Posted by: Katie | May 24, 2012

Robin’s Exotic Pets

Robin is a friend that I met while at my University and we shared a good amount of classes together throughout the few years we were there; in fact, she just graduated, so congrats Robin! I’ve learned of her love of snakes as well as other unique pets and think it it one of the coolest thing – most other women are completely freaked out by creatures such as snakes. Here, Robin tells us what pets she has and what she loves most about each of them She is currently working as a guide at a well-known zoological park in the Gulf side of Florida; she works with the giraffes.

1. How did your interest in snakes and other unique pets begin?
I’ve always loved animals. When I was 10, my aunt gave me a hedgehog named Prickly. Later I took in two more hedgehogs from people who couldn’t keep them anymore. I called them “Wiggles” and “Vlad the Impaler.”

Since then, I’ve had hermit crabs and quite a few mice (the pet store sold me 3 “females” but one was definitely not. A month later, there were a dozen babies!). The mice chewed through all of my attempts to contain them.

In high school, my boyfriend had a ball python. At first I was nervous but once I held her, I became a huge fan of reptiles! One day, I came home with a baby corn snake named Coral. My mom was not thrilled at first, but now my whole family likes her.

Since starting my current job, I’ve become quite obsessed with giraffes, Thompson’s gazelles, and flamingoes. My chances of ever having any of those are slim, though, unless I marry a rich guy.

2. How much research did you do before you began purchasing each type of pet?
The first hedgehog I had was a gift; my aunt had found an escaped hedgehog which nobody claimed. A few days later it had four babies, so I kept one. I researched a LOT in the few days before the hedgehog arrived. With snakes, I had about 2 years to research before I bought one. It’s not fair to the animal if you don’t know what you’re getting into before you buy it.

I had to eat my words once, though! I bought hermit crabs for my little brothers and didn’t realize how many things they needed for ideal living conditions. They’re actually divas. I ended up spending quite a bit of money on hermit crab stuff in order to ensure their comfort.

3. What are some of the pets you currently have?  
I have three snakes now; the corn snake, ball python, and Stinson’s python whose previous owner moved and couldn’t take him along. There’s also a saltwater aquarium with fish, crabs and a sea anemone.

4. What do you love most about some of these animals?  

The newest addition, the anemone, is awesome! I didn’t know this, but their base is not glued to the rock or anything. It’s moved all over the filter and coral. It’s purple and neon orange. Feeding it is very cool; I drop a fish food pellet on it and it pulls it into its (mouth?) with its weird alien arms.

I love snakes for a lot of reasons. They’re relatively low maintenence compared to dogs and cats. They don’t smell, don’t bark, don’t shed hair, and don’t damage things. They won’t bother people with allergies. I think they’re very cool-looking, interesting, and fun to hold. They actually have a lot of personality, for an animal with a brain the size of a bean.

Pets still have instincts though, which you have to be aware of as a snake owner. I have been bitten once; it was alarming, but almost painless. The possibility of biting mostly depends on the species and the way it’s been handled in the past. Two of my snakes have never bitten in their lives, but the python has always been very high strung. He bit his previous owner too. It’s really important to know how to handle and feed them properly.

5. Do you have any tips for those wanting to get a saltwater aquarium?
 My boyfriend does most of the tank upkeep, so I asked him about this one… He says “Research a lot and be prepared for the expense!” You don’t want to skimp on things you’ll need because saltwater fish are very delicate. I personally recommend a glass tank because calcified algae will grow on the sides. Unless you use a razor blade, removing it will make you want to drown yourself in the tank. Plastic will get scratched up by the razor and look bad.

6. Did you learn things on your own time or have help from someone else that knew how to start a saltwater aquarium?  

My boyfriend knows a lot about saltwater aquariums and I’ve learned about it from him.

7. What pets would you like to have in the future?
I would love to have another hedgehog and a bird, preferably some kind of finch, quail or pigeon. I may or may not be allergic to birds, though, so I have to find out.


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