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The snakes (my two, anyway) were overdue for a feeding, so I drug myself off the couch and staggered around the apartment in preparation. I haven't been feeling well all weekend and really didn't look with fondness on the idea of going through the song and dance of all that is entitled in reptile feeding. It had to be done, so I fucked off with the self-indulgent whining and got my ass up.

Aristotle gets two mice because he is still so wee, which I don't fully understand. I realize he's a male and male ball pythons are smaller than females. Damballah and Mrs. Robinson are unconfirmed females (sexing based purely on visible qualities points towards girls). Mrs. Robinson came to me as an adult, but the Engineer got Damballah when she was a yearling, much like I got Aristotle when he was around the same age; they were about the same size.

But, Damballah at two-some years was so much larger than Aristotle is now. It's vaguely concerning. When I got him in January of 2008, he could fit coiled up in the palm of my hand and stretched from fingertips to the crook of my elbow. Now, almost three years later, he has gotten a bit rounder and stretches from my fingertips to just over my shoulder. But, he has the tiniest little head, the length of my index finger and about the width of two fingers together at his widest point. So he's kind of long, but he hasn't bulked out like Damballah did by this age.

He's been a fairly steady eater, with the except of a small handful of brief hunger strikes due to him being a goofy eater who'd rather strike the prey, squeeze it, then proceed to hang out with it all fucking night like its his new best friend. All in all, I'd say he eats slightly better than your average ball python is expected to. Given how picky they tend to be, as a breed, and all that. I know that every snakes has its quirks and a lot of feeding issues actually come down to husbandry and not the breed; I recognize these concepts most heartily. But, and that is a very big BUT, I am also very very glad that I am not the one saddled with Damballah's care and feeding. She is solely the responsibility of the Engineer (as is Betelgeuse) and I am PERFECTLY FINE with that because she goes on hunger strikes like she's getting a pay check. I would pull all my hair out.

So, he eats well, right? He totally should have outgrown his tank by now. I started him off in a smaller tank because it was all I had the money for at the time, thinking I would buy a new one when the time came (and we could use the smaller tank for a new hognose, see how crafty I am?), but the time never came. Ever time I would come into a windfall of a little bit of play money, like tax return time or student loan disbursement leftovers, I would look at his tank and decide it just wasn't needed yet. If he still had plenty of room, then the money would be better spent elsewhere.

And I would think his genetics and bloodline are semi-decent because he came from an actual breeder and not a pet store like Petco/smart where the snakes can be of of dubious quality. Then what's the goddamn problem?

The Engineer tries to placate me with tales of male vs. female snakes and how vastly different the sizes can be; I'm taking that into account as well, don't think I'm not. I took that into account to a certain point, but now it seems clear to me that it's gone beyond that. I think he's stunted or something. No immediate health concern really, just...small.

It makes me a bit sad because he's such a beautiful snake and I was really psyched for when he got kind of big, because he would be just gorgeous. He's not an incredibly fancy morph, just a pastel, but he was pretty and he was thriving under my care and he was mine.

He's still all of those things, I suppose. Just...in miniature.

Mrs. Robinson made an absolute mess of her dinner this evening, which is a bit uncharacteristic of her. I gave her the usual thawed out and warmed up rat, which she hissed at and took from the tongs before I could release its tail, and I left the room to give her privacy to eat and to get Aristotle's mice together. When I came back some time later, she was still in the middle of swallowing the prey, which is nice because I very rarely see her in action. She generally pulls the prey under her rock and eats it there where I can't see or takes so long to get down to business that I get bored and leave.

Tonight, the rat was only halfway in her mouth, so I sat down and watched for a bit. At one point, she moved a coil of her body and I saw bloody aspen beneath her. What the shit? Further worried examination through the tank was unsuccessful, but when she finished swallowing, there didn't seem to be any scratches on her. She yawned hugely while facing me dead on, so I also got an impromptu looksie down her throat. Nothing appeared wrong there either. So I'm guessing it came from the rat somehow. Are her teeth big enough to do the kind of damage that amount of blood generally comes from? Jesus.

It's not like the Wizard of Gore in there or anything, just some splashes on the aspen litter. But any blood in a snake's tank is cause for concern, in my opinion. Even if the prey is pre-killed and obviously dead, the claws can still accidentally cause damage if the snake is over-enthusiastic (Mrs. Robinson) or haphazard and graceless (Aristotle). Or a wood chip can become lodged in the mouth (which Aristotle has done on more than one occasion). Or hell, even just from a cleanliness standpoint. That shit's not sanitary to keep around.

I can't clean the crime scene up as just yet, even though she's long finished eating. She's got her head sticking out from her hide, inches away from the mess and I am not stupid enough to stick my nice, warm hand all the way in there and root around for a couple of minutes. Hell, I don't do that when she's not all fired up on hunthuntkillkill. I only reach in when she's completely under her rock or on the other side of the tank and facing the other way. And even then, I have someone act as a look out or keep my eyes on her the entire time and make a blind grab for her water dish, or her shed skin, or whatever it is that needs to come out of the tank at that moment.

I'm very familiar with my snakes and they, with me. Instinct will always outrun familiarity in a handful of circumstances; the knowledge of this and the forethought to be responsible about putting it into practice has been what has kept me bite-free these few years. And the Engineer, as well. I've been struck at once or twice through the glass (Aristotle, acting like a weiner when he was being a pig who just ate hungry and I leaned in front of his tank and once with my hand in the tank (Aristotle again, because the mouse dangling from the tongs in my hand had grown cooler than my hand holding the tongs), but never bit.

By these guys, at least. I've only been bit once and it was years ago. Commander Jurin's rat snake (was it a rat? I don't remember now, but it was all black and rat snake-shaped), Otis, nailed me once. But, that time, I kind of had it coming and Otis could be a little douchey when he was hungry, which he was.

It's surprising that none of us in Punk Rock Plaza ever really got bit by any of the reptiles we lived with. I got bit by my tokay gecko, but it was a fucking tokay and all they do is bite (Sirhan Sirhan, I miss him). And not because the majority of what slithered was of a cool disposition. We didn't lack for angry snakes, a reticulated python named Kubrick comes specifically to mind, but there were few injuries.

Astonishing to think, the pack of us in all our haze and ridiculousness, still had some small presence of mind and responsibility. Bodes well for our futures on at least some level, I would reckon.
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Today has been an absolute shit-tastic day that has largely resulted in me wanting to burn down banks near and far, but after moping on the couch for most of the night and eating some 85% Green and Black's organic dark chocolate, I'm beginning to feel a bit more human.

The fact that all four snakes are currently cruising around their tanks and making ribbon shapes in the air during their explorations and the fact that Timothy has been draped over my right thigh and straight licking my arm for the past twenty minutes has down many great things to elevate my mood.
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Betelgeuse, the Engineer's California king snake, went a bit bugfuck this evening round about when I came home from work.

I entered the computer/snake room, where the Engineer was at his desk and I said hello to everyone present. This includes all the snakes, because they are my friends. I sat on the floor and talked to the Engineer, petting the cat, and halfheartedly pondered what we should have for dinner. That's when I noticed Beetle hauling ass all over his tank.

Beetle's been around for quite some time, he's the oldest out of our snakes and the longest (almost six feet). Being that the other four snakes are all fat and lazy ball pythons, he's also the most active. So, it's not really all that unusual for him to spend an hour or two cruising around his tank.

Tonight was different, though. He was going around and around at warp speed, hard-nosing into the corners and against the walls, diving into his bedding and burrowing like a madsnake under his rock and his water dish, tongue flickering crazily. At one point, after one particular lap of the tank, his ass end was in front of his face end, and I saw him bite his tail like some kind of fucked up Ouroboros. At another point, he struck the glass at absolutely nothing.

His behavior seemed like a really amped up feeding response, similar to his normal I'M HUNGRY behavior, but with all new added meth binge. He's a very healthy eater and is due to eat, but it's not like he's weeks and weeks into not being fed. It's only been a day or two behind schedule and that's something he's experienced before without this reaction.

Looking online for an idea of what's causing this proved fruitless. There isn't much in the way of help, other then a small handful of other people who have king snakes who've also acted like this. Some say it was feeding response, others say mites, others say neurological, others say breeding season. Beetle is roughly seven years old, the Engineer got him as a yearling, and he's never acted like this before. I was actually afraid if either of us had opened his tank, we would have gotten tagged.

He seems to have calmed down now, lying in the corner of his tank with a sullen face on. He's been fairly chill for the past couple of hours, but before that- scarysnake. I'll keep an eye on him to monitor him for further weirdness, as I'm sure the Engineer will too.

And of course, this is all after my conversation with Miss Janette last night, singing the praises of how easy king snakes are to keep (especially when compared to ball pythons).

Typical.
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...gah.

So many things have been going on in the past two weeks; I can't keep track of it all.

One thing I can tell you all about, though, is the snake-capades.

The mystery snake, after much going back and forth and leaving un-returned messages for people, has turned out to be a ball python. And a lovely one, at that. Yesterday, the Engineer and I drove over to the city to pick it up.

The story of how she (we think it's a she, but she needs to go to the vet for us to be positive) came into my hands is: Picture if you will, some dickbag frat boy named Bryan who thinks that owning a snake is, like, cool maaan. Dickbag frat boy up and decides to move out of state and the alledged new owner of the snake backs out of taking her. Thus, he decides that leaving her in the house he was living at, for his now ex-roommates to take care of, was a fantastic idea.

Said group of now ex-roommates don't know the slightest thing about snakes and are, in fact, quite afraid of the creature. They look for someone to take her in and occasionally pour water into her bowl through the lid of the woefully inadaquete tank she's living in.

Word of this gets to me and I, in all of my absolutely ridiculous soft-heartedness, agree to take her in. I am given a phone number to call, I leave a message. The person calls me back and leaves me a message. I call back, leave a message, and hear nothing for quite some time. I call again, still nothing. I complain to the Engineer, who says something to the person who put us in touch with these people in the first place, who contacts one of the roommates, who authorizes his phone to be given to me, who I then call.

Got all that? Good.

I am sent photographs of the tank set-up and some blurry images of the snake itself. Through these, I'm able to figure it's not the type of snake likely to eat my face in the middle of the night. I make plans to pick it up.

Arriving at the house, I saw that the tank was enormous and actually an aquarium. It is also setup in a woefully inadequete manner. There's an undertank heating pad, which is good. But, there's only one (too small) hide box. There are no temperature/humidity gauges. There is only a clamp light on top of the tank, with only a common household lightbulb screwed into it.

The tank is also completely covered in ancient snake poo, shed skin, and some other kind of unidentifible stains all over the astro-turf-like substrate. It stinks like death when I learn over to peer inside the screen top and I am unable to keep the disgust from my face. My heart keeps twisting in my chest in dismay at these conditions and I wanted to just start screaming.

The snake itself is trapped in an unsuccessful shed. Miserable and blinded from shed skin stuck to her eyes, she laid coiled up under the (too small) log hide and tongue flicked at me as I undid the cage clamps and started taking things out of the tank.

I had brought heavy duty gloves with me to handle the snake, even though I'd been promised she was as docile as they come. I didn't want to take any chances. However, within five seconds of pulling her out of the tank, I can tell she's a sweetheart. She was so calm, she just coiled around my arm and rested her head on my chest.

Instantly, I am in love.

She's about three and a half feet long and seems to be quite healthy, despite the deplorable conditions she was being kept in, and lighter in color than most regular ball pythons I've seen. No mites, no indication of respiratory infection. Really, the only things which seemed wrong were the stuck skin and the fact she hasn't been fed in over a month.

We get her back home, set her up in the tank she came with for the time being, then go back out for supplies. I needed a new tank, proper substrate, gauges, a new heating pad, new hides, and a stick to climb on/rub shedding on.

She's currently set-up in my living room because at the moment, I don't have any where to put a tank this size. Last night, I ran a shallow bath and played water moccasion games with her, in an effort to get the shed unstuck (mostly successful last night, and then completely successful this evening- she is able to see from both eyes now).

I'm giving her some time before I try to feed her, maybe a couple more days to recover from all of the excitement of the past few. And, unless she turns out to be a boysnake, I'm calling her Mrs. Robinson.

There has been a lot of singing in my apartment since that decision.

Snakes need to be sung to, you know.
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The Engineer told me this evening that someone he works with approached him regarding a friend of her's. See, the co-worker's friend recently was ditched by their roommate. And the roommate left behind a snake. Everyone is terrified of the snake and they just want to find it a new home.

The co-worker was not all that forthcoming with information, as she just doesn't know the answers to a lot of questions I'm asking.

- what kind of snake? (they think it might be a boa)
- how big? (possibly three or four feet, roughly)
- what is its health like?
- how about its temperment?
- what has it been eating (it hasn't eaten in a month)? Live prey or pre-killed?
- boy or girl?
- does it have mites?
- what kind of set-up has it been kept in?

So on and so forth.

His co-worker came to him because she knew he had snakes and he came to me because he knew I love boas and have contemplated one for some time. Which I have. However, I would much rather prefer starting out with a smaller boa and spending the time with it to properly bond and become comfortable before it's big enough to put a hurting on me. That's only the beginning of my issues with this situation.

Another is not knowing what kind of health it's in. Sure, it's a free snake and a free set-up (although who knows how proper the set-up is, especially considering it was just abandoned by this schmuck of an ex-roommate). And another is not being all that sure where I'd put another snake, let alone one of any kind of size (and one that is going to need a considerable amount of space in the future, which is one reason why I haven't pursued my own boa so far).

All of that being said, I am absolutely in fits over the idea that this poor creature is suffering and no one is loving it. Rehoming snakes, particularly larger constrictors, is difficult and even if it manages to find its way to some sort of rescue facility, what then?

The Engineer and I were talking and agreed that this snake could be anything. He asked his co-worker what it looked like (grey-brown? little mustache?), but she wasn't helpful in that department. People who don't know snakes tend to lump the bigger ones into two catagories: boas and pythons, while people who do know snakes recognize that "boas and pythons" could be any number of VASTLY different animals.

If it's a retic? No.
If it's a Burmese? No.
Most varities of boa? Possibly. Depends on size, health, and temper.
Ball python? YProbably, depending on its health.

I doubt its anything resembling a corn, milk, rat, king, or bull snake due to the co-worker's vague description of its size and girth. But, any of the others I've listed? All possible.

So, I don't know. I told the Engineer to ask his co-worker for her friend's phone number and I will call them myself to find out anything they may possibly know. Beyond that, we can go over there and actually take a look at it for ourselves and possibly see what it's demeanor is like.

If I do take it, Aristotle is going to go and live upstairs in the Engineer's apartment for some time for quarantine purposes and the boa (or whatever it turns out to be) will live down here. If I don't take it, I will do my damnedest to make sure it finds its way into the hands of someone who knows how to take care of it. It completely enrages me that someone would do this- just abandon an animal in the hands of someone who is not only inexperienced with dealing with such a creature and obviously afraid of it. The co-worker has given it water, but beyond that- no one has done anything but cover the tank up with a towel.

Again, full of rage.

I sat with Aristotle this evening after this conversation and told him that he will always be well loved and well cared for. He just stared at me and I could feel his lung working in the palm of my hand, his tongue lazily flickering. He's really starting to change in size and shape, like beginning to get the dimensions of an adult. He's begun to bulk out in the middle, in the typical fat-ass ball python shape, which fills me full of such joy, it's not even funny. He's gone from a vaguely slender wee thing, shaped much like a cinnamon roll amongst my fingers, to a sinuous line of muscle which stretches from my fingertips to a few inches above my elbow. It's amazing. He's amazing.

I only wish that other people had such an appreciation for snakes, especially the people who have contracted themselves into caring for them.

Hopefully, this devil squid which has taken up residence in my chest for the past three weeks will have moved out by Saturday so I'm not coughing and wretching all over the place in front of these people. The sickness has left me completely exhausted and overly emotional. I get up tired, I stumble around at work all day tired (which is not good when I'm so overloaded from our current open enrollment for benefits I'm facilitating, Friday is the last day of it and then my work days will go back to what passes for normal), I go to class tired, I come home tired. It's frustrating. I have too many things I need to do and no energy or time to do them in.

my world

Jan. 12th, 2009 03:27 pm
thejunipertree: (Default)
Photobucket
I found this photo of Aristotle in my phone. It's a few months old and doesn't show his color very well. Imagine that the lighter spots of brown are actually a brilliant yellow.

Photobucket
I stole that spoon from my friend, Amanda, at her wedding. Actually, I stole it from the catering company. The Engineer has been simply scandalized by this ever since.

Photobucket
Tinker (the black one) and Baby (the orange one), enjoying an extremely rare moment of peace. Normally, Tinker does his damned best to constantly eat Baby's head. Occasionally, he forgets he's an utter prick and will sit nicely.
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Aristotle nommed down two giant mice last week, making one of the proudest snake-ladies to ever have have slithery friends.

Feeding the week prior had been skipped on account of general surliness and not liking the fact I gave him a new hide rock, but this week- he zoomed right out from under his favorite stick the second the mouse hit turf. I'm also attempting to break him of his love for the dead-mousie-dance, which seems to be coming along well (although I recognize that now I've spoken these words, he's immediately going to do his best to be a contrary bastard and play me for a fool).

My only issue right now is the fact his new hide is gigantic and does not leave enough room on that side of the enclosure to properly feed him without having the prey drug through his "yard" of aspen chips. So, I have to take the hide out every feeding occasion, which he doesn't care for. I need a wider tank, despite the Engineer telling me I'm full of soup on this one and that my problem is just having too much stuff in the tank (I have two hides, a stick, some plants, and the water dish- not too much, I say).

I'd love to be able to get some proper photos of him, but he's had this ring of peely shed around his neck from his last shed that won't come off no matter how much I soak him and spray him down. This time around, I've been amping the humidity levels of his tank up in the hopes of him having a good shed (for once). If that happens, I'm busting out the photo equipment.
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I've not made all that much progress, really.

The Mini dealer in PA contacted me back and told me the specifications I want are not in stock and to order one would take 6 to 8 weeks. In theory, I could be patient and do this. However, they haven't responded to my email about "Hey, can I get this for $300 a month?" I'm taking their silence as a resounding no. That's disheartening.

I've also started looking at another car, the Honda Fit Sport (in purple!). The one dealer I've contacted about that has been UP MY FRIGGING ASS. His name is Sam and he sucks. Calling me when I tell him not to call me, emailing me every ten seconds with some bullshit, being a general annoyance. I emailed him yesterday asking if they had my specific build in stock (2009 Fit Sport Automatic in Blackberry Pearl, iPod adapter, NOTHING ELSE) and if I could get it for $300 a month (with my additional financial information in the email). He sent me back an email which basically proved he didn't read a goddamn thing I'd written, talking about what colors they had in stock (no mention of the build I want or the no goddamn add-ons and accessories clause I have) and for me to get UNDER $300 a month, I'd have to put down $4k as a deposit. Piss off, Sam.

I haven't tried going to the bank yet because everything at work has been so insane; I haven't had the time, but that's next on my attack list. I'm going to try to do it on Friday and see what they have to say to me about getting a loan.

In a conversation with the Engineer last night, I told him I would be quite put out if I can't get a Mini. They're my second favorite car ever and I really had my heart set on one. I could get over it, because I'm just not that petty, and get another car. But, I'd be sad and probably pine away or some dumb nonsense. The Honda Fit isn't so bad, it's kind of like a rounded version of a Mini without the awesome retro styling that makes you feel like you're piloting the Nautilus. Same basic cargo space, basically the same mpg. Not bad (and did I mention it comes in purple?) If I absolutely had to go with another car, I don't think I would mind one. And even though Sam the dealer is being a dickbag, they're a ton of Honda dealers around here. Unlike Mini.

I could just go out and get a random wee car. There's a million different types. But, modern cars leave me cold. They have no personality to them. They have no character. Most of them look like eggs on wheels, or slightly square eggs on wheels. If I had to drive one every day, I would detest it. Some people may think I'm being shallow about this because after all, it's just a fucking car, right? But, if I'm going to be spending that much money on something, I want to be practically in love with the goddamn thing. I'm not utilitarian; I like shiny things. They make me happy. And I want to be happy with whatever car I wind up getting, providing it doesn't put me into the poorhouse to buy.

The Engineer told me I need to hit more than one dealer. When he bought his Cruiser, he put down $1k and his monthly payments were only slightly over $300 a month, but he had to go to three or four dealers to get to that. I thought about getting a Cruiser, but I thought it would be kind of goofy for us to have OMG MATCHING CARS. I like Cruisers, though (even though they made some big mistakes in changing the interiors after the 02, they're kind of assy looking now). I'm not totally opposed to it, but I would prefer not to.

Enough car rambling. I have Pocky to eat and chai to drink. At some point soon, I also have entries to write about class scheduling shenanigans, how Aristotle now eats behind a private curtain, and all about how my barely a year old computer monitor shit the bed this week.
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I decided to change my email address today. The old one had been grating on my nerves for a while now, so you may now find me at crowsofmurder AT gmail DOT com. I've kept the littleflappybat one, so if you really get your panties in an uproar or if it's entirely TOO much work for you to change it in your address book, feel free to continue using it. However, don't be surprised if it takes me longer to respond.

The animals have been making me insane lately. For the past few months, Tinker has taken to wandering the apartment hall in the middle of the night, howling for cash and prizes. It almost seems like he's on a set schedule for when he does it, too. Last week, he woke my brother up, so I made the decision to take him (the cat, not my brother) to the vet to get checked out.

First things first: he's not nearly as overweight as I thought he was. Before, I thought he was pushing 23 pounds. I'm not sure where I came up with this number, but it was always the one I had in my head. In actuality, he is 16.9 pounds. Still fat, but not THAT'S NO MOON, IT'S A SPACE STATION.

Blood tests were run and the vet left a message regarding them today. No on the diabetes front, no on the hyperthyroid front. Yes, on having slightly raised thyroid levels. Cats should be inbetween 1.0 and 4.0 apparently and he sits at 2.5, which is enough to raise an eyebrow at. The vet would like further tests run on his blood, to check for occult hyperthyroidism or somesuch.

All of that being said, since the vet visit, he hasn't been nearly as obnoxious about howling in the middle of the night. And today, he's been so low-key in general that I'm a bit concerned. He's been a sleeping pile of cat all night and didn't freak out over my cereal bowl. Ears and eyes and gums are all the colors they should be (and I've got three scratches on my hand to show for it), but he's still acting bummed.

On top of that, I had SNAKE DRAMA last night. It was time for Aristotle's weekly feeding and I've been gradually increasing his mice size. Last night's mouse was a healthy little bugger and the snake went right for it. However, he could not figure out how to get it in his mouth. He kept trying for the back end, but couldn't work it out because the size is a bit larger than he's used to. He kept just gnawing on the tail and dragging the damn thing all over the tank.

Twice, he dragged it into the wood chips and I had to distract him and get the mouse out of the bedding and pick aspen off it. The third time, it was seeming to be a battle between his throat and the mouse's tail. Like it was stuck. I tried to manuver it out with the tongs, but that just made him mad. And when I got scared and tried to take it from him, he clamped his body around it (and one of his plants) and squoze the shit out of it to the point where I thought it was going to blow. I picked him up at one point, by the plant he was now strangling, and he started whistling like a frigging tea kettle at me. I reckon this means snakes can't hiss when something is lodged in their throat.

Finally, I stuck a pencil inbetween his body and the mouse's tail and got it out that way. And that mouse was seriously trashed. Covered in snake spit, blood from his teeth puncturing, and every bone in its body broken. Trashed. Thank God the wee beast was already dead when all of this started. I do not, for the life of me, understand how people can live feed. I have problems with buying pre-killed mice as it is.

I decided to chance my luck after all of this and toss another mouse in the tank. Lo and behold, the little fool went right for it and (this time) just dragged it under his rock.

Of all the fucking snakes to pick, I wind up with the stupid one. All beauty and no brains. What snake can't figure out how to get the food in its mouth? Oh, yeah. MINE.

:/

Sep. 1st, 2008 12:50 am
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Dr. Pickles, the Engineer's Western Hognose snake, died on Friday night.

It was rather sudden and the Engineer will be giving the body to our snake vet for a necropsy and testing.

We're not really all that sure exactly what the fuck was wrong, but we are both very scared for the rest of our snakes at the moment.

Cut and pasted from the Engineer's journal:

here )
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I don't have much call to use this particular icon all that often anymore, as it is of Charlie and she is long past.

However, I finally knuckled down and completed one of the animal preservation projects I'd been talking about for a while: namely, the jugging of Charlie.

possibly not for the squeamish )
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Aristotle is a little pig.

For the past two feedings (except for tonight, which I'll get to), he's been eating two mice. Nom nom nom.

Also for the past two feedings (again, except for tonight), he's been very good about not dragging the mices all over the goddamn tank in an effort to get them down his gullet.

Tonight, he struck the prey quite nicely. He hasn't, however, quite worked out how to get it into his mouth for a proper swallow once he's done his killit!killit!killit! squeeze (apparently, he believes the prey to still be alive). He works his mouth all over the mouse in an effort to get it aligned correctly and in doing so, moves it all over the cage. And moving it all over the cage involves dragging it off the paper towel I've laid on the tank floor in an effort to avoid another aspen shaving incident.

With his most recent feeding, it was almost as if he was trying to plow with the damn thing. And in doing so, managed to get a fairly large chunk of aspen wedged in his snoot. Cue me doing a nervous dance in front of the tank, trying to work up the nerve to grab him and pin his noggin, so I can get the wood chip out of his mouth. By myself, I might add. And if anyone reading has ever attempted to get something out of a snake's mouth, they will understand that it requires, nay- demands, the use of at least three hands.

Luckily, I managed to do it. But, not without a good bit of flailing (from him) and almost crying (from me). I had to tease his jaws open with a hairstick held in my frigging teeth to do it, but in the end, I got it done and retrieved the errant piece of wood. It was soggy with snake spit, but luckily- not bloody in the least.

I reckon I need to change the substrate of the enclosure, which I am loathe to do. I like aspen. It's easy to clean, it holds humidity well, and it looks nice. Anything else of the variety that avoids being lodged in the mouth will be a pain in the ass to clean up, will be a bitch for humidity, and will look like crap.

hoom.

And on top of everything, he didn't eat the second mouse. Not that I can blame him, after the excitement of the evening. He stared at it quite a bit and did his snakey dance around it for a while, but it was a no-go in the end.

I think it's also time that I started pondering buying a larger tank for him, which I knew was going to happen sooner or later. He's already out-grown one of his hides and has been spending a lot of time in a hollow he's carved beneath his climbing stick, which I don't like because it's not a proper shelter. I moved things around a bit tonight, once he calmed down, and put his half-log back into the tank for him to use as a cool side hide. I have another hide, a large fake rock that the Engineer gave to me, but he's not quite big enough for it and neither is the tank.

It looks nice enough, I suppose, but it's not going to be suitable in the long run.
thejunipertree: (Default)
Aristotle ate last night.

Not one mouse, but TWO.

This is indeed one of our brightest days.

/cheer!

He still won't take the prey unless I do the Dance of a Thousand Dead Mousies for him, which is getting old because I'd like to just toss the food in there and then go chase shiny things for the rest of the night. The Engineer's snakes all eat with no problem (well, one of them gets stuck in a box for the event and he is PISSED about the entire state of affairs). Why can't mine?

Unfair.

In other snake-related news, this has been killing me all day:
thejunipertree: (Default)
Dear Young Master Aristotle:

If you do not stop sulking and refusing to eat every time you miss your first strike at the prey I am dangling before you, I am going to turn you into a belt.

Love,
tara

P.S.
Lying on the prey afterwards does not constitute eating it, you know. And it's just downright insulting, to boot.
thejunipertree: (Default)
The bake sale went well, I think. I wound up not making the bread because...err, I forgot about the dough. It wound up staying out all night Friday and all day Saturday. When I finally got home and checked out the bowls, they smelled horribly of beer. So, I threw them out and started again (only one bowl this time and it's currently in dough form and finishing its two hour sit).

Both halves of the Irish cream chocolate cake sold, all of the peppermint chocolate chip cookies sold. And the majority of the cupcakes went, as well. I brought home the rest of them and ate one last night. Verdict: HOLY MARY MOTHER OF MICE. That is a serious effing cupcake that kind of made me a little dizzy to eat. Sweet Jesus.

On the way home, I suddenly had the urge to hit the comic book store. I very rarely have the chance to go because they always close before I get out of work and thus, the Engineer usually goes without me. I've been working on building up my Hellblazer graphic novel collection and the Alan Moore line of Swamp Thing, so some holes were filled in their lines. I also picked up a Books of Magic I didn't previously have (and which I actually didn't really enjoy, it was kind of boring). And another graphic novel called God Save the Queen, which I'd never heard of before and which turned out to be quite good.

Friday night, Aristotle had another incident with the wood chips. This time, the damn prey was on a paper towel and there was no dead mousie dance to be seen. And he missed. Wood chips in the snout, panicking me trying to get them out by myself with hands that are shakey on a good day. It wasn't as bad as the first time, but I was still freaking out. Especially because it's a little difficult to wrangle a squirmy snake, pin his head, force his mouth open, and fish out wood chips. It should take five hands to do this. I had two at my disposal.

I tried to container feed him last night to avoid all of this happening a third time, but he was really not down with that. grr. Next week, I will try to lay down towels in his tank and then do the dead mousie dance for him. Rather irritating. He was such a good eater before. Then he had to get all stupid with his strikes. Not fun.
thejunipertree: (Default)
Feeding Aristotle tonight and he was being stupid-headed. Struck twice at the prey and missed both times, the second time garnering a face full of aspen. The Engineer went to rewarm the mouse up for me, because it was getting kind of cool to touch and I noticed Aristotle opening and closing his jaws.

Wood chip stuck in his mouth. Oh, great.

I pin him and flick it away, only to notice there's another one actually lodged in the entrance to his throat.

Again, I say: oh, great.

More pinning and a move to the bathroom later for better lighting, and the Engineer fishes the chip out with a pair of tweezers. It was the tiniest bit bloody, but his mouth seems to be ok. I put him back in the tank and he laid there for a few moments, breathing heavily and probably freaked all the fuck out, before moving into his warm-side hide.

I put the mouse on a paper towel in the tank, but I really don't think he'll eat it. He doesn't like still prey and seems to preferthe dead-mousie-dance for feeding time.

I'll call Dr. Joe tomorrow and see what he says about the entire spectacle.

I'm only freaking out a little bit. Just a little, I swear.

Really.

If I say it enough times, maybe I'll convince myself. :/

*edit*
SONOFABITCH!
That greedy little fucker ate the goddamn mouse!

The Engineer just went into my room to check on him and reported back that the mouse had vanished. Now, being a mouse of the dead variety, I am assuming it didn't just re-animate itself and is now lurking about in my bedroom somewhere.

Although the idea of that is actually kind of amusing.

Zombie mice. heh.

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January 2011

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