I wanted to quickly update that Ivy and Ki now have 5 eggs in their nest. I'm not expecting any more since Ivy seems to lay an egg every 3 days and we're past due. The usual clutch size for a halfmoon conure is 3-5. Ivy and Ki must be a happy couple!
We have been watching Domino, the corn snake, for the last week. She has been restless and not eating. In most cases we would be worried, but this case is special and we have no cause for alarm. Domino was gravid, this means she is pregnant. The behavior she was displaying was normal for a snake looking for just the right place to lay her eggs. When we saw this we provided her with a container filled with moist moss. She went right inside to check it out. After a few days she was not out and about in the morning rounds so we checked inside the box and she wasn't there. She was snuggled in underneath the box curled on top of a clutch of brand new eggs.
We gently removed the eggs and placed them in moist vermiculite to keep the shells hydrated by breathable. We offered Domino a very small pinky rat dusted with calcium to help replenish her stores that she just expended on forming and laying the eggs. She ate and she will be fed a lot in the coming weeks. She needs to gain her strength back after laying such a large amount of egg. She laid 22 in this clutch which is a record for her! We provided her plenty of calcium for the weeks leading up to her laying so she is in good health and has not retained any off the eggs. The last two years Domino has laid two clutches in the same year. This is known as double clutching. So we are prepared to make sure she eats enough and gets enough calcium to make sure she can go through the process again without taxing her health.
After making sure the snake eggs were safe and sound we continued the AM rounds. We discovered that Ivy and Ki, the halfmoon conures, had been busy for the last week. We generally don't check their nest box every day, but I had been noticing an increased aggression when I was feeding them so I had checked their box the previous week. It was still a bit early for them to be laying eggs, so I wasn't really expecting anything. But something told me to check this morning, and sure enough there were 3 perfect eggs in their nest. Good work Ivy and Ki! Last year was their first successful clutch, they laid 5 fertile eggs and 4 hatched healthy and happy. The 5th had formed but did not make it. I wonder if this year will just be the 3 or if Ivy still has an egg or two waiting to be laid. Conures can lay there eggs several days apart so we won't know if the clutch is completed for about another week.
Last year we found some amazing homes for the babies. The first one went to one our volunteers who adores birds and had another bird at home that needed company. They have become best friends and the household loves the newest member to bits. Numbers 2 and 3 went to a home together and joined a family of 3 who had lost their previous bird to old age and were wanting to open their home to another bird or two. The 4th baby stayed at Animal Wonders and has become such a wonderful Animal Ambassador. His name is Loulou and he is such a joy to have around. He became best buddies with our lone sun conure, Oliver, when he had lost his good friend Louie the previous year. Oliver and Loulou bonded immediately and are inseparable. They attend presentations together. They recently accepted Ringo,the Meyer's Parrot, into their little clan and the three of them complete their little eclectic family.
Animal Wonders does not focus on breeding exotic animals. The few babies that we raise are products of pairs that would lose their quality of life if separated. The corn snakes and the halfmoon conures are our only breeding pairs. Except of course for our Brush-Tailed Bettongs who are an endangered species and every effort to breed them is highly important. The corn snakes make excellent classroom pets and the halfmoon conures make perfect companion animals. Both are small and easy to care for if properly educated (we offer extensive care packets and life-long support), and they both can make wonderful companion animals. Promoting proper animals as pets as well as a high level of education on care is what we strive for. We absolutely do not promote ownership or breeding of illegal exotic pets or animals that we do not view as proper or beneficial to own. That said, it is still very difficult for us not to worry about maintaining our standard of care for the animals that we bring into this world. That is why we focus on educating every new owner on how best to care for their new pet, and also provide support for the animal's entire life.
Last week we gave our 4th presentation at The Springs retirement home. We always have such a great time there that we're thrilled to hear they love us as much as we love them!
We stopped in to say hello to my Grandma and eat dinner in their dining room the other day. It felt like we were famous with everyone stopping and saying hello and asking where the animals were. One lady stood out, she stopped at our table to tell us how wonderful she thought our presentations were. We were flattered and said how much we enjoyed them as well, and she replied that she thought they were the best out of all the presentations at The Springs. We thanked her profusely and as she walked away, my Grandma told me that she was going on 101 years old. !!! I don't think I've ever been so humbled and thrilled at the same time. She is over 100 years old and she took the time to stop in at our table to give us a compliment.
Two weeks ago we gave a presentation to 1st graders in Bigfork, MT. The young ones are always so enthusiastic about seeing the animals! We have fun with them in a different way than with the seniors. The young ones are just filled with pure thrill and excitement and we give them a few basic understandings about animals that we hope they retain and are able to apply later in their lives. Look at the photos this reporter captured during our presentation. He published them in their local newspaper. Here's the link, check out all 4 photos. My favorite is the little red head, SO excited about feeding Curly, the White-Cheeked Turaco!
Today we just got home from Meadow Hill Middle School in Missoula, MT. We presented to the special education class and it was such a fun environment! I wish I could go back in time and have a celebration with animals. Having animals in your classroom just sounds so cool! It seems like we're just having a bunch of fun, but in reality the students are learning respect for all animals, facts about 8 different wild animals, and a lesson on adaptations and what helps animals survive in the wild. We even talk about environments and habitats! And they don't even realize they're learning! I love it!
We had a sweet Valentine's Day at Animal Wonders. It was our last trip to Choteau, MT for our 5 week Resident Wildlife Educator Program at the New Rockport School. We reviewed what we had learned in the last 2 months and finished off the program with talking about Survival and Environmental Change. It was a heavy topic for the Love Holiday, but we ended the day presenting Quigley the Brush-Tailed Bettong. This little guy looks like a miniature kangaroo (possibly a bit like a large rat as well) and has a sad story. Brush-Tailed Bettongs are critically endangered and are in dire need of help from humans to save them from going extinct. Since humans were the ones that messed up their ecosystem in the first place we kind of owe it to them to help out. How does Quigley relate to Valentine's Day? Well, Quigley has a love story of his own.
In the last few months we have been watching Quigley interacting with his girlfriend Babette in a dance of Bettong courtship. At least that's what we're calling it! Quigley followed Babette around relentlessly until she stops moving away (and you know what happens next....). This was in Dec. 2011 and 2 weeks ago we saw Babette smelling and licking her pouch area. She has been doing that every few days since. Today we saw her laying on her back and licking her pouch. Not every Bettong behaves the exact same way, so we are hoping that Babette is exhibiting her own signs of possibly preparing for her very own joey! So, even though the students at New Rockport don't know the details, Quigley has a lot to do with the Love Holiday!
We will definitely miss all the students. We got so used to seeing them every Tuesday that it will strange not making the 3 hour drive in the early morning watching the sun rise high in the sky, and then back again watching the sun set. We will savor this last trip through the whole rest of the week, and not just in memory, we will be munching our way through a basket full of V-Day sweets and a beautiful heart shaped chocolate cake!!
Hey all you animal lovers out there! I wanted to send out a post letting everyone know which animals are prohibited to own in Montana without proper permitting. Most of them are pretty obvious. Obvious as in, why would you want to have that animal as a pet anyway?
Here's the link: http://fwp.mt.gov/fishAndWildlife/licenses/prohibited.html
You will find that it clearly states these animals are prohibited:
Apes - all of them
Monkeys - all of them
Deer family (ungulates) - most of them
And many more.
If it is not on the prohibited list, it may be on the controlled or non-controlled lists. If the animal you are looking to get is not listed, then it is automatically on the prohibited list until it has been classified. If you have any questions you should call Bette Moe at 406-444-2452. If you take possession of a prohibited animal you are hurting yourself as well as the animal.
Please make sure you are doing your research before trying to make an animal your pet.
The best pets are the domesticated ones anyway. Your dog, cat, horse, or small critter will make you a hundred times happier, calmer, and stress free.