Sneaky the snake
A pet's death is never easy, and when 7-year-old Cyrus Ballo of Federal Hill lost two hermit crabs within a week, he was devastated. He'd taken great care of them, after all.
His parents, Joanna Pi-Sunyer and Michael Ballo, wanted to continue fostering their son's caring personality and started thinking about a new pet.
Cyrus wanted a turtle, but his mom and dad weren't so sure about the amount of care turtles need to stay happy and healthy. So, after thinking for a little while, they welcomed a corn snake to their home and named him Sneaky, after the song "Sneaky Goes Dancin'."
Ever since, Sneaky has offered entertainment to the whole family. He lives in a tank in Cyrus' bedroom, and Cyrus and his dad enjoy holding and playing with the snake several times a week.
He's about 20 inches long, as thick as a magic marker, and has smooth, soft skin that is warm -- thanks to his heat lamp. There's nothing slimy about this snake.
Family members also take bets on when Sneaky will shed his skin, which he does in private. No one has yet caught him in the act, but they know he's getting ready when his skin turns dull, and they find his old skin on his bedding or draped over the tree limb in his tank.
They enjoy watching him wolf down his frozen mice, which the family purchases at a local pet store. And yes, he swallows them whole.
To have your pet -- including hamsters, snakes, horses, guinea pigs and the like -- considered for Collared, email information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
-- Kim Fernandez (Christopher T. Assaf, Baltimore Sun photo /May 13, 2013)
How can I get my cat to stop tearing and eating paper?
The ingestion of any nonfood item is not a normal activity for a cat and should be diagnosed by your veterinarian to assess whether this is a medical, behavioral or nutritional issue.
You can assist with this diagnosis by logging and sharing the frequency, timing and consequences of this event. Does it happen each time there is paper in sight; is your cat alone when this happens; does this interfere with normal eating and elimination patterns of your cat?
Shredding and chewing paper could be the way your cat relieves his boredom. He may also be amused by the sound of the crinkling paper. Provide environment enrichment for your cat by providing safe cat toys. Change the location of his toys daily for him to seek out. Set aside time to actively play with your cat. This will provide him with a mental and physical substitute for choosing unsafe materials.
Be sure you are feeding nutritionally sound food to your cat. Again your veterinarian will recommend what is best.
Soon your kitty will be going "paperless." This week's expert is Betty Cox, hospital administrator at Cat Hospital at Towson (catdoc.com). To submit a question for a local animal expert, email email@example.com.