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.