Rain and reptiles on a Saturday afternoon

by DaniGirl on April 14, 2008 · 6 comments

in Baby days, Life in Ottawa, Ottawa's hidden treasures

I vividly remember the first time I took then two-week old Tristan out of the house by myself. It was the day my mother left after a week’s visit, and I was weepy with her departure and Beloved’s return to work and unsure how I’d manage to take care of the baby all by myself. I put him in the stroller and walked, with Katie the dog, around the block. It seemed a momentous achievement. The next day, we walked all the way to the grocery store across the park. My confidence grew and I became comfortable with all manner of expeditions — until the next child arrived.

When Simon was born, he was almost a month old before I ventured out with both boys by myself. We went to WalMart, and I can still recall the barely-repressed panic I felt. What if Tristan (then 22 months old) bolted? What if Simon howled? I had toured Europe by myself for four weeks in 1995, and that trip to WalMart was the far more daunting expedition.

Already, I don’t really remember the first time I took out all three boys by myself. It was likely the grocery store, too. And we love to walk around the block together. We all had dinner at Dairy Queen about a month ago while Beloved was working late — I thought that was pretty brave of me, and we did fine. And yesterday, we left Beloved at home to catch up with some work while I took the boys out for a perfect rainy-Saturday adventure exploring the wild creatures at Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo.

I have to admit, I had backup. It was my friend Yvonne who came up with the idea for a trip to Little Ray’s, and since she is also the mother of three boys aged four to ten, she’s quite familiar with all things reptilian. About every three minutes, you could see one of us doing a mental head-count — one, two, three, four, five, and where is child number six? Oh yeah, in the stroller having a snooze. Talk to me again when Lucas gets mobile and see how confident I am to venture out in public!

Anyway, if you are looking for something a little out of the ordinary to do on a rainy day in Ottawa, I can’t say enough nice things about Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo. There are plenty of creatures in cages, terrariums and aquariums — most of whom I was quite happy to see behind glass. Tarantulas, scorpions, lizards and geckos and other little creepy-crawleys. But they also have some really impressive large animals, like the tank with two eight-foot alligators. Yowza!

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They have a couple of mammals (possums and skunks) and some gorgeous birds like this parrot

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What’s really cool, though, is the fact that every 20 minutes or so, they have an interactive show of some kind. Here the boys had a chance to pet an albino something-or-other snake.

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Simon and I passed on the tarantula, but Tristan was fascinated!

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Speaking of fascinating, it was weirdly chilling but very cool to watch this constrictor (not the same one we were petting above) make a tasty lunch out of a dead rat.

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The boys got a kick out of feeding kale to these three tortoises.

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And of course, the evidence that a good afternoon was had by all! (Look closely, you can even see Lucas napping in the baby mirror!)

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The patter of the “wildlife educators” is priceless and alone worth the price of admission. I could write a whole post full of the fun and trivial stuff I learned, so we’ll definitely be going back for another visit, or maybe enrolling the boys in one of Little Ray’s day camps this summer. Of course, I should have seen this one coming: ever since our visit Tristan has been campaigning hard for a snake as a pet. However, since Beloved shares Indiana Jones’s sentiment on the subject, we won’t be getting one any time soon. I’d let him have a snake before I let him have a tarantula or a scorpion. Maybe just not one quite this big!

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I wish I could remember what kind of constrictor this one was. Lookit the size of him — he’s easily thicker around the middle than my thigh, and that says a lot these days!! (As I was framing this photo, I couldn’t get that old line from Seinfeld out of my head: “The dingo constrictor ate your baby!”)


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 alison April 14, 2008 at 8:26 am

Sounds like a great day, Dani. I’ll have to take the girls there soon. They are fans of all things snakey and lizardy. While in Windsor last month, we went out to Colisanti’s, a greenhouse complex, petting zoo, wild animal exhibit, and Rae got to hold a constrictor. She thought it was great. I had to tell her that we couldn’t have one in the house.

2 Holly April 14, 2008 at 11:17 am

wow – what a great place to visit. I am amazed they showed a snake making a meal out of rat – yikes! And gadzooks, that is one MASSIVE snake. eek!

3 Renee April 14, 2008 at 2:55 pm

I love the sleeping in the van picture. Same position and everything! And that is one big snake next to the baby there. Yikes!

4 Theresa April 14, 2008 at 10:02 pm

Ooooooooooooooohhh I think you deserve big pats on the back! Way ta go Mama!!

Lol!! I think my greatest fear about ‘trying for a third/having a third’ is that initial scary-as-heck first outing!!! Hopefully it will be as seamless as you’ve made it sound…. and not as petrifying as with the first two! (Mine were very similar experiences to yours..) :p~ Pretty amazing – the inner strengths we mamas find that we didn’t know we had…or the way our helpless newborns manage to turn us into blithering idiots, eh??? hehe…

5 yvonne April 15, 2008 at 6:16 am

I emailed Paul ‘reptilian’ Fry to see if he had a corn snake or two just hanging around. He said he had 22 of them at one point (OMG) but he is fresh out of them right now. I remember the animals loose in his house and I am dreading my future.

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