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Posted by Bill Miller on October 04, 1997 at 11:30:53:
SEQUEL TO "REPTILE NOSTALGIA"
October 4, 1997
"REPTILE NOSTALGIA", as posted previously, was written in June, 1996. It was a terrible place to stop, as I had 41 day old eggs, and the article did not indicate whether or not they had hatched. But the story was available, and I posted it. I have now had so many inquiries that I have written this sequel.
The big day came on July 4, 1996. A little head poked through one of the shells, and came all the way out later in the day. I put the baby in a shoe box on a damp paper towel. Hatching continued through July 9. There was a mystery during this phase. We discovered empty shells but no hatchlings. Had the babies somehow escaped? My wife's reaction at this phase was interesting. She is not interested in snakes and even expresses some aversion to snakes. But she couldn't stay away from the hatching. One day, as we were staring at the empty egg shells, my wife took the back end of an artists paint brush and stirred with an upward motion through the vermiculite and brought up 2 baby snakes - then 2 more. The little rascals had burrowed under the vermiculite. This continued throughout the hatching period. We ended with 14 baby corn snakes. This represented the achievement of one of my objectives. I had raised corn snakes from hatchlings to adults, bred them, and hatched out their babies. The remaining objective was to do the same thing with California Kings.
Now what do we do with the babies? In the old days I would have given anything to have even one corn snake. (I did buy one once for 2 or 3 dollars and this exhausted all my resources). Now I had adults and 14 babies. First I had to get them feeding defrosted pinkies. This was a snap with some of them. Others required all kinds of tricks. But I did succeed with all of them. I ended up giving some away, selling some to pet shops, and holding 3 which I raised to juveniles.
MID ATLANTIC REPTILE SHOW - ‘96
I had always liked milk snakes, although I had no experience with them from the old days. Now in these days of herpetoculture there are varieties available that seemed even more desirable. So I did it. I bought 1 male and 2 female Sinaloans.
THE CALIFORNIA KINGS
You may recall that I had a male normal phase and a female desert phase. My male fed and grew very well, but the female was a bit finicky, and did not grow as well. I found an adult male desert phase at a show at a very reasonable price and bought it. Then I sold my beautiful normal phase to a breeder. This was not easy on me, as I had raised him from a hatchling and loved him. But there are limitations on space and on funds for feeding. Now I had male and female desert phase. Now here comes the sad part. The female stopped eating defrosted frozen mice, but would eat live. This is not feasible for me. So I sold them both to a breeder who feeds live. At this stage I had no California Kings - and this had been one of the two objectives I had set.
WINTER ‘96 - ‘97
I hibernated the corns and fed the Sinaloans (the 2 which would eat). One of the females I had bought would not eat anything. I pulled all the tricks I knew. I stuffed it with mouse tails for several months. The breeder was very cooperative. He took the snake back and got it feeding on live pinkies. This is still the situation and is intolerable.
I also continued to feed the 3 juvenile corn snakes which had hatched the previous summer, and they grew extremely quickly. I gave away two to grandchildren and retained one.
In the spring I bred the corn snakes again.
SUMMER OF ‘97
The corn snakes did well. They laid eggs and I got a good hatch rate.
The one juvenile I retained from last year's hatchlings has grown to near- adult size, and has the most beautiful coloration I have ever seen. It is absolutely dazzling in brilliance of color. I would love to propagate this characteristic. This has influenced my disposal of this year's hatchlings. I handled it as I did last year except that this year I am retaining 9 babies. They are just developing their color, and I have no idea whether any of them will display the coloration of their sister from last year.
During the past year I have learned a great deal about California Kings. I decided that what I really want is 50 - 50 desert phase. I bought them at the ‘97 Mid Atlantic Reptile Show- 1 male and 2 females. They are large for hatchlings, and are feeding at a terrific rate. They will be ready for breeding in the spring of ‘99.
I had 2 objectives: to raise, breed, and hatch babies from corn snakes and California King snakes. I have achieved this with corns, but not yet with Cal- Kings.
I feel that it was appropriate to post the original "Reptile Nostalgia" because it showed the contrast between the old days and the present. But this sequel merely indicates the kind of thing any hobbyist in this field might experience, and, as such, hardly warrants posting. But, as I indicated at the beginning, I have done it bring the situation up-to-date for the many people who have inquired about it.
In the future I will not bore you with a blow by blow description of my adventures with snakes. However, because one of my objectives remains unsatisfied, I will write sequel 2 when the California King Snake eggs hatch. This is scheduled for summer of 1999. I will do this if this web site and I are still alive at that time.