Odious and Peculiar

Philology and esoterica: scribblings, ravings and mutterings.

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Forging the Sampo

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The Little Bookroom
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Larissa Archer
Inverted Iambs
Eve Tushnet
Pamela Dean
Kambodia Hotel
Pen and Paper

Charles Darwin's Beagle Diary
Deep-Sea News
NASA's Mars Website
Classics Online
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Letter from Hardscrabble Creek
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Chas Clifton's Nature Blog
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Vladimir Dinets: Polymath Russian Adventurer
Virtual Tour of Almaty, Kazakhstan
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USGS Earth As Art
Panoramic Aerial Maps of the American West

The Internet Bird Collection
Bird Families of the World
Ancient Scripts
The Aberdeen Bestiary Project
The Cephalopod Page
The Ultimate Ungulate
The Red Book of the Peoples of the Russian Empire
USGS Streamflow Data

Worthy Miscellany
Finno-Ugrian Music
Boojum Expeditions
American River Touring Association

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Friday, February 12, 2010
New additions to the household

Many, but likely not all, of our readers are aware that we acquired a ball python last summer. Well, we thought he might like some company:

The larger one is about a year old and is named (what else?) Pythagoras. The smaller we just brought home tonight, and we have yet to settle on a name. Persephone is a strong contender. She's much more spry than Pythagoras has ever been, exploring, nosing about, gliding from hand to hand like your hands are a python treadmill. Pythagoras can be safely left to his own devices for a while; a glance every 30 seconds or so is sufficient to keep track of him, methodical and stoic as he is. But the new girl will bear much closer monitoring.

Ball pythons really are splendid, amiable little creatures. (In Europe they're often called royal pythons after their scientific name, Python regius, and I rather prefer that usage.) According to Mrs. P's investigations, they're often considered auspicious in their native West African scrub, and some cultures even offer little funerals and burials to dead ones. It's pretty remarkable to have an essentially wild animal that will let you pick it up and handle it with no objection. They're quite gentle and docile. Pythagoras has nipped each of us once, but both incidents had clear reasons; a ball python bit is a little more than sandpaper, but certainly less than needles. Of course, a lot of folks get squeamish about the idea of feeding them mice, but Mrs. Peculiar and I are not very sympathetic to the mammals. Mice have surely, through crop damage and disease, contributed vastly more to the sum of human misery than snakes have. We're the last people to object to a little honest carnivory, still less myophagy.

Having a ball python also brings home the biologic ignorance of the general population. People are incredulous that there exist pythons who will never be large enough to devour dogs, babies or oxen. After my nip, an otherwise well-educated person expressed concern about venom. But on the other hand, most people who meet them are enchanted, which is encouraging.

In any case, the new girl has a lovely golden sheen. They're amazingly soft when young. Pythagoras' hide is getting tougher, but even he still feels very soft and smooth until he's ready to shed. We're very eager to see what differences in personality we might observe between the two.

Hmmm... Chryse? Appollonia? Siegrune?

Update: We went with Hypatia, which goes pretty well Pythagoras.


say hello to Pythagorus for me! xx
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