Saturday, August 27, 2011

My Manic Menagerie

Hey ya'll

three posts in one day! That must be a record of some sort!!! Anyway, following my completion of My Family, and Other Animals, by Gerald Durrel, I decided to make a headcount of all the pets I've ever had. Of course, I use the term 'pet' here rather loosely as it also refers to the various other animals I've taken care of for varying periods of time (my butterflies, for example) and then released into the wild. Because I'm guessing there's going to be a lot of them... I shall make it as brief as possible.

1. Dogs
Blossom and Buffy, my two shih-tzus have been the two animals who have been with our family the longest. Although it's been some nine years since they came into our lives, I still remember how we had decided - quite randomly - in my opinion to one day adopt a dog into our household. Of course, the moment between deciding to have one, and actually getting one took some time (we wanted to make sure we got the right dog) but eventually settled on a shih-tzu. Supposedly for easy maintenance. Boy were we wrong. Either way, Blossom and Buffy, for all their attitude and flaws have been amazing additions to the family and can diffuse any tense situation with their antics (unless they're the cause of the situation in the first place)
2. Rodents
Our house has seen quite a large number of its fair share of rodents during its time. And no, we did not have an infestation or a problem, we just had a little boy (namely me) who cannot resist adopting any creature he's come across. From the first pair of white mice Terri got me for my birthday (luxuriously named Chanel and Dior by her), to the ones I 'rescued' from being dissected at science labs, and finally, my darling single-mother of a mouse, Dandelion who gave birth to up to thirteen young, all of which survived to adulthood, mice have been welcome additions in this house and instead of trapping them with cages or cruel glue-lined papers, we have come to see these rodents in new perspective and light.
But the favorite rodent in this household, was arguably the only hamster we ever got. Strawberry, the female, Syrian hamster that was given to me by Robyn and Nigel when Dandelion finally succumbed of old age. Strawberry - unlike most hamsters - has always had a very sweet temperament and would never bite a person - not even a stranger. In fact, she loved humans so much, she would be content by simply curling up in one of the family's laps for her afternoon siestas. Throughout the three years of her life, Strawberry never ceased to entertain and amaze us. From learning to pick the locks to her cage, to performing simple tricks for our (and presumably her) amusement, she must be one of the most intelligent hamsters I've ever seen. In fact, her presence was so cherished that, when she at last left us, we made a small monument out of tiles and wax in the front garden to bury her. We sometimes bring flowers to that spot till this very day.
3. Turtles
Turtles have been very much loved in our household on account of their 'good luck'. We currently still have three of them, the tiny one, Shelldon (who is currently living quite happily at Ray's) and the other two colossal giants from a forgotten point of memory in my childhood. 
Fish have always been a particular favorite of my father and so, we have had quite a history of fish living with us. From my earliest memory of possessing a common siamese fighting fish (betta splendens) to our large tropical fish tank of angel fish and discuss, to the outdoor pond of goldfish and guppies, we have always enjoyed the serenity and calm watching fish swim around seem to invoke on some of those lazier days. Of course fish, being fish, don't live very long, but it has always been that when they die - indeed if they do not have offspring to replace them - that they would be almost instantaneously replaced by a quick trip to our local pet store.
5. Birds
As I may have already stated elsewhere here, birds have always been a particular favorite of mine. Generally, I admire birds for their beauty, their ability to create complex vocal sounds (singing, in some people's terms) and not to mention their beautiful feathers and their capacity for flight. Unsurprisingly, therefore, I have kept many different species of birds from the point of my childhood till I grew up. Some of the earlier species of birds I kept were common fowl. Jungle chickens and pheasant chicks and the like, until I eventually moved on to rescuing baby birds in nests which were abandoned by their parents, or upset during a storm. I recall in particular, the chick of a yellow vented bulbul which we raised quite succesfully. All these birds, however, were released into the wild upon recovery and although I would love to play the romantic and say they have constantly frequented my garden, I never saw many of them again since. Things took a change though, some few years ago when our garden saw its first budgie visitor, an injured bird we subsequently named Tweety (mostly because of his incessant vocalizations) but I've already talked about that and you can read more about him and his family here, and here, and here. (or simply go to the homepage, and click the link "birds" on the sidebar whereby you will be presented with every single ornithological related post I've ever written here) At any rate the result is that we have a pretty large outdoor aviary at the side of the house now which - I hope - will soon house a beautiful white Java Dove I have named Snow White. 
6. Frogs and Toads and other amphibians
Aaaah, the lovely amphibians with their interesting life-cycles. Unbeknowst to most of you, Trevor was not my first - and most certainly won't be my last - amphibians. Since I was a boy growing up, I've always had a soft spot for amphibians (and almost everything else that crawls, creeps, jumps or flies!!! But I digress) and some of my earliest memories in school was of me crawling in mud-filled ditches, scooping up their tadpoles by the palmful to be kept in plastic tanks to adulthood whereby they would be released in my garden with hopes that they would someday reproduce in our pond. Nothing came of it, though, and I never did see a single tadpole. Some species which I'd previously kept include the African clawed frog, and a pair of lovely fire-bellied newts which I had rescued from a rather forlorn looking establishment. I was, by all accounts, extremely fascinated by their life-cycles which reminded me greatly of the metamorphosis of butterflies as well
7. Insects and Other Invertabrates
Which brings us to the height of my passion. The magnificent insects! Growing up, I've had a very mixed relationship with the world of insecta. But despite my ill-feelings towards certain species (grasshoppers and cockroaches being the top two), insects under the order of lepidoptera, the butterflies and moths, have always capture my fascination and wonder and thus hold an extremely special place in my heart. This blog, is perhaps the biggest testament to that and you only need scroll through my posts to see why it is so. I do breed butterflies still, and raise them, but while some individuals are kept within a netted enclosure on the outside of the house, most are released so that they may return to populate the wild. 
Praying mantids are another breed of insects I like. Mostly because of their fascinating mannerisms, their (sometimes) brilliant coloration and their infamous reputation, they are perfect specimens that I use in my bid to educate people on the fascination, usefulness and integral roles insects play in our lives and ecosystems. Being mostly tame - except when she's hungry or angry! - my latest mantis, an impressive female specimen by the name of Artemis, basically sat in a cage on my office table to this effect until quite recently where she's recuperating after producing me a particularly splendid Ootheca.
Also, who could forget Hector, the walking-leaf insect (phyllium bioculatum) that was so difficult for me to procure. to read more, click here.
I've also raised a wide assortment of land-hermit crabs of various names which I can't quite recall now... 
And of course, who could forget the scorpion... Sting. Which caused quite a stir when he first appeared.
And though I must admit that all these animals were had in different points in time of my life, we are able to identify at least 8 different main groups here (not to mention the various individual species under each category I've raised) which really leads me to wonder, should I really counter people with a cutting remark, the next time they make the obvious comment "Cyren!!! You've got a ZOO there!" or not? Either way all these animals have brought me many good experiences, yes, and it was an extreme charm and challenge to raise them all... but for warning's sake, I must confess that raising animals can be quite a chore. It is an incredible responsibility to take upon oneself... placing another creature's life in the palm of one's hands (literally!) and I definitely would not recommend it to anyone on a whim. And really, at my high point, I barely had any time for a social life - what with the ammount of cages that needed cleaning, mouths that needed feeding, growths that needed charting and the like... which is all fine and good for an animal enthusiast like myself. But I daresay it is not for anyone. And now, before I go, truly, and leave you for your amazing weekend and Hari Raya celebrations, it seems I have managed to forget one last animal that is dependant on my love and care.

9. Human Being
Teeehee!!! Just joking!!! 
Selamat Hari Raya and Happy Holidays ya'll! 


Ray T said...

I will sue you if you treat me right or feed me enough or clean my poo poo :P

Cyren said...

Don't you mean, if I "Don't"? LOL and I do not have to clean ure poo poo! You're completely house-trained! Unless u have an accident, then what, you want me to rub ure face in it and smack you with a newspaper?

Brittanie said...

Ohhhhh~ *.* I literally shouted "Pwecious babies *Happy squee*" at the site of the utterly pwecious hermie......♥ I love hermies. I've kept MANY for years along with Vanessa cardui. ♥^^