Jul. 15th, 2010

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The little guy, Slartibartfast (Barti), is about 3x as big as this now, but of course I have no recent pictures. Plus he is not looking so good lately, in large part because I haven't apparently ever taken care of him properly. I had been keeping his habitat similar to the corn snake, following the example my ex set. Turns out that corn snakes are native to temperate climates, and pueblan milk snakes to tropical climates, so Barti's been about 10 degrees too cold for his entire life. Which is why he's had intermittent problems with shedding his entire life, as well.

Recently the intermittent shedding problems that Barti had turned into one completely failed shed, wherein he retained his eyecaps and most of his dead skin. Because he retained his eyecaps, he had some trouble seeing, which meant that he was reluctant to eat. Not eating resulted in dehydration, which caused his next shed to fail, which caused him to be more blind, and so on and so forth. The end result is that he looked like utter crap, with several layers of unshed skin, milky white eyecaps, and wrinkly from dehydration, like his skin was too loose.

So I took him to the vet, and she gave me some advice on home care and the proper husbandry for him, and he's on his way to recovery. I'm soaking him for 45 minutes a day to rehydrate him and loosen up his dead skin, and have ordered the proper equipment to keep him at a tropical temperature. Also, my vet taught me a new trick to encourage him to eat: I'm now "braining" his mice, which means using a paring knife to cut their widdle skulls open and expose their tasty brains. The snake can smell this and it makes him more likely to strike. This doesn't bother me in the least, in small part because the mice are quite small and are pre-killed when I get them, and in large part because I just have a very high tolerance to animal carnage. I'd already been doing something similar to encourage both snakes to eat- I thaw the animals in hot water so they are closer to body temperature, and when I dry them off, I roll their bodies around a bit so that some blood squishes out of the nose and the snake can smell that. This is just an extra step.


PBRs is also twice as big as this, now. I really need to take some new pictures. So this guy is relatively healthy- he also had a bit of a problem shed the other week, but I was able to just put him in the bathtub with warm water and grasp him with both hands as he tried to crawl away. This basically resulted in a sort of wet-massage that got any remaining skin off. I'm also constructing a sort of "humidity hide" for both snakes, that is basically a tupperware box with a hole cut in the lid filled with eco-earth or sphagnum moss, both of which retain water nicely and are mold resistant. This way they can crawl in there when they are ready to shed and stay relatively dry the rest of the time, since extended periods at a high humidity can cause all kinds of other skin problems in snakes.

I cleaned PBRs cage out last night because it simply had to be done. I'd let it go a little longer than I should have, and his corner of the living room was beginning to smell. I at this time do not have any sort of alternate enclosure to keep him in while I clean out his cage, as he's outgrown every kind of temporary cage I've ever bought. Generally I get someone to hang onto him or keep an eye on him while I do what I need to do, and when I'm alone I just put him around my neck and multitask. Well this time I did not have anyone around to help, meaning I had to hang onto him while I cleaned his cage, and he was clearly ready to poop since he ate just a week ago, so the whole thing was very nervewracking.

If you've never been exposed to snake shit, especially not of the size that a 4.5-foot snake produces, well, then you're lucky. They only have one hole- the cloaca- for urine, feces, and genital storage, and both urine and feces all spray out at once, and it smells like a combination of rotten fish and hot garbage. It's not something you want on yourself or your possessions.

I miraculously made it through the whole process without him shitting on me, and wrestled him back into his cage. PBRs, like many corn snakes, is very active and curious, and doesn't usually want to go back "home" after he's been allowed out to explore. Anyway, once I got him back in, he started checking out his new habitat, which has a new humidity hide and fresh bedding. I sat on the couch to relax and watched him cruise around.

Which is when he came right to the front of the cage and positioned his body so that his cloaca was facing me. He then proceeded to squirt out approximately a gallon of urine in a stream that traveled a good 8 inches, thoroughly soiling a good third of the new bedding I'd just put in, and then shot a rat-sized missile of feces out of himself with such force and speed that it made an audible thump when it hit the wall of the aquarium and ricocheted back into his water dish several inches away.

Thanks for the show, dude.

It was my ex's idea to have all these reptiles, but I got attached to them and have been more than happy to continue caring for them after the breakup rather than place them. In fact I think at this point placing them would involve some significant heartbreak for me. I never was a reptile person before and had no idea I could feel so strongly about an animal that didn't cuddle.
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The dive bar/diner my ex boyfriend (a different one, btw, than the one who was partially eaten by the burmese python) burned down is FINALLY REOPENING THIS WEEKEND.

I will not be there. I will be beach camping with good friends and dogs. But damn it, I will be getting 'faced on a weeknight in that shitty little back room soon enough.

Hurrah for the return of A.M. Happy Hour! And never let Kegan into your blessed kitchen again!

(Sorry Keg0r. But srsly, YOU BURNT DOWN THE FUCKING REEF.)


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