Baby Season Has Started!
On May 29th, 2019 – My girlfriend exclaims “OOH! Something moved inside the tank”. I have a looksie for myself. One baby, then two. I take them out. All looking healthy. I get them into a small tub and go back in momma’s tank to inspect more thoroughly. A third baby! I think Dave’s Skinks was (officially) born June 4th 2016 so this was a pretty cool way to kick off year 4. The back story of the mother is she’s a pure Sunrise bloodline (super yellow) from Andrew Seike (originally) and sold to me from Australian Addicted Reptiles (AAR). Born in 2012, she has a partially regrown tail and a variety of issues with her toes. As it turned out, the original breeder kept all the babies together for too long and some of the babies got rather aggressive and nippy. Goldilocks, as I would name her, carries the weight of that sibling rivalry today. AAR tried to breed her last year, but months went by and no babies. Looking at the posted pictures, I was confident she was a female but had no way of knowing for sure. If a female breeds and no babies or unfertilized eggs come, it’s very plausible the blue tongue is indeed a male with feminine characteristics and female personality quarks. I was taking a gamble. Because she doesn’t have the back half of her tail, she was incapable of making that, come get me boy, motion – a positive sign it’s (1) a female and (2) interested in breeding. Carl, my classic male featuring high orange, and her locked up 3 times from the 6-week period starting at the end of January and going until the first week of March. Her gestation was anywhere between 81-123 days. I don’t care that it was only 3. All babies were healthy and beautiful. One came out farm more Sunrise than the rest. The biggest win was confirming Goldilocks was indeed female. Now knowing for sure, she’s a keeper, and honored with the chosen name, Goldilocks.
Over the next several weeks, more babies arrived. On June 5th, Katherine Knight delivered. I happened to have a lunch meeting close to my home and popped back in, just for a moment. Katherine was mid birth. Two big babies were running around and she was in the process of delivering again. I caught it on video. A first for me. Sadly, it was just an unfertilized egg. I rushed to get more tubs set up for the babies when I turn around to see the runt had just squirted out – dang missed it again. Thinking with the runt out, that was it, she must be done. Oh no, I was wrong. In total, Katherine gave birth to 4 live babies and 17 unfertilized eggs. This litter included two runts. I was nervous they may not make it. They were like preemie size. I had never seen babies so tiny. It was like watching Bambie take it’s first steps. After a couple weeks of monitoring and nourishing proteins, everyone caught up in size. I decided to keep my favorite from this litter as I steadily work towards fulfilling my Northern breeding project of eliminating the traditional black sides and replacing it with more vibrant colors.
On June 24th (just after my birthday) I take a peek in Gladys’ tank to see her sunbathing with a baby. Yay! first Irian Jayas of the season. They always take longer. I look around to find a total of 6. I couldn’t believe how big they were. Almost slightly bigger than the month old Northerns. Like how did they all manage to fit inside that poor girl… and come out?
It’s August 3rd as I write this. I’m still keeping fingers crossed my T+ Caramel will deliver, but losing hope by the day. She had all the signs. Eager to breed. But wouldn’t take a mate towards the end of the breeding cycle – a sign she was already gravid. Put on weight. Paced around. Elevated rear spine. But now – I don’t know. I have the feeling she gave birth to a small clutch of unfertilized eggs in the night and ate all the evidence before morning. I could be all wrong. It could be one of those effeminate males. Big Mamma was reluctant to take a mate this year. After her massive miscarriage a few years ago, breeding has been somewhat nightmarish for her. I can’t be mad. I remember my mother and and older sister having miscarriages in years past. Whether you’re a human or a skink, it’s never easy losing a pregnancy. She bred once to George in March and he only did a half ass job. Either way, I won’t throw in the towel until August 18th. Riding on a hope and a prayer here.