Monday, December 10, 2012

Cute New Member of the Family; Python Regius

Velvet just "hanging out"
On Wednesday I received a new baby Ball Python. She's a little 6 month old female Butter Black Pewter (a morph made up of several co-dominant genes; Butter, Plack Pastel, and Cinnamon). See many of the different color and pattern mutations these beautiful snakes come in here at the World of Ball Pythons where you can learn just about everything you want to know about these wonderful creatures.
I don't have a video camera or a cell phone to take videos with but did manage to put together a slideshow type video to post on Youtube;
I named her Velvet because she has such a soft gradient look to her. My favorite Ball Python morphs are ones such as Soulsuckers, Mystic Potions, Purple Passions, Super Phantoms, (all very expensive) but she has that look, so when I saw her back in July I just had to have her!
I did a payment arrangement with the breeder, and 5 months later and after alot of saving and sacrifice my little bundle of joy was delivered via Fed Ex! I was so excited. It was the perfect start to the holiday season.
I had her cage all ready and waiting for her, complete with heating pad, a branch I had attached some fake foliage around, a natural-looking rock style water dish, thermometer, and hygrometer to monitor temperature and humidity, and a red plastic folgers coffee container used as a hide so that she can curl up in a nice secure space when she wants some privacy.
When I first opened up the little bag she came in I was surprised at just how petite she was; her neck only about as big around as a pencil and her head the width of my thumb!
Ball Pythons when full grown reach about 3-5 feet in length, and can get pretty thick in proportion to their length.
She currently eats rat pups (baby rats with fur already but only about 2.5 inches in length). With her tiny little neck she would not physically be able to swallow anything bigger than that. Velvet ate her first meal on Friday since she arrived here with no problems. Here she resembles a stuffed tube sock as she stretches to fit her food down her throat.
Over the next year I think her growth will probably increase quite a bit.
She's still a little shy but overall is pretty active considering she hasn't fully gotten used to me yet.
The day I got her she climbed on my arm, and after awhile she went up my sleeve and curled up under my arm in my shirt.
If you look closely you can see that she has unusual eyes that seem to match the stripes on the sides of her face. The top part of her eyes is sort of a light blue, and then it gradually fades to brown as it goes toward the bottom. My theory about why this is, is that it could be a form of camouflage. These snakes in the wild would be more protected from predators if their eyes blended in to their surroundings as much as possible. This is why Albinos are pretty rare among wild populations of most animals. They stand out too much thus making them easy prey.
In captivity though, selective breeding has produced a number of Albino and other recessive hypomelanistic forms of Ball Pythons.
Generally Ball Pythons of breeding age and size breed just once a year, but some lay eggs and hatch them in Spring or Summer and others in Fall and Winter. It is always exciting to watch these little snakes being born.
If you're considering a pet snake, a Ball Python is a very good choice. Other than some minor particulars such as going off food for periods (they store nutrients so healthy snakes can live this way for a number of weeks or months without suffering malnutrition), and the need for heat in their enclosure to ensure proper digestion, these snakes are relatively low maintenence, and they are easy to tame; most having a very mild temperament.
Contrary to the stereotype (that they just sit there and have very little going on upstairs), Ball Pythons are quite intelligent and aware of their surroundings. They do hear you talking to them, know when you enter the room, and can track movement on the TV screen or computer monitor. If you don't believe this take a look at some videos by this woman on Youtube whose username is 1softkiss;
Her videos act as observational studies on snake behavior and I believe have made a significant contribution to improved understanding of the capacity of these animals, not only among those who do not have snakes as pets, but within the snake/reptile community as well.
There is mounting documentation that snakes are not the one dimensional limited "primitive brain" animals that they were once believed to be, that they perceive alot more about the world than most give them credit for, that they can bond with their owners, and with other species, and that they are capable of showing affection!
Just as cats and dogs do, snakes have a "language" all their own, a form of communication that is species specific. Up until recently we humans have not generally paid as close attention to the meaning behind their behavior, as we have with other animals comminly kept as pets, and I believe this is in large part because so many are afraid of them and prefer to avoid them. With the recent legislation connected with the Lacey Act, humans are now more interested in more thoroughly understanding them, partly out of necessity, and partly out of curiosity.
Understanding snakes' communication is important for a number of reasons. It allows us to predict their actions, thus preventing a bite, it lets us know whether they're happy and healthy, and it allows us not merely to view them from a "cautious" distance, but to enriches their lives, and ours too through more meaningful interaction with them! 
The one positive outcome resulting from all the knee-jerk legislation recently covered in the media is that snakes are no longer relegated to the darkest corners of our minds, tucked away and not thought about, mired in superstition and forboding. Instead they are out in the light, and more people than ever before now want to make their peace with them, even make friends with them, and take them into their homes as a loved part of the family.
No longer is the paradigm of cuteness restricted to animals with fuzzy fur and warm bodies. As we become more accepting as a society towards diversity in humans, we also begin to think about parallel diplomatic relationships between ourselves and other animals with whom we share the earth.
I have always loved snakes and wanted one, so all this new information wasn't a stretch for me, but for many, meeting the snake face to face is a form of healing and catharsis, and on an even deeper sociological anthropological level, it is the beginning of very important work in healing that larger intergenerationally fractured relationship between man and snake, and coming out with a more reality-based interpretation of how we define that relationship in the here and now.