Adding to the Menagerie

Ernie the Uromastyx

Back in September I foolishly allowed my husband to take our children to a reptile show without adult supervision. The result: four (yes, that says four) lizards. Two uromastyx and two crested geckos. [Side note: there seems to be some debate in the reptile world as to the correct plural form of uromastyx. Uromastyx or uromastyxes. My vote is for uromastyxii.] The crested geckos have fared well, but the uromastyx had to be separated after one removed several¬†digits from the tail of the other. Needless to say, I wasn’t thrilled when the middle child and his father proposed to attend another reptile show. They talked me into it by reminding me we needed a new tank for the cannibalistic uromastyx and they were much cheaper at the reptile show than a pet store.

During the forty minute drive to the show, I repeatedly reminded my family that we were not, under any circumstances, going to bring home more reptiles. After spending fifty dollars to get all five of us into the show (yes, that is about what a tank would have cost at the pet store), we entered the sweltering heat of the packed auditorium. I know reptiles are cold-blooded, but wouldn’t it be better to¬†lower the temperature to keep them subdued? About 75% of the show consisted of snakes. I don’t mind snakes (did I mention we also have two corn snakes?), but snakes large enough to constrict and eat me are a bit daunting in large quantities. After about ten minutes of working our way through the crowd, the worst happened. My daughter and I were separated from the boys. Accident? I think not. We continued to look for the tank we came for while I made futile attempts to reach them by phone.

Giant Millipede

After we purchased the needed tank, bedding, and a few other supplies, the boys finally reappeared. Holding three suspicious looking small plastic containers, each of which contained a giant millipede. At first I thought millipedes might not be so bad (consider my surroundings at this point). They’re smallish, they eat rotting fruit and vegetables, and they’re insects, so surely they don’t live that long. Wrong! When I looked them up, I discovered the average adult size is ten inches long, they live up to ten years, and they breed “quite readily” if you house males and females together. What are the chances we got three of the same sex?

It’s time to spill. What’s the strangest animal you’ve ever shared your home with?

P.S. I’ve also learned a female giant millipede will lay several hundred eggs that hatch after a three month incubation period. Giant millipede anyone? You know you want one. Feel free to call me in about three months. 1-800-STU-PIDO


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18 Responses to Adding to the Menagerie

  1. Renee Miller says:

    Hi Ally, I’m new to HHRW, so I thought I’d pop over to your blog. What an entertaining post. My hat is off to you. I’d have banned reptile shows after their first excursion. Our most exotic pet, if one can call them that, were those tiny crabs you can by at the Jersey shore. They escaped their first week we had them, never to be found again. Either a testament to their sly skills or my poor housecleaning.

    • Ally says:

      Hi Renee! Thanks for stopping by. One of our corn snakes escaped and remained hidden for nearly a week. We finally found him curled up in a pile of stuffed animals. I think you should go with “testament to their sly skills,” but I’m probably not a good judge since you could lose an elephant in my house.

  2. JoAnn says:

    Saw your post on FF&P and got curious. Very interesting blog post. In most cases reptiles freak me out…a testament to my childhood snake trauma, I’m sure. (My cousin chased me around his farm with a snake, which I never forgot!) Anyway, we had a leopard gecko once. His name was Dino. He was just a baby when my hubby went out to get him crickets and unbeknownst to me bought the big ones, not the little pin type. Needless to say, Dino “ran away” that night!

    First and last one we ever had.

    • Ally says:

      Aww. Poor Dino. I hate when the animals “run away.” I can understand why reptiles aren’t your favorite after your cousin did that to you. My mom has always been afraid of snakes. I remember when we went to see Raiders of the Lost Ark. She left to get popcorn when he fell into the snake pit and never came back. Thanks for stopping by, JoAnn.

  3. Sonya says:

    My 40th birthday present to myself was Yolen, a beautiful Scottish Fold kitten with a large black and gray bullseye on her side and a spotted belly. She is soft and cuddly, unlike the creatures you have recently added to your repertoire! I had to drive 14 hours to get her since this breed isn’t as popular in the US as in other countries. While she may not be exotic, most of my friends have never even heard of this breed until they met this folded-ear cutie.

    • Ally says:

      What a fabulous birthday present to yourself. I have a friend in Ohio who has a Scottish Fold. I’ve never seen one in person, but the pictures are gorgeous. I’m more of a cute and cuddy girl myself, but I have to say, the reptiles are much less work. Thanks for visiting, Sonya.

  4. Angelyn says:

    Too funny, Ally! I’ve bottled fed orphaned lambs and calves before on the porch. Does that count?

    • Ally says:

      That counts, Angelyn, but I was really hoping someone would outdo me. I’m begining to feel like a freak show here.

      Lambs and calves make me think of James Herriot. Did you put the lambs in the Aga to warm them?

  5. Calisa Rhose says:

    Oh my goodness, Ally… Over the years with three girls you’d think I’d be safe from anything creepy. Not so. All my girls loved all manner of pets from worms to rabbits. One dd had to have a gecko. Welcome Geico the gecko. Of course that same dd was constantly bringing home common field lizards so a gecko was an upgrade. Millipedes? No thanks.

    • Ally says:

      Hi Calisa. We have a strick policy at our house about wild animals. They are allowed to catch and observe them outside, but they must be released by the end of the day and are not allowed in the house. We have so many lizards and snakes in our yard here in Texas we would be overun. Maybe I need to adopt a strict policy like that for all animals. LOL

  6. Debby Lee says:

    My Dad had a pet rooster for awile, that he named Fred. I wanted to name a character in one of my books after my Dad but he wasn’t fond of the idea, so I did the next best thing and named the character ofter the rooster, Frederick.

    • Ally says:

      A pet rooster. Did he wake you up in the morning? Too bad your dad didn’t want to have a character named after him, but I like Frederick. I guess this is the opposite, but I named one of my dogs after a character in one of my books. Thanks for coming by, Debby.

  7. LOL…what a fun post! Reminds me of my brother and all the things he’d bring home or talk my mom into letting him have.

    When we were growing up we had turtles, lizards, gerbils, cats and other various “pets”….but nothing really out of the ordinary.

    As for my kids…they’ve had fish, cats and dogs and that’s all I’ll allow. LOL

    • Ally says:

      I need to follow your example and start putting my foot down! Right now I don’t mind so much because the kids take care of all the animals, but I’m a little concerned about having to take care of this many animals myself when they’re all out of the house in ten years.

  8. Wanda says:

    I had a pet raccoon as a child. His name was Clyde. Every morning he andy dad had breakfast together. Dad would give Clyde a sugar cube that he would take to his water bowl to wash. Of course, the sugar cube would “vanish” leaving Clyde searching then asking for another. By the time he would drink his water, it was really sweet. He lived in the house and used a litter box. Very fun. After about five years, he got sick. None of the vets knew how to treat him and he died.

    After he died, we found where he had torn a hole in the fabric of the box spring of the guest bed. Inside that “pocket” we found lots of silverware, coins and other shiny things Clyde had taken for himself!

    • Ally says:

      Hi Wanda. Now this is type of reply I was looking for! Your sweet story reminded me of my cat. He liked to fetch wadded up paper balls. When we moved out of our first apartment, we discovered a stash of about 50 pens and a bunch of paper balls stuffed in a hole he had made in the bottom of a chair.

  9. Ceri Hebert says:

    Reptiles fine. Millipedes? Absolutely not. No way, no how! Once when I was younger I was at a pet store and nearly bought a corn snake. My mom would have been thrilled with that. I look back now and hope that the pet store owner would have turned me down on that one. As for pets, I can’t say we’ve owned anything really out there. We’ve had horses, chickens, a crippled rooster who was mean. We’ve had cats, dogs, fish, hamsters, and parakeets. I guess our strangest animals would have to be turtles and mice. I’d take a lizard in a heartbeat. Of course I don’t know if I could feed it live critters.

    • Ally says:

      Hi Ceri. I resisted having reptiles for a long time for that exact reason. But the uromastyx only eat vegetables, and the geckos eat crickets so it’s not too bad. We feed our snakes frozen mice (I definitely couldn’t watch them eat live mice!).

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