Welcome to

Bob Tarte  on Pet Life Radio


In these exotic pets podcasts you hear that an exotic pet is a rare or unusual creature kept as a pet, or a creature kept as a pet which is not commonly thought of as a pet.

The definition of an exotic pet is an evolving one; some rodents, reptiles, and amphibians have become firmly enough established in the world of animal fancy to no longer be considered exotic. Sometimes any unique or wild-looking pet (including common domestic animals such as the ferret and the domestic rat) is called an exotic pet. "Exotic" may also be used for a species which is non-indigenous to the owner's locale.

Many major pet stores and service providers (such as veterinary insurance carriers or online retailers) tend to classify any animal besides cats, dogs, or fish as an exotic pet. So check out our exotic pets podcasts every week if you're an exotic pets lover!


"What Were You Thinking " Theme Song Written & Produced by Mark Winter
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Episode 93 -

Coming soon


Episode Info

Episode 92 - Giant Silkworm Moths vs. the Feather Brains, Part One

Two doors leading into the Degraaf Nature Center in Holland, Michigan, were each marked with a sign. Visitors had their choice of seeing 'Giant Silkworm Moths' or hearing a 'Feather Brained Talk' by author Bob Tarte and Book Character Bill Holm. Bob and Bill were fortunate enough to catch the overflow crowd from the silkworm moths. This laugh-filled riot of a talk on Bob’s book, Feather Brained, is divided into two parts to keep your sides from splitting and tears from clouding your vision.


Episode Info

Episode 91 - Pointless Nayanquing Point and Tawas Point Birding, Part Two

Surrounded by vocal House Wrens, Baltimore Orioles, Brown Thrashers, Yellow Warblers, and disgruntled park visitors, Feather Brained author Bob Tarte and Book Character Bill Holm try their birding luck at Michigan’s Tawas Point State Park on Lake Huron.  Bob recounts an important communication from a listener while Bill hosts an installment of the popular Motel Corner feature. Bob also offers hints on how to tell a Spotted Sandpiper from an Emu or other similar-looking birds.  It’s a laugh-filled show that either ends too soon or drags on and on, depending on your tolerance for pain.


Episode Info

Episode 90 - Pointless Nayanquing Point and Tawas Point Birding, Part One

After years of wasting your time with birding podcasts that go nowhere, Feather Brained author Bob Tarte and Book Character Bill Holm achieve a rare success. At Nayanquing Point Wildlife Area on Saginaw Bay, they score a close encounter with the rare-in-Michigan Yellow-headed Blackbird, and you get to hear it, too! They also see the secretive American Bittern and Least Bittern plus numerous Marsh Wrens. Added to that are your favorite “What Were You Thinking?” features: Photography Corner, Photographer’s Corner, Doesn’t That Rock?, and What’s New with Bill? Miss it or be square!


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Episode 89 - Special Delayed Feather Brained Magee Marsh Show from 2016, Part Two

It’s a total turnaround as Bob and Book Character Bill Holm enjoy a wind-free, warbler-filled new morning of birding at Magee Marsh. If that’s not enough excitement, listen closely to a slice of audio verite for a chance encounter with the esteemed author of The Warbler Guide, who had no idea he was being recorded – because Bob and Bill had no idea who he was. Pay close attention as Mr. Tom Stephenson validates an ID by Bob that another birder had just disputed. It doesn’t get any better than this! But please listen to the podcast anyway.


Episode Info

Episode 88 - Special Delayed Feather Brained Magee Marsh Show from 2016

Sure, it’s almost a year late. But the jokes are as timeless as the birding observations when Bob Tarte and Book Character Bill Holm dragged themselves to Magee Marsh in northern Ohio for the annual May warbler migration. High winds nearly ruin the birding, but Bob and Bill’s high spirits blow away potential misfortune in this unique, radio-simulcast episode that’s just begging for a Part Two. Plus you get the skinny on Bob’s new book about birding, Feather Brained


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Episode 87 - Special Feather Brained Muskegon Wastewater Something-Something Show

Shamelessly promoting his new book about birding, Feather Brained, Bob Tarte shares birding tips with reluctant birder Bill Holm at Muskegon Wastewater System in a bold January 2017 winter expedition. The pair actually spot some nice birds this time, including a rare Glaucous Gull, whose habits require some delicacy to describe. Tune in for a shocking Enslaved by Ducks movie teaser, too.


Episode Info

Episode 86 - The Quest for the Worm-eating Warbler

Do they or do they not stumble upon a breeding warbler that’s rare in Michigan? Feather Brained author Bob Tarte and Book Character Bill Holm follow careful online instructions and still manage to get discombobulated as they search the vast, foreboding, and slightly muddy Allegan State Game Area (or at least a very small part of it) for this small, elusive bird. Please don’t reveal the special surprise ending to any of your friends!


Episode Info

Episode 85 - Tips for Writing Your Pet Memoir, Part 2

In Part Two of a Two Part Show, appropriately enough, Bob Tarte and Bill Holm share tips on writing a memoir for publication with the Mid Michigan Word Gatherers Writing Group. Although the tips are for memoir writing in general, pet book author Bob bases the tips on techniques he used writing his published memoirs Enslaved By Ducks, Fowl Weather, Kitty Cornered, and his newest book, Feather Brained.


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Episode 84 - Long Legs, Long Beaks

In this Golden Archive Show from August 2014, available to the public for the first time, Bob and Book Character Bill Holm brave the gathering storm clouds in Tawas City, Michigan, to search for shorebirds – or any birds, for that matter. Bob is posting this Golden Archival Birding Show not only because it is pure gold, but also for the opportunistic reason that his new book about birding, “Feather Brained,” comes out in April 2016.


Episode Info

Episode 83 - Tips for Writing Your Pet Memoir, Part 1

Wall Street Journal Best-selling author Bob Tarte shares tips on writing a memoir for publication, aided and abetted by Bill Holm, who also shares tips on becoming a character in someone else’s memoir. The two will also discuss humor writing in dull, unfunny terms in part one of this presentation for the Mid Michigan Word Gatherers Writing Group. Although the tips are for memoir writing in general, pet book author Bob swears by them when he isn't swearing at Book Character Bill, and they are derived from his publishing success with Enslaved By Ducks, Fowl Weather, and Kitty Cornered.


Episode Info

Episode 82 - World’s Worst Birding Show, Part 2

How bad is part two of World’s Worst Birding Show? So bad that Bob Tarte and Bill Holm burn up the first 15 minutes apologizing for how bad the show is. Things get brighter in the second half, recorded live from the Estuary Trail at Magee Marsh, Ohio. A Gray Catbird, a Yellow Warbler, and other birds add their voices as Bob and Bill somehow manage to run into three birders even grumpier than they are. It's all a bolt of blazing sunshine compared to the first half of the show – another nugget of comedy birding gold from the author of the forthcoming book FEATHER BRAINED. 


Episode Info

Episode 81 - World’s Worst Birding Show, Part 1

You may never read this description of the World’s Worst Birding Show, Part 1, because this podcast might never make it online due to the need for certain minimum quality standards. It’s the usual content-free rambling from Bob Tarte and Book Character Bill Holm about their annual birding trip to Ohio for the warbler migration plus breaking news about Bob’s forthcoming book Feather Brained. Tough to sit through. But comedy gold for start to finish as Bob and Bill analyze mysterious doings at Magee Marsh.


Episode Info

Episode 80 - Lake Huron Birding Bliss with Bob & Bill - Part 2

In the long awaited sequel to Part 1, your hosts Bob and Book Character Bill Holm find more birds in the parking lot of Tawas State Park in northern Michigan than most people find in a zoo that has an aviary containing more birds than the Tawas State Park parking lot! On their return to Nayaquing Point, Bill outbirds Bob yet again. But Bob turns the spotlight back onto himself with his impression of Irish actor/singer Richard Harris’ performance on the Jimmy Webb Sessions recordings, while Bill shares his unique method of locating birds. it’s birding humor at its most featherbrained!


Episode Info

Episode 79 - The Tofino Psychic

Bob interviews animal communicator Kate Sitka, who lives in Tofino, Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Kate talks about discovering and developing her abilities to make a psychic link with both wild and domesticated animals – though another form of animal communication is simply becoming more sensitive to your pet’s needs. She describes a chicken’s psychedelic view of the world, what it’s like to be a whale, and how her cat loves to tattle on her dog. She also has suggestions for improving Bob’s relationship with his pet ducks and geese.


Episode Info

Episode 78 - Lake Huron Birding Bliss with Bob & Bill - Part 1

In the first Pet Life Radio show ever to be recorded live from a platform, Bob Tarte and Book Character Bill Holm embark upon another epic birding quest. They begin the adventure on an observation platform near the Ferguson Bayou Trail at Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge near Flint, Michigan. As a Common Tern flies overhead, Bill shows uncommon erudition in a discourse about the Shakespearean sonnet poetic form. Then, atop an observation platform at Nayanquing Point State Wildlife Area, Bill calls first dibs on the species they’d journeyed to Nayanquing to see, the Yellow-headed Blackbird. A spirited discussion of birding by ear leads to Bill’s desire for spirits of another kind as part one of a two-part extravaganza grinds to a halt.


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Episode 77 - Crabville

Author Cayr Ariel Wulff (Born Without a Tail, Circling the Waggins, and more) likes to talk about her rambunctious dogs. But she surprises Bob by talking about her partner Dalene's rambunctious hermit crabs, whose proper care demands a carefully controlled environment. Learn about proper housing and whether Leroy the crab will eat honey on a cracker. Thrill to tales of crab escape artists and the crab who had two shells.


Episode Info

Episode 76 - The Full-Year-in-the-Making Birding Show, Part Two

In part two of the birding show that took a full year to produce, Book Character Bill Holm blows the lid off the fraud that he considers ‘birding by ear’ to be and Bob defends the practice as they recap the 19 warbler species seen the previous day at Magee Marsh in Ohio. Then they set out with open ears if not open minds for day two, though they were spoiled by so many birds on day one, they don’t bird nearly as hard. Bill wows the boardwalk crowd with his Swainson’s Thrush expertise while Bob wonders if he brought enough one-dollar bills, since a very cooperative Prothonotary Warbler was obviously angling for a tip. What a migration! What a show!


Episode Info

Episode 75 - How to Bomb-Proof a Horse

Host Bob Tarte had no idea what Kelly Meister-Yetter was talking about when she told him she wanted to do an episode about 'bomb-proofing a horse.' Kelly, author of the book Crazy Critter Lady, explains the meaning of the term and her very patient work with a skittish horse named Bit in a highly entertaining interview. 


Episode Info

Episode 74 - The Full-Year-in-the-Making Birding Show, Part One

It took Bob a full year to prepare for this birding show, working every single minute of the day, seven days a week. But it was worth it for his annual return to Magee Marsh with 'don’t call me a birder' Bill Holm, who contributes a report of his own recent birding trip to Cape May, New Jersey. Will the Magee Marsh trip be another bust, as chronicled in last year’s two-part podcast? Or will Bob and Bill babble happily about their huge success in another memorable non-pet Pet Life Radio show? Don’t miss this mildly amusing audio event!


Episode Info

Episode 73 - The Biggest Week in American Podcasting, Part 2

Bob Tarte and Book Character Bill Holm experience what one birder terms the worst spring migration day in 13 years at Magee Marsh in northern Ohio, and the paucity of birds is mind boggling. Nevertheless, they manage to see a few noteworthy species – like a White-eyed Vireo and a pair of nesting Prothonotary Warblers – and to their surprise they realize that they had a great time after all. Even more astoundingly, Bill admits to having enjoyed his interactions with birders, who were so desperate for something to look at this year that they flocked around turtles and frogs.


Episode Info

Episode 72 - The Biggest Week in American Podcasting, Part 1

Bob Tarte and Book Character Bill Holm discuss their plans to attend The Biggest Week in American Birding for the third year in a row and ‘borrow’ the Biggest Week title for their own series of podcasts. Bob shocks Bill by boldly coming out as a birder. Then things get fast and furious as the pair tries to decide how best to present their trip to Magee Marsh this time around without repeating the same tired podcast they’ve done the last two years. Bob and Bill also prepare for an author-and-book-character talk at an Ann Arbor-area library and predict that it will turn into the usual disaster.


Episode Info

Episode 71 - Once Upon a Flock

Bob’s guest is Lauren Scheuer, author of Once Upon a Flock – Life with my Soulful Chickens. This unique book uses hundreds of illustrations and photos by Lauren to help bring the stories of Lucy, Hatsy, Li’l White, and her other charming backyard chickens to life – delving deeply into the big personalities, friendships, and rivalries of her flock. At the center of it all is Lucy, a Barred Plymouth Rock hen who survives an illness that is usually fatal in chickens and becomes a friend and occasional guardian to the other hens.


Episode Info

Episode 70 - Backyard Wildlife Photography Gadgets

Bob gets excited about two gadgets that he’s found for taking photos of critters in your yard that you might not even know are visiting. The BirdCam2.0 is a motion activated camera that Bob uses for checking to see if predators are sneaking into his barn. It’s fun for bird feeder photography, too. He also describes a device for digital cameras that lets you automatically take time lapse shots. In the second half of the show, Linda talks about the recent spring flooding and two of their favorite pets.


Episode Info

Episode 69 - Travels with Soda

Missy Hill, host of the New Age podcast Galactic Earth Fusion, talks to Bob about a very unusual cat from her cross-country trucking days named Soda. Most cats hate to ride in a moving vehicle of any sort, but Soda was very different and loved to lounge in the cab.  Missy also tells Bob about her experiences as an animal communicator connecting with everything from zoo critters to North Carolina’s answer to Punxsutawney Phil. And she explains why 'wild animals that are in zoos are actually there to teach humans' in this very fun and fast moving show.


Episode Info

Episode 68 - Kindle Secrets from Carolyn Jourdan – and a Groundhog Story

Carolyn Jourdan, author of the national bestseller Heart in the Right Place, shares tips with Bob about how her new self-published Kindle book Medicine Men achieved stellar success right off the bat. (It helped that her funny and heartwarming book about ‘extreme Appalachian doctors’ is brilliant, too.) Aspiring pet book authors who want to break into print shouldn’t miss this show. Plus Carolyn tells some hilarious animal stories from her two books, including a tale about a groundhog that will leave you slack-jawed.


Episode Info

Episode 67 - Cabin Fever

Thanks to Linda’s brainstorm, Bob and Linda manage to snag a pet sitter and get out of town and away from the critters for a full three days. But some vacations are better than others. They get locked  out of their cabin site, strange loud noises assail them during their stay, and they come home to a leaky roof – and soon a brand new waterfall in the bathroom. In other words, it’s just another typical period in Bob and Linda’s lives. But their ducks, geese, and hen end up happier than ever.


Episode Info

Episode 66 - Circling the Waggings

Bob can barely contain his glee when author Cayr Ariel Wulff starts telling stories from her latest book, Circling the Waggins: How 5 Misfit Dogs Saved Me from Bewilderness. Wulff talks about canine genius Waldo, who went from impossible-to-train puppy to a hero who saves another dog’s life, Rocket Boy, the intellectually challenged bundle of irrepressible energy, Lammy Lamb, who enjoys dressing up in onesies, and other bringers of chaos. It’s a fun time with an extremely talented writer and tireless advocate for animal rights.


Episode Info

Episode 65 - Saul Lake Bog Show

Bob and Linda refuse to get bogged down despite recording their show at Saul Lake Bog away from their cats, parrots, and other pets. They spot 17 Sandhill Cranes right away, but this isn't a birding show. Linda describes the harrowing experience of getting trapped inside our new mink-proof duck pen for two hours, while Bob talks about an ugly raft that washes up on their river bank – plus a highly unusual wild bird that shows up at their suet feeder.


Episode Info

Episode 64 - The Biggest Week in American Birding (Part Two)

They're away from home. They're birding. They're seeing lots of warblers. They're even mistaken for experts by other birders. So why are Bob Tarte and Book Character Bill Holm their typically glum selves? Catch the buzz (and the buzz kill) in a fun-filled you-are-there podcast recorded live on the boardwalk at Magee Marsh in northern Ohio.


Episode Info

Episode 63 - The Biggest Week in American Birding (Part One)

The two biggest losers in birding, Bob Tarte and Bill Holm, visit Magee Marsh in Ohio for the huge spring migration event known as "The Biggest Week in American Birding." Listen and marvel over the fact that despite seeing more good birds in a few hours than they usually see in 18 months, the pair still find something to complain about.


Episode Info

Episode 62 - The Mink-Proof Pen

Bob and Linda expound giddily about the completion of the brand new mink-proof duck pen. Finally the ducks, geese, and hen can be outside for more than an hour at a time and without Bob or Linda doing sentry duty. Also Bob chortles over the so-far success of his new book, Kitty Cornered, which made the independent bookstores bestseller list in its first two weeks and bagged a review in USA Today.


Episode Info

Episode 61 - Of Mice and Minks

It's deja vu all over again as Bob and Linda once again battle mice and minks. But both the house rodents and the riverbank predators are back this time with a vengeance. Hear how Bob and Linda dealt with their latest batch of pet problems and in the process met an actual vet who makes house calls. Bob also talks about his new book, Kitty Cornered, which hits the shelves in April 2012 to some very good advanced reviews.


Episode Info

Episode 60 - The Prince of Ponds

Bob and Linda think they've got problems caring for 30-some animals. But that's peanuts compared to what Ken Jones dealt with in the 1990s when he managed the Tropical Rainforest Museum in California with its nearly 1000 exotic animals. Ken even got to meet the late Steve Jobs while giving a Jungle Party for Steve's son, Reed. Ken also tells Bob about his new podcast for PetLifeRadio called The Prince of Ponds, which shares must-know information on ornamental water features, from fish to flora to waterfalls. And he's a real prince of a guy!


Episode Info

Episode 59 - The Mystery Show

Just in time for Halloween 2011, Bob and Linda Tarte present their 'mystery show.' Is it fittingly spooky for the season, like last year's 'ghost cat' episode? Not in the least. But the topic of the podcast is a complete mystery to Bob, because Linda's running the show. Tune in for details about a spate of summer disasters around the house, plus Linda's neat solutions to a skittish stray cat, a noisy African grey parrot, and an aged parakeet. You'll also get the latest news on Bob's new book, Kitty Cornered.


Episode Info

Episode 58 - The Crazy Critter Lady Book

Indefatigable animal welfare advocate Kelly Meister takes time out from her work with ducks and horses to talk about her new book, Crazy Critter Lady. She also offers tips on Print On Demand publishing for authors who want to avoid the hassles of getting a book on the shelves via agents and publishers.


Episode Info

Episode 57 - Not a Non-Bird Birding Show, Take 2 (Part 2)

It took host Bob Tarte so long to say the title of the show, "Not a Non-bird Birding Show, Take 2," that it wouldn't fit it into a single podcast. So Bob and Book Character Bill Holm are back for the second half of their trip to Magee Marsh in northern Ohio, where they lose themselves among a flurry birds and birders. Did they make it through the experience with their sanity intact? Does an ostrich have wings?


Episode Info

Episode 56 - Not a Non-Bird Birding Show, Take 2 (Part 1)

Six weeks ago, Bob Tarte and Book Character Bill Holm visited the usually ‘birdy’ Muskegon Wastewater facility to record the “Not a Non-Bird Birding Show,” but the lack of birds doomed the podcast. This time they traveled to Magee Marsh in Ohio at the height of the warbler migration for a not-a-non-bird birding podcast that’s, well, not too bad. They ended up with such extensive on-the-scene reporting and so much baseless complaining especially from Bill, that “Not a Non-Bird Birding Show, Take 2” ended up as a two-parter. Get an up-close, you-are-there aural glimpse at birder frenzy at its best and worst. And find out why Bob packed his dress shoes. 


Episode Info

Episode 55 - Shrew Show

Bob and Linda talk about a pesky shrew that makes itself at home inside their house in a most improbable location. Shrewdly enough, they discuss other topics, too, such as Linda’s success in ferreting out pet book author Bradford Brown plus a staggeringly rare species of duck that shows up on the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids.


Episode Info

Episode 54 - Winter Doldrums Show 2011

Bob and Linda finally shake of the winter doldrums long enough to do a topic-filled show. It begins with big news about the German-language version of Bob’s book Enslaved by Ducks called Das Landneurotiker (The Rural Neurotic) and then glowingly describes Bill Volkart’s charming children’s book about a blind duck, Meep Finds His Way. Bob talks about the hubbub that ensued when he took bantam chickens Julia and Julius to see the vet, while Linda describes the early February blizzard and the clever survival tactics of a Carolina Wren. Bob and Linda close the show by talking about their newest favorite pet book author, Maine vet Bradford B. Brown, author of While You’re Here, Doc and Just One More Thing, Doc.


Episode Info

Episode 53 - Animal Books for the Holidays

Just in time for the holidays, any holidays, Bob and Linda Tarte talk about their favorite books about animals. And, no, this isn’t just an excuse for Bob to plug the brand new Kindle edition of Enslaved by Ducks and Fowl Weather, though he does accidentally mention the fact. Fortunately 99-percent of the show is spent gushing over other people’s must-read books about pets and various wild critters. (For a list of books discussed on the show, click the Episode Info link.)


Episode Info

Episode 52 - The Ghost Cat

Just in time for Halloween, Bob and Linda talk about a mysterious 'extra' cat that both of them have seen and heard running down the basement stairs. Is their basement haunted? Shifting to less scary topics, Linda describes recent improvements to the outdoor barn pen to keep the snow and ice from flattening it every year. She also discusses the oversize ego of tiny bantam rooster Julius.


Episode Info

Episode 51 - Shore No Shorebirds

It's supposed to be the peak of the shorebird migration. But when Bob Tarte and Book Character Bill Holm visit Muskegon Wastewater System on a birding expedition, they come up a little short in the sightings department. Not to mention the intelligence and common sense departments as well. They do manage to spot a pair of Peregrine Falcons and a few other migrating birds, but not enough of anything to come away with any trace of dignity. Don't miss this underwhelming you-are-there audio experience!


Episode Info

Episode 50 - House Wrens and Cedar Waxwings

Bob and Linda have been busy this summer with bird rehab. Okay, Linda has been busy, but Bob helps a little bit. Our author and his long-suffering wife talk about starting the season with a big batch of raucous starlings, and then ending the summer raising and releasing one of their favorite birds, the Cedar Waxwing. About 14 of them, to be more or less exact. Linda also discusses a visiting pair of House Wrens that nested in the yard and Bob makes weak excuses about why it’s been so long between podcasts


Episode Info

Episode 49 - The Ultimate Pet Duck Podcast

Bob’s guest on this episode is the dynamo of duckdom, Kimberly Link, founder of the Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary in Lebanon, Connecticut and author of The Ultimate Pet Duck Guidebook. Unlike other duck care books which include a duck recipe section in the back, Kim’s book treats your ducks as pets instead of holiday entrees. It’s packed full of information on everything from day-to-day care to serious medical issues, and covers essential tips on food, housing, flock management, enrichment, and more. It’s also fun to read, thanks to lots of entertaining anecdotes about Kim’s life with her flock. Kim’s a blast to talk to, too.


Episode Info

Episode 48 - A Shrimpy Podcast

We've never done a jumbo podcast before. But this time we're definitely doing a shrimpy episode. Expert aquarist Rus Wilson tells host Bob Tarte about the pet shrimps that he keeps as pets. He has shrimp that live in freshwater, brackish water, and saltwater environments. Some dance, some can live in excess of 20 years, and all sound like interesting additions to the household. Visit Rus' website www.aquarimax.com for shrimpy facts and photos, plus various podcasts.


Episode Info

Episode 47 - Downunder Critter Sitter

In the show’s first telephone call to the bottom of the globe, Australia pet sitter Karen Riddell describes her experiences as a professional pet sitter taking care of every kind of creature from house rabbits to axolotls. She discusses chilling out with bearded dragons to get them comfortable enough to eat and trying to convince a flock of spoiled chickens to go into their coop for the night. Karen also has excellent suggestions for helping folks choose a sitter for their critters. Bob wonders how soon she can come to Michigan.


Episode Info

Episode 46 - Bonus Winter Birding Show

Don’t look at this as yet another off-topic podcast about birding. Look at it as a special bonus addition of the show. It marks the precise one-year anniversary, give or take a few days, weeks, or months, of host Bob Tarte and Book Character Bill Holm’s acclaimed “Quest for Crossbills” winter birding podcast. This time around, the hapless duo roll to Muskegon Wastewater to search for ducks with results that should have been predictable. But stay with our bumbling pair for a few unexpected twists and a lunch of cheap Chinese food as they find themselves next to the submarine SS Silversides only to find... Well, you’ve got to hear it for yourself.


Episode Info

Episode 45 - Blame It On Rhea

With their formidable beaks and attitudes, parrots and geese can make intimidating pets.  So imagine owning a rambunctious bird that stands six-feet tall. Cheryl McAtee’s ostrich-like South American rhea named Myrhea thankfully had a pleasant personality (as long as Cheryl was careful to dress in gray). He loved to pluck blueberries from her hand. Cheryl tells Bob about raising Myrhea from an 18-inch-tall youngster and watching him grow a half-an-inch a day. She talks about his humming song, mating dance, and fear of airplanes, plus other charming peculiarities. She also discusses Tomi, an affable cat she found injured on her farm who turned out to be fifty-percent bobcat, and who guarded her family like a watchdog.


Episode Info

Episode 44 - The Rime of The Ancient Murrelet

Bob hops into his car and drives just under 200 miles round trip for the chance to see an incredibly rare wild bird. A somewhat penguin-like seabird called the Ancient Murrelet lives in the waters off Alaska. But one of them somehow made it to Lake Michigan and was spotted off the pier at Tiscornia Park in St. Joseph, Michigan. Only five have ever been seen in the state before. Does he or doesn’t he get to see it? Bob talks about the trip and also discusses the best guide to raising and keeping pet ducks he’s ever seen: Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary Director Kimberly Link’s The Ultimate Pet Duck Guidebook. (Check out birder Robert Epstein’s photo of the Tiscornia Park)


Episode Info

Episode 43 - The Frog That Sings For His Supper

Why keep a canary when you can have an African Clawed Frog? These affable amphibians don’t take up much space, are easy to care for, and don’t have fussy eating habits. Added to all that, they can live for up to 20 years. Aquatic pet expert Rus Wilson talks about the many interesting qualities and endearing attributes of African Clawed Frog, Hiro, whom he raised from a tadpole. Not only is little Hiro as cute as the proverbial bug’s ear, but we’ll hear him sing in hopes of scoring a treat when he spots Rus. Join in the froggy fun! Visit Rus’ Aquarimax.com website packed with info on keeping fish and invertebrates.


Episode Info

Episode 42 - Not Just Another Duck Show

Bob Tarte wrote two books that feature ducks, and gets lots of emails from people who keep them as pets, so it’s easy for him to do shows about the subject. This episode is different, though. It’s not just another duck show, because it is as much about Bill Volkart’s life story as it is about his Mount Holly Duck Sanctuary in Amelia, Ohio. Bill describes his death (clinically speaking) from a stroke and the strange appearance of seven Muscovy ducks when he asked the seemingly unanswerable question, “Why was my life spared?” He also tells which TV show is a favorite with one of his ducks and discusses the children’s book he wrote about a blind duck called “Meep Finds His Way.”


Episode Info

Episode 41 - Katrina Versus Katrina

New Orleans animal rehabber Katrina Perkowska had a lot on her plate when Hurricane Katrina struck. She and her husband had to evacuate not only their kids and vital necessities, but also numerous critters. They lost their home and ended up in a FEMA trailer. Then a few years later they had to move the gang all over again courtesy of Hurricane Gustav. The family is finally back inside a house, but life is hardly sedate. Living indoors with them (that’s right, indoors) are 23 chickens, nine starlings, a black capped conure, eight zebra finches, two diamond doves, two parakeets, nine starlings, seven ducks (three of them handicapped), and whatever songbirds she’s rehabbing a the moment. Katrina is a force of nature, and she has a wonderful story to tell.


Episode Info

Episode 40 - Frankie the Walk ‘n Roll Dog

A dog isn’t usually considered an exotic pet, but a dog who gets around on wheels might be! Barbara Techel tells Bob about her happy female dachshund, Frankie, and how she learned to use a doggie wheelchair after a spinal injury. Frankie has become an inspiration for people with disabilities, folks in nursing homes, and just about everyone that Frankie meets. Barbara also talks about the award-winning book she wrote about her pet, titled – what else? - Frankie the Walk ‘n Roll Dog!


Episode Info

Episode 39 - Sugar Sugar

Ever craved a marsupial as a pet? You don't have to play possum or kidnap a kangaroo to care for a pet that carries babies in its pouch. Sarah Worrell describes the joys of owning sugar gliders. These small marsupials from Australia love people and will sit on your shoulder like a parrot. Find out what it takes to keep these curious little critters happy and healthy - and learn the secret about the female sugar glider's 'dual beverage' nipples.


Episode Info

Episode 38 - Clean Sweep

Linda starts off this episode with her own telling of discovering a sleeping bear in the woods behind the barn. Then it's onto the topic of cleaning up after the indoor birds. Bob and Linda discuss the pros and cons of various approaches to seed sweeping. Their favorite cordless sweeper gets pluses for mobility and minuses for the delicate construction that necessitates buying at least two a year. It's a topic that will be dear to the hearts of every beleaguered individual who owns caged birds.


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Episode 37 - Mink Attack

An unusual consequence of river flooding threatens Bob and Linda’s outdoor pet ducks, chickens, and geese. A presumed mink slips into the barn at night through some miniscule crack and kills three of their hens. Bob talks about the steps they took to keep their birds safe after the attack, and then describes another bit of unique fallout from the cresting Grand River. Linda goes for a walk in the woods behind the barn and finds of all things, a bear sleeping in a tree way, way south of its usual range in Michigan.


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Episode 36 - Lineolated Parakeet and Catch-up Show

Soldiering on from his sick bed, Bob describes a new bird that he and Linda have taken in to help a friend who's moving. Lineolated Parakeet Houshi may not be beautiful, due to permanent feather damage, but he's 100-percent lovable. Bob also follows up on his last two shows, sharing the results of author and animal communicator Kathleen Schurman's reading of Bob's cat Frannie, and another unexpected and ironic White-winged Crossbill sighting for Bob.


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Episode 35 - Locket’s Meadow

Bob’s guest on this special episode is Kathleen Schurman, an extraordinary woman who has rescued 45 horses from slaughter and given them a wonderful home on a Connecticut farm that she and her husband David have dubbed Locket’s Meadow. Locket is an enterprising donkey who happens to be the central figure in Kathleen’s first book, Locket’s Meadow; The Long Road Home. Kathleen is as full of great animal tales as her home is full of animals. In fact, a recuperating pig and rooster on her porch pipe up in the background as she talks to Bob. You’ll also hear about the mischievous ghost that roams the property, plus an unusual talent of Kathleen’s which allows her to get deeply in touch with her critters. Don’t miss this fun and fascinating interview.


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Episode 34 - Quest for Crossbills

A shortage of natural food sources in their normal territory has resulted in some species of wild birds wandering further south than usual this winter. White-winged Crossbills, which are usually uncommon in southern Michigan, have been widely reported in the Ann Arbor area. Bob Tarte and Book Character Bill Holm document their drive five-hour round trip to see these rare birds, and you're along for the ride on this show. Make sure to listen to the sign off and beyond... because when Bob arrives back home, he receives a stunning announcement from Linda.


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Episode 33 - Second Annual ‘Zero Degree Weather’ Show

In their second annual ‘Zero Degree Weather’ show, Bob and Linda complain about the more miserable than usual Michigan weather. Who else but these two could lose heat on one of the coldest days of the season in spite of the fact that they have not one but two furnaces, a geothermal heat pump and a back-up oil burner. In addition to describing the revolt of their home appliances, Bob and Linda talk about the tribulations of caring for outdoor animals, both wild and domesticated, under arctic temperatures. Bob also learns that Muscovy duck Victor knows him better than he thought.


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Episode 32 - A Duck in My Tub

Kelly Meister, Ohio’s Crazy Critter Lady, joins Bob again to describe her latest efforts on behalf of domesticated ducks dumped in a Toledo-area pond by people who didn’t want their pets any longer. Kelly talks about the particular problems that these flightless ducks face, particularly during the recent spate of zero-degree weather that we’ve all been enjoying so heartily in the Great Lakes states. Kelly braves the cold to feed the pond ducks several days a week and check up on their general welfare, but her dedication goes far beyond that. One duck, whom she has named Pretty Boy, has suffered various wing and eye ailments and on three occasions ended up living in her bathroom a few days while getting veterinary attention. Now that’s dedication! Visit Kelly’s website, www.crazycritterlady.com, for photos, a link to her blog, and more.


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Episode 31 - Hi-Tech Cat Capture

In a podcast that wasn’t meant to be a podcast, but was originally just a bit of background info for Bob’s latest book, Bob’s brother-in-law Jack Smith shares an amazing tale about stray cats. Concerned that a pair of stray kittens wouldn’t survive the sub-zero mid-January temperatures, Jack devised a way to catch the youngsters with the help of technology and a week of nearly sleepless nights. Joining Jack is Bob’s sister Joan, Bob’s wife Linda, and the usual background chaos. Joan and Jack currently provide a home for a dozen cats. All of them are rescues. The Smiths are as good as people get, and you’ll love hearing their story.


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Episode 30 - What’s It All About, Alfie?

I met Angela Bowen while giving a talk at the Hackley Public Library in Muskegon. She asked if she could come on the show and share stories about her Holland lop rabbit Alfie, and it’s just that simple to be a guest on “What Were You Thinking?” Angela gives me the ins and outs about caring for a rabbit, including researching potential problems beforehand, and offers oodles of advice for anyone considering being a bunny benefactor. Alfie is a genuine character, as is brand new guinea pig Tobie.


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Episode 29 - The Petsitter Puzzle

When do you need a petsitter? How do you go about choosing a person to take care of your trusted critters while you're gone? Bob and Linda give you tips on what to look for and what to avoid when selecting a helper, and also, once you've picked your sitter, how to make a complicated job much easier for a person who has never pampered your pets before.


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Episode 28 - The Pet Lover’s Dream Job

Janessa Kite has what most animal lovers would consider a dream job. She works at a zoo. She’s a senior bird keeper with the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park and works with all different breeds of birds, from rare and endangered parrots to domesticated geese. Janessa shares some of her adventures as well as details about the less glamorous day-to-day tasks that are the main part of anyone’s life with animals. And what kind of exotic birds does this bird keeper have at home? Just a pair of budgies, but an entertaining pair at that.


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Episode 27 - The Show That Cried Wulff!

We've never done an episode of "What Were You Thinking?" about cats and dogs before, because this show is supposed to be about exotic pets. But what could be more exotic than devoting your life not only to rescuing homeless dogs and cats, but also taking in those with the biggest problems? Author Cayr Ariel Wulff shares humor and insights from her compelling new book, Born Without a Tail. She also tells what it's like to live in a log cabin in a national forest surrounded by trees and coyotes.


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Episode 26 - Lemon The Duck

Bob gets his ducks in a row as he interviews Laura Backman, author of the new children’s book Lemon the Duck. It’s based on the true story of how Laura and her students hatched four ducks for a school project and discovered that one of them had neurological problems and couldn’t walk. But with lots of care, plus an invention that helps her stand up, Lemon learns to live life to the fullest. It’s a heartwarming and visually appealing book that adults will appreciate just as much as children.


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Episode 25 - Flickers

Bob and Linda describe their adventures trying to get seven juvenile Northern Flicker woodpeckers to eat so that they can be released back into the wild. It turns out that this was the easy part, because two of the birds get into trouble within days of letting them go. Then, while taking them to the vet, Bob is caught in the worst rainstorm he can remember, and on top of that, he has to wash and blow dry one of the birds when he gets back home. And don’t even ask about the oriole and grackles. You’ll hear about them anyway.


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Episode 24 - Rats!

Rats get a bad rap. At least pet rats do. But 'fancy rats' are affectionate, intelligent creatures that can even learn to recognize their names. They are easy to care for, quiet, and neat, which makes them ideal companions for apartment dwellers. Chris Divelbiss talks to Bob about the 30 rats that rule his and his wife Clara's lives, and he contributes lots of tips for keeping the rodents happy and healthy.

By the way, that's Bob's cat Maynard you hear in the background trying to voice his own opinion about rats.


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Episode 23 - The Particulars About Pocket Pigs

How do you tell if an African pygmy hedgehog doesn’t like you? It might roll itself up into a ball and hop away. Jill Warnick has been breeding these pocket pigs since 1995 and tells Bob what great pets they make. Hedgehogs are inquisitive, can be affectionate if socialized at an early age, aren’t difficult to care for -- and what animal on earth is cuter?


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Episode 22 - If You Find a Baby Bird

It's the season when wild birds are nesting and raising their young. But what do you do if you find a baby bird on the ground? Bob and Linda describe the steps you need to take to keep the bird alive until you can get it to a licensed rehabber. Included are valuable tips on syringe-feeding a special formula to baby birds every two hours consisting of 1.5 cups of kitten chow, 1 jar of chicken baby food, three drops of liquid vitamins, and enough water to turn this into the consistency of yogurt in your blender.


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Episode 21 - No Quibbles Over Button Quails

If you quail at the thought of keeping large poultry as pets, you won't quibble about the virtues of the Button Quail, also known as the Chinese Painted Quail. Ethan Teerling of Ada, Michigan shows Bob his impressive indoor coop for these mild-mannered but constantly active birds that are about the size of a chicken egg. (Their chicks resemble brown and yellow bumblebees.) He explains the quails' housing, feed, and well-being requirements -- and warns about their tendency to fly straight up in the air and bump their heads when startled.


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Episode 20 - Are Two Pets Better Than One?

Bob and Linda respond to an email from a listener who wants to know if she should get a new companion for a duck whose mate died. When should you have at least two members of the same bird species, and when is getting a second one a bad idea? They also discuss the pros and cons of having more than one pet rabbit, and ask listeners to tell them about their favorite books about pets for an upcoming show. Your favorite can be a how-to book, an author’s account of living with animals, or even a piece of fiction. Email Bob and Linda and suggest a book.


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Episode 19 - Make Friends with a Hen

As birds go, hens are fairly trouble-free as pets, as long you keep them outdoors, of course. They're more tidy than ducks and don't require a pool. And some municipalities that won't allow other 'livestock' give the okay to a backyard chicken or two. Bob and Linda discuss the winning if occasionally perplexing personalities of these personable birds, and they explain how Lucky earned her name and where the heck bantam hen Dottie was hiding when she went lost for a full day.


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Episode 18 - The Rarest Bird in Michigan?

Bob and Linda struggle through the worst Michigan February on record. And so do their animals, when an icefall from the barn roof demolishes their two outdoor pens. Fortunately, the critters were safe indoors. Prospering in the miserable weather is a Yellow-rumped Warbler which Bob considered to be unusual for the time of year, but not extraordinarily so. However, a sharp-eyed birder saw Bob's warbler photo online and tentatively identified it as the western 'Audubon' variety of the bird, which has only been recorded twice previously in Michigan. Hear the tale of an expert birder scouring the woods for 'Bob's warbler.' Can he somehow find the tiny bird that Bob hadn't seen in days? Meanwhile, Linda talks about sighting another seldom-seen bird, a Long-eared Owl, in an episode of What Were You Thinking? that's strictly for the passerines.


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Episode 17 - Spooky, Bossy, Sneaky, and Quacky

Where did that recording go? Bob talks to Georgiana Kotarski, author of the book “Ghosts of the Southern Tennessee Valley,” about her many flesh-and-blood animals, including a ‘practice cow,’ an escape artist donkey, and the inevitable house duck. Bob begins the show with a short excerpt from Georgiana’s forthcoming book about her critters, “Canoeing with Cows.” The excerpt hilariously describers her fear of chickens as a little girl. But the truly scary question is, what happened to the podcast that Bob recorded with her the previous day? It came out blank when Bob tried to play it back. Have ghosts been messing with Georgiana again?


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Episode 16 - My Chinny, Chin, Chin

Elaine Campbell talks to Linda about her pet chinchilla Danny Boy and explains that chins have a somewhat delicate constitution. She offers tips on keeping your chinchilla happy and healthy and also describes chin vocalizations. Danny Boy, in fact, is so vocally expressive, that Elaine is considering teaching him to ‘talk’ at the same time that she trains her Senegal parrot. She also tells Linda about a possum she befriended and details how she rescued him after he took a spill from her roof.


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Episode 15 - The Zero-Degree Weather Show

Bob and Linda had intended to talk about African grey parrots the whole half-hour. But everything seems harder to accomplish when the weather is cold, and it’s zero degrees in Michigan. So, instead of rambling on about the greys, they discuss the drudgery of doing winter duck chores, while Bob reports a successful heater installation in the barn to safely keep poultry and waterfowl spirits up. Linda tells of a woodpecker population explosion on the ‘suet tree’ outside the back door and follows up on last week’s mouse report. Finally, Bob and Linda describe the cheap and easy parrot toys they’ve been making just in time to bring the show to an end as outdoor temperatures climb to a balmy 12 degrees.


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Episode 14 - Pests, Pests, and More Pests

It’s an episode you’ll be telling your great, great grandchildren you heard! Book Character Bill Holm (featured in Bob’s books Enslaved by Ducks and Fowl Weather) hijacks the show with the help of Marcia Davis, under the guise of offering suggestions to increase Bob’s audience. They lock Bob out of his house and exclude animals from the first half of the episode. In the second half, Bob and Linda apologize for Bill and Marcia’s pesky intrusion and spend the remainder of the show discussing animal pests. Bob reads a short selection from Fowl Weather about a mouse nest in their dining room, Linda talks about mice eating her car’s O2 sensors, and the episode wraps up with the tale of the sighting of Nosy, an unusual short-tailed shrew.


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Episode 13 - Duck Diapers, Boas, and Geckoes

Bob invited April Rousseau on What Were You Thinking? to talk about her pet ball pythons and fat-tailed gecko. Instead, Bob and April open the show discussing duck diapers. Yes, such things do exist, and April knows all about intimate apparel for waterfowl. In addition to the lizards that light up her life, she also keeps an indoor white Rouen duck named Kamikaze Duck, or KD duck, for short. In addition to giving us the lowdown on KD’s personal habits, April describes the eating predilections of pythons and geckoes and explains why you should never leave crickets in the cage with your gecko for an extended length of time.


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Episode 12 - A Healer for House Pigeons

Like most people, Edie Britt had a negative attitude toward pigeons. But she changed her mind as soon as she took in her first one as a pet and discovered its affectionate nature and intelligence. That bird led to many others. Edie releases the wild pigeons that can be rehabbed, finds home for others, and keeps a few in her home to spoil. In her interview with Bob, she also talks about her collared doves (also known as ring-necks) plus her unusual gifts as a psychic medium, which help her to communicate with injured animals. This Edie Britt is no ‘desperate housewife.’ She’s a healer for house pigeons and a dove’s best friend.


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Episode 11 - Janet's Ark

We don't know if Noah brought fish aboard his fabled ark, but when Linda and Bob visited Janet Twesten's house, they marveled at her saltwater and freshwater aquariums. (Or did Noah pluralize them 'aquaria'?) Linda talks to Janet about her fish and marine invertebrates, inquires about her lizard pets, and straight from the horse's mouth gets the skinny on her smarty–pants equine pets. Who knew that horses were such accomplished escape artists, or that they played tricks on one another? It's a full house at Janet's — and we haven't even mentioned her pet birds.


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Episode 10 - Orriel The Oriole

What would an aria sound like if a chicken sang opera? This isn’t a rhetorical question. Classically trained vocalist Orriel Smith joins Bob to crow about her CD, “The World’s Favorite Cluckoratura Arias,” which interprets classical operatic selections as a hen -- and in one case, as a hen and a cat -- might have performed them. Orriel also talks about her folk singing years in the flower power era, her appearance as a harem girl on “The Jack Benny Show,” getting dragged around by German shepherds in a movie, plus other weird and wonderful topics. You’ll thrill to snippets from her “Cluckoratura” CD, which is available at www.CDbaby.com.


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Episode 9 - Bird Rehab

Not everybody can have a pet. Maybe you live in the frigid north and move to a condo in the Caribbean every winter. That means you probably don’t own a cat, dog, or one of the great apes. Or maybe you just don’t want the responsibility of a year-round pet. Bob and Linda Tarte sympathize, and on this week’s show they talk about a way to get involved with birds on a short-term basis.

Each summer, Linda helps the Wildlife Rehab Center raise and release orphan songbirds. (Bob helps a little.) Some birds are easy to raise and don’t require a permit. Others are a bit trickier. Hear the story of ‘Big Boy,’ the Red-bellied Woodpecker who still drops by for a visit, and the juvenile Green Heron that didn’t want to fly.


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Episode 8 - Going Whole Hog

This week, Linda hogs the entire show with her interview of Helen Tucker, who talks about her Ossabaw Island hogs, Dusty and Rusty, which she obtained from George Washington's birthplace. These smaller-than-average pigs are a heritage breed which dates back 400 years when the Spanish first brought them to the New World. Fewer than 200 breeding pairs are known to exist today. And speaking of pigs, more or less, Helen also tells Linda about her Hog Island sheep, a very hardy domesticated breed once widespread in the Colonial Era but extremely rare today. Helen entertains Linda with tales of runaway pigs and tips on feeding Popsicles to a hog.


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Episode 7 - Slow But Steady Wins the Race

Do you root for the tortoise or the hare? This week turtles get their due as Bob interviews Lisa Frankland, the secretary of the Rio Grande Turtle and Tortoise Club . Lisa talks about turtles as pets, including her Ornate Box Turtles and Red Eared Sliders, plus her Bearded Dragon and Kenyan Sand Boa. You’ll want a turtle of your own after spending a few minutes with Lisa. After the interview, Bob asks his wife Linda, how many mistakes can he make in a single show? Listen to his ‘outtakes’ with Lisa, and grit your teeth as he blunders even more. Why is this man on Internet radio? Because, clearly, he doesn’t belong on the airwaves.


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Episode 6 - Happy Rehab Habitat

This week, Bob visits the Wildlife Rehab Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and gets a tour from Executive Director Peg Markle. Peg shows Bob some of the animals that she’s caring for, including an injured Great Blue Heron and Red-eared Slider turtle. After showing Bob around, Peg shows off husband Roger’s latest pet, an African Spurred Tortoise.

Back at the Tarte house, Bob and Linda talk about some of the juvenile migratory birds that they have raised and released under sub-permit from the Wildlife Rehab Center. Bob asks that listeners consider donating money to the Center, so that Peg and Roger can continue their much needed work.


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Episode 5 - Along Came a Spider

Don’t squash that spider. It just needs a little love. Wade Harrell has been keeping invertebrates as pets for thirty-four years and first started keeping tarantulas fifteen years ago. He is the current president of the American Tarantula Society and keeps more than a hundred tarantulas and other arthropods in his basement.

Just in time for Halloween, he joins Bob to talk about why tarantulas make good pets and also discusses the habits of the really big spiders that Bob has been seeing in his woods in West Michigan. Bob’s wife Linda shares her horrific story of her close encounter with one of those same really big spiders. Spooky!


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Episode 4 - Do The Zoo

Maybe you don’t want a pet monkey smoking your cigars while swinging from the drapes. You might not even want a parrot eating the woodwork. One way of satisfying your craving for exotic critters without having pets of your own is volunteering at your local zoo. Brian O’Malley describes his volunteer duties at the National Zoo in Washington D.C. Brian feeds macaws and sloths, raises crickets, and stays out of the way of large, serpent-like fish called arapaimas.


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Episode 3 - Shhhh.... We're Talkin' Wabbits

Proving that you don’t have to be cwazy to have a wabbit in the house, reassuringly normal Utah artist Julie Jacobsen shares her memories of family bunny Skoobit. Bob and Linda talk about traits to consider before taking home a rabbit, and why two bunnies are better than one, even if they don’t get along. Bob uses the skit that opens the show as a valuable lesson in how not to do a podcast.


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Episode 2 - The Crazy Critter Lady

Bob Tarte phones Kelly Meister, the Crazy Critter Lady, and she talks about how she takes care of other people's ducks that were dumped at McKinnon's Pond in Whoville, Ohio. (To see Kelly in action, visit BobTarte.com and watch the Duck Man vs. the Crazy Critter Lady video.) After the interview with Kelly, Bob's wife Linda describes the kind of care and housing that pet ducks require. Ducks make great pets, but you have to accommodate them properly.


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Episode 1 - From Pet-Free to Forty

On the premiere episode of What Were You Thinking?, author Bob Tarte (Enslaved by Ducks, Fowl Weather) and his wife Linda talk about how they went from a blissful, pet-free existence to a life of constant demand from over 40 animals. They discuss some of their first animals and extol the virtues of doves as companion birds. Linda explains how you can be a part of the show and share your experiences with birds, reptiles, guinea pigs, rabbits, tarantulas, rats… you name it!


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