Monday, June 15, 2009

Animal Updates

I’ve got a lot of different animal news and decided to cram it all into one post. Some of it’s happy, some is sad, some is painful and splattered with blood.

So go get a cup of coffee, or your favorite beverage, and settle in. :)

I’ll start out with the sad news and get it out of the way. Jenna’s sweet mouse Jerri passed away unexpectedly a little over a week ago. She was happily running on her wheel one night when we went to bed, and the next morning she was gone. We have no idea what happened.


Jenna was understandably upset, partly because it was so unexpected. With tiny pets like mice, gerbils, and hamsters, they often get sick or injured and pass on before you even know there’s a problem.

Dealing with death is part of being a pet owner, and a portion of my role in teaching my kids responsible pet ownership is showing them how to balance their grief with the joy and love they received from their animal.

So John and I consoled Jenna, packed Jerri’s body lovingly in a box, and Jenna picked a place in the yard to inter her remains.

After the initial shock and grief wore off, we asked Jenna what she would like to do. She decided that yes, she wanted another pet, but not another mouse since no one would be able to replace her baby Jerri. We did some researching, then took a trip to the pet store where Jenna decided to adopt a male teddy bear hamster.


His name is Sunny.

She’s had him for about a week now, and she’s been really good at taking him out every day and working to hand tame him. He’s a little skittish, but one of the girls at the pet store had a soft spot for him and had already worked with him quite a bit. So he’s not as bitey as you’d expect a young hamster to be. He nibbles on fingertips occasionally, just to see if you’ll react, but if you remain calm and undeterred he settles down pretty quickly.

Jenna is completely head over heels in love with him, and while she still misses Jerri, Sunny has helped take some of the sting out of her loss.

Speaking of hamsters, Bullet is still doing well, he’s fat and happy as long as you don’t try to pick him up.


Every once in awhile I let him out to roam the house in his hamster ball, which he likes, but he’s happiest in his tank. I would love to be able to pick him up and cuddle him, but it’s just not going to happen. He’s still a lot of fun to watch though! He often comes out during the day to play, and I’ll sit on the floor by his tank and talk to him while he scurries around. He’s not afraid to take treats from my hand, and will let me pet him in his tank and long as I let him keep his four on the floor.

This is the only new picture I have of Zathras…


It’s pretty terrible because John took it with his cell phone when I was staying with Tiana at the hospital in May. He sent it to me in the middle of the night to let me know my baby missed me.

Both Tiana and Jenna had been telling their classes about our hedgie, so as an end of the year treat I took him in so the girls could show him off.

He was surprisingly well behaved! I was a little worried about how well he’d do with all of the kids touching him, but he did an outstanding job! He let everyone give him a pet, and only put his quills up once when a shadow startled him. He got a little over stimulated with the kindergartners, and was looking for a dark place to hide. All in all he exhibited model behavior though, no huffing, no balling up, he was just a good boy and gave the kids a great experience.

I’m so proud of my baby boy!

That’s about it in mammalian news, now it’s on to the reptiles. All of you squeamish sorts can turn back now. :D

So onto the Boas!

I had them out for a photo session on a sunny day, but alas they did not turn out well. I’m going to have to figure out the trick for taking pictures of these guys. I know there’s a way to capture their sparkly rainbows, but I haven’t figured it out yet.

Here’s the best of the lot:


That’s Nena, the female, and I have a story to tell you about her!

I was writing up this story in my head last night as I was falling asleep, and I realized that I need to preface it with a disclaimer (and yes Melinda, I thought of this before you commented on my facebook status. lol).

Animals aren’t mean. Humans are sometimes mean, but not animals. Animals just do their thing, they have instincts and behaviors that are coded into their genetic makeup, which ensure their survival. Often you will hear people talk about a mean or aggressive dog, but the truth of the matter is a dog gets that way because of something a human did to them, or didn’t do for them. Aggressive dogs are typically fearful because at some point they were neglected or abused. They are never just mean for the hell of it.

Animals always act the way they do for a reason, and if we humans get hurt in the process of handling them it’s usually through some fault of our own. I mean think about it, how many times have you heard a narrator on Animal Planet say “and here we see the lion killing a gazelle because it’s an a**hole.” Never, right? It just doesn’t happen. Lions kill and eat gazelles in order to survive. If you own a lion, and it tries to eat you, no one is going to say the lion is evil, it’s just acting like a lion is supposed to act.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, I’m sure you know where this is going. lol

The boas are aggressive eaters. They strike, they strike fast, and they will strike at anything that moves when they’re in feeding mode. Feeding mode starts when I put them in the feeding bin. They have yet to strike, or bite, at me when I’m getting them out of their containers or handling them. They know as soon as their bellies hit the bin though, food is coming. Then the aggression pops to the surface.

I know they’re like this. I’ve fed them a few times, and dodged a couple of feeding strikes, so I know how they are when they want food. Does that make me any less of an idiot? No, it does not. LOL

For some reason my feeding tongs have disappeared. They get run through the dishwasher after each feeding session to disinfect them, and they usually end up on top of the microwave when they’re clean, but for some reason they were no where to be found last night. I have a backup pair, but they had migrated to the basement for some reason and John was off in search of them.

Well, I had already taken Nena out and put her in the feeding bin to be weighed when I realized that the tongs were MIA. She was getting restless, so I figured I’d just do what I’d done with the corns a few times and dangle the mouse by it’s tail for her.

Error in Judgment #1: Mistaking a Boa for a Corn Snake.

So I dangled the mouse above her head a couple of times and she went to grab it. I let go of the tail as soon as she smacked into the mouse, but she didn’t grab on, and the mouse fell to the bottom of the feeding container.

None of my snakes will eat a food item that’s just laying dead on the bottom of the container. so she retreated to the other side of the container and glowered at me.

Error in Judgment #2: Believing that I’m faster than a Boa

I thought, “Hey, I can just reach in there and get it, she’s on the other side and even if she does strike I’ve dodged her before.”

So I reached in only to learn that I am in fact NOT faster than a Peruvian Rainbow Boa. She tagged me, right on the knuckle of my left index finger.

My hand was moving faster than my brain and I realized she was on the move, but not that she’d bitten me, so I tried to dodge her.

Error in Judgment #3: Not taking my punishment like a man

When I pulled my hand back, she came with, tearing open the bite on my knuckle and landing on the floor outside of the feeding container when she finally let go. Now I had a pissed off boa loose on my floor. Lovely!

Error in Judgment #4: Thinking I could pick up one pissed off Boa and put her back in her container without paying the price.

I grabbed her before she could get away, saw her turn towards me with her jaw opened wide, and knew I had it coming. She bit me full out on my hand and I took it without flinching this time. Ok, maybe I flinched a bit when she started to chew, but I didn’t try and shake her off or dislodge her. If she hadn’t let go on her own in a timely manner I’d have taken her to the sink and doused her in cold water. That will usually do the trick.

She did let go though, after about a minute, and curled up on my palm like she was ashamed of what she’d done. I felt bad for her, it was totally and completely my fault. She was off her food for the night though, and no amount of coaxing would get her to strike again. I’ll try to feed her once more in a couple of days. Hopefully she’ll have forgotten the whole miserable incident by then.

Ready for my battle wounds?


I have a bruise there today. I think she might have left a tooth inside me, but I can’t find it no matter how much I dig.


Top side of the knuckle wound.

And lastly, the chew mark which looks the worst but really didn’t hurt that bad.


I have 6 small holes from her top jaw, and 4 from her bottom.

Hopefully I’ve learned a valuable lesson that I won’t soon forget! lol

Last, but not least… This is now, officially, my first year as a corn snake breeder! I’m pretty nervous but so far the snakes have done well in spite of me. I actually wasn’t going to breed this year, I didn’t feel like I was ready yet, and I didn’t know if the females would be up to size, and I wanted to do some more research… Are you getting the feeling that I was never going to be ready? lol

Kauket took the decision away from me though. She started getting cranky, and then refused a meal (which she NEVER does). So I talked to Chad and he told me how to check her for egg follicles. Sure enough, my baby girl had become a woman. Then Amaunet got in on the act, and decided that if little sister was old enough to get a man, so was she. I told them that as long as they were willing to share, we could work something out.

Yea I know… EWWWWW

Kek is still too small to breed, though he should be up to size next year.


Isn’t he pretty though? That picture does not do his color justice! he’s all pinks and lavenders. I think when Chad saw him he was a little jealous that he gave him away! :D


Here’s him just hanging out (Get it? Hanging out?!?! I kill me!).

So he was out of the gene pool this year for breeding, though I know that he and Kauket are going to make gorgeous babies. So Chad loaned me a male that he wasn’t using for breeding this year.


Chad doesn’t name his snakes, so we’ve dubbed him StudMuffin. I told Chad that from here on out he must refer to him as StudMuffin, and only StudMuffin.

Yes, I know. I need psychological help! John and the kids tell me that on a regular basis.

So Muffin was willing and eager to get started. He was a newbie though, so he had a couple of false starts. After about an hour or more of him chasing Kauket around the tank he finally figured which end was up and got the job done.


This is a still from a video I took for Chad, hence the quality. It shows the moment of lockdown. I would have taken a real picture, but with it being their first time and all I didn’t want to completely freak them out.

Now I know that some of the normals who read my blog probably think this is a little weird. I’m sure it smacks of parents observing the bride and groom on their wedding night. Trust me when I tell you that corn porn is all the rage on the forums where I hang out. Yes, I fully admit that we’re a “special” bunch of people, but that doesn’t mean we’re gross or anything. I promise to make the one explicit picture I have to show you small, that way only the most curious among you will be able to see anything when you click on the pic. lol


Here are the two lovesnakes cuddling in the afterglow. Aren’t they pretty together?

Now, Chad can correct me if I’m wrong here, but I believe that Kauket is a motley, het hypo, possible het lavender. Muffin is a hypo, possible het lavender and possible het motley. If they both prove out we should get:

  • 37.5% Hypo Hatchlings
  • 37.5% Hypo Motley Hatchlings
  • 12.5% Hypo Lavender Hatchlings
  • 12.5% Hypo Lavender Motley Hatchlings

That last one is the trifecta. That’s what we’re shooting for!

After Muffin had a day or two of rest, we popped him in with Amaunet. He’d had some practice this time around, and it didn’t take him nearly as long to figure out what he was doing.


Here’s the explicit picture below. Don’t click on it unless you REALLY want to see what it looks like when snakes do their thing. You’ve been warned, don’t say I didn’t tell you!


Now this pairing is just going to give us normal corn snakes (what a corn snake would look like if you came across it in the wild), unless of course Amaunet has some hidden genes we’re not aware of. Normals aren’t too sought out among the breeding community (though these ones will have a ton of hidden hets), but they’re still very pretty snakes, with all of the personality of a captive bred corn, and are great for first time owners and/or people who don’t care about all of the fancy colors and patterns. Most of the pet stores in my area don’t sell normals and only have more expensive morphs available. So I’ll be selling the babies from this pairing to the local stores for credit, and they’ll be able to offer some cheaper alternatives in their reptile departments.

Now even though their babies won’t be higher end morphs, don’t those two look pretty together? I love the contrast of the two of them… So beautiful!

Anyway… Chad’s boy did his thing and now my girls are very preggers (or gravid for my snake friends). Both of them are starting to cloud up with their pre-lay shed, and we should expect eggs about 12 days after that.

Once the eggs are laid, the girls job will be done and mine will start. They have to be incubated at a certain temperature and humidity for about 60 days. Then they will start to pip and we’ll see little snakey noses pushing through the shells. I’ll be sure to keep you updated with pics as we go along!

Have a great day!

Monday, June 1, 2009

All Brawn, No Brains

**Warning – This post contains pictures of snakes eating mice.  If that bothers you, turn back now!  You’ll be missing out on a very funny story, but your wussy stomach will thank you.  Also, please never watch any Animal Planet programming about Lions, when they hunt Gazelles it’s sure to squick you out in a major way!**

Still with me?  Cool!


So I fed the Boas for the first time last night.  I’ve never fed a boa, or anything other than a corn snake for that matter, so I was kind of looking forward to it.

I figured it would be best to start them off with a small meal since they’re still settling in from their trip.  I picked out two of the smallest fuzzies in my freezer, got out the step stool and put them up on the highest shelf in my house to thaw before feeding.

Why the step stool you ask?  Well, that’s a story in and of itself!

A couple of years ago I put a plate containing two mice on the table to thaw for Kauket and Kebechet.  When I went to go feed them a little while later, I saw the plate but the mice were gone.  “That’s funny,” I said to John, “I was sure I took some mice out.  I must be losing my mind.”

Confident that I was suffering from early onset Alzheimer's, I went and got two more mice, and once again put the plate on the table to thaw.  This time however I sat on the couch, to watch a little television while waiting, in sight of the table.

About fifteen minutes later, what do I see out of the corner of my eye?  A grey ball of fur sneaking up on the table (where he knows he’s not allowed I might add), and stealing one of the mice.  Before my poor tired brain could comprehend what was happening, my cat had run away with his booty and was happily snacking away on it in the corner of the dining room.

Can you say EEEEWWW?

Since then I’ve been more careful about where I place my defrosting mice.  However, instead of deterring MacDuff, it’s become a challenge.  How high can he jump?  How fast can he move when I see him?  About two weeks ago he managed to get away with one of the large mice I feed Amaunet.  He ran gleefully through the house with it clutched in his mouth, me and the girls in hot pursuit screaming and yelling for him to drop it.

Once again, just let me say…  BLECH!  Dead mouse is bad enough, dead, torn-up mouse with cat spit on it really ruins my day.


So, once the mice had successfully defrosted, with no cat related incidents, I took the female (who shall from here on out be referred to as Nena, the Aztec Snake Goddess) out to eat.  I have to say, feeding her was no different than feeding my lazy corn snakes.  She slithered up to it, gave it a sniff, and then gently took it in her mouth and started eating.


Wait, isn’t she supposed to be a boa CONSTRICTOR?  Where exactly was the constriction?  Apparently Nena is to dainty to be bothered.

OK, well that was a bit anti-climatic. 

Now it’s the male’s turn (who shall henceforth be known as Nata, the Aztec snake god). He did not disappoint.  He wrapped it up tight in his coils… and then…

Sits there…

Looking at it…


Sits some more…

Looks some more…

About fifteen minutes later he opens his mouth, he’s going to finally eat it… 

Nope, he bit himself instead.

Sits some more…

Looks some more…

A little while later he starts moving around, smelling and nosing, looking for the mouse…

And he bites himself again.

After about 30 minutes of him trying to eat his own coils I took pity on him and tried to help.  I thought that maybe if I moved the mouse a little he’d be able to figure out where it was wrapped up in his coils.

Have you ever tried to take away a food item from a boa?  A little tip for you.  They don’t let go.  In fact, if anything, they hold on tighter.


Ok, so that’s not going to work.  I put him, and his squished mouse, back into the feeding container.

Oh no, now you’ve gone and tied your tail in a knot.  NO!  DON’T EAT IT!  Your body is not FOOD!


After about forty five minutes, and at least fifteen bites to his own body, he finally found the mouse and devoured it.

He sure is a pretty boy, but like most of the pretty guys I’ve met there’s not a lot going on upstairs.  He’s all brawn and no brains I guess.

It’s ok, I’ll keep him anyway.  :D