Category Archives: Critter foo

My most challenging patient

As any pediatrician will tell you, the scary thing about infants and toddlers is how fast they can go down the tubes. Humans are complex systems held in check by a variety of buffers and homeostatic feedback loops (there! four years of med school in 16 words), and the smaller the human, the more delicate those buffers and feedback loops. It doesn’t take much to go from eating-drinking-pooping to starving-dehydrated-feverish when you only weigh eight pounds.

How much worse, then, to weigh a fraction of a pound?

This week, our ferret Buehler (named by DCR in this contest, and pictured below — as a much younger weasel) went from eating-drinking-pooping to starving-dehydrated-feverish overnight. I noticed the problem in the morning, and by the time I got home in the afternoon, he looked moribund. We lost Buehler’s pal Harmonica last year, possibly because I underestimated how fast these little guys can plunge. And Harmonica only had an eye infection, whereas Buehler looked much, much worse.

I dithered on the question of taking him to the vet. He looked hopeless. He lay motionless in my arms, breathing fast, hot as a poker. I was able to get him to drink some water, but not much, and he wouldn’t take any food.


Különböző és különböző *

It has to be said sometime: how can someone with as big a mouth as me run out of things to say? And yet I find myself in that position day after day: speechless. Bad enough I can’t write any fiction; now I’m having a harder and harder time blogging.


Made a tasty blueberry crisp tonight. Recipe here. I won’t bother to repeat it here since I made no alterations to the recipe. I used an 8 by 8 inch Pyrex glass baking dish and I baked it about 25 minutes. Probably could have used a little more cornstarch since these were juicy berries.


What is it about cats and boxes? Ours like containers, too. Hat tip to enigma4ever on this one.


I am in need of a computer gaming addiction to replace my now raging addiction to World of Warcraft. (And I’ve got Karen hooked, too.) I wonder how many people have written their WoW characters (and gold, and gear) into their wills? “And to my niece Suzanne, I leave Douchemonger, my level 85 gnome warlock. Suzanne, if you steal all of Douchemonger’s best gear for your warlock Biohazzardz, I am so coming back to haunt you.”


Heading into call next week with my partner on vacation. I’m stealing myself for the worst and maybe with some luck it will fall short of my expectations.


Saw Hot Tub Time Machine on Netflix . . . oh, I don’t know why. Perhaps because I’ll give anything with John Cusack in it a chance? Perhaps because I figured a movie with such a stupid name had to have something going for it? Anyway, it wasn’t terrible. It made me laugh a few times, and it surprised me with a very un-Hollywood ending.


What’s everyone reading? I’m in the 700s on the latest George R R Martin installment of Game of Thrones. It’s A Mess of Monkeys or some damn thing (I can never remember the titles.)

Okay, so I managed to say a few things.


* Various and sundry in Hungarian, a language that apparently lacks separate words for “various” and “sundry.”

My vote for most interesting creature . . .

We went to Balboa Park today and slammed through the Science museum in under two hours. It’s not the Exploratorium and ’nuff said about that. Yesterday we had a deal more fun at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. My favorite “new” critter (as in, an animal I’ve never seen before in an aquarium) was this guy.


My first reaction was (and, honest, my brain adopted a real Bill-and-Ted mode with this thought), “Whoa, dude, giant underwater pill bug!” And I was right. This is the giant marine isopod, which can grow to nearly four pounds and thirty inches in length. They are scavengers who can live for many weeks without food, and when they do find food, they promptly eat themselves into a coma.

Jake was not surprised, but then, Jake has an encyclopedic knowledge of nearly everything thanks to the dovetailed mentoring of Wikipedia, Cracked, and TV Tropes. In this case, Cracked had sown our son’s fertile mind with information. (Cool article. Read it.)

We saw nudibranchs, too, but I suspect I might have seen them before at the Steinhart Aquarium, or perhaps the aquarium in Vancouver. We took the Behind the Scenes tour as well, and the highlight of that was the archerfish:

No amazing food thus far, but we did make it to Little Saigon in Westminster yesterday after the Aquarium. Yum, banh mit.


Harmonica, RIP

Ferrets are heartbreaking. They only live five or six years and then they’re gone. Harmonica (the blond who “co-stars” in the video below — the undisputed show-stealer is our other ferret, Bueller) died in his sleep today after a brief illness that began with an infected eye.

Can’t help but think that if I weren’t sick with a cold this week, I would have been more willing to sit in the vet’s waiting room (which I was loath to do because of what I knew it would do to my lungs). Would it have made a difference? Who knows. My hunch is that these small mammals live and die depending upon their own health and genetics, and there isn’t much we can do about it. But I realize this is a self-serving theory.

Still . . . shouldn’t he have been able to fight off what seemed like a minor eye infection? Instead, he seemed to get septic fast.

I don’t think he was ever in any pain. Small comfort.


Jesus and a tarantula

Because I’m still speechless. And tired.

and try to ignore the music on this next one. Beautiful spider, that’s all.


New critters (with MORE NEW CRITTERS!)

Over the weekend, I attended an ENT meeting which had the singular benefit of being near one of our all-time favorite pet stores. I told Karen I wanted a new pet for Father’s Day, so I purchased two inexpensive snakes — snow corn snakes. Those of you who are on Facebook can see my snakes, but for now, here’s a photo I grabbed off the ‘net:


They’re a couple of mellow juveniles. Very easy to handle — a little fidgety, as are a lot of corn snakes, but not at all bitey.

Which is more than I can say for this bad girl:


(Another stolen photo. Sorry, but as I hope you’ll soon understand, we would rather not take our own photos of this one.)

This is the dreaded Singapore Blue (Cyriopagopus species) and I only say “dreaded” because I dread it, having seen it in action. The pet store manager, who is no stranger to tarantulas (having wrangled a few hundred of them for William Shatner’s breakout hit Kingdom of the Spiders), had some excitement herding the Singapore Blue into a deli container for transport. She reared, flashed her fangs, and lunged. Twice. When he finally maneuvered her into the container and put the lid on, she remained on her back for a good forty minutes.

Note: if a tarantula flips on her back, this is not a “surrender” position. Tarantulas are not dogs. If Cesar Millan mistook this for a “surrender” position, he would find soon find himself enfanged. (Which really, really ought to be a word.) The tarantula is protecting her most vulnerable aspect, her topside, and presenting her best weapon.

Everyone made it home intact. Tarantulas and snakes hate to travel, so I’m happy to report, so far so good. I’ll feel much better once everyone has had a good meal, and after the female moults successfully.

I would say that getting her out of the deli container was not nearly as exciting as getting her into the container, but frankly, I don’t know. Karen did the deed in the bathroom with the door shut.


PS: And today, she received two new tarantulas, both Megaphobema robustum, for which she has had a jones for some years now.


They’re a bit skittish, as are most juvenile spiders, but their colors are just like this.

To some degree, where it all started

Karen trashing Jon Scalzi’s first novel drove a great deal of traffic to my site — something like 1000 hits per day for a while? I don’t remember precisely. But it was hit and run stuff that generated no enduring readers.

What really got me rolling was another Karen-inspired blog, this one about tarantula sex. Somehow the Smart Bitches got wind of it, gave me a shout out, and that’s how many of my long-time readers found me.

You know the saddest thing about this story? Karen has never had a successful mating. Intercourse (such as it is) but no conception. No pitter patter of several hundred hairy legs. But it wasn’t for want of trying.

From 2005, hot tarantula sex . . . below the fold.


Wherein I help to keep one of Bako’s veterinarians gainfully employed

You remember Ferret Bueller, right? Big (for a ferret). Bitey. Death to degus. But generally a good little shit.

He wouldn’t eat yesterday morning. This was worrisome, to say the least, since our ferrets inhale their food like little black holes with fur and four clawed feet. They like to act as though I haven’t fed them in weeks, when in fact I feed them twice a day. I was a little worried to find him off his food, but he was still drinking, so I thought I’d give him until evening to see how he fared. When I came home, I put a little food in their dish. Harmonica did the inhale thing and Bueller pleasantly sipped at his water bottle. Once again he seemed fine, just no appetite.


We don’t use our swimming pool

so I keep wondering what to do about that. We pay to get it cleaned, and part of the year we pay to heat it, and except for the time I tripped and fell into the hot tub, we have yet to use it.

If I turned it into a giant salt water tank and stocked it with brightly colored fishes, I could go snorkeling in my own back yard. Lots of folks are converting to salt water swimming pools; I’m not sure I understand the pros and cons, but I gather the salt water pool doesn’t require much in the way of chemicals.

And then this photo-diary over at Daily Kos showed me the light.



Animal Planet aired their program “America’s Cutest Cat,” which we watched tonight. Needless to say, the cats were the best part of the program, the humans the worst. With rare exception, I wanted to yell at the humans to shut the hell up and stop interrupting the cats. The Teletubbies background annoyed the hell out of me, too, but nothing quite ranks with an irritating human butting in front of an adorable cat.

I especially love it when cats make odd vocalizations. Our cats do this:

and I wonder if this has a name. Anyway, unspayed cats make the oddest vocalizations (which if I trust YouTube video titles, are universally declared “annoying”) and are also indiscriminate in their choice of mate. How cogs are made . . .

That’s an awfully young-looking dog. I thought it was illegal to broadcast petophilia?

I wonder, though, about most of these talking cat videos. On the one hand, I’ve heard our cats make some strange sounds. On the other hand, it would be so easy to dub in a crapload of weird sounds.


Next page →