Sunday, May 27, 2007

Weekend Projects

Besides having a nice family get together yesterday; I kept myself busy this weekend - so far - with a few small projects.

On Friday evening I picked up a pair of Fire bellied Newts from a young lady who was having some trouble caring for them. While one was plump and healthy, the other was on the skinny side and was not eating properly. The young gal who gave them up for adoption figured that this was due to heat stress, her apartment being too warm for them. I took them home and put them in the basement where the temp remains below 72 degree Fahrenheit almost all the time. The skinny one has been eating black worms (live fish food) like a champ, and I am hopeful he will put on weight right away.
While these newts may not look like much from above, but they do live up to their names when you see their undersides. Sorry the pic of the belly came out so blurry but the little booger was squirming wildly as I held it for the photo. Still though you can see why they have their name. Now one of my projects will be setting up a suitable tank for these guys, which is not all that much work, if I keep it simple, which is one of the easiest ways to keep these guys. A tank, some dechlorinated clean water,, a rock or two on which to climb out, and a tight fitting screen lid. I may also add a power filter, but I think not because these guys are not the most powerful swimmers; so that will require frequent water changes. No big deal. They will get fed whatever they will eat, from black worms to tubifex worms, to freshwater shrimp (which I will have to collect locally), to brine shrimp, to chopped up red worms. Bear in mind the food has to be on the smaller side for these newts since they are only about 3 inches long. I also have to do some in depth checking to see if I can determine which is the exact type of newt I now have. There are a few species with the same common name, and all look similar.

On Saturday, I took a drive up to Sleepy Hollow, of Headless Horseman fame, and I picked up a Ball Python from a couple who were moving and would no longer be able to care for it. Ball pythons are fairly easy to keep snakes, but not the best for the beginner snake fancier. This one was in the process of shedding and had patches of dried out skin stuck all over its back. Once I got it home, I gave it a soaking bath inside a large plastic jar (top screwed on tightly) for about an hour. All that dried on skin sloughed off nicely. It should have come off in one piece, but apparently this python was kept too dry before this shed. Last night I got around to setting up a tank for it, and I kept it simple as I almost always do for my snakes. A tank, some substrate, two hide boxes, a water bowl. a heat pad, a screen top, a branch for climbing, and a light (also for heat) these snakes are tropical need it warm (low to mid-eighties ambient temps with the heating pad spot up to 100 degree Fahrenheit). The light is hooked up to a timer, but the heat pad stays on 24/7. As you can see, I need to get some clips to secure the top, but tape will work for now.

The folks from whom I got the ball python told me it was sometimes a fussy eater, but it would eat thawed out rat pups. I fed it a mouse last night, and it took it immediately - no problems feeding this guy at all - so far. I imagine it will eat the rat pups they gave me along with the snake, but I wanted to see if it would eat mice too since I have a large supply of feeder mice on hand. It took the mouse as soon as it got close to it. Now it has a nice bulge in its midsection, and will be spending a lot of time under the hide that sits over the heat pad as it digests its weekly meal.
These animals will be used throughout the summer in exhibitions put on by the Long Island Herpetological Society. I may keep them beyond the summer, but if not I will adopt them out to another society member or someone else whom I know will take care of them properly. Chances are I will keep them though, I have, or had, a little extra space in the herp room.
All the best,
Glenn B


jennifer said...

I think it is very neat that you have such an array of creatures and that you know of all there needs. Good for you, I am always bothered when I see a friend get their child an unusual pet, knowing that the kid doesn't have the discipline to care for it.

One thing that really reassures me is the snake. One in captivity is one not out in the wild. Totally makes me crazy to see you hold it.

Oh well we will stick to our Guinea Pig, and dog!

Jungle Mom said...

Oh, you and my daughter have a lot in common. She loves turtles, lizards, snakes...
too bad you could not have visited us in the jungle!! You would have had a delightful time!

Glenn Bartley said...

We have all sorts of pets, mice, hamsters, 3 dogs, and we had a cat until it passed away some months back from old age.

And yes - I would have loved to have visited you guys in the jungle.