Jailbreak snake

There’s a reason “Houdini” is the most popular name for ball pythons; ball pythons are escape artists par excellence. We don’t have pythons in the store – they’re against the city bylaws – but we found out that other snakes can be just as dedicated at getting out and disappearing from view.

A banded California king snake, locked into a glass terrarium, simply vanished. The terrarium lid was clipped on, the doors closed, latched and locked. David and Victoria looked up along the top edge of the terrarium (where snakes like to lurk) and under the water bowl, and even sifted through the mulch bedding with their hands. Nothing. Nada. Zip, Zilch. The snake was gone – poof! – vanished. It had crawled into a hole and pulled the hole in after it.

Forty-eight hours later, there it was, back in the terrarium, which was still closed, latched, locked and clipped.

Where had it gone? Nobody knows. I would like to be able to report that when it returned, it brought ballpoint pens, car keys and odd socks with it. I mean, it obviously disappeared somewhere, and the black hole that swallows socks and keys and pens seems the obvious choice. Alas, no pens. No socks. But the snake came back, and that’s the main thing.

Its new owner picked it up the same day.

I don’t know if he’s named it Houdini.

Ferrets and lizards and snakes, oh, my!

Yesterday we drove down to Sudbury to pick up an order of reptiles and four baby ferrets. The ferrets are all neutered and come with a certificate of health.

David and I used to breed ferrets, although we haven’t had any of our own now for close to fifteen years. Sky had never been as close to one as she was to the four in the cat carrier on the way home. Perhaps that’s one reason why she was so eager to be in the lap of the person in the passenger seat!

Spook, my orange cat, was also not impressed. “There are weasels in my house!” he said. He wasn’t really happy until they left with David this morning. Even now he’s still being a clingy cat.

The reptiles are gorgeous – a sunbeam snake, a red-tailed green rat snake,  a pipe snake, a Fischer’s chameleon, a sailfin dragon and a water monitor. We also got a few more whiptail scorpions, which are not scorpions, but get the name because of the way they look. These are really cool, interesting non-venomous arthropods.

This is the pipe snake. It’s about 12-14″ long right now. Our supplier had some together in one container and said one of them tried to eat another. We’re offering earthworms, as long, thin things seem to trigger the impulse to eat. There’s an orange spot on the nose, and another on the tail, which is blunt and rounded, rather than tapering. The pipe snake doesn’t want you to know which end is which!

The red-tailed green rat snake is about three feet long. We always figured this animal was named by someone who’d been in the rainforest so long that anything that wasn’t actually green looked like red to them. The tail-tip is really a warm grey colour, and the forked tongue is blue. These snakes put out their tongues and do a slow flicker, rather than a fast one, which is quite unusual.

The Fischer’s chameleon is in very good shape, plump and active.

The sailfin dragon is rather like a Chinese water dragon in terms of care and feeding – this one is skittish and will nerd gentling.

The water monitor is quite calm. He’s fairly small right now, perhaps 12″ nose-to-vent, but he’s going to be seven to nine feet long when full-grown and he’ll need a lot of heat. 

And here’s a picture of the whiptail scorpion.

The ones we now have are rather small, but they’ll grow.

The reptile section is looking a lot better than it has at any time since we moved. Things are coming along. And, oh, yes, we do have crickets again. Right now we’re limiting the numbers people can buy just so we can make them last. With any luck at all, the cricket situation will be back to normal in a few months.

And, just because I now have it, here’s a picture of the pygmy chameleon!

Welcome to the Hotel Animalia

One of the things we started early on in the life of the store was a boarding service. Several customers complained that if they went away, there was nobody reliable to take care of their bird, ferret, or – surprise – snake.
We said, “We can do that!”
We don’t board cats or dogs, but we’ve had snakes, lizards, birds, rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs and fish. Yes, fish!

A gentleman came into the store a few years ago and announced that he had three discus which he’d owned for five years. He had to go to Europe on business, and he didn’t trust any of his family to be able to care for the fish. Would we do it?

We cleared a tank for his fish. Discus are a South American cichlid, and as adults they can be six, sometimes even eight, inches across. These three were almost five inches across, and beautifully marked. For two months we kept them, checking their pH daily.
Daily, and several times daily, we also had to tell people that they weren’t for sale. It’s the “instant gratification” gene – instead of buying a toonie-sized discus and raising it to adult size, people like to have the adult ones now.

We could have sold those fish ten times over in the time we had them. But we resisted, oh, yes. Their owner was delighted to find them alive and happy when he returned, and they’re still occasionally guests at the “Hotel Animalia”.

Other regulars are Kivi, a Senegal parrot, April, a sweet and gentle rabbit, and Eragon, a bearded dragon. Once or twice we also kept Cato, a Congo African Grey, whose vocabulary and obvious intelligence were impressive.

Oh, and you can check out any time you like.
But you’ll be back.