Worst case of blue balls ever seen on a garter snake

When dealing with snakes, you tend to assume that there is only one prickly end. But I had a bit of a surprise this afternoon when we were changing the cage of Piss-Boy, my male red-sided garter snake. While handling him, I experience a sharp prick came from the other end: the little bugger was everting his hemipenes — the ends of which are rather knobby, it would appear. Pricked by his prick, as it were — or at least one of them: snakes (and lizards) have two.

Poor guy: while he’s sired 92 baby garter snakes in his time with me, he hasn’t had any since July 2001. And when he’s in the mood to mate, he makes quite a spectacle of it: courtship takes weeks, and he doesn’t eat for months; he gives constant attention. I presume that a couple of the female garter snakes in the snake room are madly exuding pheromones, which is what has set him off. Unfortunately, the only female garter snake of the same subspecies in our collection is his daughter (from the 2002 litter). So he will have to, um, deal with it somehow.