast 1, breakfast 2, pre-lunch and three half-naps. Plus I need to be back at the hotel for my afternoon full-nap.


First of all, getting to Columbus. I suppose they’ll send a company car for me.

My roommate says I’m staying at the hotel. But which hotel? Do I have my own room? Are there dryers for me to sleep behind?

No answers. So I’m bringing my own pen, several pounds of pellets and a salad cooler.

And although I am representing the company and have to be friendly, I do not want any festival rabbits in my room.

My hair.

From the minute I found out about BunFest, my Lionhead issues have been back.

I’ll be meeting rabbits from all over. What if they ask how I got this job? Even if they don’t say it, I’ll know what they mean: I’m not fancy.

Meanwhile, my autumn molt started last week. So I decided to let it go. Drove me crazy to have tufts everywhere but I thought I needed the fullness.

Well, my agent said the company doesn’t want me “shedding all over the booth.” So I could either wear a hairnet or let her groom me. I am not wearing a hairnet, so now I’m flat again.

When the festival rabbits come to the booth covered in mud and grass stains, I will just hold my head high. I may be plain, but I know my timothy. I may ride around in a limo, but I’m still a rabbit.

Josh from the warehouse.

My roommate said that Josh will be “loading up his truck” with hay, healthy snackers, herb mixes and all the rest.

I don’t care about any of that. Plus that’s for the camping rabbits.

What do I want? I just want Josh to see me as more than just a spokesrabbit.

And after BunFest, when he is back at the warehouse, I want him to tell the others,

“You know, that Belinda. She’s one of us. I couldn’t do the booth without her.

And she’s down to earth, but in a good way—not tearing up the hotel landscaping like the festival rabbits.”

I want him to think of me every time he unloads a bale of alfalfa.

And if he wants to ship some to me, even in an unmarked tube or envelope stamped “magazines inside,” that would be fine.

Speaking of deliveries and alfalfa, I have something I need to do.



Spokesrabbit, Small Pet Select