About Rocky

 Meet Rocky.

Rocky is a Boa Constrictor Imperator, and this salmon pink that you're seeing in the photo is what he really looks like. Also, this is one of the natural colorations that these snakes can have in the wild! It's amazing that something like this can exist in nature, and I get the exquisite privilege of having this little guy hang out at my house!

We got Rocky at the Serpentarium in Lodi. Rather, J got it for me, because for a while I've been obsessing over giant snakes, and almost adopted a Burmese Python off Craigslist (someone got to it before me). We went to the Serpentarium and to the East Bay Vivarium on a weekend so that we could see how big adult Burmese really get.

Both these places are selling reptiles, but they have a number of animals there that are not for sale and you can have a look at them in their cages. Once I saw what a 20 ft (6m) snake really looks like, I realized that keeping one is beyond what we can safely handle at home. The Burmese pythons are completely and utterly stunning though, and I do hope that I'll get to handle one some day.

So I asked the guy at the Serpentarium, what a safe one-person snake would be, as in -- which snakes grow big, but not too big for a single person to handle. Because let's face it, a pet that you can't handle without a second adult present for safety is not practical.

Turns out, they just recently had a clutch of adorable Boa c. Imperator hatch (or rather get born; erm, they kind of hatch from their eggs inside their mother but come out alive and ready to take on the world). The store associate brought out a couple younglings in their little boxes, and we settled on this tiny dude.

The reason behind picking a male was that they don't grow quite as bit as females, so that he can always be safely handled by either one of us, even if the other isn't there for safety.

We called him Rocky BalBoa. Because he is a boa.

He's started his life with us in a plastic bin, but has since upgraded to a large glass enclosure with a climbing branch. With any luck, this will last him a year, but likely now.

I'm amazed at how inquisitive and mostly chill the little guy is. He's been a bit shy eating, but whenever I leave the mouse with him overnight, it's gone in the morning, and he's got a little bump in his belly. That works. We feed him frozen and warmed-up mice, so we can safely leave the food with him.

Anyways, he's an awesome little dude, and we adore him, and look forward to seeing him grow!


Revised snake breeding screed

I've been thinking and talking with friends about the current snake trade situation, and have come to amend, and dare I say, refine, my views on the matter. Last week, I posted a rather lengthy article about why I won't by a fancy-colored snake (and neither should you). My views on selectively breeding snakes for color, inbreeding, and producing sick or non-viable animals remain unchanged. I honestly don't think this sort of thing should be supported.

However, a huge number of animals on the pet snake market are still imported. A great many die in transit, and many again die in the first year as pets due to mishandling and neglect.

It appears that the root cause of snakes (and other exotic pets) being so plentiful and affordable is this unending stream of wild-caught animals imported into the US every year. Being cheap and readily available at any pet store makes snakes prime candidates for impulse purchases, resulting in death of the animal or its abandonment.

I've now come to change my view of the breeders' place in this market situation: As long as they responsibly produce healthy animals and offer education and support, they can help satisfy the demand for reptiles on the market and contribute to the improvement of the pets' overall condition.

What I still believe needs to stop is capture of wild animals for pet trade and any kind of import of them. There are plenty of them already in the country, and the breeders should be able to satisfy the demand; even if not, the rising prices will help prevent people from buying a snake only to find out that they can't (or don't want to) take care of it.

Either way, guess I'm no longer thinking that all breeders are evil, even though I'd wish not everyone with a pair of snakes would just breed them if they only felt like it. But regulating breeders is a whole 'nother can of worms, and I'm not even going to get into that here.

Anyways, that's what I currently think on this matter, but I do reserve the right to change my view somewhat again if I learn something relevant. One thing I will always stand on is the welfare of the animals. We are the ones who decide we want a pet, and we should jolly well be responsible for that pet's well-being. Anything less is just shitty.