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Adventures of a DIY Zookeeper

Nov 6, 2014 - Cost of Keeping Parrots (and birds in general!)

 

It's been way too long since I've written a blog entry. I think I let the pressure of "good writing" and "artful pictures" get to me. So to break the trance of procrastination, let's do a quickie.

I just want to share with you these two wonderfully informative articles by Jenny Drummey that were published on BirdChannel.com. I first met Jenny when we went to pick up Darwin, our red lorikeet, who she was fostering for a few weeks since his surrender to Phoenix Landing. She is the VA adoption coordinator for that parrot rescue group and a writer. When she started working on the articles, she reached out to me and others about the cost of keeping parrots. I have the privilege of being mentioned in the two articles with links to the Critters & Conservation website.

Have you thought about how much parrots cost to keep once you have them? If you already have a parrot, have you found ways to save money while still providing the enrichment he/she needs?

Here are the two articles for you to enjoy!

"Do You Know the True Cost of Your Parrot?" and "Cost Saving Tips for Parrots"

We have six parrots here, but since I provided Jenny with information on their expenses, Squishy, our green aracari toucan came to us. He's been here for eight months now; and I think his upkeep is cheaper than the average parrot after "set up costs" (adoption fee / purchase price, cage, initial perches, bowls, and toys). He doesn't have the beak strength to destroy trim, furniture, and cell phones either. While he needs new toys for enrichment, most of them can be rotated in and out, simply being washed in the dishwasher / washing machine or by hand. They don't need to be replaced constantly since they aren't chewing toys that get destroyed in 24 hours, like many of my parrots' favorites.

I wanted to do a blog post about the research, planning, and excitement behind the addition of a toucan, but that will have to wait for procrastination's curse to be broken completely. For now, feast your eyes.

Photo credit goes to Karyn Granrud of Pint Sized Baker, whose photography I've always admired. Thank you for your "artful picture!"

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Feb 22, 2013 - Hoglets

 

If you remember, my dear Stan, an African pygmy hedgehog, passed away in December. I put in another application with the Hedgehog Welfare Society, but they don't have any hedgehogs needing homes in my area at this time. Needless to say, I am impatient. So I surfed Craig's List for a month. I can't believe that I actually found about half a dozen hedgehogs or so - however, until January, the posters were asking too much money, too far away, or sold the hedgies to someone else.

On Saturday, January 19, 2013, I got a BEAUTIFUL 7 - 8 month old girl. Her previous human estimated her age. I could tell she is young by her teeth, front nails, and hair/quills. She was 45 minutes away, living in a 2' x 1.5' cage with a slightly older male hedgehog. They were shacked up for about two - three months, so there was also a chance she was pregnant. But she seemed pretty small, weighing in at only 310 grams. I knew she could be pregnant regardless of size, so I made sure she had plenty of food, with some extra calcium and protein.

She is the sweetest, friendliest, most UNSHY hedgie I have ever met!! When being picked up, held, pet, bathed, and even having her rear nails clipped, she did not huff, puff, stick her quills out, or ball up - not even once! She sat on my boys' laps, while they pet her back, head, and ears. She was too busy exploring and sniffing to worry about them. I held her and tried to see if she would do the cute hedgie-just-my -face-is-sticking-out ball, but she wouldn't even ball up. This is great news, since doing animal education shows is better for more outgoing hedgehogs. The more curious and outgoing, the less stress on them.

Because she's so docile, I started calling her Miss Congeniality. But the kids say it's too long of a name; they want to name her Apple. I went ahead and ceded naming rights. So Apple it is.

I am so happy - she will have a great home here. I am in love already!

If you are on Facebook, you can see a blurry picture of her here. She wouldn't stay still! I'll try to get more pictures later.

You can also see a video of her on Felix's lap here. You can hear Felix's, Ryan's, and my voices, too. You can also watch a video of her eating and drinking here.

The nice folks on the Hedgehog Welfare Society Yahoo email list told me her coloring makes her a reverse high white pinto. They even encouraged me to show her!

I fed her a mealworm and learned that she should be fed treats with tongs or have the treat dropped in front of her. Her teeth are sharp! But that's the risk I run. And, as I always say, better me than a kid.

I tracked Apple's weight to see if and how much she would gain. She was up to 410 grams by the end of January.

Bailey, our red belly parrot, was very sick and had to be hospitalized in at the end of January. When taking her back in to recheck her white blood cell count, I decided to take Apple in at the same time. I wanted to make sure she was healthy and didn't have mites, as well as see if the vet could tell if she was pregnant.

Dr. Vicky, at Linden Heights Animal Hospital in Winchester, VA, felt Apple's stomach and said she thought she felt something. She weighed in at 1.1 lbs (almost 500 grams)! Dr. Vicky took two X-rays (which she did for free!) to check for babies.

She said she didn't see any other bones than Apple's. I figured that now I had a sick bird and an obese hedgehog. Fabulous.

"Let me know if any babies show up," Dr. Vicky chirped, as I left the exam room.

That was Thursday, Valentine's Day.

On Saturday, February 16, 2013, I took Apple, Ranger (Savannah monitor), Togli (African grey parrot), and Snakie (adult rosy boa) to the BE-Hive in Martinsburg to teach all the smiling faces about the critters. This is a fun, free place with activities and programs for children and their families. Apple was the very last to make an appearance. The kids loved her. I let her walk a little on the rug, too. Once I put her back in the carrier (I've been using a bigger carrier for her, since she now has the nick name, "Miss Poopy Pants," a reference to Professor Poopy Pants in the Captain Underpants books by Dav Pilkey.), I chatted with a few parents. Then I packed up and drove the 20 minutes home.

I brought Togli and Apple in from the car first, to make sure they didn't catch a chill. When I opened Apple's carrier, I lifted the fleece blanket to find her and saw three hoglets! She gave birth on the way home! Togli was making some funny faces, but I thought it was in response to Ranger scratching his newspaper. Maybe Togli knew more was going on in the back of the car than I did.

I put Apple in her cage and gingerly lifted the fleece blanket with her hoglets, gently laying it in her cage beside her. Here is their first picture.

Look at those darling faces!

Here is Apple with her three hoglets when I check on them a little over four hours later.

Stay tuned for more as the hoglets grow!

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Jan 20, 2013 - All About the Beardies

 


Here is Spike / Frank soaking on hot summer day

In April 2012, a friend of mine, Maura, called me and asked if I was interested in adopting her redtail boa. She was in the midst of preparing to move back to Pittsburgh and needed to lower the number of pets in her home - she had 7 dogs, a snake, a bearded dragon, and fish. "Not really. You have anything smaller you are interested in rehoming?"


"Yes, Spikeena, our bearded dragon."

I accepted and asked Maura if it would be OK if Spikeena was part of our Rent-a-Reptile program. She was fine with that and was kind enough to even deliver Spikeena to us, along with her... ahem... HIS 40 gallon breeder tank (3' long x 1.5' deep x 2' high) and accessories. Maura said that the beardie's name used to be Spike, but that he never did any male displays (more on male displays later!). So she came to the conclusion that Spike must be a female. Thus, the name was changed to Spikeena.

However, I took a look at this beardie's femurs and could clearly see the femoral pores that are more prominent in males. Back to "Spike," but I wanted another name, since so many beardies have that one. A name, a name...?

Meanwhile, Spike got settled in with us. His first day, he chomped on dandelion greens and flowers in the yard. Yum!


You can see from these pictures that Spike's rear right leg is missing musculature. Maura didn't know if it was an injury early on or if he had hatched this way. She was the groomer at the Ranson Petco and adopted him when he came in, knowing Petco wouldn't be able to sell him. He gets around well enough though. Chasing crickets is a little trickier, but they're worth it.

About a month after Spike came to us, he went to the Bolivar-Harpers Ferry Public Library as part of our Rent-a-Reptile program. All the librarians fell in love with him! They had rented our leopard gecko before, but hadn't had the same response. Before I knew it, they were calling to extend the rental period another two months.

And as those months additonal months were nearing an end, Martha called from the library wanting to rent Frank, as they had named him, for another year - or to purchase him. I conferred with the kids, and we decided we weren't ready to let Frank go. So the library renewed the contract for an additional year, at the end of which we could discuss a rent-to-buy option if we were willing to let him go.
In the meantime, the library posted a great picture on their Facebook page of Frank on a stack of books. You can see it here. They have since made T-shirts with this picture on it. I had to buy one, of course! And when I was paying for it, they told me that Frank was going to have a photo shoot the next day for a bearded dragon calendar. The profits from the T-shirt and calendar benefit the library - a great cause! It's nice to know that Frank has become their library mascot and may even earn his keep by becoming a beloved icon with his own product line. So all your libraries out there, get your own mascot, too, by renting a reptile or toads or cockroaches with Rent-a-Reptile!

Here I am, with Bailey on my shoulder, showing off the Frank T-shirt
I bought to support the Bolivar-Harpers Ferry Library.

While the librarians were falling in love with Frank over the summer of 2012, someone who had seen him at the library got my contact information and called me asking if I wanted their beardie that had not eaten on his own for about 6 months. They were force feeding him and taking him to vet to be tube fed, in order to get nutrition in him. I wasn't sure if I was ready to take on a special needs beardie, but was willing to meet him and see if he liked any of the foods I had to offer. The family wanted me to care for him while they were on vacation, too. So I agreed to come to their house for a free consultation.

I brought my temperature gun with me and , during the visit, I checked out Big Al's home - a 20 gallon terrarium, measured the temperature of his basking spot - about 85 degrees, offered him all kinds of greens that were some of Frank's favorites - but he didn't eat anything. I heard more about his vet visits, history, and care.

When Big Al came to our home for his stay while his family was away, I immediately upgraded him to a 100 watt bulb to increase his basking spot to 95° to 100° F. I took him outside for a romp in the grass; and he ate some of our lovely, untreated, edible weeds from the yard! I continued to see the motivation to eat, but the frustration with having a hard time doing so. I noticed Big Al's aim was a little high and imagined a little pair of bifocals resting above his nose. To encourage him to eat, I grew him a tray of wheat grass and put it in his tank.
Here is Big Al at the "Animal Adventures Camp" at Jefferson County Parks & Recreation

By the time Big Al's family came back from vacation, nearly a month had passed. I typed up a page of recommended husbandry changes in order for him to eat, thrive, and remain healthy. It included an upgrade to a 40 gallon breeder tank (the same size as Frank's), a 100 watt heat bulb, a water bowl large enough to soak in, and a greater variety in his diet. I also offered to adopt Big Al, since he had made so much progress; and I realized I could work with him and help him get back on track. After having spent so much money on vet bills and time trying to get him to eat, the family decided to allow me to adopt him, knowing he was in good hands.

Big Al continuing to eat well on his own. A few weeks later, I rented him out to a local family, weighing him at drop off - at 274 grams. When I did his monthly visit and weigh in, he had gained 26 grams! He has since continued to gain weight. The best way to get him eating is to serve his fresh greens, sprinkled with mealworms. The movement of the mealworms stimulates his hunting instinct and appetite.

Big Al returned home to us after his two-month stay with the family. The young girls were sad to see him go, but their mother attested to the fact that the older girl caring for him had lost interest in doing the chores involved with his care, which is typical for her age. But the mom was happy with the rental and knew she had given her children a chance to have a bearded dragon for a few months, just long enough to discover that it's not for them long term. In my mind, it worked out just fine! Big Al could come home without the family having the stress of looking for a new home for a pet they would have shelled out hundreds of dollars for if they had bought a bearded dragon instead of renting Big Al.

Now, we've had one more addition to our bearded dragon family. Walnut joined us at the same time I picked up three more fire-bellied toads so that our single toad would have buddies to live with. Walnut is larger than Big Al, but smaller than Frank (Spike).


Walnut showing off his pretty colors after his first shed with us

Walnut is very spunky and quickly took to head bobbing when he saw Big Al in his tank on the other end of the table. This is a display that male bearded dragons do to express dominance. They can also turn their beards black when they display or feel threatened. You can see Walnut head bobbing with a black beard here.

At first, Big Al responded by waving his arms very slowly, which was his way of submitting to Walnut. You can see Big Al waving here.

Once Big Al became more comfortable, he decided to head bob back at Walnut. I have since covered the side of Walnut's cage so they can't see each other. I don't want them to feel that they are in constant competition or experience unnecessary stress. Big Al has settled down and stopped displaying now that they can't see each other, but Walnut will still head bob on occasion - perhaps to his own reflection, or perhaps thinking of Big Al, somewhere on the other side of the visual barrier.
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Dec 6, 2012 - Stan the Man

Stan the Man pictured in a child's hands

Stan came to me from the Hedgehog Welfare Society. I met and picked him up on February 7, 2011, from Charity who was fostering him. I brought him home and let him settle in. Soon afterwards he was tooling away on his wheel, enjoying mealworms, and coming along on animal education presentations.

He was here almost two years; and last night I noticed a problem. He was weak and not walking well. I took him to the vet today; and after being examined, he started to fade away. I had to let him go as painlessly as possible and let the vet put him to sleep. Now he rests in the yard alongside Seamus, Octavius, Onions (our toy poodle), my mom's cat, and others.

Rest in Peace, dear friend. I love you!

I am thankful that I held him on my chest last night and stroked his forehead. He was sweeter than he had ever been and enjoyed the loving. So sad to see him go so soon. But he was 2 1/2 when I got him and I knew he wouldn't have too long. It's terribly sad, but hedgehogs live only 3 - 6 years!

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Aug 20, 2012 - A Week in the Life: Friday

 

The interview with Chaste Martin on her web TV show was scheduled for 10 AM. In preparation, I packed up Togli, our Congo African grey parrot, pecans for Togli (his favorite treat!), three snakes, two lizards, and a large snake skin.

When I arrived at the in-home studio of Mace TV, owned and produced by Dan Mace, I met Dan, Chaste, and Chaste's mother and brother, who was carrying a guitar. We discussed some of the topics we might touch on - Rent-a-Reptile, "Animal Adventures" summer camp, live animal presentations, etc. Putting the microphone on was tricky, running the line inside the back of my shirt and out, then into the couch cushion out of view.

Chaste's brother agreed to help by being the animal handler and passing the animals off to me. We had a wonderful interview. All the animals were well behaved - no one pooped - and Togli even danced! I had a fabulous time.

Part 1 of the August 2012, Chaste Martin Show includes Chaste singing, while her brother accompanies her on guitar, and a monologue. Part 2 and 3 feature the animals and me.

Click for part 2 and part 3. If you prefer to watch the entire show, here it is, for slower connections. Or you can view her page, with all her shows here.

As I packed up and chatted with the Martin family, Togli, who was in the adjoining room so he wouldn't have to be around for the big snake, started saying, "Hello, hello...." Then he started his beat boxing call and response. We do this at home all the time - he does a series of noises, whistles, words, rhythyms, and ends with a whistle or sings, "Togli;" then I know it's my turn. I do the same. We continue this back and forth for quite some time. Chaste and her family got a huge kick out of it.

I recently caught him doing beatboxing call and response on video. This isn't at the Mace TV studio, but in our kitchen with me in the background. Click on the thumbnail below to view it.


After the interview, I left, headed home to put the animals back in their homes, and finished preparations for the last day of "Animal Adventures" camp atJefferson County (WV) Parks & Recreation. I took Big Al, the juvenile bearded dragon, who had just been with me at the interview.


 

The kids had a blast holding him. I even took him outside and let him sit in the grass during a playground break. Other than Big Al starting to shed, we were incident free!

What a week! I ended it on a high note with the interview; and the adrenalin lasted quite some time. Ahhhhhh... smile.

 

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Aug 6, 2012 - A Week in the Life: Wednesday & Thursday

 

 

Wednesday

In the morning, I headed down to the Winchester, VA campus of Shenandoah University to do a presentation for an end of course "thank you" for the kids in their Claude Moore Reading Program. The kids are part of a lab course, in which graduate students work with them to help shore up their reading skills. I took a dove, the gray ratsnakeblue tongue skink, juvenile rosy boa, and hedgehog. I love that the director of the program always springs for the animal-themed party favor bags!

Due to a scheduling mishap, I had to stop the presentation half way through so the kids could have their snack break. A young guy wandered in at this time and took pictures of the animals for the university.

After the second half of the presentation, I handed out the favor bags, loaded up the car, rushed home, put the animals back in their enclosures, put treats in another bird carrier, and watched the conures go right in! I packed up the car and headed out to camp.

Sometimes bringing a parrot means actually bringing two, because a few of our parrots are in bonded pairs and prefer to come together. It means less stress for them and more fun for the kids because it's a 2 for 1 deal. I took both of the conures, Jenna the Jenday conure and/or Jasper the sun conure.

Jenna and Jasper aren't big on being touched or pet. But the kids enjoyed feeding them treats. Also, I sang Jenna's theme song; and everyone cracked up when she danced. Jasper was shier, but did bob his head along to whistling a little. You can see an example of Jenn's lovely dancing, without being bribed by a treat, in this video by clicking HERE.

Jasper was a busy body and flew around the room, landing on me, and crawling all over my shirt in an attempt to reach the treats in my hand. The kids loved watching him fly. We were caught somewhere between chaos and bliss when he flew around and landed on some of the kids' heads!

Thursday

I was scheduled to drive to Martinsburg in the morning, with half a dozen animals in tow for an interview on the Chaste Martin Show (a web tv show hosted by Macetv.net). As I rushed through the house rounding up animals, making a new iron-on Critters & Conservation t-shirt, and digging up make-up, I asked the boys to get their snakes out for me - Ryan, the ball python; Felix, the adult rosy boa.

Here is a picture of the rosy boa eating a frozen / thawed mouse.

As I was getting dressed, I heard Felix screeching; and I went flying through the house. When I got to his room, he was holding his snake and crying, "He bit me! My snake bit my lip!"

I put his snake back and met Felix in the bathroom where he was holding a cold, wet washcloth to his lip. I put Neosporin on it and got him a freeze-pop to suck on. The teeth left tiny pin-prick red dots in an upside-down "v" shape on his right side of his top lip. He said it stung.

After Felix calmed down and understood it was nothing personal - his snake is a wild animal; and sometimes we don't know why they bite. Felix said Snakie wasn't near his face, but had been sticking his tongue out funny - short, quick bursts during which, the tongue only comes out part way. This is the pattern of tongue flicking he does during feeding time. It seemed that either his feeding instinct had been triggered or that it was simply unprovoked and random. After talking about it more, and once Felix was in better spirits, we decided Snakie doesn't like morning breath or that morning breath smells like a mouse.

During all this, I called to reschedule the web tv interview for the next morning.

I still had Animal Adventures camp, so I prepared the lesson, printed pictures for the campers' scrapbooks, and got the gray ratsnake in a pillow case. I loaded up his 20 gallon long aquarium, so I could set his enclosure up at camp and feed him a frozen thawed mouse. I've had kids requesting this for a long time. I finally gave them their wish, as long as their parents agreed and signed a permission slip.

Click on the thumbnail below to watch the video of him eating the frozen / thawed mouse.

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Aug 4, 2012 - A Week in the Life: Monday & Tuesday

 

Summer is chock full of animal shows for library programs, summer camps, birthday parties, and vacation Bible schools. In addition, I teach three weeks of Animal Adventures camp through Jefferson County Parks & Recreation. Though the summer is winding down - I just did the last two animal presentations at public libraries at the end of July - you can usually check out what the animals and I are up to on my calendar page. It includes the camps as well as events free to the public.

The last full week of July was nuts and embodied the types of things that happen around here - both planned and unplanned. Let's take it one day at a time.

Monday, July 25

Ryan had middle school band practice at 9 AM. So while he played his clarinet with other clarinetists and the flute players, Felix and I sat in the back row - Felix playing his DS and me cutting 12" x 12" animal print paper down to size for the 8 1/2" x 11" scrapbooks the kids make in the Animal Adventures camp.


Then, we headed home and prepped for camp. I brought the hedgehog for the kids to meet, watch eat mealworms and beetles, hold, and pet. After taking pictures of the kids with Stan, we made little hedgehogs out of self-drying clay and flat toothpicks.


Tuesday

After packing up lunches and the Northern leopard frog and red-belly toad for camp, we headed out, but stopped at Gower's Feed in Ranson on the way to pick up one dozen large crickets for the frog and one dozen small for the toad. I thought the kids would get a kick out of seeing our amphibians eat.

First, I talked about the frog. As I held him, I walked between the two rows of tables so all the kids could have a good view. Like he's done in the past, the frog got jumpy and hopped right out of my hands onto the hard linoleum-covered, concrete floor. He hit the floor pretty hard; and a few kids even mentioned how he went "splat." This happened at least twice.

Then, the kids had a chance to hold the frog, one by one; and I took pictures.


As the first camper was holding him, the frog became more and more lethargic and less interested in jumping out of his hands. The boy holding him even commented that the frog started to feel a little dry. So we gave the frog a break and set him in his water bowl to get refreshed. A few minutes later, camper #2 had a turn to hold him, but the downward spiral continued; and I started to worry about the frog.

When camper #3 was holding him, I realized that the frog was not looking good at all - barely moving and not holding himself up well, but rather laying flatter in the palm of camper #3's hand.

I knew a way to tell if he was OK was to give him an opportunity to eat crickets. If he ate, he was on the mend; if he didn't; it was another bad sign. I took him from the camper, placed him in his carrier and dropped in half a dozen crickets. The crickets scattered everywhere, but the frog just sat where I had placed him, allowing crickets to run all around and even over him.

The frog remained listless, so I decided to let him have a longer break. The kids worked on their scrapbooks, gluing their pictures of themselves holding the hedgehog onto the animal print pages they chose from what I had cut the morning before.

Unfortunately, the kids were wise to what was going on and repeatedly asked me, "Is the frog OK? Is the frog dying? Is the frog going to die?"

We monitored him, but I didn't take him back out.

I took the accessories out of the fire-belly toad's carrier and gathered the campers around before dropping small crickets in for him to eat. The kids loved watching him wrestle that cricket. I'm glad they were so entertained because I didn't want to risk his toxins getting in a kid's eyes or any cuts on their hands. You can hold fire-belly toads, but you need to make sure you wash your hands immediately afterwards and get all the toxins off. If not, the toxins can get in your eyes if you touch them, like they did with Felix when we first got the toad. The toxins burn sensitive skin and mucous membrane. Have you ever cut hot peppers, then touched your face, or worse, your eyes? Well, the toad has the same effect. He even smells like a jalepeño pepper to me.


Click on the image above or HERE for the video of him eating the cricket. There are plenty more videos of the critters on my YouTube channel, MelissaFlipski.

When my kids and I got back from Animal Adventures camp, I unpacked, put the toad back in his home, and checked on the frog. His eyes were open with pupils fully dilated. I held him, checking for a heartbeat. Nothing.

I set him back in his carrier and went outside to our pet cemetary, where the shovel was already waiting, because we have a backlog of pets to bury. Terrible, I know. But when you are busy, burying pets is easy to procrastinte over, choosing to push away those sad feelings of losing a pet and the adult guilt that comes from playing back all the care you provided and layering on criticism for every little thing that could have been better, sooner, cleaner, different. I dug a hole, about 6" deep, placing the dirt and clump of grass beside it.

I came in and asked the kids if they wanted to participate in a ceremony for him with me. Only Felix wanted to. Ryan chose to stay inside.

I took Octavius, our male Chilean rose tarantula that passed away this past February, out of the freezer and brought him out with the frog, too. When I laid the frog in the hole and placed the tarantula on top of him, Felix said, "What are you doing? Why are you putting the tarantula on top of him?" It was hard to explain why the frog, or the tarantula, didn't get his own grave. But I knew they both loved eating crickets and moths; and this would help with the backlog in our freezer awaiting burial, which is now down to two parakeets, a hedgehog, and a Senegal parrot. It's hard to write about this and let you in on my dirty little secret, but there it is. Oh by the way, there's a mink in there, too, from a road kill pick up I made. I wrote a blog about that (but I can't find it - technology may be damned, but I think I deleted it somehow).

RIP Jose, the Northern Leopard Frog

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May 30, 2012 - Kicking Rent-a-Reptile into High Gear

 

Pictured above is Spikeena's carrier in the car yesterday, ready to heard to Bolivar - Harpers Ferry Public Library for two months. (His name will possibly be changed, b/c I think she is a he! His femoral pores gave it away.) It's their second rental from us. When I dropped off Spikeena, I picked up the leopard gecko and brought him home. (I'm questioning the gecko's gender, too, b/c of femoral pores. Maybe I need to do a blog on sexing reptiles...?)

I packed up the bearded dragon's things - enclosure, lamp, and bulbs in the back seat. The water bottle helps make filling his water bowl easier.

In the back, I managed to stuff in the stand, water bowl, box full of other accessories, and a carrier to bring the leopard gecko, PT - short for Puffy Tail, home in. I can't believe I lifted and carried (or sort of rolled) the stand and enclosure all by myself. That's a 40 gallon long glass tank!

Only one librarian was at the desk when I arrived, so I carried everything in by myself, too. I was proud that I did that and my back doesn't hurt today. I must have done something right.

Once I hauled everything in, I set it all up right across from the check in/out counter. He'll get a lot more foot traffic than the gecko had! A family even came in and was interested in possibly renting him.

Here he is with his entire set up.

I miss him already. It was strange preparing food bowls this morning and skipping him.

The librarian and I had a discussion about bearded dragon poop. When they are adults and eating more leafy greens than insects, their poop is squishier than when they are juveniles eating more insects than leafy greens. The great thing, is that in the month he's been here, the bearded dragon has only pooped in his enclosure once - right on the reptile carpet. He's potty trained to the extent that I take him out.  I take him outside and put him in the grass. I'm not sure how long he takes to do his thing, but I had been worried his intestines were impacted because I hadn't seen him poop for so long. It turns out, I was just not paying attention to what he left behind each time I brought him back in.

The librarian was not thrilled about cleaning up gooey gloppy poop from the reptile carpet, but might not have time to take him out to do his thing. The particular librarian who is a reptile lover has hurt her back. It's not certain when she might return. So to allay her fears, I am going to head out and buy a second reptile carpet, so while one gets removed to be cleaned, there is another in place already.

I love my potty trained lizards! Not pooping in their enclosure and holding it as long as possible hoping they get out, is that intelligence or instinct? To poop or not to poop, that is the question.

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May 2, 2012 - Rent-a-Reptile and New Additions

 

We are very excited about our new program, Rent-a-Reptile! We hope it will help reduce the number of unwanted reptile pets by providing clients with the chance to have a reptile without contributing to market demand. We are also 100% committed to educating each Rent-a-Reptile client and supplying everything that is needed, so they have the tools for proper care. While we know all the reptiles in our Rent-a-Reptile program will be well taken care of, many of our animals would be missed too much if they were away from home. So to launch this new line of our business, we thought it would be best to add some new critters to our crew with the intention of them being a part of the rental program. For more on why we think this program contributes to humane education and does not harm the animals, see Our Thoughts behind Rent-a-Reptile.

Now onto the new additions to our family.

We are so excited to announce the arrival of a bearded dragon and two juvenile snakes - a rosy boa, and a grey ratsnake. All three are a part of Rent-a-Reptile.

We already had an adult rosy boa with blue/grey/silver coloring, but the new addition is a juvenile with different coloring.

This little guy is so sweet and calm. He'll sit on my hand and just enjoy the view. He took his first meal, a frozen/thawed hopper mouse, very graciously.

It's nice to have the grey ratsnake, which is a native to the US and a colubrid, since we only had pythons and boas up until now.

This long, slender fellow has striking almost-white eyes. He is a wiley guy and always on the move! When he gets a little nervous, for example when I have to catch him and keep him from shooting out of my hands and to freedom, he musks just a little. But he has already improved in that regard. We're sure he'll grow into a confident and gorgeous snake. He's diurnal, so you can catch him out basking under his heat lamp during the day.

Both of the new snakes have wonderfully, smooth and soft skin.  What is said about babies, that their skin is sooo soft, is also true for snakes!

Here is Spikeena, the bearded dragon, enjoying some fresh air while basking in the sun.

While the snakes came to us through Craig's List - both from the home of a person reducing their number of snakes, Spikeena came from the same friend who gave us our leopard gecko. She is as sweet as can be and loves laying on a warm lap or shoulder. We took her outside to enjoy the sun the second day we had her; and she didn't want to come back in. She climbed the walls of her enclosure; so we let her out again. She LOVES eating dandelions and foraging through our pesticide-free grass for those, as well as for plantain leaves.

Spikeena is full grown and about 2 1/2 years old. She dragon came with the name Spikeena. Her former family had named her Spike, but changed her name after surmising she was a girl - since she has never done the behavior displays male bearded dragons are known to do.

We still have yet to name the rosy boa and grey ratsnake. All suggestions will be considered!

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