Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Perfect Or Average? It’s A Water Bottle! The Flat-Bac 16 oz. Water Bottle Works!

[What a weird turn a day takes. Today, I had a whole bevy of reviews I was intending to move over from the site I used to write for. Unfortunately, while preparing to go to the library to post these many, many reviews on my blog using their high-speed connection, our beautiful little rabbit, Rowe, died. She made some amorous advances on my cat about five days ago and he apparently bit Rowe’s ear. The ear got infected and somehow, little Rowe got a respiratory ailment. Her nose fused shut from the mucus and she had some real problems breathing thereafter. Right before my wife was set to go to work, Rowe Maple Donut Swarts went into convulsions and died. I’ve just finished burying poor Rowe and I am deeply saddened. Yet, somehow, even in my dejected state, I’ve ended up at the library while my wife is at work to post my reviews. So . . .

. . . I’ve decided that today every other review I post here in my blog will be a review of a product I wrote for something of Rowe’s. For the last few months I reviewed for the website, I was thrilled to get Rowe treats and bedding and supplies with the intent of making her life better. I’m starting today with pulling off all the different products Rowe liked or loathed and there is some irony that the first is the wonderful Flat-Bac water bottle. The irony is the last day and a half, we tried very hard to get Rowe to drink, but she would not. That is not the fault of the water bottle company. Please join me today in a tribute to Rowe, our beloved rabbit. I’m not changing the original language of these reviews.

Thanks for bearing with me today.]

The Good: Does what it promises, Easy to use, Relatively inexpensive, Good capacity, Gauge
The Bad: Not at all unbreakable…, I’m not wild about the plastic bracket.
The Basics: Sure, it’s just a water bottle, but it’s well-designed, durable and won’t poison your animal; what could be better than that?!

On March 24, 2010, my wife and I went out with my mother and brother to the local Tractor Supply Company store because my mother wanted to annoy my wife by teasing her with chicks, ducks, and baby geese. Since my wife moved in a year ago, my mother has laid down a strong “no more pets!” policy. Since about five minutes before my mother made that policy explicit to my wife, Melissa was gunning for a new bunny. This hits my mother at a particularly vulnerable place because my mother’s best friend for many years was her pet rabbit (which is not actually a pathetic as it might sound or maybe it is, but she’s my mother so back off!) who died rather unexpectedly almost a decade ago and mom’s never been quite right since (again, sad but true. . .). So, Melissa, who truly wanted a bunny said “Sure, I’ll go see the little baby animals” to my mother that day and mom’s reaction was “Fine, but you’re not getting anything!” Melissa, wonderfully cunning woman that she is, watched to see which rabbit my mother liked and then opened her heart to that bunny. As a result, our family has increased again and Rowe, our new rabbit, has come to stay (partner beats mother every time!).

As a result, I’m discovering a whole new array of pet products that it’s time for me to review! In the case of the Super Pet Flat-Bac 16 oz. Water Bottle, this is a new old product for me. The reason we gravitated toward this particular water bottle was that this was the type we used when we worked at the pet store. I, therefore, have actually had a lot of experience with filling, cleaning and rinsing these bottles, even if it wasn’t until last night that I started using the bracket mount for the water bottle.

The Flat-Bac 16 oz. water bottle is a decent-sized (you guessed it, 16 fl. oz.!) water bottle designed for keeping small animals hydrated. It comes with an industry-standard nozzle which has a metal tube with a ball at the end. When the animal, like our little bunny Rowe, licks the ball, it pushes the ball back into the tube, which allows drops of water to fall on the rabbit’s tongue. This gives the animal water in controlled bursts without spilling or allowing the water supply to become contaminated – which happens when, for example, a new bunny decides to jump into or through their little water dish.

The key selling point of the Flat-Bac water bottle is that it is a glass water bottle with flat sides, which allow it to be pulled flat against a cage, as opposed to having limited surface area in contact with the cage – which is a frequent problem with standard cylindrical water bottles. Having dropped at least three cylindrical water bottles in my tenure at the pet store – and having had another two slip out of their brackets – and smash, I’m a big fan of the flat-sided water bottles. Health enthusiasts will appreciate that a glass water bottle like the Flat-Bac 16 oz. does not degrade with any noticeable speed, like a plastic one invariably does when one is constantly filling and emptying it, so there is no risk of inadvertently poisoning their animal through using this water bottle. I always recommend rinsing the water bottle out when one gets it, but I’ve never had any problems with contaminants from Flat-Bac water bottles.

In fact, the only problematic aspect of the Flat-Bac 16 oz. water bottle is the plastic bracket it comes with. While the plastic mount easily attaches to a small animal’s cage – all of the mounting equipment is included – the brackets which hold the sides of the Flat-Bac water bottle are likely to become less rigid with time. Because it is the friction and clamping action from the bracket which holds the water bottle to the cage, this is a pretty serious problem as time goes by. It is far less of a problem for Rowe and my partner and I because we keep Rowe’s new cage on the floor. This would be a problem as time goes by if the cage were up high. As it stands now, if Rowe were to bump the water bottle out of the bracket – a near-impossibility given that the plastic bracket on this one is still strong – the water bottle would only fall about a foot and we’ve prepared for this by leaving a blanket there. Those who have their rabbits or small animals up higher might find this product to be more of a risk to use.

That said, it is simple enough to jerry-rig a reinforcement to the plastic clamp (at the pet store, we had spring cord that held the bottles flat to the cage). While our new Flat-Bac water bottle has shown no signs of dripping, this is not much of a feat as we’ve only had it for a day. The same 16 oz. bottle I am now using was what I used at the pet store and months of servicing animals with daily baths in bleach and water did not wear out the seals on the Flat-Bac water bottles, which is why we picked one up for Rowe; experience with past models has shown these endure.

It is also worth noting that the Flat-Bac has a convenient gauge system for users so they know just how full the water bottle is. The gauge is a floating bright yellow duck which shows the user at a glance exactly where the water level is. When one fills the water bottle, twists the nozzle into place on the end and places it nozzle-side down in the bracket, the duck rises to the top of the bottle. As the rabbit or small animal drinks from it, the duck descends and at a glance, users know exactly how full the bottle is.

I am probably going with overkill with the 16 oz. bottle for our eight week old bunny, but I am determined to keep Rowe happy and hydrated (which I’ll be a lot happier about tomorrow when we start litter training her!). Most owners of small animals will find this is a great water bottle for daily use or when they find themselves going out of town and wanting to be sure their little companions have plenty of water.

For another rabbit product, please check out my review of Kaytee Fiesta Gourmet Food For Rabbits by clicking here!


For other pet products, please check out my index page!

© 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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