A little while back, I made a blog about all the amazing animals that are in the care of myself and my girlfriend. I was having a look over it recently and realised that it is now rather out of date now and in need of an update, so here we are.
Some of you know that we care for quite a collection of animals (some were covered in the interview
that I did with NicoleRenee00
. Since the interview and the last blog, we've taken on even more, although we're pretty much near comfortable capacity now.
Once again, as a heads up, we keep snakes, lizards, amphibians and invertebrates. While we love them all, I know they aren't everyone's cup of tea. So, if you have any massive fears, while we love showing off our animals and raising awareness, this might not be the blog for you
Also, this will be a long blog with many pictures. Some of the picture quality still isn't great, but hopefully, they do the trick!
Some of the text is the same as the previous blog, but I've updated chunks of it and changed most of the pictures.Snakes
I thought I'd start the blog the same way started the last one, with the animals we're most experienced with, our snakes.
We are up to
25 snakes under our care now. It might be hard for someone who hasn't met or kept snakes to understand, but each of our snakes has their own personality of sorts. They all behave in different ways and react to everything differently.
We keep quite a variety of species: 5 corns snakes, 3 royal pythons (or ball pythons), 3 boa constrictors, a king snake, a milk snake, a hognose snake, a Brazilian rainbow boa, a Cuban boa, a Burmese python, a dwarf Burmese python, an African house snake, a carpet python and 5 reticulated pythons.Inca
Inca is the first snake we got, and we honestly couldn't have asked for a better first snake. She's a corn snake (Pantherophis guttatus
), one of 5 that we have. Corn snakes are constrictors, meaning they squeeze their prey, and aren’t venomous (in fact only one of my snakes is slightly venomous, and that doesn’t really count).
Inca is 3 years old now and is a normal morph corn snake (the way you'd most commonly find them in the wild). Wild corns hail from North America, although they've been captive bred for quite a while now. She's incredibly friendly, loves interacting with us and absolutely helped fuel our love of snakes. She’s also my favourite, but don’t tell the others.
If you’re curious as to the substrate that she is kept on, it’s something called Lignocel, a kind of less dusty sawdust. A pain in the arse to clean off the floor, but the snakes seem to love it and dig tunnels through it all. Most of our corn snakes use this substrate.Voodoo
Voodoo is another of our corn snakes, he's only a month older than Inca and is her older brother. He was the second snake we got. He's an amelanistic (amel for short) morph corn snake, meaning he lacks the black pigment that normal corn snakes have, so appears this lovely orange colour.
He's just as friendly as Inca, but is more likely to sit there and watch you from his vivarium (or viv) than voluntarily come out to explore. This hasn’t changed much over the time that we’ve had him!Indy
Another of our corn snakes, she was kept in a vivarium that wasn't quite right for her before we gave her a home, but she adapted to it rather well and is surprisingly strong for her size as a result. Other than knowing she's an adult, we're not sure how old she is exactly (we think 5-6 years old). My other half is better with the morph names, but I believe she's a ghost motley pinstripe. This is a bit more difficult to explain but is essentially like Vandal, but instead of the saddle pattern on her back, she has one long line down her.Vandal
One of the few cases of a corn snake that isn't particularly friendly, more because she's scared than aggressive though. The couple that previously looked after her man-handled her and she was severely underfed, so while she’s 6-7 years old, she's smaller than she should be.
We know what she's like though, so she has plenty of hides and we only bother her to clean out her viv and to check on her. We love her all the same
She's an anerythristic (anery for short) meaning she's lacking the red pigment, the opposite of Voodoo, essentially making her a grayscale version of Inca.Felix
Our largest corn, he's one of the bigger corns we've seen, and he's quite strong for a corn as well. He came to us when we went to pick up a new vivarium for Inca, as we were told he'd be dumped in the garden if we didn't take him.
He's our oldest corn, around 10 years old now we think. He's an albino, meaning he's lacking both the red and black pigments, making him almost pure white. He’s also starting to show signs of old age, but hopefully he’ll be with us a while longer yet!
He was quite underweight when he came to us, but he's looking a load better now.Houdini
Houdini earned her name by escaping from her viv about an hour after we got her home. She's an albino Nelson's milk snake(Lampropeltis triangulum nelsoni
). She used to be a lot more flightly than the corns and would dart off if you came near her, but she's got better with us over time and has chilled out a bit.
She's actually managed to escape
three times now. We spent most of the day looking for her and tore up the house and then gave up, knowing she'd turn up at some point. We found her about an hour later, tucked into the lining of the sofa, next to a radiator, having the time of her life.Bandit
Bandit is a Californian kingsnake (Lampropeltis californiae
). He's also an idiot. All the king snakes I've met have either bitten me or tried to bite me, usually after being friendly for a little while. They just seem to randomly decide to find out if you're food by sinking their teeth in.
We love him though. We think he has some small neurological issues from being overheated with his previous owners. However, other than him requiring a couple of strikes at his food, it doesn't affect his quality of life. As a fun fact, California kingsnakes have the strongest squeeze proportionate to body size of any snakes.
Also, he'd eat other snakes in the wild, so we never get him out at the same time as one of the corn snakes.Bertie
Bertie is a western hognose snake (Heterodon nasicus
). He's almost a venomous snake, the only one we have (as all the others are constrictors), but it's more that he has an irritating saliva than true venom. It's also not medically significant to humans as it’s designed for smaller prey items. He's male, so won't grow anywhere near as big as a female hognose. He’s actually bitten my other half before!
He's only a couple of years old.Fergus
Our oldest royal python (Python regius
). He's a normal morph and looks exactly the way you'd find them in the wild. They're also known as ball pythons. They don't get quite as long as the corn snakes, but they get thicker instead.
They're usually described as pet rocks, as they tend not to move around that much, but with the correct lighting and heating, they do come out and explore quite often. We often see Fergus exploring his viv later at night, whereas the corns are more active during the day.Atari
Our younger royal python, he's about 1.5 years old. He's a lesser platinum morph. He was surrendered to the reptile rehoming centre we volunteer heavily at. Apparently, he was really aggressive and the owner wasn't able to go anywhere near him. We picked him up and found that he was a scared little guy and was tightly wrapped up in a ball hiding from everyone. He stayed like this for a couple of hours after we got him home and into a bigger vivarium with lots of hides and he's chilled out quite a lot since. He’s settled with us a lot and is now doing very well.Salem
We recently adopted Salem from our good friends who run a rescue further up the country. He is a pied royal python. Pied refers to all of the white on him and is a complete lack of pigment on those scales. You can find all types of pied royals with different patterns and proportions of white, but Salem is high-white as he is more white than anything else!
He’s also an adult and we’re not sure of his exact age.Diego
Diego is a common boa constrictor (Boa constrictor
) and is a normal morph. He's around 10 years old, we think, and is around 6ft long. Along with Inca for the small snakes, he is our best ambassador for larger snakes. Whenever we have people over to meet the snakes, or that want to meet them, we start with Inca as the friendliest, and Diego as the friendliest big snake.
He's incredible chilled, enjoys having his head and chin scratched and loves sitting in his water bowl (this can be a sign of some medical issues, but we've had him all checked out and he's completely fine). Since upgrading all of our vivs, we gave him a cork bark tube decoration. He barely comes out of it.Calypso
Calypso is also a boa constrictor, however she differs from Diego in that she's albino. She's only been in our case for a couple of weeks and sadly had a issue with snake mites (an unpleasant infestation of small tick-like insects that burrow between the scales and drink snake blood, also highly contagious and spreads wot other snakes incredibly easily). Luckily, we've been able to clear all of them and she's looking at lot better for it. She's likely to have some neurological issues in future due to her albinism, but we're fully prepared for that, and she's just a docile and friendly as Diego.
You do have to treat her with some caution, as she is currently the snake who has given me my worst bite. Entirely my fault, but her vision isn’t great and I made her jump while changing her water once, result in a bite right to the back of my hand. Won’t be doing that again.Juno
Juno is our third boa constrictor, although she's a bit different. She's a Bolivian short-tailed boa (Boa constrictor amarali
) which is why she's a stunning grey colour. Even withing the BCA species, she’s an incredibly beautiful animal, as many of the species aren’t quite as bright in colour as she is. She’s another amazing large snake to hold and let visitors interact with and is as docile as the others.Galaxy
Galaxy is a different type of boa. She's a Brazilian rainbow boa (Epicrates cenchria cenchria
, as is currently only a few months old. She's not quite as resilient as the other snakes, so we're taking this slow with her.
The species gets its name for the rainbow-coloured iridescent shine the skin has and her future viv will have an additional light to help show off her shine.Zer0
Our baby Burmese python (Python bivittatus
), currently a year or so old. In the first blog I said that she would grow up to be our biggest snake. We now know that this won’t be the case due to a few factors, including her morph and because she refused to feed in her first few months, so is stunted.
She’s improved quite a bit with us (was a bit touch and go in places) and is readily eating the rats we offer and seems to be enjoying her new viv (we weren’t sure if she’d adapt well to it, but she’s been thriving!).
She’s a blizzard morph.JC
JC is quite special and isn’t a common animal to find as a pet. He’s a true dwarf Burmese python (Python bivittatus progschai
). He’s 5-6 years old and has reached full size at 5-6 ft long. Mainland Burmese would have reached a much greater size by this age (and the rescue we got him from also know the breeder!).
Progschai are quite rare to find still, and many of them are aggressive, as they only have a few generations of captive breeding done (wild snakes are obviously a lot more aggressive than those that have always been around humans). He’s also a normal morph, as they’ve not really been in captivity enough to discover new morphs.
JC certainly was aggressive when we first gave him a home, although over time he has calmed down and can now be handled without issue, although he’s not one we left visitors interact with much.Rumour
Rumour was our first and youngest reticulated python (Malayopython reticulatus
). Reticulated pythons are the longest species of snake in the world (I've met a couple that are around 20ft long). Luckily, Rumour is a super dwarf retic, so she'll likely only reach 7-8ft in total, which is a foot or so more than she is now. She'll just bulk out a little more over the next couple of years. She's a lavender albino morph.
She, and the rest of her species, are also very intelligent snakes. They've very food-motivated and can be viv-defensive, meaning they'll defend her territory if they feel threatened by you. Generally, they'll be fine once you've actually got them out the viv though.
Rumour is breaking this trend at the moment and seems more than happy to come out of the viv on her own, although we're training her to recognise what is food and what isn't so should be able to get her out with ease (and a bit of time) in future.Freddie
Freddie is our second retic and is a couple of feet bigger than Rumour is, as well as being a couple of years older! He’s a snow reticulated python and for a while was our longest snake, although Mr Tiggs has now beaten him to that title. He is a stunning colour, that really shows I the sun, and during the summer months, he loves a bit of supervised exercise in the garden (as do all of our big snakes).Gilbert
Here is a bit of a special case, as we know have a bit of a reputation for taking animals that need a bit of extra care. Gilbert is out third reticulated python. He came into a giant species snake rescue run by our friends (most of our big snakes came from them actually) with a hugely swollen lump on his jaw, which is shown in one of the pictures.
With a lot of time and love, the swelling slowly went down, however some memories of it still remain. His mouth is permanently misshapen, his tongue is partially fused and only flicks straight downwards. He requires a bit more care on our part but is doing really well and it hasn’t affected his personality, or his appetite.
He’s a Super Tiger morphOdyssey
Odyssey is a Goldenchild (GC) reticulated python. He is our newest snake and is my other half’s dream snake. Goldenchild in this case is his morph, which is stunning and also has a lot of iridescence. He’s not quite full size yet and doesn’t quite trust us yet, as his previous owner used to back him into a corner and pull him out.
We’ve been working on gently coaxing him out without stressing him too much, and he’s getting a lot better at coming out. Once he’s out his viv, he’s amazing in hand and will happily explore all around you. Mr Tiggs
Our biggest retic, and our biggest snake in general. Mr Tiggs is a Tiger morph and is roughly 12ft long. He’s also one of the nicest retics going, has never shown aggressive behaviour to us and loves exploring the house and the garden when allowed to do so.
He’s also the source of some currently problems, as he’s has a respiratory infection that has been incredibly had to shake, even with antibiotics. Hopefully everything works out for him but I’m sad to say this may not being looking hopeful.T'Challa
Our smallest snake, yet also the most aggressive by a long shot. T’Challa is an African house snake (Lamprophis fulinginosus
) and is an albino at that. He’s a couple of foot long at most but will happily strike at us not matter what we’re doing in his viv, even when changing water. He’s tagged both of us a couple of times, but as he’s so small, I’m not sure he’s actually drawn blood yet.
We’re working on socialising him in the least stressful way possible, and once he’s out of the viv, he’s much better.Netflix
Another interesting little case, Netflix is a coastal carpet python (Morelia spilota mcdowelli
). At a few years old, he should be fully grown, around 8-9ft long. However, he reaches around 2ft at most. Not completely sure why he’s stunted, but he came to us like this and hasn’t grown all that much while with us.
Carpet pythons are a lot of fun and quite sassy, Netflix is not exception. Almost all carpet pythons I’ve interacted with will meet you with their teeth as soon as you open their viv but are generally quite chilled once they are out. Netflix also spends most of his time wrapped around some of the upper branches in his viv and it’s fascinating to watch him eat from up there.Fidel
Our final snake on the list is Fidel, our Cuban boa (Chilabothrus angulifer
). He’s an old man, around 25 years old, and is around 7ft long.
We weren’t intending on having a Cuban boa, but he came into the rescue centre in an atrocious state. He had a nasty respiratory infection, was infested with snake mites, was dehydrated and had multiple layers of stuck shed on him (especially over his eyes, which made it very hard for him to see). He was stroppy and aggressive, but if I was in that condition, I would be too. We brought him home with us that day and weren’t sure if he’d make it through the night.
Luckily, he did!
After a couple of weeks with us, being treated for everything, we managed to control the mites and the RI, he also pushed for a shed and got all the layers off in one go. Now he’s looking loads better and hopefully has many more years left in him!Lizards
Lizards are a little harder to look after in regard to supplements when feeding, and the actual live food as well (crickets, locusts, mealworms etc). We currently have three geckos and two monitor lizards, although have helped a huge variety of lizards at the reptile rehoming centre.Nimbus
Our lovely little albino leopard gecko (Eublepharis macularius
). He has some specific needs due to his albinism, and shies away from the light, and while at the centre, he used to just wander around with his eyes shut to stop the light.
He’s become a lot more confident with us since the last blog, feeds reliably and has a fully upgraded viv now too. He seems to have settled in really nicely and is constantly demanding food.
He's our super friendly little guy and you'd usually see him around at night, when there is as little light as possible.Bacardi
Bacardi is a Standing's day gecko (Phelsuma standingi
). He's a stunning lizard, although unlike all our other animals so far, he's purely ornamental. He's not quite as fragile as other species of day gecko, but he can still be injured quite easily or we were to hold him wrong.
He's quite old at the moment, around 12 years old, so we’re still not sure how much longer we'll have with him (they only live for 10 years or so in the wild), but we're giving him as many mango fruit pots (his favourite), crickets and mealworms as he fancies having.
We’ve also discovered that he’s an excellent escape artist, having leapt out at us a few times while spraying his viv. This is why I have a picture of him being held, as this was just after I’d caught him during another daring escape. Marty
Marty is our second day gecko and is a Madagascar day gecko (Phelsuma madagascariensis
). He started off being shier than Bacardi, but as he’s gotten used to us, he’s settled nicely, and doesn’t try to escape anywhere near as often!
He’s younger than Bacardi, around 5-6 years old. He’s still a bit flighty, but has happily taken honey from my finger before.Scorch
Our first monitor lizard, Scorch is an Ackie monitor lizard, or a spiny-tailed monitor lizard (Varanus acanthurus
). He’d around 6 years old and is quite an intelligent little guy. We keep him entertained by hiding his food around his viv so he has to hunt for it, and also by making puzzles with his food (placing morio worms in a hole-covered ball, so he has to move it around to get them out).
Ackie monitors hail from the arid scrub and woodland areas of Australia, so are used to some pretty intense heat, at one of Scorch’s favourite things to do is bask under his heat lamp, whenever he’s not eating that is. He’s an efficient hunter and is a lot of fun to watch in action.Hugo
Our resident dinosaur, Hugo is a Bosc monitor lizard (geddit? Hugo Bosc, couldn’t resist) also known as a savannah monitor lizard to those in the US (Varanus exanthematicus
). He’s around 3ft long and would be found across Africa in the wild.
Bosc monitor lizards are also meant to be intelligent animals, similar to an ackie, however Hugo is an exception to this rule it seems. I love him, but he’s an idiot. All attempts at getting him to solve puzzles for food have failed miserably.
However, he does love to roam around. Once we block off the stairs so he can’t go too far, or meet any other animals, he has the freedom to explore the whole top floor of our house (we’ve made sure it’s safe for him). He’s found a few favourite spots, such as on our bed in the sun, on the windowsill in the sun, and under the bed near the hot water pipe that feeds the radiator.
He’s a lot of fun to interact with and watch!Amphibians
Amphibians were our largest step up in care when we first got them, as they require a high humidity and careful care, at least the amphibians we decided to get are. All sort of frogs and toads are covered in this category.Tico, Papaya & Límon
Tico, Papaya and Límon are our three red-eyed tree frogs (Agalychnis callidryas
). Tico is the male and Papaya and Límon are females. Tico will make a ribbiting noise at night during the breeding season, and the females tend not to make as much noise.
They're quite fragile, can stress easily and require almost perfect conditions. All three frogs are getting on a bit in age now, so we’re not sure how long we have left with them, however they are still hunting and doing well.
During the day they’ll be asleep, and finding them can be a challenge, but at night once they wake up and get on the move, they are absolutely stunning.Invertebrates
The main inverts that we deal with are tarantulas and scorpions. I know they aren't everyone's cup of tea (even my girlfriend, although she prefers the tarantulas over normal house spiders), but I find them absolutely fascinating.
You get two main types of tarantulas, Old World and New World. Generally speaking, New World tarantulas are alright, and are more likely to flick hairs at you off their bum (called urticating hairs) than bite. Old World tarantulas are generally massive dicks, so will threat pose and charge at you.
With scorpions, each end is obviously hazardous, but in general the bigger the pincers at the front, the less potent the venom is.
It has been done on very rare occasions, but in general, we don't handle our tarantulas or scorpion. The tarantulas especially are very fragile and a fall from height will kill them. They don't get any benefit from human interaction and it only stresses them out and puts them at risk, so we leave them be.Toast
Toast is our curlyhair tarantula (Tliltocatl albopilosum
). She's a New World tarantula, hailing from Central America. She's generally pretty chilled unless you're a cricket or locust, which she happily devours. In the previous blog, we believed Toast was male, but as it turns out we believe now he is a she, and as such will be with us for 15-20 years!Mariachi
Mariachi is a Mexican red-knee tarantula (Brachypelma hamorii
) and is equally as fascinating. We're pretty she's female and she is also a New World tarantula. She's a bit more flicky than toast, but otherwise eats well and moults well. She's a classic tarantula, as it is red knees that are the first tarantula for many keepers.Blueberry
Finally, meet Blueberry, our Laos forest scorpion (Heterometrus laoticus
). He's growing well, but still isn’t quite at adulthood yet. He's also fascinating to watch, but due to his size, he spends more time hiding away when he sees us.
As a fun fact, under UV/blacklight, he fluoresces and glows blue. This blue colour becomes more vibrant when he's older, so I'll be getting so good pictures of it in a year or so.
He’s grown a fair bit since the first blog, however he’s got a lot better at digging, and therefore is a lot harder to get a picture of!Non-Exotic
Finally, an animal that the vast majority of you would be more likely to care for, our only non-exotic pet. Meet Finn, our Border Collie. He's just over 2 years old, is incredible with the snakes and other animals (we obviously do not
let them meet, but he doesn't bother them in their vivs at all) and he absolutely adores getting attention from just about everyone. I won't add much more than this for now!Rainbow Bridge
Sadly, all good things must come to an end and we've had of our amazing animals die from natural causes. In all honesty, I wouldn't be surprised if we lose a few more this year as we have some incredibly old animals under our care.Gorgonzola
Gorgonzola was a Mediterranean house gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus
). He was a stowaway on a shipment from Europe to the UK and came to the centre in quite a bad state. We took him on for a month or so in order to give him the best possible chance and enough attention. We did everything we could for him and he started to improve, but sadly he didn’t make it and passed away.
He was so small and fragile, we didn’t get many pictures of him, but those we do have are nice and give fond memories of watching him eat fruit flies. Fizzy
Fizzy, our greenbottle blue tarantula (Chromatopelma cyaneopubescens
), is also sadly no longer with us. He was a stunning animal to watch, due to his vibrant colours, but as a male tarantula, time was not on his side. He reached sexual maturity and essentially died of old age, as is natural for male tarantulas. Other Animals
Keeping reptiles, volunteering at a rescue and getting to know lots of people within the reptile community has given us lots of fantastic opportunities and we’ve made some very good friends in the process.
Via all of our work with all the rescues and reptile shops, we’ve been fortunate enough to meet and interact with some incredible animals. I thought I’d put a few of them here!
Thanks for reading, and well done if you made it this far.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. We deal with so many other species at the rehoming centre, the National Centre for Reptile Welfare, based in the UK.