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August 26th, 2008 - The Night Shift

I think she likes me.
I've been working the evening shift at Springbrook Nature Center these days, 4:30 - 9 PM, and it definitely is different than working the day shift.
I do a lot more animal care, and they seem to be getting used to me. Gardy the Garter snake (q.v.) has to be taken out of her cage to set it up for feeding, so you take out her water dish, tree, and reptile cave and put down artificial turf so that she doesn't pickup any wood chips in her food. You have to find some place to put her while this is going on, so I find it's easier to hold her or put her on my shoulder. Last night she started exploring and went up thru my hat adjuster in the back and over the top so she could ride around with a grip on something. But of course she doesn't stop there...
We feed her minnows and worms mostly, but the last few times I've had a hard time getting her interested in them, until I picked up a tip from the MNHerp Society. I used to think it was strange that snakes even eat fish, but it's probably her preferred food here. I've seen Garters swim up out of the marsh onto land and go hunting too. I guess all snakes can swim, some just like it more. Snakes have two (sometimes three (!)) lungs, but one is sort of atrophied. Some herpetologists think the atrophied lung acts as an air bladder so they can keep their balance in the water.
Anyway, the tip was simple: put the live minnows in a clear dish. She definitely was more interested right away, seeing what was going on in there. Then she has this long hunting ritual she has to go thru, surrounding the dish and making sure everything checks out. Reptile brain. They say it like it's a bad thing.
Then it was time to go out and sweep for insects to feed the frogs. Last night I went around "the back" of the NC, this picture is out beyond the birdfeeders, an unusual perspective. Deer were crashing thru the woods, they don't see much human activity back there after dark. I've been sweeping twice lately, once to try and get some bigger stuff for the boys in the Frog Dome, and once for littler bugs for the tykes in the terrabox. I've been trying different locations with different plants and am getting better at predicting what I'll get in the net. I learned the hard way to stay away from the Trumpet Vine or I'll end up with bees. I still get them once in a while tho. It sucks trying to weed them out of the frog dome without letting everything else out, but I can't feel good about leaving them in with the frogs. It's barely organized chaos trying to get the bugs from the net into either the dome or the plastic box. You put a few dozen insects into a 1 sq. foot space with six frogs and things start hoppin'! Frogs are jumping, crashing into each other, claiming the same bug, their tongues flying out, bugs are buzzing around trying to find out which way is up and half of them are probably trying to eat each other. It's like a skunk on a hockey rink.
Shhh. Frogs are sleeping. Dreaming froggie dreams.
I just noticed the Cecropia caterpillar has blue suede shoes. Put your hands togetha for some fresh cherry branches, yeayuh!


Anonymous said...

Yikes! I know Gardy is a harmless snakey, but still...and she is smiling... I'd still have an anxiety issue.

Anonymous said...

She's kind of cute for a skinny little thing.