Thanksgiving is a time to sit down with one’s family and enjoy some good food. While each family celebrates this holiday differently, however, there is one thing that we all do collectively together. On this day, we all stop and look around at the people and things that we are grateful for in our lives. For some people--this is their family members, others it is their careers, and for some others, it is for themselves and what they have accomplished in the year. Whatever the reason you celebrate this holiday, just know that you deserve to treat yourself to all the cooked turkey, mashed potatoes, corn, green bean casserole, and pumpkin pie-- to your heart’s and stomach’s content!
I grew up on a 27-acre farm in Maryland and spent weekends at our larger farm in West Virginia. There, we had over 200 acres of mountains, a creek, a family (not our family) graveyard, and all the wildlife you could handle.
Wednesday 4 November, Entry 454.
It's another gloomy day. The humans have emerged from their caves, wherever that may be, and have burst into our confines, stomping. They always seem to push a large white boulder wide open, letting in a glare of light from beyond it. I wonder where that light leads... I wonder if I'll ever get there.
For those of you who are eagle eyed you may have noticed that my avatar image is a picture of rattus rattus; AKA the common rat. It is, in fact, a photo of some of my own rats altered through a pop art filter. I chose the picture because I. Love. Rats. There, I said it. Now I’m sure most of you will cringe as your mind conjures imagery of disgusting giant sewer rats terrorising family homes and dragging babies from their cribs. Whilst that really is a thing (yes, really!), I am not talking about feral street rats, I am talking about domesticated pet rats or ‘fancy’ rats.
All my life I have admired and fought for animal rights. My family being a bunch of animal lovers themselves instilled the love for them in my heart and mind. Through my life I had several pets. From fish to hamsters, cats to dogs, and bearded dragons to capuchin monkeys. Yes, you read that correctly. I said capuchin monkeys.
I started keeping reptiles about ten years ago around the same time I started teaching. If you can afford it, it can become an addiction. “Passion” would be a better word. Addictions hurt people. Passions can too, but they’re usually more positive. There are Youtube videos of people with Reptile Rooms. I have one too (though I don’t have a Youtube channel yet), but a lot of these guys may also have venomous or dangerous animals as well. Like alligators (surprisingly it only seems to be illegal to keep alligators in states where they occur in the wild. But don’t quote me on that.) There are memes about reptile addiction. T-shirts. The Reptile business itself is a billion dollar industry with small expos and large breeder conventions held several times a year. Expos can be “normal” or “hot”. “Hot” expos sell venomous reptiles, usually in deli cups with red tape. Reptiles are often sold in deli cups of various sizes. They don’t have the space requirements that a dog would for example, so its not entirely inhumane. But for some people it takes some getting used to.
A few years back, I was nearing retirement and looking forward to remaining in my big home in a big city. Then, I was given a choice: take custody of my then 1 1/2 year old granddaughter or see her sent to foster care. We did ok at first, she, I and my son. We juggled his school and my two jobs, though at times not so well. Then my daughter announced another pregnancy. And I had to start thinking about schooling for two little girls. The city was no place for them. So I packed them up, and my son, for which I am so grateful, also packed up and we moved to my "ancestral home". Then there was another pregnancy and another call about foster care. I made the 12 hour drive to get her, stayed overnight at a hotel and drove back. Hawks flew along side the car most of the way back down the old country highways. The little one-bedroom house on the river suddenly seemed too small, porch and outbuildings or no. So we moved from my late dad's place to a little mobile home with a pond and some acreage and fruit trees. We were living on the same road as my grandfather's generation had and I was pleased with the knowledge that "we" had returned - the girls would be the 7th generation here.
A football match between Carlton Athletic and Ilkley Town had to be halted for fifteen minutes when an alpaca named Oscar invaded the pitch.
In my article Venom, I talked a little bit about these strange yet harmless little creatures. Now I'm back to offer some more info on keeping these salamanders which are being kept alive by the Pet Trade. Axolotl's are native to lake Xochimilco in Mexico City, but are now rarely found in the wild. These creatures now only exist in captivity in labs and as pets. They are inexpensive and easy to keep, so keeping them and breeding them is a helpful act of conservation. I won't get into breeding them, but I will give some basic tips on how to care for one.
I like animals. I’m one of those people who likes animals more than people.
I’m a reptile person. I’m one of those people with a room in their house filled with tanks of snakes and lizards.
I have been keeping axolotls for years. I like to think that I know a thing or two about caring for them after all that time. Once you have everything set up there isn’t that much daily or weekly maintenance that needs to be done with them. But to begin the setup.
For those of us who are intrigued by the frequent reports of big cat sightings in the wilderness and countryside of Britain, the ‘Dangerous Wild Animals Act’ of 1976 is likely to be familiar. It is an essential component of the tale, which is referred to by all enthusiasts and experts, but is actually understood in depth by very few…