Thursday, 27 August 2009

Yellow anacondas.

I've decided to write about yellow anacondas because I want one!! Unfortunately I'm not aloud one, partly because I don't have the money and partly because I'm 18 and thus still live at home and am burdened with the rules of my mother. So I'll just have to write about them instead.
Now when people normally talk about anacondas you think of a green anaconda, which are the second largest species of snake (after the reticulated python) and can grow as large as 30 feet. They are also one of the only snakes that can actually eat you! yes snakes have to be 30 feet long before they can even eat a small person (so nothing to worry about when you meet burmese pythons and things they won't bother attacking you as they know they can't eat you). They need to this big because otherwise they would choke on your shudders, remember that they swallow their prey whole so can't bite bits off.
But enough about green anacondas I'm personally more interested in yellow anacondas or a Paraguaya anaconda. Although they don't get to 30 feet they are still fairly big and can reach as much as 15 feet (but that's rare) and they average at about 10 feet. Like green ones they are also found in South America and are semi aquatic, meaning they don't live in water but they like to swim, which is a jolly good reason no to go swimming in rivers in South America!! They can be found in swamp, marshes and on river banks.
In captivity anacondas are known for being fairly bad tempered, unpredictable, and can bite very easily, so are only kept by experienced and trained keepers (like me!! :)).
Incidentally they are a red listed species (meaning they are endangered) and are classified as 'vulnerable'. As a result of this they are protected by CITES (which is a Certificate for the International Trade of Endangered Species of wild flora and forna and is used to keep track of endangered species in captivity), so if you own a wild captured one (which I don't support) then you need documentation for them, without it the animal will be confiscated. However captive breed animals don't need them and can be bought for around £175 but they're hard to come by.

Now you may be asking why the hell I want one. Well that's simple, I like the slightly unusual pets. The less well known species of animal. And the more dangerous the better!!
And yes I know I'm mental!

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Woburn safari park. Squirrel monkey enclosure.

On the whole I was really really impressed with all of Woburn safari park. There wasn't a single enclosure I didn't like. I loved the lion enclosure which was several acres large and you actually have to search for the lions, it was almost as big as their natural territory size. The lions were the biggest enclosures by far but all of them were massive, all of which had lots of natural trees and bushes. I didn't notice the wolves wandering free around the same enclosure as the bears until they cam loping around the bushes for feeding time.
But my favorite was the squirrel monkey enclosure which was walk through. It was large and open with no roof, but well designed over hanging mesh sides to keep them in. This is a technique that's normally used to make the visitors feel better about the enclosure, it gives a more open feeling. But in this case this allowed the safari park to have naturally growing trees in the enclosure. It was brilliant, they were large and very good for the monkeys to climb. They also had little structures to climb on and ropes for them to walk along.

They also had access to an indoor area that was entered through half a dozen tubes, to get into it there were little flappy doors that the monkeys could open. I also loved that they had about 3 mothers with young infants clinging to their backs. it is probably the best enclosure i've seen in a while!!

Sunday, 28 June 2009

15 Steps to giving a cat a pill!

I must begin by saying that this is not my own work, I have copied this from Awkward's Humor and Sillies.

1. Pick up cat and cradle it in the crook of your left arm as if holding a baby. Position right forefinger and thumb on either side of cat's mouth and apply gentle pressure to cheeks while holding pill in right hand. As cat opens mouth pop pill into mouth. Allow cat to close mouth and swallow.

2. Retrieve pill from floor and cat from behind sofa. Cradle cat in left arm and repeat process.

3. Retrieve cat from bedroom and throw soggy pill away.

4. Take new pill from foil wrap, cradle cat in left arm holding rear paws tightly with left hand. Force jaws open and push pill to back of mouth with right forefinger. Hold mouth shut for a count of 10.

5. Retrieve pill from goldfish bowl and cat from top of wardrobe. Call spouse from garden.

6. Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between knees, hold front and rear paws. Ignore low growls emitted by cat. Get spouse to hold head firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into mouth. Drop pill down ruler and rub cat's throat vigorously.

7. Retrieve cat from curtain rail, get another pill from foil wrap. Make note to buy new ruler and repair curtains. Carefully sweep shattered figurines and vases from hearth and set to one side for glueing later.

8. Wrap cat in large towel and get spouse to lie on cat with head just visible from below armpit. Put pill in end of drinking straw, force mouth open with pencil and blow down drinking straw.

9. Check label to make sure pill not harmful to humans, drink glass of water to take taste away. Apply Band Aid to spouse's forearm and remove blood from carpet with cold water and soap.

10. Retrieve cat from neighbour's shed. Get another pill. Place cat in cupboard and close door onto neck to leave head showing. Force mouth open with dessert spoon. Flick pill down throat with elastic band.

11. Fetch screwdriver from garage and put cupboard door back on hinges. Apply cold compress to cheek and check records for date of last tetanus jab. Throw away T-shirt and fetch new one from bedroom.

12. Ring Fire Brigade to retrieve cat from tree across road. Apologise to neighbour who crashed into fence while swerving to miss cat. Take last pill from foil wrap.

13. Tie cat's front paws to rear paws with garden twine and bind tightly to leg of dining table. Find heavy duty pruning gloves from shed. Push pill into mouth followed by large piece of fillet steak. Hold head vertically and pour 2 pints of water down throat to wash pill down.

14. Get spouse to drive you to Casualty, sit quietly while doctor stitches finger and forearm and removes remnants of pill from right eye. Call furniture shop on way home to order new table.

15. Call RSPCA to collect devil cat and ring pet shop to see if they have any nice hamsters.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Animal collective nouns.

Did you know that almost every animal in the world has a different word for a group of them? (excluding animals that are solitary)
There's the ones everyone knows:
  • A colony of ants
  • A herd of deer
  • A troop of gorillas
  • A cete of badgers
  • A swarm of bees
  • A pack of dogs
  • A gaggle of geese
  • A pride of lions
  • A parliament of owls
Some that you might not know:
  • A bask of crocodiles
  • A sleuth of bears
  • A rabble of butterfly
  • A clutter of cats
  • A coalition of cheaters
  • A leap of leopards
  • A business of ferrets
  • An intrusion of cockroaches
  • A piteousness of doves
  • A charm of humming birds
  • An aerie of hawks
  • A siege of herons
  • A bloat of hippopotamus
  • A murder of crows
  • A mischief of mice
  • A yoke of oxen
  • An ostentation of peacocks
  • A trace of rabbits
  • A crash of rhinos
  • A shiver of sharks
  • A bale of turtles
  • A decent of woodpeckers
  • A tower of giraffes
  • A dray of squirrels
  • An unkindness of ravens
  • A gaze of raccoons
  • A parcel of penguins
  • An exhalation of lark
  • A quiver of cobra
And my personal favorites:
  • A dazzle of zebra
  • An implausibility of gnu
  • A smack of jellyfish

Sunday, 7 June 2009

why not become a veterinary surgeon?

I’m going to tell you why not. To do this I’m going to tell you a little story (well not very little). I might note now that this is completely fabricated, none of the characters exist and none of these exact things have happened. But it is based on truth!

The story starts with 14 year old Elizabeth Jones from Cornwall, let’s call her Liz. She loves animals. She’s in year 9 and thinking about her GCSE options, so one day they have a careers day to help them decide and there’s a vet there. So obviously she talks to this vet and decides then and there that she wants to be a vet as well. She picks her GCSEs (which include all the sciences and statistics), now Liz isn’t a clinical genius but she’s fairly smart. Over the next 2 year Liz works very hard, forfeiting her social life in favour of the A*s that she needs. She’s been to about 4 parties the whole time but come results days she’s got her A*s (except for textiles which she has a B but that doesn’t matter).

Next she goes on to do her AS levels in which she has to take biology, chemistry, physics, maths and further maths. Again she needs A*s so for another year for forgoes a social life. But again when results day roles around she’s got her A*s. so Liz goes on to do biology, chemistry, physics and maths at A2 level. Now she starts A2 in September but she needs to have her UCAS application and personal statement in by the needs of October if she wants to get into Veterinary college. Yet another year goes by where she has no social life. But come results day none of that matters because she’s got her A*s and she’s got into veterinary college. It’s all good!

So she’s off to the Royal Veterinary College in London. Obviously she can’t live at home so she moves out and gets a student loan. She’s going to spend 4 years in undergraduate college and 4 years studying veterinary medicine. So that’s 8 years of university in which she has to work her little socks of because a veterinary science degree is the hardest course you can do (yes harder than becoming a doctor). Again Liz has very little social life because of her work load but she does manage to get herself a nice boyfriend called Jack, he’s a business student. Now after 8 long gruelling years of hard work she finally graduates with a first in Veterinary Science. She’s about £100,000 in debt but she’s a vet at last. It’s all good!

So Liz and Jack get married, move to Yorkshire and buy a nice little cottage in a quaint little village. Jack goes off to work in some big corporation while Liz takes up a job at the local vet practise and becomes best friend with the qualified vet nurse, Anna. The practise is open from 8.30am to 7pm, 7 days a week. Liz works 9 hours a day, 6 days a week. But because she lives 2 minutes from the practise she’s also on call 24/7.

One night Liz gets a call at 3am saying that Mrs David’s pedigree poodle has gone into labour but there are complications and she’s needed. But by the time she gets there she can only save the mother but not the puppies, there was a blockage and all the puppies suffocated. She gets the puppies out, sews the mum back up, charges Mrs David £300 for the call out and goes back to bed. This is not the first or last time this happens.

It’s a year or so later and Jack wants kid, they’re both 27 and got good jobs so it seems like the right time. But no, how can Liz take maternity leave when sick animals rely on her? Besides she’s virtually infertile due to the stress of long hours and frequent call-outs. So the marriage starts to shake. In the mean time Anna, Liz’s best friend, has discovered that being a vet nurse pays almost nothing for a very stressful job, so she’s quitting to go teach animal care in Gloucester. It’s not all good anymore!

One days old widowed Higginbottom brings in Fluffums, her cat and only companion in the world, he’s been hit by a car and is bleeding internally. Liz takes a look at him and realises the only option is to ‘humanely destroy’ (you’re not aloud to say ‘put down’ anymore) Fluffums. She goes to tell the old widow Higginbottom, the poor old lady is distraught, she begs Liz to try and save her faithful companion, she cries and wails and moans. But Liz knows there is nothing that can be done so she gets the widow to sigh a consent form and ‘humanely destroys’ Fluffums. She then charges the old widow higginbottom £30 for the consultation and £30 for the euthanasia.

Now it’s been over a year since Jack first wanted kids and since then the marriage has careened down hill. Until one day Jack leaves Liz for his secretary, who’s a 23 year old Barbie look-a-like with 3 brain cells but she also has an available uterus and a less demanding job. So Liz is now single, friendless and hundreds of miles from her family, she’s feeling a bit lonely (as well as immensely stressed and tired from work). Nothing is good!

But life in the vet practice goes on. One day the Roncary family bring in Thumper the rabbit. He’s here for a routine operation to remove a tumour, but Debbie and Adam, the adorable little 10 year olds, are worried. Liz assures them “Thumper will be just fine!”. The operation goes well and the tumour is successfully removed; now all they have to do is wait for Thumper to come round from the anaesthetic. But he never does, the most common complication in surgeries is with anaesthetic. Liz now has to go tell the family that their rabbit has sadly died. They’re not happy, the kids ball their eyes out saying: “you promised he’d be ok!!” and the parents want to sew her but of course they signed a consent form so they can’t. She then has to charge them £200 for the surgery.

By this point Liz has very serious depression as a result of her divorce (very expensive divorce I might add) and the stressful and depressing job she has. You’d think with such a well paid job she could afford a great councillor. No! you’re forgetting she’s still massively in debt from university, the divorce and the mortgage on the nice little cottage. The big box of horse tranquilizers at work is looking more and more appealing. Life is terrible!

Until one day after having to destroy a farmer’s entire heard of cattle because of a blue tongue out break, she snaps! She goes home, leaves the door unlocked for someone to find the body and takes 50 horse tranquilizers. Fortunately Mr Brook from next-door came round because he was worried about his Labrador, so has come to ask her about it. He finds her passed out on the floor and calls 999. Liz gets her stomach pumped, is given time of work, find a good therapist and starts dating Mr Brook from next door. So for Elizabeth Jones it’s all good again.…. for now!!

Just to remind you this is totally fabricated. However Veterinary surgeons has the highest rate of suicide out of any other profession (within reason).

I have written this story because I am often asked “why not become a vet?” well that is exactly why. And remember those student loads next time you winge about a vet bill, there is a very good reason why it costs so much to see a vet even for 10 minutes.

Saturday, 6 June 2009


This post has nothing to do with deadly poisons. I'm talking about my brand new pet snake. He's a jungle jaguar carpet python, now named Arsenic. He's 75% jungle carpet python and 25% jaguar carpet python (which is a colour variation of a coastal carpet python). He's a bit less than 1 1/2 years old at the moment and he's about 2 1/2 feet long.
Now jungle carpet pythons are black with bright yellow patterned (picture) and jaguar carpet pythons are a pale yellow with faded black patter (picture). So when Arsenic is about 2 years old (which is when they reach their true colour) he's be black with sort of faded yellow patterning.
Interestingly a lot of pet shops put carpet pythons down as being very difficult to keep and should only be kept by experience keeper, but I've done some research and talked to thee guy I bought him off and apart from being snappy as juveniles they're not much harder to keep than other pythons.
Just a little bit about them. Carpet pythons are found in the in and around Australia. They become fully grown and sexually mature at about 3 to 4 years old. Fully grown they are between 4 and 7 feet, males normally about 5 feet and females about 6 feet. They eat mice and rats.

I happened to get my lovely python off a breeder in Solihul, near Birmingham. He actually doesn't breed carpet pythons but he does breed royal pythons, corn snakes, leopard geckos and bearded dragons. Website.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Giant green sea turtle conservation!

One of the major high light of the trip over all was our visit to Turtle island off the east coast of Sabah. This is one of the nesting sights for giant green sea turtles. They are considered 'threatened' by the IUCN, so there is a big conservation effort going on.
Every single egg laid on the island is collected as they are being laid. It's not hard to collect the eggs because the mother laying the eggs goes into a sort of trance when she is laying, making her oblivious to anything around her. The eggs are then taken to an incubator, this is simply a protected area of sand where they are reburied and marked. The mother is measured and recorded, if she isn't already tagged they tag her. She then returns to the sea completely oblivious to the eggs no longer being in the hole she buried them in and not to return for 2 years. Once the turtles hatch they are released directly into the wild. The night we were there, over 1000 eggs were collected.
HOWEVER a scientist put trackers on 1000 baby turtles and by the time they got to the feeding grounds about 10 years later only 3 were alive, that's 99.97% of all babies die before they reach sexual maturity. This is a common technique for carrying on the species, either animals have few babies and take very good care of them or have lots and hope that a few survive to carry on the species.
Now although we are partly responsible for this huge number of deaths we must remember that the babies are very small, so are easy prey for most large carnivorous sea creatures. But we are still partly responsible. They are killed by:
  • Pollution.
  • Eating plastic bags (their diet is mainly jelly fish so an easy mistake).
  • Trapped in fishing nets.
  • Killed by propeller blades.
  • Hunted for shells and other components.
  • Eggs used in chinese medicine.
So as a result of all of this the turtle laying sights are now so protected there is a military presence on the island (they're also there to stop Philippino illegal immigration). There are also very strict regulations such as; you're not aloud on the beach after sun set and before 6 am and you're not aloud to take photos while on the island but you can buy them.

Oh and 1 other thing, i'm no bunny hugger but, baby turtles are the sweetest little creatures in the world.

Friday, 22 May 2009

5 orang utan encounters.

Throughout my short time in Borneo I had 5 different meetings with 5 different orang utans in 5 totally different situations. Orang utan is Malay for man of the forest and is technically 2 words (so don't tell me I'm spelling it wrong).

The first meeting was probably the best. While on the river cruise through the rain forest we saw a completely wild female orang utan in a tree by the river side. It was truly amazing to see such a beautiful animal, so carefree and natural. She didn't mind us watching her one bit and just watched us back. We spent a good half an hour just watching her swing about in this tree before leaving her alone.
The second was in the Sepilock orang utan sanctuary. Although we didn't see much of the orang utans we didn't mind as the sanctuary does so much for conservation. Their purpose is to rescue orphaned or injured orang utans. They then hand raise the animals and slowly release them into a protected area of rainforest around the sanctuary. They will put out food on platforms for the orang utans to come back to and feed from if they want but they become effectively wild. Some orang utans come back for all of their lives and some are never seen again. These orang utans become completely wild again and form their own natural society, they now have a 3rd generation of wild orang utans around the sanctuary. The sanctuary has even released some orang utans back into the class 1 rainforest (untouched by humans).
Our third was at the zoo. Although other enclosures in the zoo where horrible, I was impressed with their orang utan enclosure. It was well spaced, had good enrichments and was well maintained.
The forth encounter was with a semi wild orang utan near the hot springs we visited. The hot springs are on the edge of Kinabalu park which is a huge area around mount Kinabalu, which is totally protected rainforest. This orang utan lived on the edge of the park and was occasionally fed by park rangers when food was scares. However it became familiar with humans and is now fed a lot by tourists (that's why he's a bit fat). So although he's technically wild he was partly domesticated.
The final meeting we had was a completely domesticated orang utan that we had come to the resort for us to see. Although we weren't aloud to touch her (named girl) we were aloud to we close to her and watch her play in the tee. It was very strange to see a combination of orang utan behavior and copied human behavior. Some people might think it's wrong to have her like this but now that she is domesticated there is no point trying to release her and the money she raises by visiting tourists like this goes to conservation of her natural habitat (this is the same principal behind zoos).

Over all I found it interesting to see the behavioral and even physical differences between the 5 orang utans. If you look carefully at the pictures you will see the more wild orang utans are more of a dark reddy-orange colour opposed to the captive ones which are a light orange colour. Out of all of them my favorite will always be the wild orang utan.

Ring tailed lemur enclosure!

While I was in Borneo we visited a local zoo. We were all prepared for poor enrichments and enclosures as the animal welfare laws in Malaysia are virtually none existent.
Now you all know now much I love ring tailed lemurs. So, even though I was prepared for it, their enclosure in this zoo still shocked me. Some enclosures we saw were quite good, almost as good as british zoos. But this was the most horrific thing I have ever seen.
This enclosure contained 2 lemurs. The enclosure consisted of a box that was about 10 feet by 10 feet by 10 feet. There were a couple of branches in it for them to climb on. And that was it!!!
While I was stood there I watched one of them walk round and round and round on the branches in the enclosure. This is what is called "stereotypical behavior". This type of behavior is seen in captive animals that are basically going insane. In British zoos they try to reduce this by giving the animals "behavioral enrichments". This is basically things to do, things like trees to climb on, balls, hiding their food, dragging meat for carnivores to chase. Basically little things that will encourage them to do things they would naturally do in the wild.
Other stereotypical behavior you might see:
  • pacing.
  • rocking/swaying.
  • over grooming.
  • self harm.
  • calling.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009


Well i'm home from my exciting 2 week adventure in Sabah (land below the wind) in Borneo.
I'd quite like to go back now. I've been home 5 hours, I think that's long enough!!
A quick summary of the things I did:
  • Went to turtle island and saw a turtle lay eggs, released baby sea turtles and went snorkeling over a coral reef.
  • Went to a bat cave and got pooped on, saw lots of insects and the sight for collecting edible birds nests.
  • Went on a river cruise through the rainforest and saw wild proboscis monkeys, orangutans, silvery langers, and long tailed macaques.
  • Went on a night walk and saw frogs, insects, a mock viper and got leaches attached to me.
  • visited the Sepilock orangutan sanctuary and saw some protected orangutans.
  • went to Monsopiat the village of the head hunters tribe, where I joined in tribal dancing, used a blow pipe and ate a live insect (not a small one either).
  • visited a zoo where some enclosures I was impressed and others I saw truly socked. i also rode an elephant.
  • went out on a boat to go fishing but didn't catch fish, instead I jumped 15 feet off the boat and into the water (very fun).
  • visited Kinabalu national park and saw some very endangered plant species.
  • went on a walkway through the rainforest canopy (very dangerous but lots of fun) and hummed the indiana jones theme tune.
  • went swimming in a hot springs and forgot to bring spare clothes.
  • met a semi wild male orangutan (I will write more on that later).
  • had a domestic orangutan come to the resort for us to simply be around and interact with a little, which was interesting and enjoyable.
  • went to a local market which was fun except for them selling pets and not looking after them properly.
  • went white water rafting only grade 1 and 2 (gentle) but it was still fun. and I got pushed in by spider man (the instructor's name, don't ask).
  • also sampled lots of local cuisine and drank lots of cocktails.
  • Even the plane journeys were fun, I watcher 6 films, flew over Iraq and saw a lightning storm in india from above.
So all in all it was everything I expected and more. I would do it again in a heart beat. I've learned so much about the country, culture, species, rainforest and in-situe conservation programs.

Over the next couple of weeks I intend to write a series of blogs about the things i've seen, done, learnt and thought about while in Borneo. I will look at some moral and ethical issues raised during the trip.

Monday, 4 May 2009

And I'm off

well I've been planning and preparing for this trip for the last 2 1/2 years. Finally I'm leaving for Borneo tomorrow morning at 3:30am. I'll be back in about 15 days and I'll have lots of things to post!!

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Black mamba snake.

I was also very pleased at seeing a black mamba snake today, last time I went they were redoing the enclosure.
They're truly beautiful creatures. The names comes from the insides of their mouths being back.
They are considered one of the world's most dangerous snake.
They are found in many parts of Africa and can be found in many different types of habitats, including; savanna, woodland, and rocky outcrops.
They are the second largest venomous snake in the world (behind the king cobra) and the largest in Africa. They average at about 8.2 feet but have been known to reach 14 feet. The one I saw today was about 10 feet (at a guess).
They are also the world's fastest land snake, they can reach speeds of 12 mp/h.
When they hunt mambas deliver 1 or 2 strikes to land mammals and will strike and hold on when catching birds. But when defending themselves from larger animals (such as humans) they will deliver as many strikes as possible, they can strike as many as 12 times in a row. A single strike contains enough venom to kill up to 25 men.

All in all, it's pretty clear why it's considered one of the most dangerous snakes in the world.
So if you ever happen to some across one; RUN THE FUCK AWAY!!

More lemurs

Well today we went to Cotswold Wildlife Park, not one of the best zoos around (mainly because they allow dogs in which I hate) but it was still good. I really enjoyed just spending some time with one of my favorite animals, the ring tailed lemur. It's always good fun to just sit there and watch them interact.

He looks a little like he's in trouble.
A very affectionate couple and their new babies.
Everyone lined up.
Proud mum and her babies.
The whole troop.

Monday, 27 April 2009


Last night my brother came running in at about 11 and dragged me into the kitchen. He was insisting there was something making noise in the back garden, convinced it was either a dog or an axe wielding murdered. But when we turned the light on we found a pair of hedgehogs snuffing about in the leaves.
They were probably just out of hibernation. Normally hedgehogs will hibernate from about November to March but we've had quite a late winter this year. As it's warmed up over the last few week all the hibernating animals will have come out again.
Some larger hedgehogs can go into hibernation at about September and stay in until April. During hibernation they sometimes wake up several times to check and see how cold it is.

Also, have you ever wondered how hedgehogs have sex?
The hedgehog's dilemma is based on the idea that male hedgehogs would get injured by the female's spikes.
Well I discovered apparently the male's penis is very central to their abdomen and is often mistaken for a belly button. Females in estrous can then curl the end of her tail up to expose the vulva.
So hedgehog rape is impossible!!

And hedgehog offspring are called hoglets!!

Saturday, 28 March 2009


Did you know rabbit's aren't native to Britain?

Yes that's right. We all think of rabbits as being a classic british wild aniamal but they're not!!

They originate in spain and south-west france. They were brought to England by the Normans in the 12th century. They were kept in warrens and farmed for their meat and fur.
They didn't became wild in britain in the 19th century.
Then in the 1950's myxomatosis was introduced in an attempt to curb the population.

Now a day there is an approximate population of over 40 million rabbits in britain.

A couple pieces of vocabulary for you:
Altricial: means an animals offspring that is born needing constant care from the parents, often born blind, deaf and hairless like rabbits are. This is apposed to precocial animals that are born able to fend for them selves like zebra.
Crepuscular: meaning an animal that is only awake around dawn and dusk like a rabbit. this is apposed to nocturnal and diurnal, animals awake only at night or day.

Think about that next time you see a rabbit nibbling grass by the side of the road!!

Borneo update!!

here is a picture of all the routes flown by Royal Brunei airlines, you can see my flight route on here!!

As our study tour draws closer, there genuinely is NOTHING else we talk about. finally, yesterday the tutors gave us our flight details.
So for those interested, i'm going to share with you the immensely long and tiring day i will be spending traveling.
we leave college at 3.30 am. (Tuesday 5th) our flight leave Hethrow at 9.40 (bear in mind it only take about 2 hours to get to Hethrow from college). we will then have a 7 1/4 flight to Dubai, in the United Arab of Emerits near Soudi Arabia so that should be an interesting hour and a half we spend there. we then have an 8 1/2 hour flight to Bandar Seri Begwn in Brunei which is a very small country on the island of Borneo. we get to spend 7 1/2 hours there, how fun. before taking a 40 min flight to Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia. we will arrive at 5.35 pm (Wednesday 6th). in total it take about 24 hours to get from Hethrow to Kota Kinabalu.
fortunately on the way back we won't be spending as long in Brunei so it's only going to be a 20 hour journey but we still make the same stop overs.

So there you go. that will teach you all not to go to Borneo, it's going to be one hell of a tiring day!!!

Saturday, 28 February 2009


Some people will talk about 'what separates humans from animals'.
Some people will says it's grammar, but there are monkeys in the rainforest that make calls in different orders to apparently mean different things.
Some say it's lying, but again, the same set of monkeys will make a call at warn of a snake for example just so they can have the best bit of food.
Some say it is our ability to mourn the dead, but herds of elephants stop and mourn when a member of the group dies.

But if you ask me, it's our knowledge of out own mortality. yes animals have a sense of self preservation but they aren't aware that some day they will die. in this case i think the phrase 'ignorance is bliss applies'.

This is true, except in Terry Pratchit's 'Amazing Morris and his educated rodents', in the case of the rats that lived behind the unseen university, they are fully aware of their own mortality. Infact they even have their own grim reaper, or grim squeeker!


Thursday, 12 February 2009

Snake Jumper!

Since it has been particularly cold lately we've been worried about my pet snake Trixxy becoming cold. She is cold blooded so can't regulate her own body temperature. 
I combined my recently acquired interest in knitting with my long standing love of reptiles. 
So i knitted her a black and yellow stripy jumper!!!!!

Yes i am this weird!!

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Mosquito repelling.

Well, my college study tour to borneo is fast approaching. It's now only 11 weeks and 6 days till we leave. Last week we were give some more information about the trip, we will be leaving at 3:30 am but our flight isn't until 9:40. the flight there is 24 hours long which is going to kill us but the flight back is only 20 hours. 
Anyway, at college the only thing everyone's talking is what we're doing, what we're packing, the animals out there, and most of all: how not to get mosquito bites.
So we've come up with several good ways to keep mosquitos away:
  • Mosquito  repelling spray, should contain DEET (but not 100% because that just burns your skin off).
  • Having a high level of vitamin B in me blood, so I'm taking vitamin B complexes before leaving.
  • Eating marmite every day apparently keeps mosquitos away, unfortunately I hate marmite so I've been told to have a jar of marmite open in my room at night.
  • Lavender scented things, so lavender body wash, lavender oil, lavender body spray. You name it!!
Anyone know anything else?

Monday, 2 February 2009

Rats in the snow

well it's done nothing but snow for the last 24 hours so i thought i'd take the rat girls out and see what they thought of it.
turns out that rats really don't like snow. but they looked so cute all huddled up, so here's a few pictures. 

here's a video of me and my brother making a snow helm's deep in the back garden. 

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Snake Skins

this is my desert king snake, bellatrix (trixxy). i got her for christmas 2007 (i should note now that snakes are long living creatures and buying one should be carefully considered. snakes are for life not just for christmas)
well that's not what this post is about. i've had trixxy just over a year now and in the last year she has sluffed (shed her skin) a total of 10 times since i got her.  she was a very young snake when i got her, only a coupe of months old. 

her most recent sluff was about 3 days ago and her first sluff was about a month after i got her so these 2 skins are about 1 year apart in age. 

the first measures in at 1 foot 10 inches (57 cm)

the most recent measured in at about 2 feet 9 inches (85 cm)
so that's a total growth of just under a foot. 

it's interesting to see that only one of the the skins isn't totally complete. small snakes normally shed in a whole but bigger ones tend to shed off in lumps like lizards.

she's currently only about half as long as she can get. king snakes can get as long as about 6 feet but the average is about 4 feet. 

Saturday, 31 January 2009

Bohemian Waxwing

we had a Bohemian waxwing in our garden the other day. not your usual garden bird, in fact they tend to only enter gardens in the winter when food is scarce. unfortunately i didn't manage to see it but Dunk did, he said it was hopping out in the grass near the house. they are known for often having 2 nests that they return to. they were originally thought to have come from Bohemia somewhere in the far east. 

cool looking birds aren't they?

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

New Caledonian Crested Gecko

This is my favorite reptile, they are brilliant little creatures. i actually have one of these tattooed onto my ankle. 
they are arboreal geckos from the rain forest of New caledonia near New zealand. 
Their toes and tail are covered tiny little hair called satea, each of those hairs of divided into hundreds of even tinier hairs, these help the geckos so climb vertical surfaces and even sometimes on the ceiling. 
These geckos also have webbing on their legs and digits which allows them to jump long distances. 
They have heir like projections from just above their eyes which appear like eye lashes. however they have no eye lids, instead they have a transparent scale over their eye which keeps it moist. they then lip their eyes to remove debris. 
They are one of the few species of gecko that are omnivorous. 
They were thought extinct until after a tropical storm in 1994, they are now protected by CITES (convention on the international trade in endangered species of wild flora and fauna).
I love these geckos because they are so lovely creatures. they come in so many different colors and they feel like they're swayed. just before they just or walk their digits bend backwards, like they're  double jointed. i'd love to keep one of these but they're hard to find in the pet trade as it's illegal to take them from the wild.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Lemur Love

One of my favorite animals are ring tailed lemurs. Just some pics i've taken over the last few years.

Moments after the birth of 2 baby ring tailed lemurs that i witnessed. it was very interesting watching her eat the after birth. a strange time for them to be born as normally lemurs give birth at night. 

The baby lemurs again. for the first 2 weeks of life the babies cling to their mother's chest. after that they are cared for by the whole troop, carrier around on their backs.

A ring tailed lemur in Marwel zoo licking the wall. not exactly sure why she's doing this, possibly a mineral need or maybe it just tastes nice.

Hand feeding ring tails. they love grapes, this was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life.

Up close to a ring tailed lemur in Cotswold wildlife park. they have a walk through enclosure, normally lemurs wouldn't get this close but this one was used to people.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Crocodile eggs.

ok i found out this really interesting fact about Nile crocodiles the other day when we were discussing reptile breeding and thought i'd just share it with everyone. 
Nile crocodiles lay their eggs in nests along the bank of the river Nile. now when a crocodile egg is laid the embryo inside has no gender. their gender is determined later by the temperature of the neck. so if the egg are laid in a very warm or very cool nest the eggs will be female and if the temperature is in the middle they will be male. mother crocodiles know this so they will choose where they want to lay their their eggs depending on whether they want boys or girls. this means if their population is low on females a female will lay her eggs in a very warm nest and they'll get some more girls. how cool is that? they can regulate their own population. 
now if only humans could do than!!

The Pets

The family's pats. all of then except krox live with me.

Hazel my fancy rat. 

Scarlet my fancy rat.

Bellatrix (or Trixxy for short) my desert king snake. 

Holly the very hairy cat. 

my brother's blue tongues skink, Krox.

James Tiberious Kirk (or Kirk for short) my brother's (jacob) leopard gecko.

Lorelai my sister's (mirinda) gerbil