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Daisy is an amazing snake that deserve all the love! Get to know her and learn what makes her a special part of the animal ambassador team at Animal Wonders.

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I wanna give a quick thanks to CuriosityStream for supporting this episode.  You can go to curiositystream.com/animalwonders to learn more.

I love sharing new animals, so welcome to my Meet & Greet series.  Let's meet out big beauty, Daisy the boa constrictor.  

(Intro)

This is Daisy and she's ten years old.  She came to Animal Wonders when she was very young.  She was sold as a pet and the previous caretakers quickly realized she was not going to stay small forever.  This happens more than you might think.  People see a cute animal and impulse buy it before doing enough research to know if the animal will fit into their life, but more importantly, that they can give the animal a home where they will thrive in not just their cute baby size, but their full adult size.

So Daisy joined our team of animal ambassadors and she's been wowing audiences with her size and teaching about boas ever since.  She's about nine feet long and her size really gets peoples' attention and then once we have their attention, we can teach about rainforest ecology, food chains, energy use, curiosity, and respect.

I just love sharing her with new audiences and letting them feel her smooth scales.  Some have never seen a snake before, let alone touched one.  She's a gentle giant and it's my pleasure to care for her.

So this is where Daisy lives in the reptile room.  At first, when Daisy was under two feet, we set her up in a 40 gallon terrarium, which she quickly outgrew.  Then she lived in a four foot by two foot enclosure but we felt she wasn't getting her needs met.  She was surviving, but not thriving, so we re-assessed her welfare by comparing what she would be doing in the wild to what she was doing in captivity.

The biggest difference that we saw was that she wasn't moving around as much as she would be if she was hunting for food and searching for good places to stay away from predators while also staying warm enough.  This inspired us to give her a taller enclosure with branches so she could stretch and climb, exercise her muscles, and she could rest on a variety of surfaces and different textures.

We've seen a big difference in Daisy's behavior since she moved into her new space and we love it.  So just like humans, many animals have favorite foods that they prefer over others and Daisy also has a favorite.  We offer her a variety of food, but her top choice is always rats.  Daisy ate last week, so she won't be hungry for her next meal until next week or the week after, which means today is a great day for her to be out and moving around.

Daisy also enjoys exploring outside when it is warm enough.  Sometimes, when we bring her out to the forest and set her down, she likes to slither into the tall grass and just relax.  Other times, she raises her head up above the tops of the grass to get a better look at her surroundings and she starts to explore.   If it's too cold for her to go on adventures outside, she gets free range of our hallway where she's safely contained.  

It's also important that other animals don't see her getting close to their homes because many animals have an innate fear of snakes.  Birds and primates are two groups that react very strongly to the presence of a snake, so the hallway is a good place for her to hang out where she won't scare any of the other animals.  

When we take Daisy out to public presentations, we have to make sure that she has a travel carrier that she can't get out of.  It's similar to how you'd put a dog or a cat in a crate where they can be calm and travel in a car safely, but we can't put her in a dog crate, because it's too hard to move her in and out of the doorway, and she's also incredibly strong and could hurt herself on any bolts or bars sticking out, so we use a strong plastic carrier that has a smooth interior and locking handles to make sure she can't pop the lid off.  There are holes drilled all around to allow for air flow, and the dark confined space...hi, Daisy.  Apparently, I'm just a tree to her.  Where are you gonna go now?  Over there?  I know, you wanna climb up there, don't you?  Can you come back over here?

So, Daisy's getting a little bit restless.  I'm gonna allow her to go back and find a place to relax.  There are holes drilled all around to allow for air flow and the dark, confined space allows her to relax and even sleep while we travel.  When we arrive, we can simply open the lid and carefully pick her up out of the carrier.

Daisy is a big girl and handling her can be a challenge sometimes.  Sometimes people are concerned when they see her up on my shoulders and the reason I allow her up there is because she's not showing any signs of agitation.  She's grown up being handled regularly and she's comfortable moving around on me, and this makes me comfortable, though I'm always very aware of her behavior and what she's communicating to me.

Daisy communicates mostly with her body language.  When she's comfortable, she has relaxed muscles and she sort of lounges on me.  When she's uncomfortable or doesn't want to stay on me, she might hiss softly to show me that, which is how I knew that she no longer wanted to be held by me.  She wanted to be back on her branches.  

Another sign that she's uncomfortable is when she has tighter muscles and she's deliberately searching for another perch, like you might have seen when she was trying to get up onto the shelf, and once when I brought her out for a presentation and a loud, unexpected noise came from the audience, she quietly hissed, which let me know that she was uncomfortable, so I could put her back in her safe space.

So consistency in handling and listening to her communication allows me to continue working closely with Daisy.  I'm constantly amazed by the interesting behaviors the animals in my care exhibit, and I'm equally amazed by the complex behaviors of animals in the wild as well.

I recently watched a video called "Animal Builders" and fell in love with the intricacy of animal behavior all over again.  I especially enjoyed the bit about the two year old beaver trying to build a home for the first time, because he reminded me of our almost-two year old beaver Huckleberry, and I got a little teary-eyed when, well, you just have to watch it.

You can find "Animal Builders" on CuriosityStream who is the sponsor of today's video.  They're a subscription streaming service that offers over 2400 documentaries and nonfiction titles from some of the world's best filmmakers, including exclusive originals.  Get unlimited access starting at just $2.99 a month, and for our audience, the first 30 days are completely free if you sign up at curiositystream.com/animalwonders and use the promo code 'animalwonders' during the sign-up process.

Thanks, and we'll see you next week.

(Endscreen/Credits)