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Pollyanna compared

2015-11-09. Blue eyes.

          Remember this baby little Pollyanna who fitted on just one hand when she curled up… 

          … It’s been about two and a half years since she came to live with me, and she’s grown up a bit…

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          More from before : Playing with “Pollyanna“.

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Pollyanna chilling

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          I haven’t done a “Pollyanna” post in a while. This time last year I was doing a clucking mother hen impression as Pollyanna staged a seventeen week fast. I needn’t have worried, she’s doing fine, better than fine really, considering what she’s had to put up with in the last six months or so, she’s fantastic.

          A normal royal python’s natural state is to hide, to exist in small confined spaces, a hiding snake is a happy snake (or so I’ve been told) .

          Well, I’ve always thought normal to be more than a little overrated so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that my royal python doesn’t quite conform to the norm either.

          At first, leading up to our move,  Pollyanna put up with me using her bedroom as the packing room.  Half of the furniture moved out so her viv was moved to the floor and then gradually moved higher again as it became stacked on a growing pile of packed boxes.

          Then the movers arrived. Moved back to floor level again, she spent the last night in the house with us, our level of comfort was reduced to our bed, our sofa and the TV while everything else spent the night in the removal van, and Pollyanna spent a quiet night (once the removal men had gone), her viv back at floor level in the little bedroom. 

          Moving day arrived and I placed Pollyanna into a cotton pillowcase (the one from my pillow so that it smelled safe and familiar) and tied a knot in the end.  She was then placed back into her viv, minus her toys so they wouldn’t fall, and the whole caboodle settled onto the back seat of the car. 

          We were quite lucky to be moving on a warm summers day, I placed the thermometer in clear view where I could check it and took with us a supply of those hand warmers which you can click to heat and then boil in a pan to reset.

          She travelled pretty well, the temperature dipped to about 25° once and I brought it back up to a more comfortable level with the hand warmers.  As soon as we arrived we took her upstairs to her new home and plugged the heater and thermostat back in to regulate her environment. Youngest Son-in-law’s Royal, William, travelled in this way when they moved house and he spent a couple of very normal days hiding in the safety of his pillowcase before eventually emerging to his new surroundings.  Pollyanna on the other hand, was straight out of the pillowcase as soon as I undid the knot, then she climbed in and out, over and under her toys to see that I hadn’t lost any of them in the move.

          Oh, did I mention that she was just about ready to shed and left me her pile of dirty washing in the corner of the viv on day two in our new home.  She’s shed three times since we moved, all happy, comfortable, full sheds in one piece, another good sign.

          Next we had new double glazing installed. Again, William, who is not really a fair comparison, spent a comfortable week of hiding in the airing cupboard in a familiar pillowcase while the windows with Youngest Daughter were being changed.  I just covered Pollyanna’s viv with a big bath towel (as much for the one window fitter’s comfort as for Pollyanna’s) and she slept soundly each day and was her usual noisy exploring self each evening.

          Pollyanna’s old viv was three feet long, and I’d planned to get her a four foot one once we had moved, however, you know very well what usually happens to my plans after the mice and men have had their way, the space for her new home was only just over the three feet so a rethink was needed.

          Three feet wide was shorter than I’d hoped, but the area was almost three feet deep too so I set about looking for a new viv and eventually had one made for her, three feet wide, by two feet deep, and two feet high.  A little more than the favourable spacer a normal royal python of her age and size, but her this is Pollyanna we’re talking about here. 

          For the first two or three weeks I thought I’d made a mistake, Pollyanna missed the first feed in her new viv and went back to curling up under her hide in the daytime, but again I needn’t have worried, in no time at all she made herself at home, she spends hardly any time in her hide now, preferring to sleep the day away between the various toys she has.  And feeding ?  I’ve cut her diet down to about every ten to fourteen days instead of weekly and she’s feeding fine.

          I think she could do with a few more or just different toys to play with, or, since she enjoys climbing so much, maybe some sort of shelf to use the higher ceiling space she has.  Fishtank ornaments are proving a little small for her now, so I have a few garden centre visits planned in the new year to see if I can come up with a few new ideas.  

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

Fast Pollyanna

          Fast they call it ! FAST !

          Both Pollyanna and I seem to have survived the longest seventeen weeks of her little life so far.

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          Pollyanna didn’t eat for a full seventeen weeks, and only at random intervals for the two months or so before that too so I’ve been doing my mother hen impression again.  Actually I thought I did pretty well, I was sort of expecting it, I’m on a Facebook group for Royal Pythons and Friends and although I don’t contribute very often, and just as often haven’t a clue what they’re talking about, I do listen to what they’re saying and was quite prepared for Pollyanna to have a fasting period as I watched other pythons doing the same thing for similar reasons.

          From what I’ve learned, royal pythons are notoriously bad eaters.  If they can find any possible reason to stop eating, they will.  Even if your husbandry (that’s a strange new word I’ve been hearing a lot of – I sort of take it to mean keeping house properly – as if looking after a Husband in the correct manner.  I’ll have to ask Mr Google what it really means but for my purposes I think my understanding of the word stands up pretty well) even if your husbandry is correct then they can still fast for a multitude of different reasons.  Stress is one of the biggest factors.  They get stressed for any reason they can possibly think of, Pollyanna didn’t eat when she first came to me because of the stress of moving house – new home – new environment – new me.  Then there’s the pre-shed period when she’s pretty vulnerable when the skin loosens over her eyes and she can’t see too well, not to mention the uncomfort she must be feeling in a suit of clothes too small for her.

          It took a while but she got used to these things, and since I didn’t really leave her alone to settle as I guess I was supposed to, she got used to me being there when her stressful times arrived, I would take her out for a cuddle at times when she didn’t really want to play, she soon found my sleeve as a comfortable warm place to watch the world go by from.  Sometimes I would stand for ages just playing with her inside her viv and so she doesn’t get at all territorial when I’m around.  I don’t know if you can train a royal python, but I guess since even cats can be taught I gave it a go and she learned that dinner arrives after the picnic blanket (a folded sheet of baking parchment placed on top of the wood chippings I use for her bedding). In this way I hope she’s less likely to mistake me for food when I’m pottering about with her things in the viv, changing the water, cleaning up her dirty washing etc.  I’ve only ever fed her one item of food at a time, some people feed a number of small meals in one go, especially for some of the very picky eaters, but I was lucky that Pollyanna arrived with me already weaned onto rats.  Frozen, and defrosted and slightly heated rats at that.  Rats are the most boring food for a royal python, but the most balanced diet with, I gather, pretty much the best amount of everything they need.  By only feeding her one rat at a time though, I’ve taught her that once she’s swallowed her meal, there’s no point waiting around to try and eat whatever next comes into the viv which is quite a good thing really, because whatever comes next into the viv is usually me to take away the picnic blanket and re-arrange the furniture.  I’ve usually already changed the water as she likes to go straight for a drink after dinner, I think I’d probably want a drink after dinner if my dinner was furry too.

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          Ok, I think we’ve established that she wasn’t stressed, and my husbandry, although probably not perfect didn’t change, I didn’t do anything different, so why did she decide to stop eating.

          Well, from what I’ve been watching and listening to, I gather her weight might have been one of the reasons.  Although I didn’t change anything in Pollyanna’s set up, she did, she grew.  You can see by her size on the stairs now that she’s got a nice length on her.  William, Youngest Daughter’s royal python is still longer that Pollyanna, but Pollyanna was considerably rounder.  I have to be honest, if this is one of the reasons and she just decided she needed to lose a few grams, I wish I had half of her willpower on my diet too.  She was 920g when I weighed her after a couple of picky meals and again I gather that around 1kg is a likely time for a fast.

          In Britain, the winter months are breeding season for royals and again, I gather they are likely to fast at this time too.  I’ve no intention of finding Pollyanna a mate.  Royal pythons are solitary and so she doesn’t need a friend for the company, quite the opposite, they’re quite likely to fight and cause more harm and stress than would be good for either of them.  Although there’s no male about – she hasn’t met William – I don’t expect her biological clock to be at all considerate while it continues ticking.

          One last factor stepped into the equation at the same time at the other two… the weather.  Now this I’m not even going to pretend to understand, I would guess that the thermostat and the ceramic heater in her viv would keep the temperature the same as she’s been used to all along, but apparently the weather has as much to do with the air pressure as it does  the temperature.

          Since I personally hadn’t changed anything, I really didn’t know what to do to change whatever had happened back again.  I just carried on as I would have, offering dinner once a week as normal, she showed little or no interest at all, sniffing at the offering, and then pulling away and skulking off into a corner.  Apart from not eating, she seemed normal in every other way, just as active, just as cuddly before a shed – which I made sure went perfectly well by upping the humidity levels to help her along.  I just watched and waited.  I’m not sure how much longer I would have held out though.

          By about the eleventh or twelfth week I dropped feeding down a size and offered a little less that weekly as it was suggested this might be adding stress but finally two weeks ago she showed a little interest and after a little persevering she took dinner from the tongs and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.  Last week I offered again and she still needed a little coaxing, but there was none of this pulling away and hiding in a corner malarkey, she even came straight back out of her coil when I accidently dropped her dinner on her head.

          And so, she’s due another feed, I’ve taken advice and will put her back up to the large weaner size rat, I weighed her last night and although she really looks a lot slimmer to me, she has only actually lost 80g since her January weigh-in which seems quite a small amount in the large story.  She’s definitely kept growing, and her extra length would probably explain why she looks thinner than just 80g, but I won’t bother her with the tapemeasure for now, she’s coming up to her second birthday in July so I’ll make a note of her vital statistics then.

        In the meantime, fingers crossed for tonight’s feed.

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