An Introduction To My Madness
I have always been an animal lover, and I have a weakness for all things unusual. So, with many hobbies centered around animals and our pets, we started a group that provides information and resources for Exotic pets, lovingly named "The Odd Pet Out." Centered around the undeniable fact that so many pets with demanding care requirements and specific needs are sold daily without proper education.
Needless to say, not all of the animals we have fostered left our care. Our goal is generally to rehab to the wild or a refuge, but always to a knowledgeable home. The ones that have disabilities or long-term care requirements have at times ended up eventually becoming a part of our family. My heart has always been set on giving them the best and most natural home they could hope for, knowing they would never be able to experience being wild.
I made and designed our turtle tank decor for our first rescue and the reason we started The Odd Pet Out. Little Bulleye was a baby turtle the size of a quarter, bought from a reptile show for only $10 and sold with a small plastic dish that held enough water to barely cover his shell. So I shopped and searched for tank decor that would be more natural to him instead of stiff and unnatural basking docks that would take up the entire swimming area.
My Most Recent Work Of Heart
Called my work of heart because I am never quite sure it deserves to be called art, but I do it with the best intentions.
Recently we were involved in a relocation project for tiny tadpoles and a few frogs. A mother had ordered them for her kids as a schooling project to witness them grow but ended up needing to dig up the pond. With tadpoles collected from different sources, we worked closely with our local wildlife control to return as many as possible to the wild. Unfortunately, two grown frogs and four babies ended up with injuries or deformities that would require them to have special care.
The frogs deserved to be free, but we were assured they wouldn’t survive. So immediately, I started working on my next work of heart…
The Tree Frog Fortress
I start with chemical-free soft foam, purchased in blocks. The soft foam provides a more workable surface and a softer base. This time, due to the amount of water I wanted the scape to sit in, I measured and prepared it to be a tight fit so the foam wouldn’t float. I moved blocks around like I was planning to build a castle. Once I had a landscape in mind with places intended for live plants and even a tiny calmer pond at the end of a waterfall leading into the main body of water, I began cutting off chunks and large holes to make the layout of my creation.
After the general shape was formed, I would cut small slits in the foam and use my fingers to pinch out chunks to make it look like natural rocks.
Landing places, hiding places, and holes to plant live plants were scattered around to provide cover, security, and a home for my little friends, who drew the short end of the stick.
Next came color. I put a base coat of sealant on the foam to protect the structure from breaking down, to hold the blocks together, and to stiffen up the foam, so it wasn’t too soft after being added to the water. I left the inside of the hideouts bare and would only coat them with the final coat of sealant.
I used a dark tan and went over most areas lightly with a textured stroke, then again lighter with a lighter, more sand color, all with a regular home paintbrush.
Dabs of green primarily for decor were added that would have to suffice until the moss cultures I was growing could cover the areas. Black was used, providing more depth visually, and white was used for the opposite effect.
The only other color added was brown because even though I could not provide them real trees, I tried my best to provide them with the best fake trees possible. In between the coats of paint and curing times, we foraged and grew different mosses, got aquatic plants, acquired driftwood, and cured all plants and the landscape to ensure it was safe and sealed properly.
Even though all plants, paints, and decor were 100% safe and non-toxic, we wanted to ensure no small debris would fall off and that there would be no discoloration of the water. After waiting two long weeks of having it in place and all test coming out clear, we were finally ready to add our little friends.
I could never compare to the beauty of mother nature. Hopefully, with her as my muse and love in my heart, I have provided a great home for some little friends who tugged on our heartstrings. We wanted to make sure if their home could not be in nature, we would do our best to provide the best nature we could in our home.
- The Un-Traditional Mother