Thursday, February 25, 2010

Less Than Glamorous

Some people, myself included, think keeping and breeding snakes is loads of fun...and it is. But it isn't all sunshine and rosie boas. Take today, for example: I just spent an hour cleaning snake cages...outside... in 30 degree weather. Fun! The plastic tubs, which I had left out overnight to soak, were covered with sheets of ice. While my hands are so frozen from the spray from the high pressure nozzle that I can barely type, my snakes are toasty-warm inside (I have two plastic tubs for each snake, so I can rotate them out for cleaning).
It's not fun, but it has to be done whether it's cold or hot or raining, whether I'm sick or busy with work or just in a lazy mood. It doesn't matter. Part of keeping any pet is responsible ownership and the larger the collection the more work there is. And I'm not done today with my snake-related chores. The plastic tubs need to dry, then I will line each one with newspaper or aspen shavings, clean and refill water bowls and put in new cardboard hide boxes. I'll switch the tubs out of the racks one at a time, moving each snake into a clean tub. Dirty tubs go outside to be cleaned for the next go-round. Later tonight I'll thaw some mice and rats for the 22 hungry mouths I have to feed...but that's a whole other story. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Reptile Expo March 6 & 7

There's a reptile expo coming up on March 6 & 7 in San Antonio. Stop by and check out some sweet captive bred reptiles and talk to the breeders.

Snakes and a Plane

I live in Austin. Last week, as I'm sure all are aware, a disgruntled nutjob named Joseph Stack took his hatred for the IRS and the government to the next level and flew a small plane into a building on highway 183. Almost instantly the internet was abuzz with questions: How could this happen? Why wasn't he required to file a flight plan? How could he get away with this? Why didn't the military shoot down his plane? The person who coined the phrase "the only dumb question is the one you don't ask" obviously never heard these questions in this context. The man was a licensed pilot who was given the right, by civil authorities, to fly. To think that filing a flight plan would have prevented him from simply turning and taking aim is simply naive. Even if there had been a warning, the flight from Georgetown to Austin, which took no more than 10 minutes, would have been over before a military jet could have gotten off the ground. It has even been suggested that someone should have been scouring the internet and flagged this person as a possible risk to public safety. Even if this had been the case, his manifesto doesn't read that differently than many political pundits whose opinions are spread far and wide on the World Wide Web. What does all this have to do with snakes? There will always be criminals, nutjobs, psychopaths. Your children are more likely to be killed by a drunk driver than by a terrorist attack, an exotic animal or a killer asteroid. That is the truth. It's the things we take for granted that kill us. There are millions of responsible pet owners in this country. We all have to take responsibility for our actions but we should not be punished for the actions of foolish people who have no regard for law, ethics, morality or common sense. When a drunk driver kills a car full of innocent people do we attack the person who sold him the car? Do we attack the company who bottled the beer? Do we attack the DMV who licensed him to drive? Or perhaps the police officer who didn't notice that he was driving drunk? No. We single him out and hold him accountable for his actions and so it should be. If we live in fear every day and try to shield ourselves behind all manner of law, no matter how ineffectual, we have given up freedom. Terrorism has won. We have become a terrified nation and that will lead us to make the worst kinds of mistakes.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Reptile Presentations

It's time to schedule reptile presentations! If you're a teacher, faculty member or PTA member of an Austin area school and you'd like to have me come to your school next year please contact me. I also still have some dates available for this year.

I can also tailor a presentation for birthday parties, scout groups and other events.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Breeding Season

As of today, it's been exactly one month since I brought my snakes out of the brumation closet. Metabolisms seem to be in full swing for most of my collection and three of the six females I hope to breed this season have started their first post-brumation shed cycle. Once they shed I will start introducing their respective mates. If all goes well we'll have more clutches from the two pairs of Hondurans that bred for me last year. Their are also two more Honduran females and a pair of California kings that I hope will produce for me this year. We should see the first breeding within about ten days or so, much earlier than last year.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Python/Cobra Hybrids on the History Channel

In a recent program that aired on the History Channel, one that was full of sensational errors and propaganda, some bozo speculated that the feral pythons in the Florida Everglades might mate with cobras (which MIGHT also have escaped in the area), creating a new giant super-snake. I'd like to address this right now: it isn't possible. Pythons and cobras are genetically incompatible. Ask any biologist who knows anything about reptiles, and they'll tell you that that's about as likely as a human and a squirrel hybridizing. You can certainly mix python species with one another (and even then, not all are compatible) and the same with cobras and related species, but pythons and's not going to happen.
If you don't believe me, then riddle me this: pythons and cobras both come from Africa and Asia and can be found in the exact same geographical locations, yet, in millions of years they have never hybridized. So, sorry, Monster Quest, but the super-snake you're hoping to find is hanging out with the other creatures from your show—El Chupucabra, the Loch Ness monster, Big Foot, Mothman, Champy and the like—in your imagination.