Friday 11th Jan 2008


Friday 11th January 2008.

Was so excited about Roma coming today that I was actually quite keen to get up and get to work, that's a first for me. These cold, dark mornings it's getting harder each day to get out of bed.

He's arrived. He's a very pretty Western blue tongued skink, tan body chocolate bands. He's bigger than described, if he's the size of a rat pup then I'd love to see daddy rat. I've had a hold to check him over and see that he's okay, nice disposition. He had a little hiss at me but nothing major. I think he's going to settle in very nicely.

I'm just waiting for Russ to come and collect him and get him sorted at home.

He's lovely, I want to keep opening the polystyrene box to look at him ... but that would only stress him out, so I'll have to wait until the day's work is done and see him back at home later. These eleven hour days are a killer.

I have a new lizard to join the gang, we're back up to fifteen again ...welcome Roma. It's good to be adding one on and not taking one off.
Hopefully my run of bad luck is thankfully behind me, though Assante gave me a hell of a fright this morning.

If Roma's still active when I get home I'll try and get some pics of her for my records. Notice the change of gender there. Russ has just been to the shop and has decided that 'she' looks feminine. I didn't have the heart to tell him that they all look like that. So until we know any different Roma is also a girl. I'll be able to sex her from between eight and twelve months old. It is possible to probe lizards to sex them earlier than that but it's inadvisable because it can cause them internal damage and if it doesn't kill them, it can ruin any chances they ever have of breeding.

I've got a great mix of lizards now. I have my challenges with Frog the igana and Assante the bosc monitor, who's love and devotion is going to have to be fought for and earned. And then I have my gentle souls in the frillies, and Roma. The collards are funny, uros interesting (when they deign to make an appearance), chinese and aussy somewhere in between the lot and the beards are just the beards. I get so many different things back from the different species.

It's a double edged sword having so many lizards. Yes it's great to have these fascinating animals (and more on the way) but you have to have a ceiling. In our case Russ keeps building it and I keep breaking it down, he asked again tonight when it's going to stop. I get up nearly two hours earlier than I used to in order to see to them before I go to work. I get in from work just after eight and then it takes me another two hours to see to them again.... and then it's playtimes until I go to bed. I've hit melt down twice .. both occasions when I've been really tired, worked eleven hours and then had sick animals to come home to and force feed, on one occasion I stormed off to bed without doing their waters, (oh golly gosh Jane, how very remiss of you, I bet you stole chocolates off the school tree when you were a kid) Christ, some animals don't know what fresh water is. My days off are taken up almost exclusively with animal care and housework. I can't imagine how blissful it'd be to have an entire day with only Kali the dog to see to.

Russ keeps mentioning the holiday word and I keep changing the subject because I just don't think it's going to happen this year. WE had planned to go to Cyprus in May. I doubt we can go now. How selfish is that? It's not fair on him or Marty that we can't have a family holiday because I've filled our lives with demanding animals.

But those are the choices I've made. On a night like tonight when the lads are both at work and I'm here on my own. I just sit and play with them. There are lizards all over the room and they're worth every bit of effort.

I think what I'm saying is, it's very easy to get carried away and take on more than you can cope with for the next twenty years or so. I did it for twenty five years and finally I didn't buy any more. I sold my last four lizards five years ago and I have to say it was five years of bliss.

My lizards cost between seventy and a hundred pounds a week to keep, I'm lucky I have two full time jobs to help out.

but so many people buy reptile after rep and then, six months down the line, the time and money involved can't be sustained. I know I'm like a kid in a sweet shop, and that's exactly what it is ... but I do think long and hard about the long term commitment.
that's if I don't buy any more five or ten years from now...fat chance.

It's a sobering thought.

Russ flatly refuses to have anything whatsoever to do with the snake (for now) He is dead against us having one... but his first words on the phone tonight were, "How's my Roma doing?" the man's a damned saint to put up with me.

The zoo keeping was the perfect job for me, until a blasted hernia put paid to it. I'd only been there four months and had hardly even started, but a keeper who can't shovel shit is no good to anybody. They were going to put me through a zoological degree as well so that I could advance and really learn the busines.

For all my philosophising (moaning) though if anybody offered me a pair of monkey tails I'd take their hands off.

I'll know when I've bitten off as much a I can chew and with a gob like mine that's a fair amount ;-)

Social experiment 1

Mixing species .. not done, how could you Jane? All the stuffy old Herpetology experts would be recoiling in disgust. Believe me, my animals welfare comes first each time, every time. If they aren't happy with something then it doesn't happen.

But, I have high hopes that the monster viv won't have to be separated and made into two vivs. I'd rather three lizards had the benefit of 8x6x4 than only having half of that for each species.

Frog and the frilled lizards have met many times, they aren't strangers. I'm hoping that they will eventually live together in harmony and as they have identical husbandry requirements this is doable.. I'm pretty sure that Bali is gravid and a couple of days before she drops I'm going to move Tanimbah out to leave her in peace to have her eggs.

Frog is almost certainly female. Last night I decided to try Tanimbah in with her. It wasn't exactly sucessful, but it wasn't a complete disaster either, nobody got hurt which was my big fear.

I put Tanimbah in with Frog and Frog instantly flew behind her fencing and hid. She stayed there for the hour long duration of his visit and then half an hour more before tentatively coming out and asking me what the hell was going on in her domain.

Tanimbah was funny. He did a display that I've never seen before. I'd already put him a pot of mealworms in there so that he'd have munchies on his visit. He went straight over and polished off the lot. He couldn't care less who's home he's in as long as food is laid on. Then after attending to his stomach he turned his attention to the fencing behind which Frog was crapping herself.

He stopped about six inch from it and did a display which was far more like Bali's seductive mating sway. It was a half sway half bob and I have to say, if it's ever possible for a lizard to look gay then Tanimbah took the title, mind, when he gets up on two legs and runs across my laminate floor he has a hell of a mince to him too. This is a big lizard of nearly four foot in length, he's quite a charater. He did a lot of head cocking and listening. And I'm almost certain that he was trying to entice Frog out.

Frog's reaction was odd, because out in the living room she jumps all over him and despite being smaller is the dominant lizard, yet in her viv where you would expect her to stand her ground and show him what's what she ran and hid. Lately because of the salmonella and parasite outbreak they haven't integrated at all. I'm hoping that on mutual soil they will be fine.

Social experiment 2

Since Chi-ting, my young Chinese water dragon, became ill, I haven't been allowing the animals out together until recently. Last night I put Chi, and Merriden, the Australian water dragon, together. They instantly jumped on the same branch to check each other out. They were all over the viv. It was complete and utter sucess. I was going to separate them at bed time but they were cuddled up with Merriden's arm around Chi so I left them. I was going to seperate them off this morning but they were together on the top branch and I've just spoken to Russ who says that they are fine and still sitting together.

Until my new chinese and my new aussy are of similar size to Chi and Merry and I can put them together by species ... these guys are going to be living together in sin. Actually I'm almost certain that they are both male.

Asked if these two lizards are happier kept alone in separate vivs, or together I'd say without question together. Anybody who says that lizards don't interact and form bonds is talking bollocks.

Tanimbah is highly protective of the missus at the moment. He doesn't like me stroking her, but I can stroke him till the cows come home. And when the frills and the beards come out to play they socialise with each other all the time. I just open viv doors and leave them to it. Tanimbah goes to check out the fayre in the Beardie viv and vice versa. It just Proves that it's not just a foible of mine that I don't like keeping lizards singly. Eventually I'll have a mate for Assante and Roma too, though I know that Assante will never breed. I've had big success in keeping two male boscs together in the past so the sex doesn't matter.

I've just had a call to say that the new arrival's all over the viv exploring and has already eaten three crickets and two locust.

I'm Still bothered about Assante's morning swim, I'll just have to see how she is when I get home, but Russ says she's fine. Finding a lizard face down in her water first thing in the morning isn't a good way to start the day.

I certainly don't advocate what I intend to do. It's not good practice to ever mix species. And my only excuse is that they looked lonely.. and that I want them to have more space which they'll get if they can just bloody get on.

The thing with Tanimbah was just to see if he'd be okay in with Frog if Bali decided to drop her eggs before the monster viv is finished. She obviously isn't. Bali's fine at the moment and I'm not even certain that she is gravid, she might just be fat in which case steps will need to be taken to reduce her weight. If and when she starts scratching, I want her to have her time alone to do her thing without proud daddy peering on. So we need to get this big viv finished. That's the Royal we by the way. One of us does all the work and the other one sits on the sofa in a supervisory capacity. I'll let you work out which is which but these hands aren't good with an electric drill.

Chi and Merry have both recently lost their viv mates and I thought they'd be happier with a friend, it's worked. The new Aussy and Chinese are going to be too small to go in with their respective spiecies for probably at least a year, so this way when they've done their quarantine in separate vivs the two little ones can go in together and Chi and Merry are great while they wait for them to catch up a bit. I'm really pleased. Bear in mind though that these lizards are not strangers they have grown up together and AWD's are one of the few species that tolerate other males in their troop. It could have all gone horribly wrong and I was standing by to intervene if need be.

I've only ever seen aggression or violence with my lizards very recently. When they were little the collards actually lived in with the beardies for a time. Corona idolises the bearded dragons. Eventually the beards, being a much bigger species, got big enough to squash the collards who are only tiny. The beards at this point were still only babies. They all still met up outside the viv when they were let lose to run riot.

Then they were all banged up when we had the parasite infestation. Three of my lizards died in all but I could have lost the entire troop. I suppose that's called lucky, but it doesn't feel that way to me. I've only recently started letting any of them out again. Kadina, my sweet little bearded dragon Kadina, ran straight over to the collard viv. Corona ran out to meet him, they met at the glass .... and Kadina made a lunge for corona and tried to bite her head off. He's done this several times since. And dumb old Corona still scratches at the glass to come out with them! Kadina doesn't see an old friend anymore, he sees lunch.

And that's the only aggresion we've ever had with any of them.

But .... we're getting a hell of a lot of displaying going on with the Beardies and frillies as we come into the breeding season. I'm watching them very closely and haven't seen any bullying at all yet, but I have three males one possible female .. it's only a matter of days and then I'm going to need at least another two vivs. However, I've known from day one that this time would come and am prepared for it. One day I may even have to let one or maybe even two of the lads go .... well, I've tried that once and it wasn't very sucessful. I had the chance to swap one of my males for a proven female a few months ago .... when it came to doing the deed I couldn't go through with it. How do you choose which one of your pets to get rid of. It didn't happen.

I was only saying last night how fantastic it is to have everybody fit, healthy and in tip top condition. I couldn't bear anything going wrong again now.

This morning I came down to find Assante (bosc) literally face down in her water. This is how we found Kimba (AWD) dead. I thought it had happened again.

Assante has a long shallow water dish. Her head was completely submerged but her back was sticking out.

I ran in scooped her out and put her directly under her basking light. She looked at me indignantly, gave a hiss and scarpered.

She seems to be perfectly okay but I'm bothered that she may have caught a cold if she's been in there all night. She was freezing.

Since losing Kimba I've been taking the water away from all the little lizards at night, but didn't see the need with Assante, it's only a few inches deep and only covers half of her.

Now I'm worrying myself sick about respitory infection or pneumonia. From the feel of her I'd say that she'd been lying in her water some time, though when we did shut down last night she was safely tucked up behind her hide. Incidentially it's the first time I've known her to have any contact with her water at all and I've been hydrating her once a week in the bath.

She does seem to be perfectly all right. We'll just have to see how she gets on.



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