Monday, 27 October 2008

Snakes and Racks

Had a pigeon in on Saturday. Usually they are put down unless they are ringed racing pigeons or for sure unharmed wild ones. This one had been in overnight and seemed ok. I went to take it outside and release it, to see if it would fly.
My grip was a bit loose and l was also trying to check it as l walked. It took off and nearly smacked a couple of staff in their heads as it raced down the corridor and then met the wall. Luckily he just slid down that. I grabbed him and held tight till l threw him into the air and he flew off as fast as he could, outside.

I mentioned a small crossbreed a few blogs ago in "From Floppy Dogs to a Rant" whose owner had a mental breakdown. Well no family could be traced but the little dog has been found a new home.
If the owner recovers enough to look after him then he will go back, if not there he has a home for life, always nice to have good news.

Speaking of which, it was with great joy that l consigned the shower rack where l am staying to the dustbin today. It was on one of those expending poles like a shower curtain and went between the side of the bath and the ceiling.
I would give it a pull it would be solid. Climb into the bath and soak, reading and 5minutes later…it was still solid. Then without warning it would leap off the side and smack down on my head.
The first 2 times it also threw all the shampoos, deodorants etc on me. I removed those for subsequent baths. It was not practicable to remove the rack as it was held together with tie wraps and l did not want to break it.
It turned out a nurse that used to live in bought it. I was told l was welcome to throw it away. The horrible item was in the bin by the time the permission to dispose had been fully voiced.


When l was in Tenerife l spent 8 months or so as head keeper at Tenerife Sur zoo. Fancy title but there were only about 500 animals and 3 of us keepers.

A small reptilarium was situated in the zoo grounds owned by a couple of Italians. I had nothing to do with it just used to have coffee and a chat, usually with Marco who spoke better English than Claudio did.
The pair went on a collecting trip to Africa and had a young English lad in to look after their animals. He was experienced in reptiles and had been through Gerald Durrell’s Training Programme at Jersey Trust. The problem was he had only dealt with non-venomous snakes and there was a mixed bag at the reptile house.

One day he came round the corner white faced holding his hand. “Are Cape Cobras venomous he asked clenching his thumb”

“Yes all Cobras are, why”? looking at his face l knew what was coming.

“Cause the Cape Cobra just bit me, he ate a live mouse yesterday so l think he used his poison then. He only managed to get one fang in my thumb, l pulled it out so fast l don’t think he had anything left for me”

I tried to keep things light hearted. “Well you are screwed then” l told him “cause the lads do not carry antivenom. It has to short a shelf life, is to expensive and they have to many nasty snakes in the exhibit to cover them all, those who have any produced that is”

He turned paler, l helped him sit down. “Look you can do a couple of things. The most sensible is to be on the safe side and get you to hospital now. If you feel ok, and he fed yesterday, and he only just got you with one fang and you want to you can wait. If you feel funny in any way you can go then.”

He chose to wait, l knew he would, macho man. I watched him closer than a starving hawk on a mouse. Luckily he was fine, just shaken. He also learnt a lesson about snakes, when you have got blasé after dealing with non-lethal reptiles, then you are in trouble.

Naja Nivea - Cape Cobra, Geelkapel, Koperkapel.

The colour varies from black through to buttermilk with an almost infinite number of variation in-between. It can be speckled or uniform in colour. Juveniles have a broad black band on the throat, which fades with age.

Cape Cobra’s have a neuro toxic venom. It is as potent as a Black Mamba's - but it injects less of it. Be prepared to support breathing. You should have at least an hour before dangerous symptoms begin to manifest them selves.

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