Nearly Wordless Wednesday: How a Snake Eats a Rat

What? You thought I was kidding? I’m not. Here’s a cute image so people don’t stroke out from seeing a snake in their inbox. If you don’t love snakes, don’t click past the picture of the dog wearing glasses. Consider yourself warned!

Dottie the Therapy Dog is so ready to write her book. It's a tail-wagging saga of a chicken biscuit.

Dottie the Therapy Dog is so ready to write her book. It’s a tail-wagging saga of a chicken biscuit.

I got to feed a Green Tree Python yesterday (Morelia viridis, also affectionately known as a Chondro). They’re just so elegant, I took a few pictures. My Twitter friends convinced me to share them.

Click on the images to enlarge them.

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Tiny Hatchling

Oh, my gosh! Last week was the best week! I had an egg. Well, not me, exactly. One of my Mossy Leaf Tail Geckos (Uroplatus sikorae) at the zoo where I work laid an egg in December, right around my birthday (thanks, little buddy!). This species is from a cooler part of Madagascar, in the rain forest, and putting the egg into our standard incubators at 84 degrees would cook it. 74 degrees is the highest temperature, but finding a spot that stays 74 degrees is tricky. I found a ledge in a building that stayed 76 this winter. The building is made of stone, so the ledge stayed somewhere in the neighborhood of 70-74. Unfortunately, with inexact temps, hatch dates are hard to predict. 90 days is typical. 90 days came and went. I was beginning to give up. And then I got an email from my boss on my day off (of COURSE it was my day off). I almost skipped out on Good Friday activities with my family to go and visit my new hatchling. I didn’t. I did take my camera the next day, though. You’re welcome.

Can you see him? Or her?

Can you see him? Or her?

Could you see it? There’s a reason they’re called mossy leaf tails.

How about now? SO TINY!

How about now? SO TINY!

They have a little fringe around their faces so they blend in perfectly. How tiny is it? This tiny:

17mm total length. Impressive.

17mm total length. Impressive.

But how does 17mm translate into real life? How small is this critter?

That's my thumb it's sitting on!

That’s my thumb it’s sitting on!

This hatching is the first of this species for me. It’s not endangered yet, but is threatened by slash-and-burn agriculture. It isn’t unheard of for a species with stable numbers to be suddenly found to be endangered a couple of years later.

One last shot for posterity.

My forefinger. Check out that expression! the eyes look white, but that's because the pupils are contracted. At night, they dilate, and those eyes are solid black!

My forefinger. Check out that expression! the eyes look white, but that’s because the pupils are contracted. At night, they dilate, and those eyes are solid black!

This will be the only time I handle this baby for a long time. Their skin is very thin, and they are easily stressed, but they need to be weighed and measured for our record keeping. How much does he weigh? 1 gram. It would take three of him to equal the weight of a penny.

What exciting things happened for you this week?

 

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: It’s Tortoise Hatching Season!

I should clarify. It’s the beginning of hatching season. Breeding starts around June for most of our Malagasy dwarf tortoise species. The eggs are laid, they move to the incubator for a month, then they move to a chiller for another month or two, depending on the species.

Funny story. So, a couple of weeks ago, I looked in the incubator and saw this:

Northern Spider Tortoise (Pyxis arachnoides brygooi). Notice that the egg was actually laid at the end of July.

Northern Spider Tortoise (Pyxis arachnoides brygooi). Notice that the egg was actually laid at the end of July.

The first hatchling of the year! It was terribly exciting, but Spider Tortoises are notorious for hanging out in the egg for a day or so before emerging, and I was off. I emailed my boss to see how things were going, and he said the hatchling had almost emerged. Yay! The next day, I rushed in, and look! Ta-DA! (you can click on any image to enlarge)

I snapped a few more closeups, and then I took one of the whole box of eggs. Do you see what I see?

Uh, could it be THE WRONG EGG?

Uh, could it be THE WRONG EGG?

I looked again. Indeed, the tiny tortoise hanging out like it was no thing was a different species. My lovely little Northern Spider Tortoise had missed “First Hatchling” status, but more than that, I was worried that something had gone wrong and perhaps I had lost it. The Boss (he really hates when I call him that) recommended spraying the egg heavily. That indicates to the hatchling that it is the rainy season. So I did. And two hours later…

The actual first hatchling was a Common Spider Tortoise (don’t let the word “common” fool you; they’re critically endangered). These two have since been joined by two more Northern Spider Tortoises, and there are two more trays ready to hit the incubator next week. We’re hoping for a great year.

The DIY Tip That Home Depot Didn’t Tell You

A garden hose is one of the tools I use daily. I have a tip you may not have heard from Lowe’s or The Home Depot.

A hose will work better and have greater water pressure if there is not a 523lb giant tortoise standing on it.

 

He looks pleased with himself, doesn't he? It took 15 minutes of scratching his neck to get him to finally move. Every week, Al? Really?

He looks pleased with himself, doesn’t he? It took 15 minutes of scratching his neck to get him to finally move. Every week, Al? Really?

You heard it here first.

 

Love tortoise and turtles and want to aid in their conservation? Enjoy a glass of wine? Shop here! Each bottle sold raises money for the Turtle Survival Alliance, an organization committed to zero turtle and tortoise extinctions in the 21st century.

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Lessons Learned

Life has a way of teaching us what we need to know if only we are paying attention. Some lessons are easy; some we learn have to learn the hard way.

Intriguing. Watson, take notes...

“Hey, little buddy! Let’s play!”

Today, Pixel learned about stinkbugs. Yo, fuzz-face! There’s a reason they’re called that!

UUUGH!

“Oh, $%#!”

It looks like she’s learned her lesson.

That was terrible! I wonder if they only smell bad on Wednesdays...

That was terrible! HORRIBLE!  They can’t always be that nasty.  Hmmm….I think maybe they only smell bad on Wednesdays.

But I wouldn’t count on it.

 

Hey, listen. If you entered my drawing for the ebook and grand prize back in November, be sure to check the email you used when you entered. We’re trying to get in touch with the winner. Beth B, are you out there?

 

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Pixel Gets a Job and a Winner

A couple of months ago I announced a giveaway for a remarkable debut novel. And then I took an unannounced break from blogging due to carpal tunnel. My bad. And then we adopted Pixel’s sister, Bellatrix, which brings the cat-count up to four. Cat food is expensive, so I decided it was time for Pixel to get a job. She decided she’d like to be a life-coach because she likes telling people what to do, so I said to myself “Self, why don’t you combine the giveaway with Pixel’s career aspirations and let HER pick the winner?” Good enough!

Now, Rafflecopter did its little job and picked three names for us. They are:

Very Bangled

Beth B.

Linda G.

Pixel’s assignment was to choose the grand prize winner. The name of each winner was written on the bottom of a different color Christmas bow – her favorite toy of all time. All she had to do was pick one up.

 

She looks ready, doesn't she?

She looks psychotic  ready, doesn’t she?

Sometimes I forget she has the work ethic if a cat.

Taking a break. Is it time for lunch?

Taking a break. Is it time for lunch?

 

10 minutes, a quart of catnip,  and endless attempts later, nothing doing. Pixel was summarily released from her contract. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t care. But wait! Who is that in the wings, ready to pounce? It’s BLOSSOM! 15 years old and ready to do the job! (click to enlarge)

Very Bangled and Linda, you guys win e-copies of Mixed Feelings. Beth, you win the grand prize pack! Congratulations!

Kate from Candlemark & Gleam will be in touch via the email address you guys used to enter the drawing. Thanks for playing! And worry about Pixel. She still gets to tell me what to do.