Thursday, March 17, 2011


Something I have found that I have become very attune with since becoming a reptile breeder is my sense of smell.

I don't know about you, but there are days where I go into the snake room and smell something raunchy. Maybe it's an animal that decided to take a restroom break all over the tub, maybe it's a smelly rodent smell, and occasionally there is the smell of decay. 

It's not a fun thing to experience, as one would like to smell nice things all the time. Clean aspen, a nice spring flower, fresh air blowing in from the ocean...  

Yesterday was the case of decay. You can ask anyone. I can identify it very quickly in minute amounts. I can pinpoint it within about 3 feet in a calm room. Decomposition is a smell that unfortunately I have become accustomed to, as there may be a snake that killed a rodent and hid it from me after I went thru the double-check. Thus, there is a dead rat over a heat source. 

Let us evaluate an equation I have come up with:

Dead + Smelly = Frowny Face + Gross

And of course having to deal with it is never fun. We have a system, Joel and I. 

Ziplock bags if the animal has decayed, freezer if it is recently dead. Out to trash as soon as possible.

And of course the clean up for other smelly things means frequent cleans and many trash bags out to the curb when trash day comes. 

Such is the way of an animal keeper. I feel like I am not the greenest person on earth while taking out so much trash, but I validate it by way of knowing that everything I put in the trash (with the exception of the bags) is biodegradable. I am trying to figure out a way to be more "green". It's kinda hard, as you can't recycle soiled newspaper or papertowels, nor can you clean Aspen back to new. But I am finding opportunities. Post-consumer recycled plastic bowls or ceramic bowls, greener papertowels, etc... There are ways! 

And of course, maybe setting up a compost pile eventually...

We will see if that one works, cause I think animal feces isn't the most inviting of compost materials. 

Anyway, smells are a part of daily life as a reptile breeder, and you need to attune yourself to know what is going on. It's very helpful, albeit rather unpleasant. 

So go sniff some snakes. Be one with them. And hopefully you don't get too comfortable with the smell of decomp. But if you do, know it's really not that bad...

Have a fantastic smelly day, my friends!


Jackie said...

I use leftover packing paper as substrate and I clean with bleach-y water and a roll of paper towels. I go through a lot of paper and paper towels. Anybody want to plant a tree this weekend?

Anonymous said...

awessome and so true... dead rodent can be smelled as soon as you open the door... at can be found in 2.5 secs.. if you got a good sniffer!

Krystal said...

I discovered what decomposing rodent smelled like last fall when Irulan didn't eat the rat she'd killed...and I didn't know it. I fed Sunday night. I came home from work Monday and my bedroom smelled kinda nasty. I couldn't figure out what it was, though, and after a bit, I didn't smell it anymore, so I went on with my business. Tuesday after work, it was unmistakably nasty. I found the bloated rat and managed to throw it out in the trash (1) without it exploding and (2) without losing my lunch.

Definitely not going to make that mistake again!

Reptile Apartment said...

Too funny, I too share that sense of smell and use the technique of the ziplock bag.