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Winter In The Herp Room

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Posted by Glenn Bartley on January 14, 2002 at 08:25:31:

Well here he is again - Old Man Winter has arrived. He dumped his first snowfall in my neck of the concrete jungle yesterday, not much but it did cover the ground and make things look nice. The birds have been enjoying the suet/seed cakes I put out in the back yard for them. It's been visited by mostly sparrows, until a few days ago when a small flock of cardinals showed up. I never knew they traveled in groups larger than pair, but every time they show up there is about 6 - 8 of them. Maybe a family group - I don't know because I don't know much about birds.

Reptiles and amphibians are more up my alley, but right now many of mine are in brumation (sort of hibernation but for the scaly and slimy sorts). My pair of Desert Kings have been resting in a cool nook of the basement for a few weeks now. My Eastern Milk Snake, and Common Garter Snake are doing likewise. Oh did I forget my Sinaloan (or Pueblan, or Connant's)? He is brumating too. I hope that when he comes around in the spring he is not too confused as to what he is like I am. I was told by the guy who gave him to me in a trade for a Gopher Snake some years ago, that he is a Sinaloan. It does not look Sinaloan to me, more dirty Pueblan because of lots of tipping. Then again he does look just like pictures of Connant's Milk Snakes I have seen. Oh well, hopefully he will not develop a split personality. I imagine that my Yellow Rat snake may be doing the same - that is brumating, but since he escaped about a month ago - I really don't have a clue! I am pretty sure he is still in the house as it was too cold for him to venture out the day he escaped, and has been cool to cold ever since. About a week ago, I heard a loud hiss from the shelves that I keep most of my animal tanks on, I figure it was him or a ghost. I am hoping for the former - but then again a ghost might liven the place up a bit!

Things are pretty slow in the snake room, err boiler room, err back part of my basement. There are of course a bunch of snakes that I keep active throughout the winter. For instance, my Ball Pythons are active. It stays pretty warm back there near the boiler during the winter. That old boiler seems to be constantly turning on and drinking up oil like it was soda pop to keep my poorly insulated brick house warm (what can I say it is an old house). At least the snakes back there stay nice and warm. That goes for the baby snakes too - consisting of: Black Rat Snakes, African House Snakes, Western Hognose Snakes, and a lone Black Thayeri (Thayer's Kingsnake {black phase}). The Musk turtle is also active all year - he wouldn't care if the boiler ever kicked in; it could drop to 55 degrees Fahrenheit down there and he would still love it. The lone amphibian in the group is a Fire Bellied Toad who also does not mind it when it cools off a bit. He is upstairs though, in my 12 year old son's room - sort of the test program to see if my son will be responsible enough to have a snake up there. So far the frog has been up there for about 2 months with no escapes, a well cleaned tank, and lots of food. Someone is becoming a responsible young fellow, and by this spring those Hognose snakes may make their way to his room.

Of course I have found a way to liven things up a bit in the snake room over winter - I started keeping mice again. The wife surely doesn't go for the male mouse odor, but I am keeping them really clean and hoping that she will tolerate them until warmer weather when I can put them out in the garage or backyard shed. Right now they are helping the cause by making lots of baby mice to feed the baby snakes. While they make breed like mice, they surely don't supply enough offspring to feed all 12 baby snakes. Since I just ran out of frozen that means I have to make a trip to pick up some more from a local supplier. No pet shop mice if I can avoid it. The frozen ones I get, are from a reputable source, and the cost is lots cheaper than pet shop prices - less than 1/4 the price. With all that money I am saving by buying frozen, I may be able to buy some new stock before this spring - some nice breeding sized adult whatever. Hmm that means I'll need another tank or two, more screen tops and heat pads, substrate, maybe a new book on care and breeding on whatever I select - and holy cow that means I'll have to go to another herp show. Thank goodness I have lots of time on my hands because some of the snakes are brumating - just don't tell my wife or I'll miss the herp show because I'll be painting the living room.

all rights reserved by Glenn R. Bartley 01/08/2002

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