Friday, February 17, 2017

Feeding time at the zoo

While typing out a list of ‘how to’ instructions for friends who are baby-sitting Sparky and our house for a few weeks, we noticed we had included a number of references to critters other than Sparky.  There are a myriad of instructions on the care and feeding of our free-roaming collection of pets that inhabit our small bit of the island.

Geek the Kitchen Gecko
We have Geek the Kitchen Gecko, who lives behind the fridge, and gives me a loud chuk, chuk, chuk greeting every morning when I turn on the coffee maker. Geek doesn’t require a lot of maintenance, except he likes a shallow dish of clean water to be available on the kitchen counter. A few times when he has tried to catch a drip from the kitchen tap it has resulted in a traumatic drop into a slippery sided enclosure with no traction for his Velcro-like feet. Rather than chase a panicky lizard around the sink, we have settled on letting him use the former-hand soap dish as a drinking bowl. Occasionally we pull the fridge away from the wall and vacuum his house, taking care not to suction him up with the poop. In return for our acceptance of his requirements Geek the Gecko does his best to eliminate mosquitoes and ants. 

King of the Beach - Thomas the Cat 
Before our famous seventeen-year-old Thomas the Cat passed away in April of 2016 there were a succession of kitchen geckos who had a brief and tension-filled existence.  We intensely miss our Tommy, but the household geckos had a disco party in celebration of his passing.

Stumpy the Iguana is about 15 years old 
While Geek patrols the interior of our house, the larger lizards inhabit underground burrows outside. There is a herd of about twenty five iguanas that mooch bits of fruit, veggies, and left-over pet food. They are similar to beach dogs, keeping a watchful eye on movements at Casa Rosa, Casa Luna, our house Casa K’aay Há, Casa Maravilla Caribe, and Punta Piedra. Any indication that someone might be willing to feed them, and the whole group will converge in a scurrying mass hoping to be the lucky one who gets the piece of mango, or papaya. They like to leave the boring broccoli or celery bits for the night-time beach-cleaning crew, the Hermit Crabs.

Hernando the Hermit Crab - we think ....LOL
The free-roaming Hermit Crabs number in the hundreds. They are probably the most labour intensive of our outdoor zoo critters. They require a daily supply of fresh clean water in dishes shallow enough to be accessible to small creatures, an assortment of scraps to dine on, and a steady supply of new shells to move into as they outgrow their current domicile. Hermit Crabs don’t create their own shells and must find larger homes on average every six months. Only certain shapes meet their requirements for comfort and accessibility. 

Hermit crab using a Pond's Cold Cream jar
The black and white turbo snail shells are their favourites, but the Hermit Crabs are in direct competition with tourists who also collect the beautiful and increasingly rare shells. Over the years we have purchased hundreds of substitute shells for the Hermit Crab shell exchange program at our crab-i-tat. The crabs take one – leave one.  We usually mark the purchased shells with red, orange or bright pink nail polish so that we can identify our frequent visitors.  And of course, since they are regularly swapping shells it is virtually impossible to recognize a particular Hermit Crab. You can never be certain of who you are chatting with!

Regular visitors 
And then there are the birds that visit every afternoon for a drink of clean water and a feather-cleaning bath. Soon after we moved here in 2008 we swept out the natural indents in the coral rocks just in front of our house. The birds quickly learned to rely on us for fresh water, happily congregating for a few minutes of social time in the late afternoon before heading to their roosting spots for the night. Even the iguanas, larger Hermit Crabs, or passing cats and dogs drink from the pools.

Sparky - star of Treasure Isla novel, waiting for the sequel
As for the instructions for looking after our almost-famous divo, Sparky, well those took up three full pages of computer printing.  We did mention he is a divo, a pampered, but we think very lovable, brat.

Being zoo keepers at our house is almost a full-time job.

Hasta Luego

Lynda & Lawrie

Join the hunt for pirate treasure on Isla Mujeres

$2.99 USD on Amazon e-books

By sharon on February 3, 2017

I loved this e-book! It was an easy read, I loved the story line, the characters and reading a book about an island close to my heart was a bonus. The story was witty and full of fun facts about the island and its history. I'm hoping for a sequel!

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