Every keeper has experienced the unpredictable at some point or another. It just comes with the job when you work with animals. No matter how well we think we know our animals, they still randomly do things that will shock or amaze us. Whether it be getting themselves stuck in places that we never imagined they could fit into (such as our tiger salamander with his water bowl), or finding out that one of our sweetest animals is a petty thief (such as Wendy the woodchuck with Sherry’s invoices), there will always be outragous stories to share if you are an animal keeper!
Well, last Sunday was another great example of the unimagineable happening. Now, keep in mind Sundays are one of our short-staffed days, where there’s only three keepers here instead of seven. Katy and I already had to deal with the tiger salamander being stuck in his water bowl a few months ago on a Sunday, but strange things don’t wait for a good time to happen, so we just have to roll with the punches. Last Sunday, Sherry was filling in for Katy while on vacation, and she was the first one to discover this unforseen occurrance. Imagine my confusion when I heard Sherry radio Kent and ask him if it was possible for a male black rat snake to lay eggs! At first, I thought she was on the phone with someone who was asking her this question, and she was just confirming her answer of “no.” But, in fact, she was talking about our off-exhibit black rat snake. Yes, that’s right, she found nine eggs in the black rat’s cage while cleaning that morning. Apparently this snake is a female, and not a male, like we first thought.
Of course, the eggs are not fertile because all of our snakes live alone, so there will be no babies. It was certainly unexpected, but was still something outside of the normal routine that helps to keep the job interesting. It just goes to show that, when working with animals, we always have to expect the unexpected!