Sunday, February 01, 2009

In Search of a Happy Hut

Truman Burbank, our quaker parrot, is in love with his Happy Hut. If you don't own a quaker, conure, or similar feathered friend, you probably have no idea what that means. Basically, Happy Huts are cloth or fabric tents that hang from the ceiling of a bird's cage. The bird can sleep inside or hide in his "secure zone" if he's scared.

When we first bought Truman at Chief's Bird Cabin in Orlando (yes, that's really the name, and yes, it's really a cabin), they recommended buying a Happy Hut for him. They had a homemade variety made of plain cloth (the name brand models are made from thick, fuzzy material). I selected one, and as you can see below, he took to it almost immediately. It became his bedroom, as well as his sanctuary from the Vaccum Monster and various other household terrors.

Things went on peacefully for a year, and then last week Truman went to our friends' house for a weeklong visit while we took Disney Cruise #66 (to read my day by day trip report, click here to start with Day One on my Orlando Examiner site. They have five birds of their own, and Truman loves their daughter, so I knew that he'd be in good hands. Of course, his Happy Hut went with him.

When we returned, one of our friends delivered him instead of me doing a pick-up because just about everyone in their household was sick. Truman was quite non-plussed at all the turmoil. As soon as we took him out of the carrier, he greeted my husband with clicking sounds and a repetitive litany of "What?" and "Step up!" I got some of his favorite fart noises and a few cockatiel-style whistles (he was with two 'tiels all week).

After our friend left, I realized that Truman's Happy Hut was not among his supplies. Oh no! How would he sleep? Granted, birds can sleep on a perch, but my spoiled little boy was used to to his cushy birdy bedroom. I decided to just run out to the pet store and get him a new one. For a quaker parrot, he's pretty flexible. Some take days or weeks to get used to new things, but he generally takes to new toys and whatnot right away.

As much as I love living in Celebration, one of the hazards of being in a residential bubble in the middle of Tourist Land is a dearth of specialized stores. Sure, we have souvenir shops up the ying yang, and plenty of Wal-Marts and Targets, but dedicated pet stores are few and far between. Thankfully, there is a recently-built retail oasis called The Loop that's about 10 minutes (and a $1.50 toll) away from Celebration. They have a Petco that carries Happy Huts so I figured it would be a simple journey.


The one stinkin' time I needed a Happy Hut, they were totally out. I've seen them every time I've come to buy bird food, but on this day there had apparently been a run on them. It was getting late on a Saturday, so my only other option was to head out to the Petsmart way down in boffo on the other end of John Young Parkway and pray frantically on the way that they'd have a hut in stock.

Hubby and I raced off to the far-flung Petsmart. Even though I prefer them to Petco, I hate going there because it's far, a pain in the butt to get to, and it has one of the world's most poorly designed parking lots. Actually, I have to say that Florida in general has horrible parking lot design. Back in Illinois, there were myriad entrances and exits to choose from, and you could easily get from one part of the lot to the other. In my little slice of the Sunshine State, there's one entrance that's often well hidden, and you'll be lucky if one end of the lot connects to the other in more than one hard-to-find spot.

But we were on a mission, so I braved the special hell of the Petsmart lot and raced in to the bird section. Whew! The good news was that they had plenty of Happy Huts. The bad news was that they only had the name brand, which looks a good deal different from Truman's old digs. Oh well, I figured he'd get in it if he was desperate enough. I bought two identical huts to prevent any similar panicked quests in the future.

While Truman didn't flip out when I hung the new (and somewhat larger) hut in his cage, he was extremely leery of it. He gave it the fuzzy eyeball, then climbed out onto his cage top play gym. I returned him to the cage and showed him that the hut didn't bite me when I lined it with paper towels, but he was still skeptical. Finally hubby offered him a noodle, and the little carb hog grabbed it and ate it on the perch next to the hut. When it didn't attack him, he decided to do some shred work on the paper towels. By bedtime, he had climbed in and made himself at home.

The next day, I felt relieved that he'd slept in his hut, but I wondered if he really liked it as well as his old one. A quick glance inside answered that question! Quakers are nest-building parrots, and in captivity they will play with sticks and other building materials if you provide them. Tru has a bucket full of skewers, straws, popsicle sticks and the like. Just as he used to in his old hut, he had constructed a...well, I don't know what it is, but I do know it means he is happy. Check out his handiwork in the photo below. As you can see, the Happy Hut is living up to its name:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There's a pet store in the new Posner Commons in Davenport...not sure if it's a Petco or Petsmart. Pretty easy to get to, just in case of a future emergency!