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!
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.
Last year, a mother Carolina wren made a wonderful nest on my back porch. For two weeks, we watched the parents tend to their youngsters. I don’t know a lot about this species, so those twelve days of observation taught me a lot. For example, in that very short period of time, the chicks grow tremendously. At the end of twelve days, they are almost as big as their parents. But though they are adult-size, mom and dad don’t expect them to behave like grown-ups. Even when the babies are so large that the nest is literally bursting at the seams, the parents tend them carefully. Then they bring them from the nest and begin teaching them to fly, letting them take little flights from branch to branch to strengthen their wings. Now this process has a whole new meaning for me.
My house is quiet this morning. For the second time in three days, I made a pre-dawn trip to a rendezvous point to drop off a child for a trip. The girl-child went on a mission trip to the inner-cities of Philadelphia, and the Padawan left this morning in a convoy of 41 buses to visit our nation’s capitol with the Safety Patrol. My chicks are making their test flights, stretching their wings and discovering the world beyond mom and dad. It’s exciting, it’s terrifying,
it’s expensive. Since big brother and sister got to take big trips, Squish’s grandmother invited him to her house for some adventures of his own. He left last night. Suddenly my nest that was so cramped feels big. It feels empty.
I’ve been reminded lately of how brief my time raising kids actually is. The oldest is a year away from being on her own. Today, with the house so quiet I can hear the refrigerator hum, I have a glimpse of what my life will be like in a few short years. It’s my day off, and I am alone. Now I am asking the inevitable question. What do I do when there is no one asking for a hug or a lightsaber duel, no one to take to the zoo or to the park, no one looking to me to meet a need? What do I do?
And the answer is: Any ever-lovin’ thing I want. How about popcorn and a MoonPie for breakfast?
We’ve talked about it for years. We both wanted to do it. We would do it. Someday we would pack our gear and get it done. On Saturday, someday arrived. We hiked to the peak of Mt LeConte.
For weeks prior, I was plagued by doubts. LeConte is the third highest peak in the Smoky Mountains. We’ve done the Alum Cave Bluff portion a year and a half ago, and I remember it being a real challenge. This time around, we would be in the company of the Padawan’s Webelos den. Would I be able to keep up with the kids? Would I be that mom who slowed the whole group down? I didn’t want to ruin it for my husband or my son, especially since our den leader had planned the whole trip so he could award the boys their Webelos rank at the top of the mountain. It was a big deal.
Husband and I had some disagreements prior to stepping off the trail. I let him win on both counts, but I still resent it a little. He talked me out of taking my “real” camera, and I had to settle for my daughter’s point-and-shoot. He also balked when I packed my book in my backpack. “You’re not going to have time to read, and you’ll be sorry for the extra weight.” Yeah. I did, and I wouldn’t have. But whatever.
On the way up, I couldn’t stop smiling. It’s not every day I get to cross something off The Dream List. The trail was so much easier than I remembered, maybe because I didn’t have a thirty pound preschooler dangling off my back this time. We got to Alum Cave much faster than I expected, and it was actually fun. It wasn’t a fear of heights that made our last trip so terrifying, it was a fear of Squish plummeting off the side of the mountain. No Squish, no worries.
We tagged about 1/10th of a mile behind the Padawan’s group, well ahead of the middle-of-the-pack. My husband and I hiked essentially in solitude. We talked. We are at our most honest on the trail. Being in the moment brings the things that matter into clearer focus. We can solve the world’s problems at 6,000 feet. As the path grew more difficult, the talking stopped, and our thoughts turned inward.
We hit the top after just under three hours of hiking. Actually, we hit it sooner than that, but we missed the trail to the lodge and kept hiking another 1/4 mile before I realized our mistake and we got turned around. While we waited for the last group, we took a side trip to the actual peak.
I must have framed a thousand shots that I did not take. The breathtaking peaks and valleys; tiny deer mice scurrying across the trail; tangles of tree roots spilling downhill like so much water; my husband, rosy-cheeked and smiling, mist hanging over the hills; my son grinning with the triumph of 11 conquered miles. I carry those images in my heart.
Remember this guy?
The next day, this is what it looked like.
I would show you a photo of the finished product, but I can’t. Because there are eight of them now, and I have no idea which is which. Eight. I was pretty wrong. And there are still a couple of eggs that might hatch. We’re almost at 50% as it is. Not bad considering their story.
Full to the top with cute? Ready for that to-go box? Coming right up.
This post is for my friend, sj. I hope she knows why. All the purty turtles to you, sj!
Remember our little friend from Thursday’s post? It looked as though a handful of other eggs had the potential to hatch. Based on egg condition alone, I guessed there would be a total of six. I guessed wrong.
The incubator has been busy. There are a few more turtles just waiting to hatch. Click to enlarge the photos.
Looks like my guess was too high, doesn’t it? Wait.
Overnight, three other turtles hatched, so we’ve got four that have completely emerged, and three others that are on their way. Plus any surprises that get thrown out there. If you only click on one to enlarge, click on the left. It is hard to appreciate the weirdness in a thumbnail.
And let’s not forget this guy.
Here’s an upclose and personal of his egg-tooth. He used that to shred the egg in order to make his escape.
I’ll be watching the clutch with even greater interest over the next few days. Who knows what miracles will emerge?
I’ll keep you posted!
Sometimes bad things happen. This summer, I have been able to watch as an unfortunate circumstance was made right.
Turtles and tortoises are pretty much hard-wired to do what they were made to do – find food, find shelter, mate, lay their eggs, hibernate, repeat. Being so instinctive has helped them to survive for a very long time, but sometimes those instincts work against them. They don’t adapt quickly to changes in their environment, such as roads intersecting their nesting routes.***
This summer, a female common snapping turtle, Chelydra serpentina serpentina, was struck by a car and killed while crossing a road. A quick-thinking observer picked up the turtle and took it to the local vet school. The turtle turned out to be a gravid (egg-carrying) female. Her eggs were promptly removed and were brought to the zoo for incubation.
Incubating reptile eggs is a trickier business than hatching other critters. When the eggs are retrieved from a nest, they must remain in the exact position in which they were found. If they are turned, the embryos can separate from the egg and drown. They need to come with a giant “This end up!” sticker.
I don’t have a lot of experience with turtle eggs. I’m a tortoise gal, myself. When I looked at these eggs, I didn’t have a whole lot of hope. So many of the eggs were dented, and those bright white spots are calcifications. Weird. But It have learned enough to know that we will always err on the side of caution. The eggs were carefully placed in vermiculite and set up for incubation.
The eggs were also candled. Candling is when a light is shined through the egg to check for any development.
As expected, no development was noted. It would be very unlikely to see growth in recently-laid eggs, anyway, so the eggs were incubated with crossed fingers.
A few weeks later, the eggs were candled again.
Holy cow! Several of the eggs showed signs of development.
Yesterday, I got an email telling me there was someone waiting to meet you all.
Click to enlarge any of them you’d like to see more closely.
Looking at the tray of eggs, I would guess there are at least five others that will hatch. How soon? Hopefully really soon. Once the babies have emerged, they will stay at the zoo only a week or two before they are released back into the wild. They know all that they need to know to survive. That’s where the hard-wiring has the advantage.
I hope to post updates and pictures of any subsequent hatchings.. Fingers crossed that a few more make it. About 70% of nests in the wild are lost to predation, so this little guy is ahead of the game, despite its precarious entry into the world.
***Turtles sometimes cross roads to get to and from breeding grounds. If you ever find a turtle walking across a road and want to help it, put it across the road in the direction it was facing. If you put it back where it came from, it will only turn around and head back to where its homing device is telling it to go. Also, don’t stop in the middle of a busy, busy road. You’ll both get squashed.
Remember my little friend? I dropped it in a pot of dirt like a hot potato and haven’t touched it since. Or even looked at it until yesterday. It looks kind of the same as it did two months ago, actually. See? Then:
I may be sick…
No, you’re not in the wrong place. It’s still a family blog.
Look what I found yesterday in a cooler on my back porch.
A closer look? Okay, then.
Click to enlarge. The gallery pics show up tiny, but the photos themselves have some great detail. I love my new camera!
My mother has a great deal of experience with birds, and she believes that they have just hatched, and she’s probably right. There’s not a single feather on these little nekkid chicks! I am trying to figure out the species. It’s a tiny one. I know because mother bird and I scared the poop out of one another, and she flew right by my head.
I love that she has built her nest inside a cooler. The temperature will stay nice and cozy without getting too hot. Who says they are bird-brains? And here’s proof that most birds have a poor sense of smell. I use that cooler to feed a snake.
* * *
On a totally different note, I am preparing my first review post for our awesome children’s book club. It should go live on Monday. If you have already done a post about a favorite kids’ book, send the link to me so I can include it in the post. If you want to do one, include a link to Monday’s post somewhere in yours, and a link to your post will appear as a trackback. That way we can all find each other’s awesome children’s reads.
Also, you are welcome to click the Goodreads widget in the right hand column and join the club On Goodreads. Until that site is completely taken over by
Amazon Zombies same diff a huge, multinational corporation and we are forced to hold meetings in my playhouse. I’ll make the gingerbread.
Remember my best decorating scheme ever? Things are happening there.
Click to enlarge. It’s insane!
My kid has the coolest teacher. Look what else is growing in her classroom!