Sunday, November 14, 2010

Creepy Crawlies!

We have acquired a new pet.

Meet Ao!

She arrived about three weeks ago (so she's hardly news to some of you), but I thought I should bring it up here.

Ao is a Northern blue-tongue skink. She's about 18" long, extremely omnivorous, and pretty friendly as reptiles go. She's Aaron's first reptile acquisition (he's been agitating for a snake for years). He's in love. The first couple of days he barely came out of his room, instead hauling everything he wanted to do up there, so he could watch her.

Working with Ao has been a process of discovery for all of us. Rob discovered that even toothless reptiles will bite when frightened (and can bite quite hard). Mommy has discovered that skinks like earthworms - and toes look like earthworms - shoes are now mandatory when the skink is roaming! Aaron has been enjoying feeding her various foods to see which she likes - so far everything but bok choy, but she has a strong preference for moving food. He has discovered that live crickets do not make good sleeping companions (even when appropriately contained), so the live cricket portions of Ao's diet may be limited in the future.

After a couple weeks of being shy and scared, Ao has definitely gotten used to me (I can now pick her up and put her on my forearm without her hissing or trying to escape at all), and is getting more used to Aaron. I think his smaller shakier hands are a little more scary to her, and since I have to pick her up to give her to him, she automatically gets contact with me every time she gets contact with him. Blue-tongues are supposed to be able to distinguish people, and Ao's behavior so far bears that out - she still gets alarmed fairly easily by Rob and Robbie.

All in all, having a reptile in the house has been a lot more fascinating than I had thought it would be. I'm getting fond of Ao pretty fast, and while I was expecting Aaron to love her, I wasn't expecting to be getting attached myself. I may be sad if he takes her with him when he goes off to college in another eight years or so (skink lifespan 20-30 years!).