Friday, January 14, 2011

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

Yesterday was a sad day in the Minor house.  One of our beloved pets died.  We have had him for a little over a year, but this morning Kirsten got up and immediately noticed that his usual spot was empty which reminded her of the previous day’s events.  No more snuggling up to watch a movie together.  No more playing fetch.  No more protection for the house.  He is gone and will be missed. 

Actually, none of those things were ever done.  He rarely even got out of his cage.  Guests to our house begged us not to get him out and only a few were ever brave enough to even touch him.  Our pet’s name was Hitler and he was a tarantula.

R.I.P Hitler
Tarantulas are fairly large spiders to begin with and Hitler was no exception.  He was the same size as my hand.  When he would rear up on his back legs to try to be threatening (it was so cute), he was about 4 inches tall.  He could be quite intimidating when he wanted to be.

Hitler ruled his cage.  Anything that went in there (crickets, frogs, other spiders, hands changing his bedding) didn’t last long, but something changed when we moved here.  We arrived here last November and he hasn’t really eaten since then.  Crickets would be taken down within a matter of minutes before, but these last eight weeks he hasn’t cared that they were in his cage.  He seemed more active at first, but it didn’t last long.  He was a fun and interesting pet and will be missed.

Now we only have one animal.  His name is Dr. Finklerstein (both pets were named by my daughter).  Within 48 hours of getting Dr. Finklerstein home, he bit my son’s wrist and my daughter’s neck.  This pet is much more aggressive than Hitler was, much larger and faster, but more fun to play with.  Dr. Finklerstein is a python.

Dr. Finklerstein & Kirsten
We had a different python years ago named Monty.  Yep, Monty Python.  He was a very docile creature.  He would run loose in the house and liked to hang out in the closet.  Kirsten was about a year old and would drag Monty around the house by his tail and kiss him on the head.  He didn’t seem to care.  Dr. Finklerstein, however, would never tolerate such behavior.  He could be sitting in your lap, enjoying the warmth of the sun and suddenly bite you under the arm because you reached for a soda.  He would then coil back and glare as if to say, “How dare you?  You didn’t ask if you could move.  Try it again.  I dare you.”

As terrifying as that may sound to some people, it is not as bad as you would think.  Pythons are not poisonous and do not have fangs.  They do have teeth at the backs of their jaws for gripping.  They have very small teeth-like things surrounding the rest of their mouth for the same reason.  When he bites, it feels like getting flicked with a finger.  You feel it, but it doesn’t hurt.  My daughter was bitten behind the ear the day after we got him.  If it had been painful, that would have been the last time she would have wanted to play with him.  Painful or not, very few guests want to handle him.

He is not a problem as long as he stays off the keyboard
We have always had unusual animals to play with.  When I was a kid, we would rush to the basement when it flooded to see Harry.  Harry was a large, mud-gray salamander that would appear when the basement got wet enough.  We would play with him for a few hours and then put him back.  We had about a half dozen raccoons over the years and a fox.  We even had a few pet skunks.  When I was in high school, my brother Trevor found a newborn deer in the middle of the road and brought it home.  We named it Bird and raised it in the barn.  When he got old enough to venture out he stuck around for several months.  He would play in the yard with the dogs and came running to the house to eat just like they did.  However, the dogs didn’t care to play with him because when Bird played he would butt them in the head.  When I was much younger we had a Rhode Island Red rooster named Rodney that thought it was a dog.  It would follow us around the yard and sit in our laps.  We also had a beer-guzzling horse for a while and we have had our share of run-of-the-mill dogs and cats.  Our last two dogs were golden labs named SPOON and LLAMA.  We had a cat in my childhood named Sir Jonathon Edwards Vincent von Richenstein III.  We called him THREE for short.

I don’t know why we have had so many unusual pets.  A large part of it was just opportunity.  We lived out in the country, so often we just came across these animals.  The last raccoon I had was one that just wandered up onto my porch and wouldn’t go away,  so we kept it.  Sometimes my dad brought them home.  That was how we got the skunks.  Other times it was to take them off of someone else’s hands.  That was how we got the overly-pampered rooster and our first python.  The beer-guzzling horse was just a horse until someone set their beer down within her grasp and she grabbed it up, threw her head back and sucked it down.  She would actually do that with any drink, but it is more interesting to tell the story with beer.

Now we are trying to decide what type of animal to replace Hitler with.  Kirsten thinks she may want some smaller spiders that she won’t be as scared to let crawl on her.  I am leaning towards a hedgehog.  We haven’t decided yet and will have to do some reading and research, but Kirsten already has it named.  Our new pet will be named PROF CREPES ALMIGHTY or DR. JEWISH.



    Thought you guys might like to know why I am so skeered of spiders!!

    Miss you!

  2. I had a Dragon Amigus called Spartacus. He died.
    Love reptiles, always have. Caught a snake on my uncle's farm once when I was in high school. A snake's skin feels so smooth!

    1. My daughter caught her first wild snake when she was 4 years old. She caught mice with her bare hands. Never knew how she could do, so we have always had animals.


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