April 2008

Caturday: kittens and snakes

Cat and snake

When people find out we have both cats and snakes, they ask whether the two kinds of animals get along. If the snakes ever got out — and I haven’t had an escape in almost six years — the cats would almost certainly make quick work of them. But through the glass, it’s a little different.

Kittens are extremely interested in snakes, and will examine them at close range. Goober, when young, sat on a lot of cage lids, which required us to upgrade them to something stronger (he broke the 50-gallon tank lid, which is now held together with fishing line; fortunately, the box turtle it now houses is not much of an escape risk). And snakes that have never once bitten a human being, such as Trouser (our male anerythristic Corn Snake) and the Baird’s Rat Snake, were striking at him as he watched. After a while, though, he grew out of it; adult cats (at least the ones we’ve had) aren’t as interested.

But now it’s Doofus’s turn to harass and bother the snakes, who are now freaking out at him

Thinking about another telescope or two

Of course I’m not going to stop at just one telescope. The NexStar 5 SE I bought last fall is a fine scope, but it has its limitations. For one thing, 125 mm isn’t a lot of aperture. It’s also limited to a maximum 1.2-degree field of view (some astronomical targets are wider than that). And while it’s luggable at 12.5 kilograms, there are times when something even more portable — the vaunted “quick-look” category — would be more desirable. Especially when the NexStar’s electronics require additional setup time.

These desires — more portability and more aperture — can be addressed relatively inexpensively. (I said relatively. Let’s not talk about astrophotography rigs for the time being.)

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Since we last talked, our reptile collection has shrunk by 20 percent.

A few weeks ago, Jennifer and I bundled up seven snakes and delivered them to their new homes. Jeff and Jenny took our pair of Great Basin Gopher Snakes, the female Western Hognose Snake, Snuggles the Boa Constrictor, the Rosy Boa, and Sam the Ball Python; Stewart got one of our Red Milk Snakes (which promptly turned into a biting machine). With Piss-Boy’s death last month, that brings us down to 32 snakes; further downsizing and expected mortality (I have some old snakes) will take that number down even more in the coming months.

We decided to do this after a lot of careful soul-searching on my part after the embarrassing town council meeting. While we were never ordered to give up any animals, much less the boas and python, it forced me to think a lot harder about what we were keeping, and why. This is what I came up with:

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