Nature Mikey

Nature Mikey

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mathilda the Leopard Gecko's Bio

    Mathilda is a three year old leopard gecko that I rescued after being horribly neglected by her previous owners. When I acquired her, she was emaciated, malnourished and developed Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD). They did not provide her with proper husbandry, causing her to shed her skin improperly. There was so much buildup of dead skin around her feet that it was cutting off the blood flow and she has lost most of her toes. She is blind in her right eye and her spine, tail, both front legs and one back leg are permanently deformed. She can no longer catch her insects properly and has to be hand fed. But through all of her handicaps, she doesn't let a single thing get keep her down. Today, she is almost fully recovered from her ordeal. She has gained almost all of her weight back and developed a wonderful and sometimes feisty personality. When she's not giving me a smart little nip if I'm not careful, she's giving me lots of gecko kisses. She responds well to people now, coming out of her burrow to investigate when I'm bustling around doing chores. Mathilda has surprised me at what a good gecko she has become after her past experiences with people and I absolutely adore her as she grows stronger everyday.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sandy the Tortoise's Bio

    It's Sandy the tortoise! Sandy's story is a classic of rags to riches. It begins with her being bought by irresponsible parents that got her for their children as a pet. They did absolutely no research about proper husbandry and feeding, ans she lived in a shoe box with no heating or lighting and fed her nothing but lettuce. Children being children they got bored with her in about two weeks and lost her somewhere in their house. Almost two months later they remembered they even had a tortoise when she crawled out from under their couch one day. By that time she was very sick, and they decided they didn't want her anymore. So they dumped her with my dad, who then gave her to me. When she came to me, she was very weak and lethargic, and her shell was so soft that it would give way easily when pressed on.  However, it didn't take long for her to perk right up under my care. She's still a very tiny tortoise, and her shell could be permanently deformed, but the personality that has come to the surface after proper feeding and care is larger than life!
    Most people who know her know her as "the diva", for she is truly a diva incarnate. She is a tortoise that demands prompt service, or prepare yourself for a the tortoise version of a tantrum. If I didn't include her favorite things in her pile of food or if she felt that the pile of food wasn't big enough, she will proceed to climb up her little plastic cave that she sleeps in and in her grief-stricken state, throw herself off the top of it and land on her back. After a couple minutes she gets herself up and then repeats the process a couple more times before realizing that I'm not going to oblige her and then begrudgingly eats. I also refer to her as "murder tortoise" because during bonding time when I hand-feed her, her blind chomping usually leads to bitten fingers. Over the few years I've had her, I've come to fear this tortoise. Sometimes I'll get a chill and look over and there she'll be, staring at me psychotically with her neck stretched all the way out expecting food or attention.
    But Sandy has her sweet moments too. Every week she gets a good half hour bath where I put her in a small plastic tub filled with half an inch of warm water. She just loves to put her head under the water and blow bubbles so she can watch them break on the surface. Just recently I was faced with the conundrum of her getting better exercise. Dad was always complaining that I didn't play with her enough and that I should let her walk around. My response was that she was too small to be played with, but he had a point. It would be years before she was big enough to let roam freely, which means years of being stuck in her hutch. So while at a pet shop restocking supplies for my animals and looking at all the colorful hamster balls, I got an idea. Why not get one for Sandy? She would be easier to see and she wouldn't be able to get lost in the house. I bought a clear one for her and she took to it right away. Now she can be seen rolling her way around the house with her new-found freedom. Honestly, its the funniest thing you've ever seen in your life.
    All her redeeming qualities aside, I am looking forward to the day when she's big enough to live outside permanently, which will be in about fifteen years. Woo? Being my first tortoise, Sandy has taught me a lot.She has taught me that tortoises are more fragile than they seem, and that for their rather amiable appearance, they make up for it with tenacious personalities. This is going to be an interesting rest of my life until I have to make arrangements in the will so she will be well looked after. And then it will be an interesting rest of their life, until they make arrangements for her in their will. And then...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Theresa the Tarantula's Bio

    This is Theresa, a Brazilian Black tarantula. She's around two years old and as you can see she's still very small, but she wont stay that way forever, even though it will feel like it. I love this tarantula. I love Claire too for the reasons that make her unique as a tarantula, but I love Theresa, for she is the poster child for good tarantula behavior. She is so docile and patient with me; she never freaks out, gets defensive or shows so much as a sliver of aggression, although granted I try to never push her to that point. Although, because of her size, I hardly ever handle her, I will pet her on the butt to keep her used to me, which she stays nice and still for. If she gets tired of it, she simply walks off without any fuss. I remember a time that I had to remove a cricket from her little deli cup she lives in. The thing was being difficult and hard to catch and Theresa was being a good sport through the whole ordeal. The cricket would run and hide underneath her and she would calmly get out of my way so that I could catch it. She's a very good eater, although I wouldn't exactly call her a pig like Claire. She may look a little shabby right now, but as an adult she'll have gleaming jet-black fur all over and will be quite the looker!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Claire the Tarantula's Bio

    Claire is a Chilean Rosehair tarantula. She is my first tarantula and she wont be my last. Even though they must be kept individually, the great thing about tarantulas is that they require little space, they don't stink and they are easier to care for than even a gold fish, so it's not hard to keep a lot of them, and I do mean to own a lot of them in the future. Rosehairs are the most common starter tarantulas, being cheap, easy to find and usually good tempered. Most people in the hobby believe Rosehairs are boring and plain, which led to them to being called "Pet Rocks".
    However, you will get some odd-balls every now and then. Claire was, at the beginning, a good, docile tarantula, but over my few years of owning her she seems to have developed mood swings. True, she never is in a good mood, just different levels of irritability. She rarely tolerates being handled at all, and at best will allow you to pet her butt. On bad days, when I open the top of her cage to put food in, she flies out of her burrow and bum rushes me.
    Another thing that makes her differ from the norm of any tarantula really is her gluttonous behavior. Tarantulas are ambush hunters by nature and lie in wait for their prey to come to them. She can be seen actively hunting and going after her crickets. She usually never catches them this way, as tarantulas are quite slow, unless they make a mistake. I usually put four large crickets in with her to eat, and any normal tarantula will catch what they want to eat and leave the others until they get hungry. Claire on the other hand will catch every single one, wrap them up in a ball and then just eat the whole thing. Indeed, she is very entertaining to watch, and hope to have her with me for many years.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Mikey the Bearded Dragon's Bio


    Mikey is a four year old bearded dragon. He is fourteen inches long and weighs almost two pounds. He was born on Valentines Day and was purchased from a specialty store in Citrus Heights California dealing in captive bred reptiles and invertebrates. As far as personalities go, if you've read the previous blog, Mikey is definitely a Cuddler.  He's an outgoing, happy little guy who's days are filled with basking in front of his favorite windows, eating delicious food, car rides to go visit with "his" public and quiet cuddles in the evening while watching television.
    A typical day in the life of Mikey starts with waking me up in the morning by climbing on my face if he thinks I'm sleeping in too long. (Yes, the lizard sleeps in my bed with me.) Then we sit together while I check e-mail and we watch the morning news to help us wake up. After the news it's time for breakfast and a shower for the both of us. (Yes, I take the lizard into the shower with me.) Then, if I have work that day, Mikey spends the day in his own fifty-five gallon tank until I come home. When I get off work, he comes out and we spend the rest of the evening watching our usual shows before tucking in to bed. On days when I'm not working, he can be found actively exploring various points of the living room, his favorite places being the sliding-glass door of the patio, the kitchen window or the far corner of the living room for some reason; maybe because he wont miss anything that goes on in that spot. Apart from when I go somewhere that I can't take him, he actually spends little time in his cage. He has the run of the house, and his cage is there if he needs some quiet time alone.
    When not playing as the undisputed king of the castle, he goes on car rides with me to lots of places and plays ambassador to the reptile kingdom while making new friends of anyone he meets. Mikey loves people, for I have taught him from the beginning that people are the source of head scratches and all wonderful things to eat, although he's a bit aloof with men unless they happen to have a piece of cantaloupe for him. He's the perfect beardie to take out in public and changes people's sometimes negative assumptions of what pet reptiles can really be like. He automatically seems to know how to behave when out in public, and is especially calm around people who might be more fearful, sitting nice and still while allowing them to pet him.
He wears a special collar with a fish-bone charm on it when he goes out which funnily enough puts people more at ease around him. I've taken him out with and without the collar on, and I can tell you, for some reason people are much less apprehensive about him with it on.
    His relationship with me is one of closeness and security. He genuinely enjoys being around me in anything I do, and when I go somewhere and I have to leave him behind, he gets very depressed, crawling underneath his driftwood jungle-gym in his cage where he lays his head down and stares at the door until I come home again. It doesn't matter how long I'm away. I've gone on week long trips and left him in the care of family and he neither moved from that spot nor ate. He's most comfortable when in his own house or in the car. If I take him with me to other people's houses, he acts normally as long as he can see or hear me. If I walk out of the room and leave him where he can't hear me, he becomes very insecure and fearful, lowering his head and flattening his body out in an attempt to make him as inconspicuous as possible. Once I'm back in the room however, he returns to his normal happy self. Sometimes though my presence isn't enough when confronted with some of his bigger fears, such as anything resembling a gun-shot, fireworks or thunderstorms. At those times he will climb up to be near my face, which for whatever reason he thinks is the safest place to be. He shows distress when I'm paying attention to my other pets, my boyfriend or anything other than him. If he doesn't feel he's gotten enough attention in the day, he'll try to crawl out of his own little heated bed he has next to my pillow and cuddle up under my chin, something that I don't allow. After a few times of me tucking him back in to his own bed under his little blue towel, he usually gives up and goes to sleep. He may be the most spoiled bearded dragon in the world, but whether he's being Mikey the king, Mikey the ambassador or Mikey the cuddlebug, there isn't enough that can be said for how much joy he brings to me. Spring is almost here, which means new adventures for Mikey, so stay tuned Mikey fans!

The Three Distinct Personalities of Bearded Dragons

In my book there are three distinct personalities that bearded dragons possess; the Twangs, the borings and the cuddlers. Of course there can be a combination of personalities, but for the most part I will be describing the three main ones here; first up, the twangs:

Twang is hyperactive or high strung. This dragon forms an image in my mind of a tightly strung line that goes twang if you tug on it. At home they pace constantly, even when they are in over-sized cages. More often than not, these tend to be males, and some breeders feel that these are more sexually aggressive males. Twangs tend to be difficult to handle, not tolerating being held for long periods of time. Some do have very fine type and can be used in a well-planned breeding program. I feel they should not go to pet homes however as they are the ones who could become biters if not properly cared for.

The Borings do not need too much explanation for the name. Borings do not need a large cage (forty gallons at the least) as they hardly ever move. A nicer name would be Laid Back, but they are boring. They do not stress out as much as Twangs or even Cuddlers can, but if they do, they do it quietly. Some breed rapidly enough and others (especially females) never breed. Boring males usually rouse themselves enough just for breeding. These Borings are the easiest to handle, not because they are particularly friendly, but because they are practically comatose. You can put them anywhere and they will sit there like expressionless statues, neither moving nor taking any interest in the goings on of their environment.

The Cuddler is in my opinion the ideal bearded dragon personality. Most of us think of our beardies as cute and cuddly, but this is also an alert animal, aware of, and interested in all that is going on around it, and responds well to people, giving an endearing look right in the face of anyone they see. Cuddlers love being petted just as much as being fed and look eagerly up at  you when you come to their cages to take them out for play time. They like to be held and give lizard kisses and cuddle under your chin. They make the ideal pet as they seem to genuinely love being with their people, whether sitting on them or near them. The Cuddler female generally makes a good breeder and producer while the males have a lovingly aggressive method of breeding rather than a "wham, bam, thank you ma'am" approach of a Twang. These dragons enjoy sitting on a shoulder or lap while their owners the tend to various tasks around the house or watch television, but can often become overcome with curiosity regarding something in the room and demand to be let down to investigate. They have a friendly extroverted personality, and make excellent ambassadors at lectures or demonstrations.

And with that said and done, I ask, what type of bearded dragon do you have?

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Preview of Coming Events

It's been busy with numerous interviews and follow-ups all this month, but soon I'll try to be posting regularly and make this thing somewhat entertaining and educational at the least. Posts entail video of the day , daily species/breed profile of the day, animal news, updates on my own animals, tales from the veterinary clinic and recaps of the adventures of Mikey, the most well traveled bearded dragon in the world. Tomorrow I'll be starting with the animals' bios before really getting this thing underway, so stay tuned folks!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Feng Shui

Today's interview at Integrative Veterinary Care was quite interesting! The place specializes in holistic and Chinese medicine for pets! How awesome is that?! The place had a very calming yet energizing feel to it. It was filled with plants and all manner of Chinese decor. I think I'm in love! This is the place; I can feel it!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


    From very humble beginnings, I was born on January 22, 1989, Super Bowl Sunday. It was the Bangles against the 9er's, and the 9er's lost. From the beginning you could say I was a little strange. I didn't talk or behave like your average little girl. I didn't play with barbies, I played with dinosaurs. When all the other girls were accessorizing their dolls, I was either up a tree or in a dirty old creek with the boys. I also began talking quite early and had an extensive vocabulary by the time I was two. I was reading before I even started kindergarten. Sometimes my family didn't know whether to be frightened or proud of me. Once, I was with my mom driving through an upper middle-class neighborhood of Roseville, CA, quite different from the lower class apartment life I was used to. I turned to her and said "Wow, these houses are very well constructed." I was two years old when I said that. Two! I was always saying things that kids that young simply shouldn't be able to pronounce, and I knew very well what they meant and wasn't just repeating what I heard.
    My dad instilled in me an intense appreciation and love for animals and nature, taking me on many hikes and adventures. Much to my mother's dismay, (She didn't care much for animals) that started me finding sick or injured animals and bringing them home to nurse them back to health. Not all my attempts had happy endings at the start, but little by little as time went by I started having more success. I've had a multitude of pets throughout my life time, and for the most part, again, they weren't pets that you'd imagine a little girl to own. Although I love ALL animals, I've always had a thing for all things scaly, feathered and spineless. I've had cats, dogs, chickens, ducks, turtles, snakes, lizards and even tarantulas. I honestly don't know why I have such a connection with these particular animals. Perhaps it stems from the fact that I myself was misunderstood and shunned just like they are. Over the years I've become a huge advocate for ALL the unloved animals that are wrongly considered ugly, scary, or out to get us, and I strive to educate and show people what these animals can really be like. You'd think that I was dead set from an early age about what I wanted to be when I grew up then, huh? Well, that simply was not the case. When I was small I wanted to be a paleontologist. I was obsessed (and part of me still is)with dinosaurs, but then when I realized that they didn't exist anymore I dropped it. "How fun can that be?" I thought. So then a veterinarian, you say? Well, being a very mature, realistic person (for the most part) I knew that maybe even though I had what it took to be a DVM, I simply didn't have the time, money, or the background for it. I still am quite the dreamer and never quite took school as seriously as I should have, and maybe would have had I attended the more well-funded schools, and sort of got a little lost in what I wanted to do in my life. Then I had no idea that veterinary technicians existed, I just thought that there were doctors and that was it. It wasn't until about a year after high school until I found out about going to school and becoming an RVT: Registered Veterinary Technician; the equivalent of an RN or Registered Nurse for humans. I'll be the first to say that college isn't for everyone, and I knew early on that it certainly wasn't for me. Western Career College (You can do it!) suited my needs perfectly. This was the only time in my life that I ever had fun at school, took it seriously and actually learned something. Well a lot of things. Needless to say, with the help of the most wonderful, dedicated teachers I've ever had the pleasure of learning the ropes from, I graduated in 2010 and have my tassels hung up on the rear-view mirror of my car.
    I have developed a greater sense of myself over the past several years. I have less friends, but the ones I do now are the truest I've ever had. My best friend and the love of my life, Robert Treherne, brings stability and reason to my sometimes neurotic personality. We've gotten each other through a lot. Soon after getting my driver's license I developed an obsession with cars, with a fair bit of partiality to super cars, especially European models. Of course, the car I own now (my first) is a 1997 Chevrolet Cavalier LS sport sedan. It's 14 years old, makes odd noises, and likes to over-heat, but it gets me around and I'll be sad to see it finally kick it. I have five wonderful pets that that include two tarantulas, Teresa and Claire. They are Brazilian black and Chilean Rosehair tarantulas, respectively, and they will not be the only ones I will be owning. I intend to have many more in the future. Then there's Sandy the tortoise, or as she's known as around the house, "The Diva" for her fussy attitude, she's become a bit spoiled on the care that I've given her after I rescued her from the inadequate conditions of her last home. The newest addition my odd little family is a special needs leopard gecko named Mathilda, another rescue that I brought back to life after being horrendously neglected. And last but not least, we have Mikey, a four year old bearded dragon and he's easily king of the castle. He was born on Valentine's day, and has become the best pet I ever had. You'll hear a lot more about him and the others on this blog.
    Fast-forward to today, and here I am, at the hardest time in anyone's adult life, in the beginning. Both Robert and I are working hard trying to get our careers underway.Getting my foot in the door of this business has been a harder road than I thought, but I'm not giving up for anything. I belong in this field, I feel every bit as comfortable in a veterinary hospital as I do in my own home. It's very hard now; no bed of roses being broke and starving, but I honestly wouldn't trade it for anything! I have a roof over my head, I'm in a wonderful relationship and great pets! There's a light at the end of every dark tunnel, and this hard stage of life will not last for ever. We're making the most of what we've got going, and we're having the time of our lives!
In the meantime, I'll be posting daily videos, news and updates on my life and all things regarding pet ownership! Stay tuned!