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Pollyanna patience

          Pollyanna is still ticking off time nicely, she’s passed her fifth birthday and is well into her sixth year.

          She is still very much “my” snake, quite comfortable with me invading her space and privacy for a play or a cuddle. I guess if this wasn’t the case I’d have to very carefully take her out of her viv to give it a good clean, I’d have to transfer her to another safe box, or at least to a pillowcase in a nice warm place, in the airing cupboard for instance. (she travelled for about 140 miles and three hours when we moved house, “Just chilling” in a pillowcase and was perfectly happy afterwards). But this is me, and this is my Pollyanna. We have an agreement, she trusts me to feed her, to keep her warm, comfortable and safe, and I trust her not to bite me… unless it’s absolutely necessary.

          Royal pythons are not by nature messy creatures, generally just a spot-clean is plenty to keep up higene levels, but I do completely change her bedding from time to time. I’ve always used beech chippings for the base of her viv, a nice clean sealed bagfull from a well known petshop. As with her food, I could probably buy cheaper and from a more local source, but Pollyanna has no contact with any other reptile type pets and so has avoided any illnesses or infestations which might come from such contacts so I’ll stick to what we know.

          When a deep clean is happening, I take out all of her toys and her waterbowl, and lastly her hide. I scoop her up and place her onto her top shelf where she settles with a watchful eye as I set about her wood chip bedding with a small dustpan and brush.

          A wipe down with special reptile disinfectant, and a bag of new bedding later, and her toys go back in, her water bowl is filled with fresh water and her viv is sprayed with water to help boost the humidity to a more comfortable level for her, then I leave her in peace to explore every inch of the viv anew to ensure it passes inspection.

          There have been a few changes in the viv over the years, Pollyanna has grown out of most of her toys. She still loves to just chill on her shelves and, of course, there’s her latest game of wrapping herself around the heat lamp cage on her ceiling, and dropping off into her water dish with a splash, but the large fish aquarium toys are too small for her to weave in and out of the different windows and columns now that she’s grown.

          I hunted around online for some sort of large toy, a model or garden ornament which would provide some entertainment for her and failed, then, quite by chance, I found someone on marketplace selling a terracotta wine rack.

          Terracotta sounded like a good idea, and what’s more, the bottle spaces were all in separate pieces and could be moved around. Pollyanna loved the new toys to climb over, the only problem was that I had expected tunnels and these were very much better quality than I had expected and were more like caves than tunnels. Pollyanna squeezed herself into one of the bigger, base pieces, but as you can see, there was no way she would fit into one of the smaller caves….

          Of course, with my very much “outside of the box” thinking process, I took one bottle cave out into the garden to play with the power tools.

          I placed a cross of masking tape on the outside of the base of one of the bottle caves and drilled a hole. I half expected the terracotta to crack or shatter, but was pleasantly surprised by the quality, even though it seemed like an age before I finally made a hole.

          Next I attached a tile cutting blade to the electric saw and starting at the hole, I very slowly made my way around the base to cut a disk out of the bottom.

          Lastly, I draped myself with a dust sheet I use for painting protection, and set about the hole I had made in the base with a large metal file.

          The whole process took me all afternoon to do ust two pieces. But Pollyanna seemed much appreciative of my efforts, and enjoys the tunnels a lot more than the caves.

          Carrying on the terracotta theme, I looked for some more bits for her to play with. Many, many moons ago I found her a resin aquarium ornament in the shape of a “broken water urn” to play with, but she outgrew that one pretty early. She did enjoy going in through one hole and out through another while she fitted though, so off I went online looking for something similar.

          I found a firm who made garden pots for planting and part of their range were these two pots below. Either one would make a nice addition to my garden so I bought both, one for Pollyanna and one for me.

          Pollyanna has the urn-like one. Again I spent a good few hours covered in the dust sheet filing off sharp edges, and expanding the hole inside the neck to a suitable size for a Pollyanna-size royal python not to get stuck.

          I was pretty sure I had a picture of Pollyanna playing in her new pot, but I can’t find it. That will have to wait for another post.

          More from before: “Pollyanna“, my pet Python.

Pollyanna puzzle

          Once upon a time, in a galaxy far away, my girls grew up and moved out and I filled the empty nest with rabbits. The rabbits died before their time was up and I got so upset that I said I wouldn’t have any more pets… Then I got Pollyanna.

          Pollyanna is a Lesser Platinum royal python and although she didn’t come to live with me until October in 2015, she was already three months old, born on 24th July. She was a birthday present from Youngest Daughter, and unlike the rabbits, with a good wind behind her, Pollyanna could live for up to 45 years… so in theory, when I’m an old lady in my nineties I’ll still have a snake for a pet.

          Of course, being my pet, you really wouldn’t expect Pollyanna to be a normal snake would you. When I first got her, they said she would need time to settle in and that she would be very territorial about her vivarium … her viv, her little place in the world, her safe place … I think I gave her at least two days before I started playing with her inside her viv so she’s more than happy to share it with me.

          Snakes, like other reptiles, are cold blooded so are unable to regulate their own body heat. I, on the other hand, am most definitely warm blooded. Also bear in mind that when she arrived about five years ago, I was already one of “those women” at “that age”, and when Polyanna came out to play, she was more than happy to take advantage of me having the odd “power surge” and settled herself quite comfortably into my sleeve on most occasions. With the amount of time she spent sharing my jumper, Pollyanna soon considered my scent to notify a “safe place” .

          Royal pythons are notoriously picky eaters. They eat when they feel like it, and if for some reason they don’t feel like it then they can quite happily not eat again for months at a time until they do feel like it again. I had done quite a lot of research so when Pollyanna decided to have her first fast I was ready for it. I wasn’t worried, I was concerned yes, but not worried. She fasted for seventeen weeks, and when she finally ate again, I was very relieved.

          SKIP THE NEXT PARAGRAPH IF YOU’RE NOT COMFORTABLE WITH HOW SNAKES FEED……

          Pollyanna eats rats, not live rats, (to be honest as she was born in captivity if she encountered a live rat, I’m not too sure who would come off best) I buy her rats from the petshop, specially bred, humanely killed, and frozen so that I just have to defrost them and warm them up… Its a bit like you going to Iceland for a steak. I have only ever given Pollyanna one rat at a time and she’s learned that once she’s had one, there isn’t another one coming so I can quite happily poke around in the viv change the water etc without her mistaking my hand for more lunch. Rats are boring, there are much more interesting foods I could give her for treats or to entice her to break a fast, but rats have the complete range of goodness and vitamins Pollyanna needs and long as she keeps eating rats for me I’m not about to introduce something nicer… be honest, would you be happy eating porridge everyday once you’d tasted cake ?

          MOVE ON AGAIN HERE IF YOU’RE SQUEEMISH ABOUT FEEDING TIMES …

          I find the way Polyanna feeds fascinating, I still sit and watch her everytime. First of all she strikes at her food … “BAM! … Then she hold it tightly in her jaws and wraps her body tightly around it until it stops moving (which isn’t for very long because it stop moving as soon as I let go) … if she’s caught the right place then she’ll keep it in her mouth, if not, then she’ll let go and look for the head, then the amazing bit starts.

      She dislocates her jaw and stretches her mouth open to get as much in as possible before using the muscles of her neck to pull the food further in. Have you ever tried to thread a piece of elastic through a hem by fixing it to a safetypin, then crumpling as much of the hem as you can onto one end of the safety pin before pulling it off the other end ? Well, this is the motion Pollyanna uses to swallow her food. As the food moves from her head to her stomach, it passes through the narrowest part of her body and the surrounding skin stretches so much that you can see each separate scale as she swallows…

           Just as you wouldn’t buy a full size steak for a child, Pollyanna started off with tiny rats and has now reached a the size of a medium rat. I wouldn’t expect her to need anything bigger because she’s done most of her growing. She eats about once every three to four weeks. I very seldom keep a record of feeding days now because she usually let’s me know she’s hungry by being up and about at the wrong time of day, or by being especially active overnight … in which case Hubby let’s me know because she’s kept him awake.

          Pollyanna is often to be found sitting in her bowl of water. She has a new game at the moment where she climbs up to the ceramic heating bulb (housed in a cage to prevent any direct contact and burning), she wraps herself around the cage … and then let’s go, landing in her water bowl with a splash. She wears her skin until she considers it dirty or until its too small from her, then she “sheds” it, and leaves it in the viv for me to pick up like a pile of dirty washing. The first sign of her shedding is she will hide away, I’m sure if she could she would put up a “do not disturb” sign outside her hide.

          At this point, I usually check on her to see whats up, and if I pick her up and turn her over I’ll be able to see her underside, her belly, is a pale shade of pink. Her skin in general will start to look darker and a lot less shiny, and then her eyes cloud over to a bluey grey colour. I’ve already mentioned that her water bowl is beneath the heater, this seems to make for the right amount of water to evaporate for a comfortable humidity. When she sheds, Pollyanna needs the viv to be a little more humid than normal for her skin to come off cleanly. When the time is right, she will rub her mouth on a surface until the skin comes away from her head . Then she will spend as long as it takes rubbing herself around the viv until the whole skin rolls back on itself and gets disguarded like a rolled up dirty sock.

          Its generally accepted that when your python is about to shed then you do not disturb them, but Pollyanna isn’t a normal royal python, she’s more of a hamster in disguise and just before she sheds is when she’s at her cuddliest. She knows I’m a safe place even then so she just snuggles in and puts up with me.

          One question, until last year, I would definitely say no to is “has Pollyanna ever bitten me ?” 2020 was a year ov many firsts, and the first time I was bitten by Pollyanna was one of them. She was tucked away in her hide and I hadn’t seen her out and about for a while so went in to check on her. I quietly slid open the glass viv door, reached in and lifted the hide straight up off her before she had a chance to spread out and cling onto it. She started to move away but I wanted to check her belly so I reached in to pick her up and turn her over, I didn’t catch hold of her properly and only succeeded in twisting half of her upside down. I think she hissed, and when I tried to pick her up properly gave me a little jab to tell me to go away … just a little jab , and I hardly felt it, although it did make me jump … to be fair, if you had taken away my bed and picked me up to turn me upside down, I think I would be quite within my rights to give you a little jab too.

          I left Pollyanna to shed in peace, I think the jump had more of an effect on me than the bite. I’ve been told that the worst part of a snake bite is worrying about it, and to be honest I think that’s right. I was a bit nervous about Pollyanna for a little while. I played with her in the viv, unsure about trying to pick her up, I left her completely alone when she was due to shed next time, but it didn’t take long before we were friends again. My confidence soon came back and now we play just as if nothing had happened.

          As you can see, I sent off a picture of Polyanna to have made into a jigsaw. I chose a 1000 piece puzzle as I enjoy a challenge, and the standard size 1000 piece puzzle fits on my puzzle board nicely. I was expecting the puzzle to be difficult to do, but I hadn’t counted on the quality of the picture. When I ordered it, the manufacturer gave it a full five stars for the quality so it was plenty big enough to make the puzzle, however, when the picture is blown up big enough to print on the jigsaw, there is slightly more blurring than the size of the picture on the box so following exact lines from the picture wasn’t going to happen. But all’s well that ends well, I picked out all the pieces where Polyanna joined the black background and used that as my starting point, working outwards to the edge instead of inwards from it and once I worked out a plan, the 1000 pieces came together nicely… very slowly but very nicely.

          More from before: “Pollyanna“, my pet Python.

Happy birthday Pollyanna

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          Happy fourth birthday to Pollyanna.  Weighing in at 1134g and reaching about four feet on the tape measure… And still just as wonderful as the day she arrived with me about three and a half years ago.

2015-11-09. Blue eyes.

          More from before : Playing with “Pollyanna“, my pet python.