Ren's WILDlife

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elrohwen

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I rarely venture into the blog area, but I found yours today and have read it through. I absolutely love hearing about all of your critters! I think the non-bunny stories are by far the most interesting. I really don't know anyone with so many reptiles and other creatures, so I love seeing pictures.

And I live pretty close to you too - I actually used to ride at a barn very near Green Chimneys and my husband works out in the Hudson Valley (and all of our friends live there).
 

RandomWiktor

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Yup :) We're *hoping* to work for a few years then open an (open to the public for viewing) exotics rescue & reptarium. Lofty ambitions I know, which is why we're going to save up big time before even considering trying it so we have something to fall back on if it totally falls flat on its face (which it might). Thankfully we both have super supportive families who don't care if we come crawling home with our tails between our legs five years from now needing a place to crash while we get back on our feet after a failed business attempt.

New entry is forthcoming - I got new pics of ALL the horned frogs XD
 

RandomWiktor

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Right now I'm sitting on my couch practically vibrating with anxiety. I shipped four of my eight foster bettas out yesterday! It wasa somewhat hairy experience.

The first box I dropped off bright and early, but was informed that they wouldn't arrive at their destination until Thursday because the adopter lives in an area without overnight service. I haaaate having fish in the mail for more than a day. I've had fish arrive at my house after 5+ days just fine but it still drives me mad with worry. The second adopter forgot to give me an address (lol) so I couldn't ship immediately. I finally hear back an hour before the post office closed, and had to frantically re-assemble the shipping box I'd started to deconstruct and break a few speed limits to get them there on time. But thankfully, THEY will be arriving at their destination on time.

I unfortunately always take a financial hit shipping. Shipping two fish express mail is $27.50. I charge a flat rate of $20, and occasionally even charge $15 if it's the difference between my fish being adopted or not adopted (most people charge $30). This means, however, that I'm eating at least $7.50 every time fish find homes. It is worth it to get them to new owners. But it is a pain to invest so much in getting them well then PAY to adopt them out. Thankfully I save all of my change in a jar, which makes a sufficient fund for fish shipping without attacking my paycheck.

So who got adopted?


Lord Byron, who came from a biology 'experiment' where bettas were being kept in a tiny, unheated bowls to study their 'natural behavior' - yeah, because a betta being kept in a tiny, cold, filthy, unenriched environment will definitely be acting as nature intended it. *eyeroll* One of the gals at UB did a great job educating the department, caring for the fish, and at the end of the experiment found homes or foster homes for them all. I took four, three of which have placed and one of which is lined up for a home. (No, he doesn't live in that container BTW; I took him out to try and get a good picture... did not succeed, lol)


Wally, who was fought with another betta at Walmart. He took the brunt of it and really got thrashed; the other boy was a clear victor and was rehomed shortly after recovery. He finally grew a tail back however and is now off to a great new home.


Thanx came from my college; I was using the bathroom before thanksgiving break when an employee came waltzing in with a vase. She was about to flush her extremely ill betta because she "didn't want it dying in the office and stinking up the place" over break. He was severely emaciated, ammonia-burned, and had bad fin rot and the start of a systemic infection. He made an awesome recovery and while his fins look a tad wonky, he's a beautiful fish.


Maus, who had very bad parasites that were causing such bloat that she couldn't swim properly. She recovered beautifully and although she was 'my' fish, she was VERY active and I didn't feel I was giving her an adequately large livingspace. Her adopter is giving her twice the space I had for her, so even though I'll miss her, she's going to a way better home.

I'm still waiting to hear back from the girl adopting Glorfindel and Tinkerbell. I may keep Win because his adopter seems to have flaked and he honestly is still having fin issues, which tells me he's probably an inherently unhardy animal. Igor's "tumor" turned out to be a parasitic cyst that very dramatically exploded in a totally disgusting fashion. This is a good thing, because now he's on the mend and may again be eligible for adoption. A lot of people seem to like the little uggo. His a hideous but endearing animal with his major spinal deformities and funny, waggling swim as a result:



Coming soon: lots and lots of horned frog pictures.


 

RandomWiktor

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So, I'd like to share with you all one of my main passions aside from fish: frogs! I had a passing interest in frogs as a child limited to watching them in the wild, then mostly go into birds and rodentsas I aged. I thought of them the way most people do: as a kindof boring, instinct driven, cute but not terribly interesting beast that wallows around in swamps and ponds all day. However, as soon as I started to study biology and ecology more closely, I realized that they were so much more than meets the eye. They are a vital indicator species, a highly valuable contributor to the food chain, and have diveristy of anatomy, behavoir, ecology, etc. that rivals many other major vertebrate taxa. I've become totally enamored with them.

But I've also become very disheartened. Amphibians are suffering major global decline. They are being attacked on all fronts by human activity, and one of those fronts is the pet trade. With one exception, every single frog I own was an adoption or rescue, rejects of a pet trade that sees them as a fun childhood novelty and little else. Many were mass bred in captivity under less than favorable conditions; others were robbed from the wild only to be neglected by human caregivers. Their suffering is ignored due to their low priority in society, where they are given so little regard that people make jokes about unruly hooligans blowing them up with firecrackers.

My frogs are all education animals. I bring them to schools, scout troops, childrens' parties, etc. and teach about amphibian biology, ecology, and conservation. I'll be presenting on April 30th, Save the Frogs day, about threats to amphibian survival. I'm even an admin on a frog forum. In short: I'm a frog freak!

I just took new photos of my horned frogs yesterday and thought I'd share their photos and stories.


Platelet, one of my few purchased frogs (captive bred), who was a gift from my fiance. He is an argentine horned frog. He's on paper towel because he's still ababy, and thus more prone to impaction from ingesting substrate.


Sr. Corn Nuta, a Suriname horned frog. He came from a guy who was getting rid of his whole collection due to financial strain. I was SO psyched to get this fellow, as they're both rare and expensive in the pet trade.


Taz, a Chacoan horned frog who lost his home when his owner's finances became strained by the birth of a disabled child. He's reaaaally obese from a poor and excessive diet; believe it or not he was even FATTER when I adopted him O_O I feed him about once a month but his weight is slow to come down.


Quell, a Chacoan horned frog whose owner decided he didn't want her when he realized that breeding horned frogs is rarely profitable. Quell has the biggest head of all the horned frogs I own; she's really quitea beast and still growing.


Pyxie, a Chacoan horned frog from the same owner as Quell. He's tiny but FIERCE! Hence being named after the notorious african bullfrog.


Maloris, a Chacoan horned frog surrendered by a pet store due to his severe jaw deformity. He needs small prey and often takes a long time to successfully feed, but he's otherwise a very healthy little frog.


Lichen aka Jimmy Legs, a Chacoan horned frog who was given up by his owner for being "boring." He had a severe nutritional deficiency when I got him and was very underweight; he was also too weak to walk without flailing and flipping. The reason he is on paper towel and not soil was that he didn't self feed for months, and when he just recently started self-feeding, his strikes were clumsy due to his weak hiind legs. He's finally getting good enough that he should be going on dirt ASAP.


Fetus, a Chacoan horned frog who was at Petco's adoption table after being returned, along with another frog (Gulo) who has since passed. Fetus is not a healthy frog; she's had issues with parasites, chytrid, anorexia, and more. Every once in a while, she goes off food and refuses to soak herself, at which point I need to pull her and manually soak her & force feed her every day until her apetite picks up. She is recovering from one of these bouts in this photo, hence being on paper towel.


Fen, a Chacoan horned frog who was rescued by a frog keeper on the forum I am an admin of. He couldn't keep her, however, due to dorm policies, so I adopted her.


Chompy McBiterson, a Chacoan horned frog who lost her home due to a child's disinterest. I was told she was a chubby frog (another name for a malaysian painted frog), which is why I was interested in adopting. I got there to find the wrong species, but oh well; I love horned frogs so I took her anyways.


Amaranth, an albino Chacoan horned frog who lost her home after his owner's fiance - who gave him the frog - left him. he didn't want the reminder of his failed relationship around. She was SUPER obese when I adopted her, and while she's still chunky, her weight has really improved.

I have other frogs, including a bullfrog, leopard frog, chubby frog, and clawed frogs, as well as toads and newts. But I'll save those for another day! In the mean time, for those of you who are sick of looking at frogs and want to see something cuter, here are those two mice of mine:



D'aww.
 

Myia09

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I can't stand shipping fish..I went to do it once (For the petstore I worked for) and it was such a hassel. So I feel your pain. And such beautiful bettas!

I love the albino horned..and those mice are soo cute!
 

RandomWiktor

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*Sigh*

Well, after a few days of looking better, Fetus is acting worse again. Last night I found him stretched out with his hindquarters twitching. I immediately gave him B6, calcium glubionate, and an electrolyte bath. That perked him up, but it concerns me that I needed to resort to measures you normally only have to take for an animal that has been badly malnourished with MBD.

I called my exotics vet and we talked for a while. She was very up front and honest with me; she basically said that she would have administered the same treatment with those symptoms, and that if husbandry is spot-on, all she can really think is that maybe the frog has a malabsorption issue accounting for his constant ill health. Diagnostic testing is still a fairly limited science in amphibians, and that the stress of a vet appointment with x-rays and bloodwork might be so stressful that it puts him over the edge.

I'm bringing her a fecal sample to make sure he doesn't have any residual parasitism problems. She might perscribe a round of anti-parasitics even if it doesn't turn up, since fecals are only about 60-80% accurate and only for certain parasites. Her other suggestion, which I feel like a moron for not thinking of myself and sooner, was to start him on probiotics. If that doesn't improve his condition, then we'll resort to the stressful business of trying to get a blood draw on a little frog to see if anything comes up.

I love my horned frogs and don't want to lose another. I've lost four horned frogs since I started keeping them, despite ideal husbandry. The CODs were kidney failure in two (I suspect due to their prior husbandry - 100% rodents), chytrid, and liver disease. All of my frogs are "second hand" so I'd like to think that major organ disease wouldn't be my doing, as I maintain a very high nutritional standard for them. My vet and other frog keepers seem to think I'm doing it all right. But it does make me second guess myself when I see higher death rates than I'm accustomed to; most of my animals have longer than average lifespans, not premature deaths.

:( Sorry. I'm not in a good mood about this.
 

JadeIcing

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RandomWiktor wrote:
:( Sorry. I'm not in a good mood about this.
:hug:How can you be? It is hard thing to deal with. You can not change their past you have made their present and future how ever long it will be great. You love them when most others could care less. You make a difference in their lives and in the lives of the ones you have yet to save.
 

RandomWiktor

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Occasionally as an animal keeper, one will make an imprudent choice.

For example, yesterday I lost all three pairs of feeding tongs by some mysterious hurricane of personal failure. It was gecko feeding day, and most of my geckos are self-feeding, so I wasn't overly concerned. However Ulrik, my neurologically impaired and mostly blind gecko, can't feed without tongs. In fact, the process of feeding Ulrik involves him staggaring and spinning out of his hide in excitment, stargazing and hopping while I try to show him the food, flipping onto his back in a magnificently tragic arc, then eventually righting himself and striking in the opposite direction of the food. It takes a while under the best conditions.



For some reason, I had the brilliant idea that, in the absence of tongs, I would have no problem just handing prey items to Ulrik. But, the thing about a mostly blind, very neurologically defunct gecko is... they don't have the best aim. And like all leopard geckos, Ulrik is a very enthusiastic feeder, which - to make a long story short - turned out to bode poorly for my finger:



This was actually AFTER I cleaned it up. It initially bled so much that I had to wash his hide, change his paper, and mop up the trail I left from his tank to the bathroom. It's three tiiiiny little punctures, but those little teeth are like razors! I've been bitten by Liberace before and it normally just barelybreaks the skin. This was impressive.

I was admittedly kindof proud of Ulrik for managing to tag me so good. He's sortof a pitiful beast and I was verysurprised by his ability to wreck my finger. I was so excited that I called Steve and told him about it, which in classic reptile-keeper style, he replied "Hahaha oh man, that's awesome... oh, are you OK though?" We both are in general agreement that this incident made Ulrik at least 10% cooler, because he apparently just has impressive jaw strength for such a messed up little guy.

Speaking of bitey things... I've been working more with Penny Dreadful, the hamster with the massively overgrown claws and the nasty temperament. Like I expected, a lot of her bad mood had to do with painful feet, a lack of enrichment, and a poor diet. She's been eating a mix of Oxbow and my home made hamster mix, spending time in an enriched cage AND the enrichment area I set up in my bathtub, and of course had a good nail trim (I'll probably take off more soon as the quicks are finally receeding a bit); it's really improved her mood. I can pet her carefully in her tank as long as she is already out and about (never wake upa dwarf hamster, however; they take to it more poorly than your average human!). I have also been gently picking her up with a cloth and letting her walk around on my hand with the cloth over it, while petting her and feeding her treats. She's slooowly taming up, so with any luck she'll be adoptable in no time!



I also found out that her "ugly, weird pelt" that I thought was a sign of ill health is actually a fancy coat type somewhat uncommon in dwarf hammies. I posted her on a hamster forum with an amusingly ignorant concern about her nasty coat, and everyone thought she was the prettiest hamster ever.Apparently she's a "satin," and hercoat color is "argentine." *shrug* Maybe this will make her more desirable to hamster-savvy adopters?

I don't know, I don't get fancy varieties of animals; I like wild types myself. I've always loved the look of "natural" dwarf hamsters but they're hard to come by these days! I feel like most that I see for adoption are some fancy variety, and while some are cute, I just want a nice little wild type. Actually, that's somewhat incorrect: overall, I don't particularly want hamsters in general. But I wish a rescue hammy that wasn't some disturbing red-eyed color morph would come my way. :D

In other critter news: I bought a new shelving unit that's going to let me move a bunch of tanks around and increase both the space efficiency and safety of my herp room. One of the main problems with that room currently is that there are a ton of tanks in front of the window, which is just a massive fire safety hazard; you CAN NOT get at the window because of it. I feel like it's just a "omg the house is burning down but the only escape is through that wall of vivariums!" waiting to happen.

The shelving not only eliminates this problem, but lets me upgrade several animals (20g's for the skinks & grassman, woohoo!). Steve and I upgraded the fire skink last night, and I feel so much better seeing him in a larger tank even though Steve thinks the ten gallon was "just fine" and that I'm "silly" when it comes to habitat sizes. The way I see it, most species I keep have larger territories or ranges in the wild then I'll ever be able to provide them in captivity, so larger tanks whenever I can provide them are best. Pics, of course, when everything is set up (which probably won't be for a few months, as I have lots of fish to move before then).


ETA: How could I have not posted this?? After several electrolyte baths, lots of food, and some probiotics, Fetus finally sat up and supported himself instead of slumping pitifully against the ground. I think he should finally be on the mend :) I'm keeping very on top of his nutrition and supplementing him with some extra calcium and UVB exposure, but hopefully the probiotics will help whatever malabsorption issue is going on and he'll be back in tip-top health in no time.
 

JadeIcing

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If Jax the gecko is a female could we consider a friend? Do you have any for adoption? We do have an extra tank if they had to be housed apart. :bunnydance: Just keeping our options open.

Now update for you... Bo is eatting the meat with out having to mix it.:bunnydance:Greens are still not high on his list. :D

My guys never try to bite and will eat from my hand. Is that good?

Do you have your own site where you list your guys?
 

RandomWiktor

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I might have a female leppie available for adoption in a month or two, but I don't personally agree with keeping them together, as there are sometimes dominance and stress issues - especially one on one. I'll keep you posted though if you think you'd still be interested.

Glad to hear about Bo continuing to improve his eating habits!

I don't have a website as of yet. I had a flickr account with photos and stories, but I haven't updated in forever. I'm hoping to get a real website soon though :)
 

JadeIcing

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RandomWiktor wrote:
I might have a female leppie available for adoption in a month or two, but I don't personally agree with keeping them together, as there are sometimes dominance and stress issues - especially one on one. I'll keep you posted though if you think you'd still be interested.

Glad to hear about Bo continuing to improve his eating habits!

I don't have a website as of yet. I had a flickr account with photos and stories, but I haven't updated in forever. I'm hoping to get a real website soon though :)
Keep me updated! I wouldn't mind another solo one. :)

Guess what.... We got the tank today. Taking pictures in a few minutes.

I love the company we go through very simple and good prices for our sites...

Mine www.jadeicing.net which I need to update.

My husbands www.toastyrobproductions.com also in need of updating...


 

Myia09

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I am really sorry about your frog. I know it must be hard. I have rehabilitated tons of frogs, and the 2 horned frogs I had both died of impaction issues. The worst I ever had was a Waxy Frog who had skin lesions..and if handled the skin would rip off. It was an interesting debacle..but he is nowing living happily (Still with issues however) with a new home. Frogs are just so hard. I hope he gets better.

Leopard gecko bites really do hurt, and bleed alot. I haven't been bit yet (I don't know why) but I been bit by a fat tail..it does bleed more than anyone can imagine!

Yeah, I don't reconmend putting the leopard geckos together. They will breed, and she can have tons of problems. Females lose a lot of weight during pregnancy (It scares me a lot), but Ren is right..dominance in general will put them in a ton of problems.

And Enigmas with circling problems are really hard to deal with also. I give you huge credit for helping one! Thankfully I think circling is getting bred out..I know if I ever produce one, I would halt the pairings and keep any of the geckos I produced.

About the hamster..it is "argentine satin" but the whole satin things in hamsters is completley debatable! I honestly don't think they exist..sine they are so "rare"
It could be from the oil from the seeds you feed rubbing off. Sounds crazy, but my hamster did it too. Mine you "Satin Hamsters" are the European name for Long Hair Golden Syrains too so it complicates researching a lot.
 

RandomWiktor

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Yeah, I could honestly know or care less about the coat type; I was actually sortof shocked by how many people on the hamster forum were impressed by her looks, because if this IS a"satin"pelt... it's kinda fugly. In my opinion at least. :DI just hope that potential adopters find her as pretty as everyone on the board! Thanks for the sympathies with the frog. He's still lookin' good today, so hopefully he's on the mend again. They are quite the pest to rehabilitate though. Kinda makes me wonder why I have... I don't know, close to 30 amphibians? I must not like myself very much, lol.

I might have big news soon. My fiance and I have a potential business opportunity that would really be... well... a massive change in our lives. I'm not 100% sure how I feel about it yet, but if I'm not updating much next weekend, it's because I'm down in Alabama with his family checking out a business that is for sale. :shock:My life has been changing directions so many times over the past few months that I'm getting whiplash!

Brindam is currently out hopping around the kitchen as I type. She has had a bit of spring crankiness as can be expected of unspayed does, but she's a LOT nicer this year now that she's getting more enriched, time out of her x-pen, and has lost a lot of weight. It's such a relief to have her more slim and trim. She not only had way more GI problems before switching foods, but was too fat to "clean up" when she got a case of bunny mud butt. The result was a very stinky, dirty, uncomfortable bunny bottom demanding bath time and a constant worry of flystrike (where's a barfing emoticon when you need one??). So far her only case of a messy bum this spring is when my mom thought it would be a good idea to give the bunnies sprouts, strawberry, AND apple all at once. *facepalm* If I do move, Brindam is DEFINITELY coming with me before this woman causes her to poop herself to death.

I have some exciting news on my end, non-bunny-wise. I just adopted my dream snake yesterday! I can't say it was the most prudent timing; the money, space, and time is there, but the "possibly going to make a major move with a a ton of animals already" is too. However, I'm not sure I'd ever get this opportunity again, so I had to go for it.



Meet Swart, my new black rat snake! Black rats are my favorite species of snake and I've wanted one since I was a child. However, I don't agree with the pet trade and would never BUY one, so I spend all summer generally trying to get a rare glimpse of one in the wild. But, I saw a post on CL for someone needing urgent placement of a black rat snake, and knew I had arare opportunity to rescue a critter AND get to own the species I love the most.

The poor thing is 5ft long and was in a 20g, definitely no good for a very active snake species like this. The woman who had him was afraid of snakes and was saddled with him when her son moved out. to be fair to her, she was VERY good to continue caring for it even if the husbandry wasn't great (very dirty tank, live food, too small enclosure set up incorrectly) rather than just letting it loose or killing it as many people do. And she even drove acritter she dislikes one and a half hours to meet me half way so I could adopt it! Major kudos to her to both choosing the humane option of finding it a good home, and caring for it the best she knew how until it was placed.

It's in good health, though not in perfect condition; it's a bit "lumpy" down by its tail from a dog-related back-and-rib injury a year or two back. Doesn't seem to affect the snake at all, just makes it a wee bit lumpy. It also has a couple of old mouse bite scars, scarring from rubbing the tip of its muzzle off, and needs a retainedshed on its eye popped off. But, it's got good respiratory sounds, good mouth condition, strongle muscles, and a decent weight/hydration status. It could probably use a little more feeding, but overall it seems like a healthy snake. And PRETTY too! Black rat snakes have varying degrees of red and white between and at the base of their scales, and this one has a lot of red. Not to mention a beautifully stark-white throat. Lovely!

The 20g was very dirty but after a nice clean-up will make an awesome upgrade for my other skink :) The rat snake is in a 55g QT tank, simple with paper towels and some branches, until it passes QT. I'm hoping when I move to upgrade it to something much bigger. Steve has a talent for building snake cages, so I might have to bat my eyelashes and throw him some money to get a big vivarium made, haha.


 

RandomWiktor

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Black rat snakes have been recorded up to 8ft and currently hold the title of NA's longest confirmed native snake (indigo snakes probably get bigger but one hasn't been measured bigger), but most will max out more around 6ft. They're much thinner around than a comparably sized python or the like, however; Steve's burm is probably close to 5ft right now and is much beefier - and they're not really a super chunky species either.
 

Myia09

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What a beautiful rat snake! I personally dream to own a lucy rat snake (Since they are the cheapest that you can get :p)

Are you going to switch him to frozen (Since it sounds like he was fed live?)
 

undergunfire

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Ren....I had never heard of a rat snake but I was on CL and saw this ad....
http://flagstaff.craigslist.org/pet/1686532592.html

Then I came here to read your blog and you had posted that you got one...how weird is that?

I'm not a snake person (because they eat my little friends), but I do think some are neat looking.


I hope the business opportunity works out for you and I'd love to hear more about it when you're ready to announce!

How are the mice doing? I want more pictures of them and their tank :biggrin2:. Can you recommend anything to make Dex's cage more natural? What type of wood/branches can I buy that he can climb around on? I need more climbing things since he's not a big wheel runner....he will hop on and run a few laps, then go right back to his food dish.
 

RandomWiktor

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Amy, most parrot branches can be used for mice, and you can also use maple (well most maple - stick to common stuff like sugar maple to be safe), oak, and apple from outdoors as long as you bake it in the oven at 250 for an hour before use to kill any pests. Unfinished craft pieces are generally safe as well. I am a big fan of sissal rope and bird ladders as well.

Myia, I am definitely hoping to switch him to F/T or at least freshly killed. :) I don't like the thought of risking rodent bites on my snakes. F/T would be convenient simply because I don't have space to breed my own meecers; when Steve and I move, we'll probably breed our own feeders, namely because I don't agree with the conditions most feeder rodents are produced under and would strongly prefer to be in charge of the health and nutrition of animals I'm feeding what is soon to be "our" snakes.
 

Myia09

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Yeah, I understand. Thankfully there is a mom and pop shop down here who takes excellent care of thier feeders..
I used to have to feed frozen piglets to a Burmese I was rehabing at a shelter. It was horrid.

Have you worked with any what I call "non handle" geckos? Like day geckos, or leaf tails? I would love to hear your stories/ care.

Its nice to talk to a fellow herp :)
 
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