Today’s the last day for the Royal Saskatchewan Museum’s popular Snakes Alive exhibit, featuring all nine native Saskatchewan snake species. It’s excellent, so if you haven’t been yet… the museum opens at 9:30. Better hustle! There’s a stage show at 2:30 that will teach you things. I caught it Sunday and it was interesting and educational. That said, the highlight is the reptiles, who were very frisky yesterday. Maybe they know they’ll be released into the wild in the next few days?
If you happened to read the cover story in our May 12 issue you’ll know that the Royal Saskatchewan Museum is getting ready to unveil a new temporary exhibit. The exhibit is devoted to the nine snake species that are native to Saskatchewan, and will include live specimens from each species.
The exhibit has a grand opening on Friday May 20 from 1:30-4 p.m. that will involve a variety of family-friendly activities. Then on Thursday May 26 the exhibit curator Ray Poulin will be giving a talk on snakes at the RSM at 7 p.m. This is a licensed event, but people 19 and under can attend if accompanied by an adult.
The exhibit will be on until May 2017 so if you like snakes you’ll have plenty of opportunities to commune with them at the Royal Sask. Museum in the months to come.
Lookie! It’s long-time Prairie Dog commentator Ron, who paid a surprise visit to the office today and played with my desk-pet, Spookster, who — when he’s not hissing like a rabid cobra — is a total sweetheart. As this picture makes clear.
But yeah, Spooky also hisses like a rabid cobra. As this video also makes clear.
And no, he doesn’t bite. Ever. Good ol’ Spooks! He’s the best.
Don’t know what YOU people are doing tonight, but I’M going to a barbecue to celebrate this wonderful day. And I’ll be bringing friends. SLITHERY friends. There will be children at this barbecue, and I will be giving them snakes to pet and play with, because children are the future and I want the future to be snakey.
1.) If you haven’t read this issue’s Bonus Column, now is the time! Celebrity guest contributor Bronx Zoo’s Cobra wrote a column celebrating World Snake Day. It’s great:
Snakes have gotten a bad rap from the very beginning. Literally. Remember the Garden of Eden? A helpful snake simply suggests to Eve that an apple might be a nutritious snack, and boom: snakes are evil. This snake didn’t suggest some processed junk food with high fructose corn syrup. Apples are high in fiber, full of antioxidants, and paleo diet friendly. Celebs like Miley Cyrus and Jessica Biel swear by the paleo diet. Is Miley evil? Well, evil for suggesting an apple?
2.) It wouldn’t be World Snake Day without a photo of my newest pet snake, Spooky P. Hiss. He’s actually heading into shed right now, so he’s not as photogenic as usual, but here’s a picture taken a couple of weeks ago. Spookers is pretty great and, like his name, REALLY hissy. Doesn’t bite though! Well, not yet.
I’ll probably tweet pictures from tonight’s “snake-ecue”, so look for those on here. If you have ophidiophobia you might want to avoid Prairie Dog corners of Internet this evening.
6. TAXPAYER VANDALIZES PUBLIC ART Story here. Artist’s blog here. My opinion? Well, I can’t judge a piece from an Internet picture. Seems like something that I’d enjoy walking past every day. I like being reminded that people are thinking about things, and this is a thinky piece.
7. UKRAINE: TAKING PICTURES AND LOOKING FOR NAMES Are heavily armed paramilitary troops in Ukraine actually Russian special forces units? Meanwhile, the United States has pledged $50 million to Ukraine.
8. THE U.S. SUPREME COURT SAYS IT’S OKAY FOR VOTERS TO BAN AFFIRMATIVE ACTIONUgh.
9. A TORONTO LADY FINDS AN ESCAPED PET SNAKE IN HER BATHROOM AND IT’S APPARENTLY NATIONAL* NEWS But I guess don’t mind because I like snakes, and, fair enough, a lot of people honestly find them scary. Still, everyone in this story is smiling, from the woman who discovered it to the cop gleefully carrying it around. The snakeypoo is clearly relaxed too. The species, by the way, is a ball python and it’s incapable of harming a person. It’s also, irrationally, illegal to own in Saskatchewan.
*Yes, I know the report’s by CTV Toronto but I found it on CTV’s national page.
LET’S ALL LEARN ABOUT BALL PYTHONS TOGETHER Well, about keeping them as pets, anyway.
You know how when you’re a little kid, someone older is a dick to you, and you get mad at them and take a swing but you can’t hurt them because they’re too big, and they just laugh at you and hold you down, and you get madder and madder and madder?
That’s what this asshole cat is doing to this poor little snake while some jerk stands there filming and NOT HELPING AT ALL.
Footnote: Almost positive the snake is either a black or a blue racer (coluber constrictor priapus or foxii). Blue racers are found in Ontario and they’re an endangered species (nice going, cat) . Saskatchewan has an species of racer too, found in Grasslands National Park — the yellow-bellied racer. Racers are bitey!
All right, in honour of Regina’s special guest, here’s a video of a crabby bull snake by Orry Martin, the Texas Snake Hunter. More Orry here. I love the way Orry ends a lot of his vids with a big ole “praise the Lord!” He’s the right kind of Christian–the sort who loves the world and the animals God* put in it, and preaches conservation and appreciation of wildlife. Anyway! The wacky thing about these beautiful snakes is they’ll act like this but they’ll also (often) tolerate handling extremely well. If you’re calm, they’re generally going to be calm.
Bull snakes! I love ’em. Love ’em!
*Disclaimer: Unfortunately there is no God but if you’ve gotta believe, this is a good way to do it.
The snake that Steve received via express delivery yesterday didn’t come with a surgically implanted radio transmitter. But some bull snakes in Saskatchewan are currently in the process of being equipped with such devices as part of a scientific project to monitor their population and movements to better understand how they, as cold-blooded animals, are able to survive in such an unforgiving climate where temperatures, for at least six months of the year, are usually below the freezing mark.
One finding that scientists have already made is that bull snakes, which are non-venomous constrictors that squeeze their prey to death and can grow to two-metres in length, maintain both a winter home (typically an underground den) and a summer breeding site as part of their territory.
Learn more in this CBC report that features some video of the scientists (and snakes) in action.
And now for another indulgent note about a deceased pet. Willie the snake passed away last week. It’s all right: he had a good, long life and was very old. Willie was a male checkered garter snake and I bought him as an adult in early 1996, so that would make him at least 17. Not bad for a garter snake! Oh, the memories: shortly after I got him, he started slithering around his tank upside down. I thought he was toast but it turned out he was just vitamin B deficient, and a quick trip to the vet for a shot (yes, they give injections to sick snakes) fixed him right up.
In the last couple of years Willie lost some weight and developed what I assume were cataracts, but he was active and alert and eating right up to the end. It was just his time. He is survived by Klaus, Priscilla, Rusty, Mittens and Scoodles.
I don’t have any photos handy but here’s an episode of the Web TV series SnakeBytes that’s about checkered garters like Willie. They make good, low-maintenance pets for the right person.
Bon voyage, Willie! You were a good snakey-poo. You were handsomely patterned, good to handle, you never pooped in your water dish and you never bit anyone. What more could anyone ask? Good job! Good life.