Having a ball (python)!
Well, it’s official: after several years of fence-sitting, I am now the proud owner of a little wee snake.
He is a ball python (or Regal Python), and at the time of writing he is just 8 weeks old and about 14 inches long.
His name is Boyd (as he is from the Boidae family — it was that or Monty!), and to my doting eyes, he is just as cute as a button.
As I said, I had been sitting on the fence about this for several years — acquiring a pet is a huge decision, and since pythons typically live for 20 to 25 years (!!) this was a REALLY big decision.
But a few weeks ago, I had a sneaking suspicion that my mind was close to being made up.
The first clue was a long-awaited visit to Reptilia, a Toronto-based reptile zoo, with my friend Karen. School had just begun and we arrived mid-afternoon, so we had the place virtually to ourselves, meaning we got to watch feedings, and the animals were relaxed and downright frisky!
There were snakes and other reptiles for sale in the shop there, which kind of surprised me, given the number of “donations” — i.e., abandoned/unwanted pets — Reptilia typically takes in every year, but I’m guessing that they screen their potential Adoptive Parents very carefully.
At any rate, I found myself looking longingly into the cages and toying yet again with the idea of having one of my own.
The second clue was that I was planning to visit the Canadian Reptile Breeders’ Expo a few days later with my friend Jane, and the night before, I found myself mulling over snake names. The die had clearly been cast.
I bounced the idea off a couple of people, and no one went “OMG, are you out of your mind??” (probably because they know that, at some fundamental level, I really am!), and in my heart of hearts, I knew I would probably returning home with an Adoptee.
I had decided on a ball python over other “beginner” breeds, as they are apparently very docile — the breeder from whom I eventually bought Boyd calls them the Labrador Retrievers of the reptile world! I had also decided to obtain a male — they don’t grow as big as females (typically 3 to 4 feet long), and they are friendlier.
Long story short, I presented myself at the booth of the Royal Python Ranch shortly after I arrived at the CRBE. It was located close to the front door, beautifully organized with lots of healthy specimens, and staffed by friendly people who made eye contact. I had a nice chat with a lovely lady named Ruth, looked around at the other exhibits with my heart in my mouth, and returned to RPR’s booth about an hour later with my mind made up.
She had two young male “Normals” (i.e., not Morphs, or hybrids) in stock, and after a bit of consideration I chose the one that was moving around a bit more. Ruth helped direct me as to what size tank to buy (not too big, so as not to overwhelm Baby Boyd with too much open space), and after a bit more advice, and a misty-eyed goodbye from Ruth (which I take as an excellent sign of a breeder who actually loves her animals), Jane and I headed out.
Kudos to Jane here for steadfastly carrying the tank, heat-lamp, and bag of substrate (Aspen-chip bedding) for Boyd, and for holding him in his little container securely on her lap as we drove home. Not every friend will do these sorts of things for you! 🙂
Karen then came up and helped me set up Boyd’s new home; she keeps reptiles herself, and was very reassuring and knowledgeable about what to do and how and where to locate him. She held him briefly and was charmed by his friendly, curious disposition. She also had an assortment of accessories that she’d been trying to sell online (she has moved from keeping snakes to keeping geckoes), and for a small sum I purchased a water dish, a thermometer, a hygrometer (humidity meter), and a lovely assortment of “hides” for Boyd (places for him to conceal himself).
At time of writing, Boyd has been here just over a week and is doing fine. He has a well-appointed cage with all mod cons — two “hides,” a nice water dish, an under-tank heater (for the chilly nights) and an overhead basking/heat lamp, a delightful jungle-themed backing for aesthetic appeal and a bit of privacy/security, and a thermometer and hygrometer to make sure conditions are optimal.
He has met my cat, Sophie, and there has been no drama — just a long glance and a sniff from both parties.
He has not, however, deigned to consume any food as yet (by “food” I mean “thawed frozen rats,” a favourite of this breed). I’m told this is not unusual for new adoptees, because of the stress of expos and moving in, and for ball pythons in particular, who are reputedly finicky eaters.
A consultation yesterday with a charming young man named Liam at Menagerie Pet Shop, revealed that the best course of action from here on in is for me to stop handling Boyd completely until he eats, in order to let him settle down and settle in — kind of a reptilian version of “no playing until you finish your dinner.” (This is rather a shame for me, as I had been greatly enjoying our brief twice-daily visits, which I had been undertaking with the good intention [with which the road to Hell is, of course, paved] of keeping Boyd friendly and habituated to me.)
So for the next few days, I must content myself with only glimpses of my beautiful Baby Boyd as he scoots from one “hide” to the other — although we had a brief (guilty) visit earlier this afternoon while I installed his under-tank heater; I had to sequester him in a Tupperware container while I worked, and of course I couldn’t resist a little cuddle and pat en route, you understand.
And after I put him back in his home, I was treated to the rare sight of him drinking from his water dish — he dipped the front of his jaws in and daintily sucked in liquid. I could even see his little throat moving; as a new Reptile Mummy, I could not have been more delighted.
I shall post updates here from time to time, and keep my loyal reptile-loving readers posted as Boyd grows and becomes a bit bolder and (hopefully) begins to eat like the little champion he is.
For now, I leave you with a nice album of Baby Photos. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. 🙂