Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ramses' Awakening

My kids came running up from the basement to announce that my Mexican Black King snake had emerged from his hide for the first time in months. Around late August last year he quit eating so in late September I turned off his heat and allowed him to hibernate, which is part of his natural instinct. He hasn't even attempted to hibernate previously. Maybe the economy triggered it. I went down to see him moving very, very slowly and getting a drink of water. Snakes are very, very low maintenance when they are hibernating and this is necessary for breeding, but you do lose your pet for a large part of the year.

Ramses' awakening came just in time to be a visual aid for my son's report (on the genus lampropeltis, go figure). The boys and girls in the class couldn't be restrained. They all had to touch the snake and a lot of them had snake stories to tell. Needless to say, the report went well.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Proper Care and Feeding of Ruby

Before shed begins:
One week prior to sluff:Brand new paint job:

This is Ruby. She is my albino (reverse okeetee) corn snake and she is beautiful. Ruby was an unwanted pet snake. I purchased her and some supplies for only $10 from someone that was ditching her because the exciting newness had worn off, but finding a pet a good home is always a more responsible alternative than neglect. Originally I meant to find her a good home, but I have had her now for a year & a half, so I guess I did find her a good home. Captive bred colubrids are among the easiest pets to care for. Room temperature, a terrarium of proper size with clean substrate, a locking top, hide rocks, a heat pad if desired, water, and the occasional rodent will result in a healthy/happy snake. After having grown up in prime corn snake habitat, these are forever some of my favorite snakes. At the same time, I also grew up in indigo snake habitat, but I will never pay several thousand dollars for something that will require me to clean up it's poop. The pictures show the color change that snakes can go through during a shed. Ruby goes from a bright orange to hot pink. Her color change is sometimes pretty drastic during the shed cycle. The snake in the last picture is named Okee (very original name, right?). He is a normal Okeetee corn snake and provides a good comparison between a normal and a reverse. Every bit of black and gray on a normal is replaced with white on a reverse. Aren't genetics great? Okee and Ruby are roughly the same age, but Ruby is almost twice the size as Okee. This is because Ruby will eat any time a meal is offered, while Okee is the pickiest eater of any corn snake on the planet and causes me a lot of work.

Monday, February 2, 2009

True Field Herpers

Rat snakes from south Georgia:

This post is a pat on the back to those that constantly explore nature for the pure love and appreciation of this beautiful earth and it's amazing wildlife. From the nature outings that generated childhood <-I originally wrote boyhood. Sorry girl herpers) curiosities to the incredible feelings of finding cool snakes that most people will never see, true field herpers are as rare as some of the snakes they find. When I say true field herpers, I mean the ones that leave habitat and environment unharmed and those that devote time to study and protect species without exploiting anything. I remember catching my first snake when I was a kid. It's beautiful glossy scales glistened and it writhed as I tried to calm it. I used as much nonverbal communication as I could to say to the frightened/defensive serpent that I was not trying to hurt it. I think I even talked to the snake, but it probably didn't understand me. After a few minutes, the snake calmed down and seemed to enjoy me holding it or at least it did not try to bite or flee. In that very moment I became immune to all of the snake myths that produce so much fear in so many people. I was holding an incredible creation as it's tongue flicked out to taste the air and smell me. It tried several times to hide in the folds of my shirt. After a while, it didn't fear me at all. Even the motion of my hand toward it's head didn't cause any reaction. Even if that first snake had bitten me, I don't think it would have made any difference about how I have grown to love snakes. I understand them.