Monthly Archives: May 2013

Meet Scar the Snake and his friend Brandyn

I met a new species of snake this week, a Macklot’s Python (Liasis mackloti) named Scar. This snake is a non-venomous python species found in Indonesia, and sometimes in people’s living rooms in Santa Cruz, CA.

Brandyn and her snake Scar

Brandyn and her snake Scar

Scar was aptly named because he has a huge scar running all the way down his belly. The scar is from a very bad burn he received a few years ago from a poorly placed heating element. After his injury he was taken in by the good people at Trop-Aquarium pet store and nursed back to health. He is a gorgeous snake now, his scales full of an iridescence that I tried to capture in this photograph (but couldn’t).

Burns in snakes are actually pretty common. Snakes (and other reptiles) will sometimes cozy up to heating elements and not get off even when they start to sizzle. Why this happens is a mystery – perhaps they don’t have well-developed heat receptors in their skin. No doubt in the wild they don’t come across many 500 degree surfaces, so perhaps evolving a response to such a situation wasn’t a priority. In any case, it is super important that all reptile owners realize this and make sure that their pets can’t come into direct contact with heat bulbs, heating pads, and the like. Heated rocks are just a really bad idea and should never be used for all the reasons stated above.

As I always do when faced with a new species, I rushed to the internet to read all I could before the appointment. I quickly learned that Macklot’s python’s have a reputation for being “irritable”, which isn’t a great feature in a 7-to-9 foot snake whose mouth you need to look inside of 10 minutes from now.

I shouldn’t have worried, because Brandyn (one of the owners of Trop-Aquarium) is a snake whisperer and had transformed Scar from an angry teenage snake to a pussycat of an adult. Scar is so tame that he goes to kids’ birthday parties and gets passed around from sticky hand to sticky hand. Apparently his only bad habit now is that he likes to stick his head in your mouth while you are talking. Which is naughty – doesn’t he know he can catch Salmonella from people?

Stinky the Rat

StinkyTheRatMeet Stinky the Rat. He is a very cute rat, and wasn’t stinky at all. However, he refused to hold still to have his photo taken, so yes he is a tad blurry.

Mr. Stinky was a itchy rat. You can’t see it in the photo, but he had scratched a sore onto his neck with his sharp little toenails. The culprits? Well, probably a bunch of Radfordia ensifera making their presence known where they weren’t wanted.

What, you may ask, are these unpronounceable creatures? Here’s a microscopic mug shot:


Luckily for us humans, Radfordia mites are generally host specific, meaning they will usually attack only a certain species host. This is a good thing. I did get Sarcoptes mites once from some unknown mammal, and let me tell you, they were perfectly happy to take up residence on my body. But that’s another story.

We started our rat friend on antibiotics for the skin infection and Revolution for the mites, and he is well on his way to feeling better. Hooray for Mr. Stinky!

Pet Rodent Etiquette Tip: Do not call rodents vermin, varmints, or plague-carriers. Their owners don’t seem to like it if you do.

BunnyFest 2013

Calling all bunny lovers! Mark your calendars for the annual Northern California BunnyFest on June 30th! Gray Bunny

Dr. Hilary Stern will be offering $15 complete physical exams during the BunnyFest. All proceeds from the exams will go to The Rabbit Haven, our wonderful local rabbit rescue group.

Go to for more information about this exciting event.