It’s been a long three weeks, as with any new pet there are always the initial teething problems and worry about settling them in their new home and with Pollyanna being so different from any other pet I’ve had, the worry was more than most.
I’ve had Youngest Daughter and Boyfriend on hand for any advice I needed. They’ve had quite a few snakes, lizards etc., they’ve got Buddy, the bearded dragon, and William, their own Royal Python at the moment.
We bought Pollyanna a viv with all the gubbins ready for her as soon as her confidence grew big enough to live in it, but until then she’s been living in a smaller box which I borrowed from Youngest, along with a heat mat to make it warm.
She fed well on the Thursday, the day before we picked her up, and the two previous Thursdays at the shop so my instructions were to leave her until the following Thursday before feeding her again, and then get her out on Saturday. Well we all know about the plans, mice and men and all that.
In this picture you can see the positioning of the heatmat underneath one end of the box, this box is about twice the size of the one she was living in at the shop, and you can also see that moving into the viv would be another jump to twice the size again. To make her comfortable in her new home we added a layer of wood chippings, a fake stone hide, a curved piece of cork bark similar to the one she had been using in the shop, and a water bowl.
I left her pretty much alone to settle in, changed her water a few times and chatted to her so she became used to me being there. She stayed curled up in one corner hidden under the piece of cork bark, so I lifted it a couple of times to check she was OK, still breathing etc. But then eventually when Thursday finally arrived, the offered meal wasn’t taken, she moved slightly towards it, but that was the height of her enthusiasm. I left the meal on top of her rock hide incase she just didn’t want company while eating and unhappily disposed of the completely untouched meal on Friday morning.
I’d been assured by a number of people that not eating during any type of change was quite normal for a royal Python but at this point I decided to worry a little more and by Friday evening I called Youngest Daughter in with all sorts of questions buzzing around in my head, maybe she wasn’t warm enough?
It would appear that the heatmat wasn’t quite as reliable as it should have been so it was abandoned and Pollyanna was moved into the viv so that the new equipment could provide her heat source, a ceramic heating bulb connected to a brand new thermostat. Now I’ve already mentioned that Royal Pythons like their privacy and putting one as small as Pollyanna into a full size viv would have really unsettled her so we took the lid off from her little box to prevent any sort of greenhouse effect and put her whole new world into the bigger viv. After a little while I went back to check how she was getting on and was very relieved to find her exploring the “grass on the other side”. I watched for a while until she spotted me and retreated back under her bark.
Saturday arrived and Pollyanna finally came out to play. She seemed fine, still not quite as warm as I thought she should feel, but after the initial few minutes sitting as a coil in my cupped hand she was quite happy to explore my fingers.
Time to plan another feed, I thought now that she seemed a little more settled she might take it. Monday morning she came out to play again, she was definitely warmer to handle this time and I thought we’d cracked it, but she didn’t seem quite as lively, not quite so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as it were. She refused her food again and fearing I was doing something wrong I took it away and defrosted another to try again Tuesday morning.
Another refusal, but by Tuesday evening I had a better idea of why.
Take a closer look at poor little baby Pollyanna’s eyes in the picture, all clouded over and blue-looking, she was getting ready to shed.
I had a weekend away planned, and although I hated to leave her, Pollyanna probably enjoyed the peace and quiet while I worried from afar. I offered her food again Friday morning before we left, not at all surprised that she was even less interested, gave her a large bowl of water and left her in peace … leaving instructions for Youngest Daughter to drop in on her. I spent a good part of the weekend reading up about shedding and wasn’t quite so concerned about Pollyanna when I got back, but of course I checked on her almost immediately, and look, she had started. You can see how rough and dull the old skin appears compared with the new skin on her head and neck where she has already shed.
I believe I heard my first hiss as I scooped her up and she buried her head beneath her, but she soon came back out from underneath her coil, tongue flicking, and looking up at me…
“Oh, you’re back “… “Now push-off again, stop fussing and leave me to get on with it”
I can take a hint, sort of, so I added another bowl of water just under the heater to help with a little more humidity, watched her for a while, rubbing around the viv to shed the old skin and since she didn’t seem to need my help, I left her in peace.
By Tuesday morning she was down to the last little bit of tail. But by Tuesday evening she still hadn’t cleared the tip off so I ran a flannel under warm water and rubbed the last little bit of shed off for her. She wasn’t impressed, but was very good at putting up with me interfering. I don’t think the shed actually went too well, the old skin is all off, which is the main thing, but it came off in lots of little bits which isn’t good. A combination of Pollyanna still being new to this game herself, and me not providing enough moisture from the beginning of the shedding process. Hopefully we’ve both learned more ready for next time.
I was all for feeding her straight away, but Youngest said to leave her to rest for a while so I prepared her food ready for Wednesday evening. I was over the moon when she took the food offered, I won’t show you a picture here because I’m well aware that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but here’s a link to go and look at the picture in the media file if you’d like to see …
I know three weeks is such a short time in the life-span of a royal python who is expected to live for possibly thirty years, but it’s the longest three weeks I’ve spent in a long time.
More from before : Playing with “Pollyanna“.