Listings Correction

RobinThis event was brought to our attention relatively late in the production process for the Sept. 5 issue and was inadvertently listed as happening this evening. Instead, it is to be held on the evening of Thursday, Sept. 12.

BIRDS IN THE BACK YARD Slide show and neighbourhood walking tour by noted naturalist and author Trevor Herriot. Neil Balkwill Centre, 6:30 p.m. Regina Horticultural Society members free, non-members $5. 306-352-3132.

Friday Afternoon Kitty: Gooood Puppies!

I’ve been a little negligent on the cute animal videos this summer–I’m pretty sure I’ve flat-out missed three or four Friday Afternoon Kitty (Puppy, Owly, Batty, Snakey) posts. Well, I’m going to make up for it. Today I’m going to post one cute animal video every hour. Are you excited? Goddamn right you are! So let’s get to it! Here’s a couple of dogs chasing off a cougar. Every single animal in this video is awesome.

Friday Afternoon Bull Snake

All right, in honour of Regina’s special guest, here’s a video of a crabby bull snake by Orry Martin, the Texas Snake Hunter. More Orry here. I love the way Orry ends a lot of his vids with a big ole “praise the Lord!” He’s the right kind of Christian–the sort who loves the world and the animals God* put in it, and preaches conservation and appreciation of wildlife. Anyway! The wacky thing about these beautiful snakes is they’ll act like this but they’ll also (often) tolerate handling extremely well. If you’re calm, they’re generally going to be calm.

Bull snakes! I love ’em. Love ’em!

*Disclaimer: Unfortunately there is no God but if you’ve gotta believe, this is a good way to do it.

A Snake Escapes From A New Brunswick Pet Store And Kills Two Children

Well, shit. I guess as Prairie Dog’s official snake guy I’ve got to post about this tragedy. From CBC:

Two children died after a python got into an apartment in Campbellton, N.B., police say. “Police are investigating two sudden deaths of two young boys,” Const. Julie Rogers-Marsh said Monday. It’s believed the snake escaped from a pet store called Reptile Ocean. The victims were boys aged five and seven. They were visiting a friend in the apartment above the store, police said in a statement released Monday. Rogers-Marsh said the preliminary investigation led police to believe that a python snake escaped its enclosure at the store sometime overnight. Initial information indicates the snake got into the ventilation system and then into the apartment upstairs. “It’s believed the two boys were strangled by the snake,” she said, noting that autopsies are scheduled for tomorrow in Saint John.

This is terrible. It’s also incredibly weird–I’ve never heard of this happening. On the rare occasion a child is killed by a pet snake (usually a Burmese or reticulated python, which is what I bet this “boa” will turn out to be), gross owner negligence–like putting a huge python in a crib with a baby–is usually involved. Breaking out of a cage, sneaking into an adjacent apartment and killing children is a new one. It’s the stuff of nightmares, for sure. Tragic all around.

UPDATE: It was apparently an especially ill-tempered African rock python– which I’ve never heard being kept as pets. CTV says the children were five and seven, and were asleep when the snake attacked. Just brutal.

UPDATE 2: CTV has mostly excellent coverage here and here. My only quibble is the conflation of commonly kept, harmless or essentially harmless pythons — like three to five foot ball pythons and large but generally extremely tame Burmese pythons — with this uncommon and  possibly more aggressive animal. Again, rock pythons are exceedingly uncommon snakes in captivity. For perspective, I have met (two or three) people who have kept rattlesnakes (legally and not in cities) but I’ve never met anyone who owned a rock python. I Googled and did find one for sale in Ontario; for $250 — the sellers stated they would only sell the animal to someone with experience keeping large snakes. Rock pythons appear to be more commonly kept in the U.K. They’re rare here. This isn’t going to happen to your kids.

This incident is freakishly unique. And awful.


Pick Of The Day: Queen City Ex

The fair kicks off today and runs until Aug. 4. In addition to the midway rides and fair food (most of it on a stick) feature attractions include Shrek Live, Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo, Giant Flea Circus and Splash ‘n’ Boots. As far as grandstand performers go, here’s a breakdown: tonight it was supposed to be hip hop artist Classified. But that got cancelled late last week so the indie rock band Walk Off The Earth has stepped in to fill the void. Thursday, Three Days Grace will grace the stage. Friday, it’s a blast from the past with Loverboy. Saturday, the plan is to have Simple Plan entertain the throngs. Then to close the week out, it’s country sensation Rodney Atkins.

For a more detailed take on what will be happening visit the QC Ex website. And to close, here’s the video for Simple Plan’s latest single “Summer Paradise”:

The Littlest Flood Victim

dvp flood
As you’ve been reading, hearing, and seeing here, here, and here, Toronto is under water! It’s pretty sobering. This is the second time in roughly as many months that the lower half of the Don Valley Parkway has flooded, which, if you’re at all familiar with Toronto’s roadways, you’ll know that this is a serious problem for getting people in and out of the city. They’re definitely going to have to come up with some way of dealing with this in the future, because something tells me this is only the beginning of weird weather semi-regularly paralyzing the city. At one point, as many as 300,000 households were left without power. And it’s still a mess this morning. Anyway, you’re probably reading this in Regina, and probably aren’t that invested in Toronto, and maybe you’re even feeling a little smug (as a Torontonian transplant to the Queen City, I’ve heard more than my share of Toronto-bashing) so what can we show you that’ll have some other kind of appeal? Hows-about a little snake on a train? This poor little fella must have been very confused after trying to traverse the Don River, only to find himself on a stalled Go-Train en route to Richmond Hill. Prairie Dog might not be so quick with the breaking news, but if there’s a video of a snake trapped on a flooded train, you can bet your rubber boots we’ll bring said video to you.

R.I.P., Willie

And now for another indulgent note about a deceased pet. Willie the snake passed away last week. It’s all right: he had a good, long life and was very old. Willie was a male checkered garter snake and I bought him as an adult in early 1996, so that would make him at least 17. Not bad for a garter snake! Oh, the memories: shortly after I got him, he started slithering around his tank upside down. I thought he was toast but it turned out he was just vitamin B deficient, and a quick trip to the vet for a shot (yes, they give injections to sick snakes) fixed him right up.

In the last couple of years Willie lost some weight and developed what I assume were cataracts, but he was active and alert and eating right up to the end. It was just his time. He is survived by Klaus, Priscilla, Rusty, Mittens and Scoodles.

I don’t have any photos handy but here’s an episode of the Web TV series SnakeBytes that’s about checkered garters like Willie. They make good, low-maintenance pets for the right person.

Bon voyage, Willie! You were a good snakey-poo. You were handsomely patterned, good to handle, you never pooped in your water dish and you never bit anyone. What more could anyone ask? Good job! Good life.