Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Taking Care Of An Adult Red Tail Boa

Harry has been here
for a month and a half now and he is
doing well. As I get to know him and handle him, I am finding he is very friendly. So far, he has not offered to bite, even once. He is impatient to get out of his far too small of a cage, but other than that, he is eating well and is healthy.

People do not realize when they purchase a little 14 - 22 inch snake at the pet store that happens to be a Red Tail Boa, for example, how big they get. The enclosure above I built for Jenny. She is now over 8 feet long and her cage has to be at least that long so she can stretch out. My whole body is in her cage with ample room to spare. Harry needs one nearly this large. Hopefully it will be completed by the end of January.
My message here is to remind you that if you are looking for a snake as a pet, keep in mind that snakes live to be at least 20 years old, and if you are in the market for a large snake, you have to have a lot of room for them to live and maintain a decent existence. Jenny and Harry will be taking up an entire room in my home when I am done with their enclosures. Make sure you are willing to make that kind of a commitment.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Turkey Buzzard At My Door

All week long we have seen an injured Turkey Buzzard in the field above our house. His wing seemed to be broken and he could not fly. There was not a lot we could do, though we attempted to lure him closer to the house. After 5 days, he finally did get closer. He was eating what he could from some bones we had remaining from Deer Season. Following the advice of a woman we managed to get a hold of from Alchemy Acres, we took a sheet out and, once we cornered him near the house, gently wrapped the sheet around him and brought him in.

He seemed cold and tired. I have never seen one this close. He was not as large as I thought he would be, and I was not surprised to find out he was only a baby. We took him to Birds In Flight Sanctuary Inc. It is operated by a very nice lady named Heather Merritt. They have a web site.

They take in raptors of all types, including endangered species. Heather told us that this guy was about 4 months old. He still had down feathers on his head. After giving him an examination, she determined that he had a broken wing, probably suffered while still in the nest. Turkey Buzzards fly south for the winter, and sadly his parents had to leave him behind. The break in his wing is severe and Heather does not think he will fly, ever. However, there is still hope. She will be x-raying him on Monday to determine how bad his wing is. She said they may be able to use him for educational purposes. They can rehabilitate him, and socialize him to use to teach people about him and birds like him. I sure hope so.
Birds of Flight Sanctuary is a non profit organization and really needs donations. If you are interested, please check their web site out to see what you can do to help.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Some more on Harry the Boa

Harry is about 6 foot long. His cage is 4'. He hates to be in it. He is very nicely tempered however. After a thorough going over, we discovered 4 contact burns from the reptile heating rock that was in his cage. We threw the rock away. His cage is so small for him that he couldn't get away from the too hot rock completely. That is the main reason that i don't condone in using hot rocks. Giving you an example, it would be like me or you using a hot water bottle and putting it on our belly in a snowstorm.
This is my step son Jon looking at Harry. It kind of gives the pic some scale and you get a better idea of how big this guy really is.

The markings on his belly look like dog tracks.

This is the extent of his ability to stretch out. He even has creases down the length of him from always being curled like a rope. This has been going on for him since he reached his full size. Harry is 14 years old so you can imagine how many years he suffered.

We also have Jenny who is 8 feet long. We actually built a nice enclosure for her that encompasses half of a room. My wife is also not happy about that. :) But she handles it the best she can. Harry's former owner asked if we were going to breed the two snakes. The answer to that is a profound NO. Jenny and Harry are here because they are so big that no one wants them and obviously lack of dedication, commitment and proper husbandry. They start out as cute little charmers, but when they get as big as these two, they are harder to house and take care of. We would never make more OF THEM out there to suffer this same fate. I strive for life long commited homes for these rescues. We are actively looking for a good home for them. NOT BREEDERS. It doesn't hurt me one bit to home these majestic creatures until we can and if we can find them a forever home, because in my heart I know they are well loved here.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Meet Harry, my newest snake

This is Harry. I just got him today. He is an owner surrender, 6ft long male Boa Constrictor. His owner was away on business a lot and just couldn't care for him any more. Harry is about 14 years old. He is het. Anerythristic.
This is his home. A 55 gallon terrarium. Not big enough but hopefully we will fix that within the week.

This is how I got him. His owner came to my home and delivered him. I will keep you updated on his progress. I am actively seeking a good home for Harry and Jenny for any one who has the proper facilities to house them. I would prefer not to home them with breeders.

These snakes don't have a home because of their size and we don't need more out there to add to the problem. They can live to be 30 years old easily and are a life long commitment. If you are interested, email me.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sorry it has been so long....

I have had a busy summer. A new job, and dealing with Jenny the Snake has been a constant challenge. I also found and rescued a clutch of baby opossums in August. They might not be to appealing to the eye when they grow up, but these little guys were pretty cute. There were 8 of them and miraculously, their mother's head was the only thing a car had struck. I thought she was still alive when I came across her and I was going to move her off the road. As I approached her, these little faces peered out from under her. I couldn't leave them there. Of course they were fierce. They hissed a lot but couldn't hurt anyone. I took them to Alchemy Acres in Salem, Ohio. That place is one of my favorite institutions in this county. They are better equipped for animals of this nature and said they would raise them and return them to the wild.
I finally got Jenny's cage finished. My wife is not happy because it literally takes up half the room. But Jenny has to be able to stretch out in order to reduce her stress. She is very smart and curious about everything. She knows where her cage door is and I find her sometimes waiting for me there or she comes to me when I open it. Her former owner did take good care of her, but she just got too big for him. I had no idea how hard it would be to find a suitable place for her so I think I have her for a while. She is very charming despite her size.
I will be updating this more often. Look for more articles to come soon. I have new little buddy named Ronald. He is a Pueblan milk snake (black, orange and white). Right now he is not too tame, and is the first snake to ever bite me. But things are going well and I hope to get him settled down soon. Thankfully snakes do not like the taste of latex.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Buddy Passed Away on June 11, 2009

Buddy was a really great corn snake. He was gentle and loved attention.
He never once offered to bite. Due to being owned by someone who
DID NOT KNOW HOW TO TAKE CARE OF HIM, he was injured severely. Only about 8 inches of his body worked. I ended up helping him shed when he needed it. Feeding was a little harder, but then, he was such a fighter. He always tried and was usually successful. He started having trouble eating, and then would not eat at all. I had him at the vet last year and was told he didn't know how Buddy was alive then. He acknowedged that I took excellent care of him and that was probably why he had lasted as long as he did. On June 11, when I woke up, I noticed he hadn't moved from the night before and upon closer inspection realized he had passed . He will truly be missed. Especially by me.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Hermoine Makes a Lot of Friends

Ball Pythons are excellent snakes for pets. Hermione is so gentle. If she is afraid, she covers her head with her body and hides. My Jenny does that too. Sirrius, while small, is not afraid of anything so hiding isn't his style, but he avoids you.
The young lady with Hermoine in her hands is Amber. Amber hates snakes, but I introduced her to my Hermoine and she actually held her. By the time Hermoine was done charming her, Amber walked away with a better understanding of snakes, and she isn't as afraid of them as she once was. That's one down and millions to go. But I am determined. Snakes are waking up because it is spring. Please give them a chance this year. Let them do their job of keeping rodents out of your home. If you see one, back away slowly from it and go in another direction. They will not bother you. They want away from you as much as you want away from them. The environment needs them. We need them. Please don't slaughter them just because they are a snake.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Poisonous and Nonpoisonous Snakes in Ohio and How to Tell the Difference

There are many species of snakes in Ohio. Roughly about 24 or so. Out of all these snakes, only three are considered poisonous. That would be the Northern Copperhead, the Eastern Massasauga, and the Timber Rattler.
Copperheads have bitten more people in the U.S. than any other snake. Luckily the amount of venom injected in a single bite is not enough to be fatal in a healthy adult. However it is extremely painful. You can easily find them in rocky, wooded hillsides. When encountered, they usually retreat, but if aroused, they can vibrate their tales and strike wildly.
The Eastern Massasauga is also called the Swamp rattler and Black snapper. It has been recorded in more than 20 Ohio counties. However, sightings are rare and this snake is designated STATE ENDANGERED. They are usually very sluggish and don't offer to bite unless thoroughly aroused. Their venom is highly toxic. However, it has small fangs and does not inject enough to be fatal.
Finally, the Timber Rattler is the most dangerous snake in Ohio because of its large size. They can reach lengths of 6 feet. Luckily, most Timber Rattlers are mild in disposition and simply try to crawl away when encountered. If aroused enough they will defend themselves. These snakes are also designated as STATE ENDANGERED.

Nonpoisonous snakes are far more numerous in Ohio. But many are often mistaken for their more toxic relatives. Of all these snakes, the Black Rat Snake is the one most commonly slaughtered. My snake, Sirrius Black, is a Black Rat Snake. I am taking out into the public this summer to show any one who will listen that he is harmless and very beneficial. His main diet is rodents. With him around, there will not be mice or rats chewing on your electric wires or putting holes in your walls. I hope you come out to meet him and my other snakes and see that they are truly amazing and beautiful creatures.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Jenny- A Second Look

This is Jenny's first time really being handled since I got her. She has been a little cranky, hissing and hiding her head. She has had to get used to a lot. Neecha
for example. Neecha is a noisy Rottweiler. I have been opening her enclosure every day and touching her lightly and talking softly to her. Mostly she buries her head in her coils and does her best
to look invisible.

Jon makes it look easy to handle her, but it wasn't at all. She is a lot of snake. You can see by the pictures that she is long(7'8") and bigger around than my hand. Once we got her out, she became very curious about her new surroundings and looked at everything.

As it turns out, she has a great disposition, though we handle her with great care. Certainly, I will not be getting her out alone. We finally obtained a rat big enough to make her a decent meal, and when she captured it, it was shocking, though impressive. She was lightning fast. In one second, she had the rat wrapped three times over. I learned a whole new respect for her just watching her catch and eat her dinner. I don't feed live, it may be nature's way,but in my home I am able to stop any needless suffering. I knock them out with CO2. Caring for her has been a learning experience . As long as she is handled responsibly she should make a fine ambassador for her kind this summer.

Friday, March 6, 2009

We will be at Thompson Park this summer!

Ya, it's cold right now, but spring is almost here, and summer isn't far behind. June 20 will be the first time I have my snakes out at Thompson Park for everyone to meet. I have 4. Buddy, a corn snake. Hermoine, a ball python. Sirrius Black, a black rat snake. And finally, Jenny, a red tail boa constrictor.

Please come out and meet them. I know that once you do, you will feel differently about snakes. Hermoine is such a nice snake. Meeting her alone should change your mind. She is short and stubby, but very sweet tempered and curious. She wants to see everything. Maybe once you meet these guys, you might think twice about running over a snake trying to cross the road. I have seen that happen a few times and I believe it is heartless. They do serve a vital and important role in nature. Without them, the world would be overrun with rats and mice for example. So, remember, June 20, 2009, at 4pm-Thompson Park- to meet me and my 4 snake friends so you can make them your friends, too.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Meet Jenny, An Owner Surrender

Sometimes you have no choice but to find a new home for your pet. There are many reasons for this. Maybe you are moving, or circumstances have somehow changed for you and you can no longer keep your friend. That was the case with Jenny, formally known as Mitten. I like Harry Potter names so I changed Mitten's name to Jenny Weasley. Her owner and his wife just had a new baby. Since Jenny is 7'8" long and weighs about 55 lbs, they were not comfortable having her there any more. Considering her head is close to the size of my hand, I can see why it would make them uncomfortable. She is large and because of her size alone, she is intimidating. However, as we have handled her, I have discovered she is quite tame. While we have been wary of her, she has been terrified of us, her new surroundings, being jostled around in two different cars, temperature changes, new voices and sounds-all have been thrust on her all at once. And she has not offered to bite even once. In fact, she tries to hide her head down below the loops of her long body. It truly softened my heart toward her. I am going to do everything I can to help her settle down and relax. I don't know yet what my future plans are for her. Her size makes it difficult to re home her. I may be able to use her this summer when I take my snakes out into the public to show people snakes are not so bad. Not that anyone would be allowed to hold her (or that they could. She is huge.) But seeing her and maybe touching her might help people to understand snakes better and soften their hearts, too. I will keep you updated on her progress. She is a learning experience for me and what I learn, I will pass on to you.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Northern Copperhead Snake and the Eastern Milk Snake-One eats the other.

This map shows the range of the Northen Copperhead Snake in Ohio. Note that Columbiana County is included in that range. It is one of the most venomous snakes in the state and should not be taken lightly. If you suspect that you or your pet have been bitten by one, seek medical attention immediatly.

This is what a copperhead looks like. Beautiful in color and markings, it is also strikingly dangerous. It's diet includes small rodents, birds, insects, and lizards.

This is the Eastern Milk Snake. It is harmless to people. It is, unfortunately, also mistaken for the copperhead at times. I put the pictures together so you could see the differences of the snakes. Note that this snake has rings of color while the copperhead has more like splotches of color. The Milk Snake's diet includes small rodents, birds, lizards and other snakes, including venomous ones.

This is a map of the range of the Eastern Milk Snake, which is the entire state of Ohio. Please keep this in mind should you run into a snake that you are not sure about. One is venomous and one isn't. The Milk Snake, you should remember, not only eats rats and mice, saving your home from expensive structural and electrical damage, but also eats other snakes. If you have a Milk Snake around, you probably don't have any venomous snakes in the area.

When I go out into the public this summer, I want to help educate people on this aspect of snakes. Snakes are good for the environment. While many people are afraid of them, keep in mind that they are just as afraid of you. If you come across a snake, simply back slowly away from them. They are not going to chase you. They want away from you, too. They have a right to be here. Don't kill them just because one crosses your path. Try to remember, if you have a snake in your area, you probably do not have mice or rats. I have known wild rats to climb up in bed with you at night and bite you in your own home. Snakes protect you from that.

And always remember, if you find a snake and want it removed in the Columbiana County Ohio area, please call me and I will come and take it away, relocating it out in the wild where it won't bother any one. Snakes are important to the environment and to us. Let's protect them.

I can be reached at 330-385-4380 or my email is

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Water and Habitats

I work hard to keep my snakes well taken care of and happy. One of my biggest worries is that they have enough fresh water and room to stretch out. Stretching out is important so they can relax.
I change their water every other day. As you can see, snakes drink water like any other animal.
Above you can see Sirrius all stretched out, with his long skinny tail reaching back his habitat and the things he likes to climb on. If your snake habitat is too small they can become stressed and be more apted to bite and stretch out like they should to relax. Keep that in mind as you try to decide about your snakes living quarters.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Dinner Time for Sirrius

These are rat pinkies, born yesterday. I raise my own snake food because they are $6 each at the local pet store. I have four snakes and it is cheaper for me to grow my own. It isn't hard when they are like this. But look out if they get their hair and open their eyes. They become what are called rat pups and are cute as hell. It just makes it harder to view them as snake food.
Today is the day I feed Sirrius Black, my Black Pine Snake. He will eat all three of those pinkies in five minutes. I do not feed him in his house. I remove him and use a cardboard box, which keeps him from being tank aggressive. If your snake strikes at you or actually bites you, stop feeding him in his cage because he thinks your hand is food. They are not hard to train. I also use a latex glove when I handle the food items so that if I do get tagged, the snake lets go. They do not like the taste of latex.

Sirrius knows that it is dinner. He wastes no time in going after his prey. Pinkies he can just swallow live because they are too weak to struggle. If this were a mouse, he would have wrapped it up and killed it first. Snakes move with lightening quick speed. (I feed all but pinkies frozen-thawed (f/t) so no injuries occur to the snake)
Once he gets the pinky positioned properly, he uses the muscles in his throat to swallow it whole. Yes they do make squeaky noises as they are going down. This is not for softies to watch. That is another reason to use f/t.

Rat pinkies are best because they provide excellent nutrition. It helps young snakes like Sirrius to grow bigger and stronger. Doesn't he look like a mighty Cobra!! LOL...
Do not handle snakes for minimum of 48 hours after they have fed. They can regurgitate and that can kill them. (Say you fed at 3 pm Friday- you can't handle them until Sunday at 3pm.)

Dinner Time!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A letter to the Editor of the East Liverpool Review

This is a copy of a letter to the Editor of the East Liverpool Review. I am a huge supporter of adopting a pet and saving a life, whether it be dogs, cats, snakes, horses, what ever. I have six dogs, two of which were strays. I have put a copy of it on my blog for you to read. If you are looking for a great local charity, please keep them in mind. Pictured above are my kids. Zander, Jeff, Lexi, Buster, my big baby Neecha, and last, my little baby, Snoopy.

Dear Editor:
No doubt if you watch television, this holiday season you have seen the commercial for abandoned shelter animals featuring Sarah McLaughlin on behalf of the ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). The message is heart wrenching and compelling. Certainly, the ASPCA is a worthy cause and their efforts in the area of animal welfare, important.
But please, consider this: unwanted and neglected pets need your help right here in Columbiana County. At least donate a portion of the funds you set aside for animal welfare to local organizations. I can speak to the needs and activities of one local non-profit animal welfare organization, the Humane Society of Columbiana County.
In 2008, two trained, court-appointed volunteer humane agents responded to over 400 concerns about animal cruelty and neglect over the 532 square miles of Columbiana County. Over 300 cats and dogs have been cared for by volunteers who currently maintain a minimum of two shifts, seven days per week at our R.O.C.C. (Reduce Overpopulation of Cats and Canines) and Rescue Center located at 1825 S. Lincoln Ave., Salem. The Humane Society is not funded by any local government agency nor any national animal welfare organization. Total programming and operations, including a mortgage, are supported by public donations. Should donations cease, so too will the services of the Humane Society.
I am not recommending that you stop supporting organizations like the ASPCA, but I am asking you to look out your windows as you drive your car. We all know there is great need right in our own backyard. Help us at the Humane Society help the animals in need right here in Columbiana County, first. If you are fortunate enough to afford more, then spread the love around to other parts of the country and beyond.
For more information about the Humane Society of Columbiana County, call 330-332-2600. Doors are open and visitors encouraged and welcome Tuesday-Friday 1-5 p.m. and Saturday10 a.m. to noon. Other times are available by appointment.
Adoptable pets can also be viewed at
And remember, neuter and spay is the only way to stop pet overpopulation.
Jenny Pike
president, Humane Society of Columbiana County