Monday, March 31, 2008

Feeding Time (Sylvia, Don't Look!)

After four days in his new vivarium I felt that Candy was settled-in enough to try feeding.
Unlike dogs (and more like sick cats) snakes can be finicky eaters especially when stressed by new surroundings or improper care.
Or the trauma of suddenly finding yourself in the wild with zero hunting skills after an entire life being pampered indoors.
Luckily, they can go two months or more without a meal and not suffer ill effects.
But close examination and experience told me that possibly three or 4 weeks had gone by since his last mouse-meal, and because I'm sure this has been someone's pet since hatching I felt that a nice dinner might be a comfort to the poor lost critter.

I went to PetCo and bought a frozen adult mouse for $1.79.
The package says it's a gourmet rodent--I'll post photos of this soon.
They are also 3/$5 or $2.29 for similar-sized living cheese-eaters.

The advantages of frozen mice versus live are numerous.
1) Freezing kills any parasites and bacteria or other cooties that might be on your rodent entree. This is huge.
2) The convenience factor is also huge. No need to make a trip to the pet store every week only to have to go right home and feed the snake with all of the associated periods of waiting and tranferring between home tank and feeding tank, etc. It's a complicated process unless you want your pet to make the mental connection between reaching your hand into the vivarium and instant food--this equals bites.
3) Zero chance of escaped mice doing their dirty mouse business deals in your home.
4) No need to incapacitate the food item somehow so it doesn't pose a danger to your prized pet. Generally this means picking up a live mouse by the tail and swinging it's head into a table or brick really hard.
Not my idea of fun.
But make no mistake--any mouse worth eating still has teeth and claws and can seriously mess-up a snake who isn't in the killing mood at the moment you decide to feed it, so you do what you have to do if your snake isn't interested in frozen (but thawed) mice.

My good fortune: Candy was obviously raised eating frozen mice.
This is a relief for so many reasons--not least of which is that live mice in the house would be a 'deal-breaker' meaning getting rid of the snake.

So last night's dinner party was very important, and it was a great success.

On with the show

Candy just edged up on the thawed mouse, all the while 'smelling' the air with his flickering tongue, and hesitated for only about two seconds before deciding that this was the kind of food he likes. Time to eat.

A lot of separated-jaw-action has gone on by now and it's kind of gross and scary looking. I get uncomfortable seeing the way my new pet has to punish it's body just to fit a decent meal inside such a small-looking mouth. That's why I skipped a lot of pictures that were kind of yucky (once you get past the other gross stuff here).
I picked all three of these photos specifically because it looks like Candy is smiling in them.

Toes and tails!
The whole process took only 12 minutes up to this point.
Then it slowed down a bit and after maybe 20 minutes the mouse was suddenly getting moved forcefully down Candy's length to his stomach with powerful contractions.

We had a snake with a happy lump in the middle.
Everything about this feeding went perfectly and I was so pleased that my little buddy took me off the hook--I won't have to teach him any new tricks in order to keep my new pet.

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