New Additions To My Home

PROLOGUE:

The Internet can be a source of useful information. I found tons of useful information that helped me with my life’s journey; and, now, I am embarking on another journey; hence, I’d like to thank the following experienced people, in the CREDITS, below, that took the time to create their useful videos to help out a newbie like me.

Without their videos of knowledge and experiences, I wouldn’t know where and how to begin my journey.

I thank them with all my heart — THANK YOU, Emily and Ed of Snake Discovery, Clint of Clint’s Reptiles, Annaliese of All Canadian Reptile Girl, and Josser of Jossers Jungle for your respective YouTube Videos, VLOGs, and BLOGs, regarding the subject-matter contained within the four corners of this BLOG.

Check 6!

/s/ Alfonso Faustino

END PROLOGUE

ROLL CREDITS:

Resources & Education:

Breeders and Sellers (Captive-Bred and Captive-Raised snakes) (I prefer not taking wild animals away from their homes; also, captive-bred and captive-raised have the least chances of health problems than catching a wild animal.):

END CREDITS

FADE TO BLACK

FADE IN

INT. EAGLE’S NEST. Sun is out, the birds are singing while perching on bougainvilleas outside of ALFONSO’S window. It’s 15-May-2021, and it’s another blessed day that ALFONSO is enjoying before he heads out to the tennis courts. He is writing a BLOG on his Mac Notebook Pro.

ALFONSO:

(typing while in his tennis attire)

So, can you guess the new family members that will be occupying this beautiful 67-gallon mansion made by Carolina Cages?

(Well, if you haven’t figured it out from the CREDITS, supra, I dunno what to say…I guess the only thing I can do is compliment you by saying, “Hey, I enjoyed watching your biography in Dumb and Dumber.”)

Well, I decided to occupy this beautiful 67-gallon mansion with two Thamnophis(es) (Genus: Garter Snake).

I don’t know the species nor subspecies that I will purchase yet, but I will figure that out in time. I DO know that I will be getting a pair; because, I travel a lot for my acting career; hence, while I’m away from my home, the two Thamnophises will have each other to keep one another company. Thamnophises do well in a community; so, getting two is recommended by the experts.

CAPTION: Photo Credit: Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia: Billie Scott: Pinterest

I don’t know the color schemes of the two Thamnophises that I might be purchasing, but I’m leaning towards red or blue or a combination of both colors mixed in with the base colors of black and yellow.

I’ve had many animals as pets in my lifetime, but I never had snakes; and, I spent the last three months researching snakes and learning all I can about them.

In my three months of research, I concluded the genus Thamnophis is the best for me and my lifestyle. Now, the issues for me are, which species and sub-species? There are so many!

But first…major redesign of the 67-gallon mansion!

CAPTION: Carolina 67-gallon Enclosure with heat-lamp and UV-light

Initially, I was gonna purchase an Australian Bearded Dragon; but, since I already had one in my past, I changed my mind.

Since I’m gonna get two Thamnophises, I have to design the Carolina Enclosure to accommodate the Thamnophises’ lifestyle.

I always strive to provide all my pets with the best home possible; hence, I purchased this mansion, Carolina Enclosure, for my two new family members. I was considering a Vision Cage; but, it didn’t look aesthetically pleasing to my living area. Don’t get me wrong; the Vision Cage 322 looks great; but, it looks a little too industrial for my living space.

The other thing I will be considering for my redesign is heat preservation. Glass is not a good insulator for heat; hence, I need to figure something out to reduce heat loss and be more energy efficient. Anyway, I will address this issue after my redesign.

For food, I have to purchase, hairless pinkies and calcium powder for the fish fillets that I will be feeding them, which will be, sushi-grade salmon, tuna, trout, and tilapia.

Once I’m done with the redesign of my Carolina Enclosure, I purchases my Thamnophises. Stay tuned.

Check 6!

/s/ Alfonso Faustino

15-May-2021, @ 1900 Hours PDT: THE REDESIGN BUILD

Okay…after a nice day of being out with family and friends for my celebration lunch for making the Board Of Directors and getting my office badge, it was time to work on my Thamnophises’ mansion.

So, I spent several hours today, 15-May-2021, noodling designs in my tiny brain; and, wo-la — the design came to me!

I want to have this mansion as close to their natural habitat in the wild as possible, based upon my three months or so of research.

One of the many things I learned about the Thamnophis and snakes in general, is they like to explore and visit hidden dark crawl-spaces…it makes them feel safe and secure.

So, I got a plastic Glad plastic container, cork-bark tube, two large bags of 10-pound, Excavator Clay, and a spray bottle filled with distilled water.

I did a square cut on the Glad plastic container.

I laid the Glad plastic container edges down onto the Excavator Clay that covers the entire surface of the Carolina Enclosure.

The cut will act as an opening, and the entire Glad plastic container will be their underground burrow.

Then, I got the cork-bark tube, which is opened on both ends, and placed one of the openings against the opening of the Glad plastic container.

After I created that connection, I began to mold the Excavator Clay around the Glad plastic container and the cork-bark tube.

I sprayed the entire area, including the flooring for the entire enclosure, with distilled water from a squirt-bottle, and I patted the moist Excavator Clay into tight mound.

It will take about two to four days for the Excavator Clay to harden.

Once the Excavator Clay hardens, I will lay the rest of the flooring.

Finally, I will place branches, moss, and another hide-structure to the scene. Once I’m done, I will decide the Thamnophis’s species and subspecies.

UPDATE:

Crap! My tiny little brain just thought, “how will I clean the burrow if the Thamnophises shit in the burrow?” So, now I gotta do a major redesign that will give me an easy access to to the burrow so I can clean up the shit.

My tiny brain created a redesign, which calls for turning the Glad plastic container right-side up and using a cork-bark wall as a lid. That way, I can easily lift the cork-bark wall-lid, and I can easily clean their shit without destroying the structure.

I really dig the new design. The cork-bark wall-lid also acts as basking surface. After the Excavator Clay dries and harden, within 2-4 days, I will add more substrate to the floor of the enclosure.

Check 6!

/s/ Alfonso Faustino

16-May-2021, @ 0831 Hours PDT:

I spoke to Don . He mentioned he will be getting a litter or clutch of baby Thamnophis sirtalis fitchi in July 2021.

Now, I’m beginning to think that I might purchase a male and female…the only thing that stops me is babies; and, I don’t want to get into the hassle of taking care of baby Thamnophises…I’m a career-actor, and I travel a lot; hence, I don’t have the bandwidth nor interest to raise and sell babies.

I wish I could legally own the Thamnophis sirtalis tetraraenia; it is my favorite; because, it has stunning colors, and blue is my favorite color. UNFORTUNATELY, the Thamnophis sirtalis tetraraenia is an endangered species and illegal to own except internationally.

Hmm, since the Thamnophis sirtalis tetraraenia is now captive-bred and captive-raised in Europe, I wonder if it’s legal for me to purchase the Thamnophis sirtalis tetraraenia from a breeder in Europe…I will have to investigate this venture.

Of course, there are morphs I can consider that has the blue color.

I also fancy the Florida Blue and Gold Thamnophis sirtalis from Florida.

Mark, East Coast Constrictors, located in Melbourne, Florida, has a female Blue and Gold Thamnophis sirtalis; and,

she gave birth to a litter of babies. In that litter, Mark has two baby males. These are the two Florida Blue and Gold Thamnophis Sirtalis that I MIGHT purchase from Mark.

Very pretty. Their main colors are blue and gold. Very pretty colors; and, as they get older, Mark mentioned the colors will get more vibrant and prettier.

The Thamnophis sirtalis fitchi strikes my fancy; it has vibrant yellow and red contrasted against black; but, I’m still drawn to my favorite color: blue.

Anyway, by the next update, I should have my species and subspecies all worked out.

Check 6!

/s/ Alfonso Faustino

19-May-2021, @ 1115 Hours PDT:

I lied…no updates regarding my Thamnophises’ purchases. I’m still equivocating.

Anyway, the more pressing matter is completing the redesign of my Carolina Enclosure.

Well, the Excavator Clay dried and hardened. Now, it’s time to lay down the organic substrate, which has not been chemically treated in any way nor fertilized in any way:

Organic Orchid Bark:

Organic Potting Soil:

ReptiChip:

Sphagnum Moss:

For heating and life-enrichment, I purchased the following items:

100-watt Ceramic Non Light Emitting Heat Lamps:

Heat-lamp Housing:

Child-safe Plastic Vines:

I also have other stuff that I didn’t need to purchase that will add to my Thamnophises’ life-enrichment experience: hide, driftwood, and cork-bark tunnel.

I still haven’t figured the way to minimize heat loss in the Carolina Enclosure. Oh well, I will consult the Trinity, and He will help me find the solution — He always does.

So, let’s get this redesign finished!

I gotta mix all the stuff together to create the 2-inch deep substrate that will enrich my Thamnophises’ lives; they will be able to burrow under the substrate should they not want to use their hides, and the substrate will act as a freshener to stop stinky shit smells, and the substrate will easily trap the shit for easy clean-up.

Alrighty… all done.

Here’s pics from the inside of the enclosure:

The plastic child-safe vines will be arriving today, 19-May-2021, from Amazon. Once it arrives, I will decorate the interior part of the enclosure to further provide life-enrichment for my two Thamnophises.

The Carolina Enclosure has two heat lamps and one UV-lamp.

I was concerned that my two Thamnophises would touch the exposed lamps and get burned; hence, I removed them, and I purchased the exterior lamp housings and purchased the ceramic heating lamp that does not emit light.

I don’t need the heat lamp to emit light; because, the lumens from the heat lamp adds no value to the Thamnophis; the health value comes from the UV lamp’s lumens that emits UV-A and UV-B, which help the process of calcium and vitamins from the Thamnophis’s food intake. The UV light also acts like the sun by enhancing the Thamnophis’s mental and physical states.

Once the vines get here, I will make an update.

/s/ Alfonso Faustino

19-May-2021, @ 1800 Hours PDT:

The nice thing about Excavator Clay is you can destroy it and start over if your don’t like the existing design — just add water and redesign it.

So, I got to thinkin’, I don’t like the Glad plastic container for the burrow. In the wild, the Thamnophises would dig a burrow, and the burrow would be made of dirt; and, the dirt would provide them a natural texture.

My Glad plastic container’s texture is not something they would come across in the wild; I used it for my own self convenience — easy for me to clean up their shit if they shit in their burrow.

I pulled out the Glad plastic container and built a burrow out of the Excavator Clay. It took me about 1.5 hours of mixing in water, moving the clay mound to the location I wanted, which is directly under the heat-lamp, then building up the walls of the burrow and connecting it to the cork-bark tunnel for entry and exit.

I’m very happy with the results. The texture of the Excavator Clay falls in line with the texture my two Thamnophises would experience in the wild — not the texture of the Glad plastic container.

This new and natural burrow will need to dry; it will take two to four weeks to dry — that’s about 15 pounds of wet clay — so it’s gonna take some time. Once the burrow dries, I will add substrate to the bottom. The Thamnophises can burrow under the substrate if the want.

I built the walls high in order to get the cork-bark lid closer to the heat-lamp. The cork-bark lid serves two purposes: a basking place for my two Thamnophises; and, a surface area for me to place a humidity box for my two Thamnophises.

I am very happy with my work; and I hope my two Thamnophises will be happy with my work, too.

The plastic child-safe vines came in. I decorated one end of the enclosure with the vines. The Thamnophises will have tons of little nooks and crannies to explore and hide. I really hope they will like the mansion I created for them.

Once the clay dries and hardens on the burrow side, I will put some vines in that area and move some substrate to that side to cover the bare glass floor of the enclosure.

/s/ Alfonso Faustino

23-May-2021, @ 2020 Hours PDT:

Finiti!

la gabbia è finita! sono felice; AND, I consulted with the Trinity, and He guided me to the solution that will minimize my heat loss and be more energy efficient in maintaining the heat temperature in my Carolina Enclosure for my Thamnophises. The solution is excellent; and, I have effective temperatures both day and night while being energy efficient — of course, some the temperature-readings are way too high, so I will be making adjustments; but, these are the temperature readings I will be working with.

The solution is a heat insulator padding behind the Carolina Enclosure and at both ends.

It is a foam insulation padding that reduces heat loss; and, the insulation property in the padding allows me to be more energy efficient by not having to use multiple heating lamps during the day and night.

Ambient air temperature is ~70-72-degrees Fahrenheit throughout the day and night.

At the basking cork-bark lid at the burrow, during the day; I’m getting and maintaining 146-degrees Fahrenheit at the center below the light. At the right towards the rear glass of the Carolina Enclosure, I’m getting 96-degree Fahrenheit. At the left of center of the cork-bark lid, towards the front glass of the Carolina Enclosure, I am holding 119-degrees Fahrenheit. At night, with the ceramic heat emitter, the cork-bark lid, at the center and to the right, towards the rear of the enclosure, the temperature drops to 101-degrees Fahrenheit; and, at the center of the cork-bark wall lid, towards the front glass of the enclosure, the temperature drops to 91-degrees Fahrenheit.

Inside the burrow, during the day, with the cork-bark lid on, I’m getting and maintaining 86-degrees Fahrenheit. At night, with the ceramic heat emitter, the burrow’s internal temperature is 77-degrees Fahrenheit.

The humidity box is 96-degrees Fahrenheit and holds that temperature during the day. At night, with the ceramic heat emitter, the temperature drops down to 86-degrees Fahrenheit.

The other half of the Carolina Enclosure is cooler. At the top of the branch, the temperature is 96-degrees Fahrenheit. At night, with the ceramic heat emitter, the temperature drops to 77-degrees Fahrenheit.

The lower sections of that part of the Carolina Enclosure is at 86-degrees Fahrenheit during the day; and, at night, with the ceramic heat emitter, the temperature drops to 76-degrees Fahrenheit and holds that temperature for the duration of the night.

I created a lot of nooks and crannies at the cooler end of the Carolina Enclosure. My Thamnophises will have plenty to explore and get lots of exercise climbing and burrowing.

I put a glass dish with water in case they wanna swim or soak. If I decide to feed them live fish, frogs, and toads, those live feeders will go into glass dish as live prey items for my two Thamnophises to hunt.

The substrate layer is two-inches in depth — perfect for burrow, and the substrate I use is strong enough to hold the formation of the burrow; and, the substrate is safe for the Thamnophises. If they drag their food around, the substrate pieces are big chunks, so they won’t be ingested by the Thamnophises — unlike sand.

At night, I use at 100-watt heat emitter, placed on the warm side of the Carolina Enclosure.

At night, I’m really happy with the ceramic heat emitter; because, it does its job to keep the temperature comfortable for my Thamnophises.

I’m using the two external Zilla heat-lamp domes.

The den area uses a 25-watt halogen bulb.

The soaking area uses the 50-watt halogen bulb.

I purchased a Hygger 48-inch 75-watt LED multi color and multi light density panel.

The Hygger simulates natural sunlight during the day, and…

natural moonlight during the night.

The Hygger is strictly for lighting. It does not put out UV-B, UV-A, nor heat.

For UV-A and UV-B, I purchased two 5-watt LED lights.

These two LED lights will help the two baby Thamnophis sirtalis process the nutrients they need to be healthy. They do not put out any heat.

One light stays near the basking light; so, when they bask, they will get the UV-B and UV-A benefits.

The other light sits on the cooler side of the mansion. When they bask on the branches, they will also get UV-A and UV-B.

The lighting, heating, UV-A and UV-B all seem to be integrated and working well.

They are all set on timers.

When all heating systems are off and the Hygger is set to night-mode, the Carolina Enclosure’s internal temperature stays at a constant 76-degrees Fahrenheit.

So…what two did I get?

I purchased two baby male Florida Blue and Gold Thamnophis sirtalises from Mark. They were born on 10-April-2021.

They will arrive Thursday, 27-May-2021; hence, I’m taking this time to understand the heating characteristics of my newly designed Carolina Enclosure.

I will get a third Thamnophis from Don in July 2021 — his female will be giving birth at that time; hence, I will make my decision about the one I will get.

The next update will be pictures of me holding my two babies; and, I will introduce them to their new mansion.

Check 6!

/s/ Alfonso Faustino

28-May-2021, @ 1354 Hours PDT:

Finally!

They were a day late; FedEx was suppose to deliver yesterday, 27-May-2020, by 2000 Hours PDT. I was really concerned that my two baby Thamnophis sirtalis would be DOA.

Fortunately, they made it safe and sound!

I purchased them from Mark: East Coast Constrictors.

He did an excellent job in packaging the two baby males, and they look beautiful and healthy!

I picked them up, and I introduced them to their new home, which I spent about three months creating for them.

Mark mentioned I need to give them time to settle in; and, I should not feed them until next week. He already fed them tilapia before their flight from Melbourne, Florida to my crib, San Francisco, California.

They immediately went for cover after I released them into their new mansion.

About 5 minutes later, they began to come out and began to explore their new home.

They found the humidity box and spent a lot of time inside.

I handled them briefly, and they didn’t show any defensive behaviors toward me. They hung out in my hand for a bit and slithered back into their mansion and hid.

I’m very happy with them — so far so good!

They are definitely enjoying their new home; but, they are not 100% comfortable yet; because, they are moving against the sides of the walls to get to their destination…in time, that will change; and, they will move about freely in the open area, which is the center of their mansion.

28-May-2021, @ 2210 Hours PDT:

Nighttime lighting. The Hygger LED Panel does a great job simulating not only the natural daylight and nighttime colors, but also the transitions from night to day and day to night. Fifteen minutes before night changes to day and say changes to night, the Hygger LED Panel dims down the LED lumen intensity and eventually dims off the daylight or nighttime, and gradually dims on to full intensity nighttime or daylight. The intensity can also be adjusted, but I left it to factory settings. I’m really happy with the Hygger LED Panel.

I’m hoping my two baby Thamnophis sirtalis will feel like they are under a moonlit sky.

29-May-2021, @ 0830 Hours PDT:

At this time, one is always exploring his enclosure; and, while he is exploring his new environment, he is also observing me.

His brother seems to enjoy the clay hide I made. He seems to like staying inside…at least, for his first day in his new home.

They really likes the humidity box. They hang in there; then, they hang out in the den.

I gave them a new water bowl. It is glass, and they can use it to soak in. About 20 minutes after I placed it in their mansion, one decided to check it out.

29-May-2021, @ 1910 Hours PDT:

I went to the Presidio Of San Francisco to search for two good substantial rocks for the two brothers.

I found two good ones and started sanitizing them with rapid boiling water for 20 minutes.

Notice the clear water? After 20 minutes of rapid boiling, the water turned to the color of piss.

I will dump them into the sink, and let clean water run over them. Then, I will put them into the enclosure.

Of course, I have to let them cool down; they are really hot to the core, which is good — whatever germs, bugs, and bacteria that were on and in these two rocks are dead — the extreme heat and boiling water killed them off.

These two rocks will provide the two brothers a shedding spot.

I decided to put one rock in their water bowl/swimming pool. The bowl/swimming pool contains distilled water. I prefer distilled water over tap water. The bowl/swimming pool will also be the location that I put live fish for them to catch and eat. They can also soak in it, and they can rub up against the rock, while wet, which will help with their shedding.

I placed the other rock in the warm section of the enclosure. They can rub up against that rock for their dry shedding.

30-May-2021, @ 0751 Hours PDT:

My lighting system seems to be tuned to a way that promotes activities with two brothers.

When the lights came on, one of them did his morning stroll and took a sip of water in the pond I placed last night, 29-May-2021, while they were sleeping.

Today, will be feeding day for them. I will feed them a 1-day-born pinky. I will cut the pinkie to size and serve it to them on a dish. The future the goal is to hand-feed them once they feel safe with me.

I placed the dish on the warm side of the enclosure.

The humidity box is a big hit. One of the brothers enjoy using it in the morning — a morning visit to the sauna. All of sudden, his head popped out of the humidity box, and he flicked his tongue — radar on, and he acquired the target via tasting the pinky’s molecules in the air. Then, he got visual acquisition and heads to the dish.

He grabbed the pinky torso. I was thinking that this piece needed to be cut up smaller, but I just left it alone figuring whoever gets it will work it out.

The grab and drag; and, after several minutes, it’s over.

He fit that pinky torso, the largest piece on the dish, into his mouth, and I can see the bulge move down his body to his stomach. I’m so happy he ate.

Now, I’m hoping his brother will make his way to the dish and pick out a body section of the pinky to eat.

After eating the pinky torso, he displayed a behavior that he is beginning recognize me as a non threat.

After swallowing that big pinky torso, he spent about three minutes making eye-contact with me. I was tempted to open the door and pick him up, but I decided to be patient and wait for another time. I did not want to run the risk of stressing him out and possibly regurgitating his food.

I’m very happy 50% of my goal was met; now, I’m waiting for the other 50% of my goal to be met once the other one takes a piece of the pinky.

Late afternoon, I presented chicken livers to the same one came in for two helpings.

Next time, I will make sure the flesh doesn’t stick to the feeding-lid by coating it with calcium powder.

I will commend myself on the creation of my enclosure — especially, since I’m am a new guy to Thamnophis sirtalis husbandry.

I applied all the stuff that I learned from Snake Discovery, Clint’s Reptiles, and All Canadian Reptile Girl, and I took that information and coupled it with my own assessment and inferences and created an awesome enclosure:

SUBSTRATE: Impaction is one of the dangers that reptiles face, especially snakes; hence, I created a substrate-mix that is visually pleasing, but also functional and minimizes the chances of impaction.

The pieces I used were virgin and organic orchid bark (medium), ReptiChip (Coconut Chips) (medium), organic virgin soil, and Premium Sphagnum Moss. At the next cleaning, I will leave out the soil; I only used the soil, which is at the very bottom of the enclosure, because I thought I wanted create a bio-active environment.

Notice in the video, above, He is dragging the chicken liver from the lid-dish and along the substrate and finally engulfing it.

I strategically planned this by accounting the stuff I learned from Snake Discovery. According to Emily, Thamnophis sirtalis like to drag their food before eating it; hence, I used a large circumference lid for the feeding dish. That way, the brothers would do most of the dragging on the lid, which would tire them out; so, by the time they get done dragging their food from the dish, the food would have minimum exposure to the substrate.

Now, if their food comes in contact with the substrate, it won’t stick to the food for ingestion; because, the orchid chips, Sphagnum moss, and ReptiChip are big pieces and would fall off the food before ingestion. The video shows my strategy worked.

LIFE-ENRICHMENT: The enclosure I made for the two brothers provides them with lots of stuff to do. I made them a very nice burrow out of Excavator’s Clay. They use it as their primary home. They have 2.5 inches of substrate to burrow; they have a playground that has tons of nooks and crannies to explore, and they have a place to climb. I also created a little pond for them to soak and catch live fish and frogs.

When they burrow, the substrate is rough enough to help with shedding; they also have two nice rocks they can rub up against to help with their shedding process.

LIGHTING: The two brothers have the best lighting that simulates night and day lighting in the wild. Of course, nothing beats the real stuff; but my 48-inch 75-watt Hygger multi-color and multi-density LED panel does the closets thing to the real stuff.

HEAT, UV-A, and UV-B: The heating for day and night is set to best replicate the temperatures the two brothers will have in the wild. The enclosure also has humidity to keep them hydrated. The temperatures are regulated for the brothers’ comfort levels and health levels. One side is the warm side, and the other side is the cooler side.

HUMIDITY: The substrate also holds moisture well; hence, I can mist the substrate and keep the humidity level between 55-60%. This is the humidity range that’s good for the brothers.

FOOD: The brothers eat sushi-grade salmon and tilapia. They also eat organic farm-raised chicken organs: heart and liver. I’m staying away from earthworms; because, I’m not confident this type of food is parasite and chemical-free. I’m still researching captive-raised and captive-bred fresh-water fish and frogs for them to actively hunt.

SIZE: I always provide all my pets with the best life I possibly can; hence, I purchased the 67-gallon Carolina Cage for the brothers to grow into. As adults, their present enclosure will be more than enough room to house four full-size Thamnophis sirtalis.

These are the major reasons I’m commending my work thus far — of course, the goal is to make certain the brothers make it to adulthood; and, if I reach this goal, then I will be have that credit under my belt as a badge of honor in Thamnophis sirtalis husbandry.

Well, I’m gonna retire for the evening, and it’s so nice to know they are sleeping in the den I made for them.

My final version of the brothers’ mansion is complete; hence, this BLOG is complete and done.

Of course, throughout my time with my Thamnophises, I will make changes or adjustments to their mansion; but, for now, the mansion is perfect, and they seem to dig it — pun intended.

Thanks Trinity for a blessed day with my new family members; and, because they are family members, they MUST have names.

After spending my time observing them, I gave them their names and a new BLOG: Meet Λαθραία and Tολμροδ.

Check 6!

/s/ Alfonso Faustino