Current Pets

NOTE: I've decided that rather than constantly tweak the initial section of this page, I'll simply add updates at the bottom. If you've already read the start of this, you can always jump to:

If you've somehow made it here without reading about my experiences with furry pets, you can always click here to find out why my husband told me, "No more pets." If you already know, or the past is unimportant to you (in this case, it doesn't really matter, I suppose), let's just jump right in.

I'll get it over with quickly. I have snakes. Three, to be exact. Corn snakes. Elaphe gutatta. I like 'em, they're great, and if you don't have any sympathy for reptiles, please, feel free to split.

Still here? Good. Sorry if I sounded a bit defensive. Okay, a lot defensive. I get tired of people commenting, "Oooooooooooo, who could ever like snakes?" Or the equally-frequent, "What kind of (person/freak/maniac) would own a snake?" Well, I do. They are some of my pets.

If you read the account of our Tulsa trip, you probably remember that we discussed the impending hatching of Amy's snake Slippy's eggs, collectively referred to as "The Slippettes." At that particular moment, I was merely excited for my friend. Her first grand-herps, as it were. I'll admit, I never considered getting one for myself. However, the "No Pets" thing was beginning to drag at my soul. I thought, okay, fine, I can manage one little snakelet. After all, it won't make noise, won't shed hairs all over the place, won't make a mess.... Amy let me have my pick. I was afraid of the tiniest ones (sorry, Amy, I'm a geeb at heart, I guess, though I've gotten over it by now!), so I chose one of the biggest Slippettes. Oh, sure, like a pencil is big.... I named it "Mazola." Okay, it's lame, I admit it. Corn snake, Mazola, get it? Anyway, in due time, I learned Mazola is female. She's of a fairly normal coloration. Sometime soon I'll have reasonably good photos to put up, but for now, you'll have to search the net for a picture, or refer to Michael J. McEachern's A Color Guide to Corn Snakes. Zola's now three feet long, and an absolute peach.

Well, Amy warned me. I didn't believe her. There's no way I'm infected with herps.... (smile, people. it's a joke.) Yeah, right. Mazola wasn't enough anymore, once I saw Slippy's sister Alice's clutch. Had to have another one. A beautiful little babe named The Shadow, for her coloration. She's what's called "anerythrystic." That's "black, white, and gray," to you and me. She's maybe eighteen inches long right now.

Yeah, that's enough snakes, I kept saying. Then, at the Kansas City Herp Society show last October, I fell in love. A ghost corn. Good golly Miss Molly. I should've bought it. I went all winter thinking, man, if I only had that ghost corn, my life would be complete. Oh, sure, I really dig Roxanne, the veiled chameleon that I bought at that show, but oh, baby, that ghost corn.... By coincidence, I went to the KCHS show in March. And in a little plastic deli cup, what did I find? G-h-o-s-t c-o-r-n.... His name is Milquetoast. He's terrific. And when he grows up, he's gonna be a very lucky gentleman, since he'll live in a menage-a-trois with the girls.

At this point, it's time to mention that Roxanne, my big, beautiful veiled babe, died. I came home from work one evening, and there she was, laying in the bottom of her house. Oh, man. I debated: immediate burial, or.... In the end, my need-to-know won out. I dissected her. Oh, stop making that face. It's a perfectly legitimate thing to do. I wanted to know why she died. She wasn't eggbound, nor did she have any signs of internal parasites. Might've been old age, or who knows what. -sigh-

Amy offered me her male veiled, George, who simply could not get along with his chick Martha. He's doing great, gaining a bit of weight and flashing those colors all over the place.

George has the upstairs apartment. Downstairs (meaning, on the bottom shelf of the aquarium stand), a new neighbor just moved in. I mean that literally. Tonight, 27 July 1999. A forest hingeback tortoise, kinixys erosa, named Albert. He's still settling in, unpacking the VCR, re-arranging the coffee table books. You know the drill. And I'm pretty sure that George didn't mean anything when he complimented Albert on his collection of rainbows....

Rounding out the reptiles is Leonardo the musk turtle. He dwells in splendor in a ten-gallon aquarium, with lovely climbing rocks so he can bask, a lovely (and necessary, imho!) filter to keep his water relatively clean, and four strange pinkish fish, which were supposed to be dinner when they were tiny, and now provide company, I suppose. The fish have no names.

Last and not least, Sparky the betta has his own good-sized bowl on the pass-through between the living room and the dining room. My husband makes fish-faces at him and feeds him well.

"No pets," huh?

28 August 1999

Well. Since I posted the above, my veiled chameleon George died. I'm not sure what caused it, and I've decided not to try the chameleon thing again any time soon. My husband thinks the cage was too cool for them. I suspect zinc or some other coating on the metal mesh I used to build the cage. Who knows.

Finally got some pics of a couple of the snakes, courtesy of Andrea. Mazola's a peach, isn't she? So is The Shadow. Still no picture of Milquetoast yet. The little weasel was hiding in his aspen, and kept squirming away. He's a bit camera-shy....

28 November 1999

Good grief. It's been three months. And although I feel weird starting with death again, Sparky the betta has gone to that great betta bowl in the sky. I haven't decided if I want to get another. They're beautiful....

Albert's moved into a bigger tub. I think I'm gonna have to cave, and get a 40 breeder tank for him. He's doing well, eats like a pig, and strolls without fear through the reptile room now. When I first got him, he wouldn't move if he heard anything in the room. I found some useful information about caring for a Forest Hingeback on Yertle's page, which I found through the Turtle Homes page. Turtle Homes is a turtle and tortoise preservation group.

Anyway.... I learned some useful info from Yertle's human slaves, and have since tended Albert a little differently. Unlike Yertle, Albert's not a picky eater. He eats everyday. A favorite treat: a Knox gelatin-based mess of strawberries, tomato, zucchini, low-fat canned dog food, and a dash of Reptivite. Give him a scoop of that, and he's face-first into the bowl!

In about two weeks, 'Zola and the young'uns will move into their menage a trois. I've got to pick up a 20L Critter Cage first. Then I can move their empty tanks to the storage room, leaving room on the dresser for a 40BR for Albert.... The real trick is, convincing myself I do not need to fill those empty tanks!

Leonardo's world underwent a great change: My friend Andrea gathered him some minnowlets and some micro-crawdads, for grindage. A day or so later, his filter's motor died. Before I could get another filter, his longtime companions, The Pinkish Fish, all died. Curiously enough, the minnowlets and micro-dads survived.... But Things Are Different in there now. He's eaten several of the micro-dads, which is good. He doesn't seem interested in the minnowlets. Leonardo himself has grown well since I've had him -- he's now about 3" long. Doing pretty good for a musk turtle!

20 April 2000

Been awhile. A couple of updates: All three corn snakes are now living in blissful sin in their 20L. And once again, someone new has moved into the downstairs apartment: Melrose and Beatrice, a pair of sunbeam snakes (xenopeltis unicolor), whom I acquired at the Northern Berks Reptile Show in Hamburg, PA, on 15 April. They're supposedly eating frozen, which is good. I know for an absolute fact that Melrose is eating -- I just fed him, at the same time I was feeding the corns. In separate tubs, of course. I'm not an idiot! Beatrice is being a bit stubborn, but it hasn't been all that long since the long drive back home from Pennsylvania. I'll give her a bit more time before I start worrying! Curious about the names I chose? Well, you wouldn't be, if you ever read anything besides web pages! Try, oh, say, Martha Grimes.... (strong hint, eh?) Albert's doing peachy in his 40BR tank, and enjoys his outdoor walkabouts. Had a couple this year already.

On the subject of Albert, I discovered, much to my dismay, that Yertle, the forest hingeback on whose page I had placed such reliance, died shortly after I found the page! Since some of their recommendations hadn't made a whole lot of sense to me, I decided to chuck a lot of the stuff I read, and use my own common sense. At some point in the near future, I'll actually put a brief care sheet online, I think.

27 April 2000

Well, I wrote something up about Albert's care. He's an interesting little chap. Hope you like reading about him.

23 July 2000

Death, again.

Beatrice died 20 July. She had eaten the previous Thursday, and seemed fine then. But at feeding time on 20 July, she was in such a debilitated condition it was apparent she would die very shortly. Within minutes of being lifted from the moss, as it happens. Many thanks to Terry Thompson, who held my hand over the phone during those few minutes. I have frozen Beatrice, and a few, uh, samples, that extruded from her vent when I gently ran my thumb along her belly, searching for obstructions. I know she was wild-caught, and I know I can't begin to guess why she shriveled away to skin and bones in the course of one week, yet Melrose is hale and hearty still. I hope to have a necropsy performed by a vet who is also a member of the Mid-Missouri Herp Society, if at all possible.

At this particular moment, I'm incredibly depressed.

16 November 2000

Got a couple of pictures of Albert in his backyard playpen.

17 May 2001

Earlier this spring, I acquired another betta. His name is Reggie. He's rather interesting, an unusual (in my experience) coloration: kind of dark gray-blue, with the center area of dorsal and ventral fins a pale gold. He's doing well.

A hearty welcome to Zinger the Easter Frog: a red-legged frog who's a master of escape! He lives in a ten-gallon hexagon tank with some wild violets and a bromeliad for cover. He managed to escape the admittedly flimsy "top" I'd improvised, and was missing for almost a week. Then I happened to stick my finger into my African violet pot, two shelves above Zinger's empty tank, just to check the moisture.... The violet squirmed. [smile] Zinger's now under a hardware-cloth top....

And today I'm breaking the no-hairy-pets rule. I'm bringing home an adorable black bear hamster named Arabella. She's going to live in Leo the musk turtle's old ten-gallon, he's moved uptown to a large plastic tub since his minnow-pals filled his little tank with fry!

18 June 2001

Got a photo of Albert's new walkabout pen online, along with a three-picture mountaineering adventure. Enjoy!

13 August 2001

Nothing much going on. Zinger's ten-gallon hex tank proved too confining, so he's moved into a regular rectangular ten-gallon. With a very secure screen lid.... Arabella's had a couple of adventures, most notably a wild escape from her tank, that lasted over 12 hours, until the little fugitive ran across the living room floor. Bella, Bella, Bella. You're dark, baby girl. The carpet is tan. You really show up well.

22 December 2001

Bella wised up. When she escaped her house over two weeks ago, she apparently headed for the darkest corners of her earth. Haven't seen her. Haven't seen a single "calling card," no chewed towels, nothing. Hope she's happy. [sigh]

10 March 2002

Well, not much to report. Zinger the Easter Frog's first anniversary is coming up! Okay, fine, be picky, it's two months away, but he/she/it is doing great, and I'm still pretty excited to have him/her/it! A second betta has telepathically forced me to bring him home: Alan, a fabulously beautiful guy whose colors defy description. Curiously enough, he also forced me to bring his boyfriend, another betta, who must obviously be Billy.... Some dumbfuck kid dumped them together, into the same tiny cup at the store, and not only did they survive the close encounter of the betta kind, they did not even fight! I take that as a sign, don't you?

28 June 2002

Melrose died. He just stopped eating. It was sad, but he was wild-caught, so I don't have any idea how old he was. In better news, everyone else is doing fine. The Fabulous Betta Boys have a new member, Stuart, named for the Stuart Range Opal Field in Oz, now better known as Coober Pedy. He's the coolest opalescent guy I've ever seen.

13 September 2002

Finally found out what Zinger really is! I was flipping pages in my latest issue of Reptiles magazine, and in the letters section, bingo! A photo of a spotted running frog, which coulda been Zinger's twin!

I'd purchased a hideously-mangled black gerbil at work -- the other gerbils voted him off the island, and decided to kill him when he couldn't actually leave. He was living in Bella's old digs, which I took to the store for him. When I was fired last Friday, I had to bring him home (or leave him and all his belongings at the store; like that was an option!) So, Soot now lives in the herp room, completely unconcerned that death lurks about six feet away, personified by the corns.

Of course, after living in the pet store, he's probably used to death being all around him, eh?

2 April 2003

Been a while, hasn't it? Zinger died, you see. The day after Christmas. It was depressing. I decided I just couldn't write about during the holidays, which I find depressing enough all by themselves. Zinger was a wild-caught adult when I got him, so there's no telling how old he was. He ate fine on Christmas Day, then was dead as a politician's conscience on Boxing Day....

On the plus side, Soot now -- occasionally -- jumps into my hand when I reach in his house. He was extremely leery of contact; of course, if my brothers and sisters had tried to kill me, I'd probably be leery of contact, too.... And he sat right in my hand to eat a sprig of parsley! I reached in to set it down, next thing I know there's a gnawing rodent in my palm! Way cool!

Also, as you see by the discreet banner below, I've added this page to Practical Pet Care. You really should check it out -- it's a helluva resource....

Note: in the waning days of December 2008, Practical Pet Care died. It had become so cumbersome, it simply couldn't be maintained. Still, it was a good run while it lasted!      

26 May 2003 -- Leo's Great Escape

Ay caramba! What a little weasel! On Wednesday, 21 May, I noticed that Leo was hiding a lot, under the rocks, under the filter, etc., so I shifted his hanging plastic cannabis plant to give him a little more shade. As I was messing with the bettas who live on the shelf above him, I heard this weird scrabbling sound.

It was Leo, trying to climb the cannabis. That joke about the birds, saying to each other that they probably should tell the baby turtle that he's adopted, flashed through my mind. Since Leo's never been a climber -- to my knowledge, and I've had him some seven years -- I just told him what a dork he was being, and put him back in his water. Then I had to go run some errands. When I got back....

No Leo.

Took his house apart. Dug under the gravel. Looked under the apartment building (shelf unit). Began to pull everything away from the walls, look under bookcases I couldn't shift and moving everything else I could move. Three hours of searching, and no Leo.

The little weasel.

Posted to Turtle Homes, a terrific list on Yahoo, and found that not only are musk turtles great climbers, but they're fast as lightning. Argh. Wonderful.

Although my house is relatively more organized now, thanks to the frantic clean-and search procedure, I still didn't find him. Then, late yesterday afternoon (being 25 May), my husband yelled something, waking me out of a sound sleep. Hey, I've got a massive cold. Gotta catch those Zs when I can.... Anyway, I thought he was just yelling at some dumb sports thing on tv, so I ignored him. He actually left the television to come in and wake me up. Egad.

Leo had gotten "trapped" in the air vent director, one of those clear plastic thingies that keeps air from going straight up the wall, and he clattered around in his "prison" enough that my husband heard him. Being too wimpy to pick up the whopping three-point-five inch musk turtle, he hauled me outta bed to do it.

Leo's now back in his house, with its lovely new screen and many, many clips.... And, as my nephew said, now we know why they're called "stinkpots."

1 May 2004

I can't believe it's been almost a year since I updated this! Argh! Anyway, sadly, the bettas Billy and Alan died within days of each other, which is either very sweet or very weird, considering they were, well, a couple.... They made it a good two years. I bought one betta to replace them, his name is Daniel. I'm on the lookout for a Jack, btw... In Alan's tank, though, I decided to try something different: a couple of female fancy mollies, Shirley and Marcy, one of whom promptly popped out a bunch of babies. Several disappeared, no real surprise, and I gave two of them to my niece Amber. There are still two in the tank with their mommies. Soot is doing well, even hops into my hand for pets now and then, but he's obviously getting old. He's had a much better life than he might have had, though.

9 January 2005

Shocked, are you? Shocked, that I didn't wait til what has apparently become the customary "May Updating" of this page? There's good reason: for the first time in a long while, we made it through the holidays without a single fatality -- not even a member of The Ever-Changing Mass Of Minnows! That was probably because for several days, Leo got scraps of turkey as holiday fare, so he didn't need to eat minnows. Both he and Bertie love turkey and chicken. Soot got some bits of carrot and apple, and a few Corn Chex. He was of two minds regarding the Chex, I think. Sometimes, he'd scoff 'em right up, sometimes, they'd be there two days later. [shrug] Men, eh? I gave him -- briefly! -- a little paper drink umbrella, and took his picture. When I can manage to get it scanned, I'll post it here.

Even the corns are doing well. They really, really need a bigger hidey-basket, because when they all three pile up under the one they have, it's not even touching the floor of their house -- there's a few rounds of scaly hide between the bottom of the basket and the floor....

2 June 2005

My nephew Eric's asked why I haven't updated this page. Well. Several reasons: I'm lazy as all hell, I'd have to make a new set of buttons for the top, and Soot the Gerbil died on 26 May. Seems I only update when death occurs, and that bums me out....

I gave up on the hidey-basket for the corns, btw. I got a very solid cardboard box instead. They can all fit in it, and on top of it. It's working rather well.

My pal Connie gave me a hermit crab, to make up for the loss of Soot. It's name is Nebula. It seems to be doing well though I think it's a little too cold. I'm hunting around for a spare heating pad to put under its house. I know I've got one somewhere. I just have to move the right mountain of papers and stuff....

Update complete. Happy, Eric? ; )

23 May 2006

Well. Sunday 21 May, I came home from work to find The Shadow dead. No idea what did it, because Mazola and Milquetoast are just fine (or so it seems, and I'd love to believe). Totally bummed. I decided to expand the domain of the crab Nebula, and get it some buds. It's been joined in a 15-gallon tank by the crab Rangoon and the crab Grass. They have a heat pad, many rocks, bed-a-beastie-style bedding, and a decent-size water bowl. Oh, and a jack-o-lantern votive holder for a hidey-hole. More cage furniture will come soon, but I want to find the lid for the tank first!

Albert and Leo are doing well. I would kind of like to get a rosy boa -- I've liked them for a long time -- but they need a dry world, and all my other guys need some degree of humidity. I want to keep everyone in the same room -- better temperature control, so.... [shrug]

27 July 2007

Well, once again, it's been a long time between updates. Toward the end of last summer, I became very ill. The doctor I saw at that time was lacakdaisical at best, and far more interested in the cute little intern who was shadowing him.... By March 2007, I ended up in the hospital. By April, I was scheduled for surgery. Something went wrong, I was rushed back in, and spent two full months in St. John's. My husband managed to see to Albert and Leo, but knew he couldn't make himself deal with the snakes. So he called Amy, their grandmother, who graciously took them in for the duration. There's nobody else I would've trusted to take them, and I can never thank her enough.

Albert and Leo are doing well, the corns are back home now, and though the Crab Rangoon slaughtered the other larger crabs in the Colony, he's left the Crab Apple and the Crab Grass alone. They're tiny yet, so perhaps he doesn't feel threatened by them. They've had a salt bath for the first time since March, and are as content as they can be.

27 January 2008

Nothing much to report. Everyone's alive, including me! I've finally gotten the Petite Hermit Crab Colony's pagelet put together, though, and thought you might like to see them....

Something new! I've joined Topic Craze....

Got a reptile link for me? Cool. Got a husband/wife/spouse equivalent that likes to make fish faces? Uh, I guess I don't mind hearing about 'em.... Just email me at If you're ready to move on, you can always click

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