Keeper Stories – December 20, 2016
Hey all! Seasonal Keeper Hayley here from the Herpetology Department and wow, has it been a busy week! Winter hibernation is going well for the indigo snakes and various turtles behind the scenes, so much so that many animals have actually gained weight from not eating! Many of the indigo snakes have actually gained at least 10 to 20 grams each, even though they haven’t eaten in about two months! This is normal this time of year as many of our temperate species go into their inactive winter habits and stop eating until the spring thaw. How are they gaining weight without eating? Beats me! Sometimes reptiles can do some really surprising things!
Speaking of weight gain, many of our animals have shown a greater appetite since we turned up the heat in Scaly Slimy Spectacular. To ensure that our tropical species stay at their toasty thermal optimums, we crank up the heat a little extra in many of the exhibits to battle the winter chill, which for some, leads to the opposite effect that winter has on our temperate species, they get more active instead of hunkering down. A good example is “Baruti,” our black-throated monitor (Varanus albigularis). He has gotten a bit of a feeding increase the last few weeks to go along with his increased activity levels, and he couldn’t be happier! You can have the opportunity to watch him get fed on weekends during our 3:30 p.m. feedings, but he also gets a variety of feeding enrichment to keep up with his spritely attitude. He often lounges in front of the keeper door or close to the glass waiting for meal time to come around.
The coming year is expected to bring new and fun surprises for the Herpetology Department, so please be sure to come visit. Remember, even when it’s cold outside, the heat is ALWAYS on in Scaly Slimy Spectacular!
Seasonal Keeper, Herpetology