To the right: Hailing originally from Africa, and also known as the Swift Woodlouse or Smooth Slater, Porcellio Laevis are an isopod found in a great deal of the world. They are my bigger babies at close to an inch as adults, and as their colloquial name suggests, they're pretty speedy when startled (such as when I take the lid off their bin). I caught the original progenitors of this colony at a friend's barn here in Central Florida.
To the left: Hailing originally from tropical regions in the Americas, and also known as Dwarf White isopods, Trichorhina tomentosa are a much, much smaller isopod, maxing out at around 2-3mm. Dwarf Whites are strong, independent women that don't need no men (they're always female), and thus reproduce asexually. These guys are a somewhat newer addition to my menagerie, and were purchased online.
to spoil these guys with freeze-dried mealworms, crickets, and other proteins such as (also freeze-dried) salmon, as well as veggie scraps (they love
squash and zucchini). They are voracious little eaters and nothing given to them lasts very long! They also have a good substrate with plenty of leaf litter for snacking. I'm slowly gathering the materials needed to make a nice little terrarium for the Dwarf Whites, that'll be both functional (like their bins) and pretty to look at. :)
Vernal Pool Invertebrates
are seasonal (temporary) water ponds that are home to all sorts of interesting creatures that often don't live anywhere else. Among these are various invertebrates like fairy shrimp (featured in the photo to the right), clam shrimp, seed shrimp, water fleas (above and to the left of the fairy shrimp in the same photo), and triops. I have a 2.5 gallon aquarium set up to hold all on that list except the triops (which would eat the rest!), though sadly I've recently had some trouble with the tank, losing most of the livestock. I know what happened though and should be able to avoid it in the future, and I'll be restocking as soon as I can afford a new batch of eggs!
While I don't currently have any tanks running, I do often have Sea Monkeys (brine shrimp) as well! I have chronicled one knockoff "Sea Monkey" set in the past on my youtube channel, Itty Bitty Beasties
, and have three other knockoffs and an official set (Sea Monkeys on Mars!) to chronicle in the future—hopefully soon!
I've also had Triops 10+ years ago (and not knowing better, kept them in a much too small container), the last holdout as you can see pictured to the left. I wouldn't mind having them again sometime but I need more space for a bigger tank.
Technically my roommate's dog, Toki the chirussel (we think he's a chihuahua/jack russel mix) was quick to adopt me as well. He's a territorial little butt (barks incessantly and will bite if you're not careful--we're working on it) but once he knows he can trust you he's just the biggest baby ever.
He loves to hang out with his people, snuggle and be held, bark at the neighbors when they get too close to their own side of the fence, and chase his red rubber ball. That last is honestly his favorite, and he gets sooo upset when he loses access to his ball (it gets locked in another room by accident, for instance). He loves
that ball. And we love him.
The one-eyed Mr. Purr was one of several cats my late friend C had when I moved in with her over a decade ago. Purr-Purr, as he was affectionately known, adored C and was very much her baby, while being quite standoffish with anyone else. However, when C passed away in 2016, Mr. Purr attached himself to me and was soon my baby. I knew I couldn't give him up and he ended up traveling with me all the way from California to Michigan.
When I moved down to Florida a few years ago, I was unable to take Mr. Purr with me at the time. Fortunately some very good friends of mine, whom he loved, were willing to look after him for me. He passed away in their care at the age of about 17. I miss him terribly.
c. 2002 - 2019
Another of C's cats, this guy wasted no time adopting me. Claude had a huge personality, and was all about getting attention from anyone and everyone. He was super friendly and had this adorable kind of gravely meow that I called his "old man meow," which he used at great length when he wanted attention (which was always). He would even happily stroll into the neighbor's houses if they left their door open, looking for handouts and pets. He was a chonker, but that meant there was more of him to hug.
This cat even came to check on me when I cried on two different occasions, and stayed with me during a major panic attack, making me pet him by butting his head into my hand, until he was sure I was okay! He was truly one of a kind, a big snuggly goofball.
c. 2000 - 2016
The third and last of C's cats that I got close with was Bitty Bit. The runt of the litter, she was always tiny, and had some kind of sinus condition that never got properly diagnosed. Unfortunately this meant she was a snotty little gremlin who sneezed frequently and messily. But, she was one of the most loving cats I've ever met, and would absolutely melt if you gave her attention.
When C passed away, I knew I wasn't in a position to care for a cat with health issues, so my friends helped me rehome her. She ended up with an older couple who adored her, and by all accounts was a very happy (and healthier) little kitty in her later years.
c. 2002 - c. 2020
I was in the fifth grade when Gyspy came into our lives, having traveled unknown distance, and quite by accident, tucked into the underside of a delivery truck. Not even weaned yet, she was discovered while the driver was making a delivery to my mom's workplace, and my mom adopted her on the spot. Presumably due to being seperated from her mother so young, she developed a funny habit of 'nursing' on my shirts! She was a beautiful cat that I loved dearly, and I still miss her despite losing her 20 years ago.
*I know that this word is considered a slur by the Romani people. Unfortunately, in the 90s when my sweet foundling girl was named, we didn't know any better and genuinely just thought it was a cute name. I would of course not name her the same today.
1994 - c. 2000
Yoda was likely my very first pet. When I was about four or five, my dad came home with a black whirlwind we eventually learned was a cat. Yoda was a black Rex, with extremely short, curled black fur and large ears that resulted in his name. I only lived with him for a while before my parents unfortunately divorced, and while I went with my mom, Yoda went with my dad. I got to see him on visits, though!
I don't have any photos of Yoda, sadly, but I've included a couple pictures of cats that he looked like. Unfortunately because I was so young, I don't remember him very well, but I do know that at one point I cut his whiskers off!! You really can't trust a little kid with scissors. Poor cat.
c. 1987 - ???
Jake was my roommate's previous dog, a surprisingly low-key Jack Russel. He was one of the chillest dogs I've ever met, let alone chill for a Jack Russel! He adored my roommate and spent his time near her whenever possible—unless he was scouting the kitchen for crumbs, that is. He was a friend to everyone he met—except occasionally the back neighbors over the fence, lol.
I wasn't as close to Jake as I am with Toki; he was very much my roommate's dog. But he was such a sweet little guy. He loved his "lovey" (a big plush teddy bear that was his favorite toy), getting pets (of course), and getting his after-dinner "bite" of his mama's meal.
c. 2010 - 2020
When I was a kid, I actually raised champion show rabbits, specifically Mini Lops. Sweetheart was one who didn't make the show cut, but was, as her name suggests, very sweet, and ultimately we kept her as a housepet seperately from the livestock. She was litter-trained and everything! I unfortunately don't have any photos of her, but she looked very much like the photos I've included as an example.
Sweetheart was very fond of sweets, funnily enough—particularly chocolate. I would be watching tv on the floor with a little bowl of M&Ms and she'd sneak up, grab one, and run off with her prize. She also loved Oreos and as my mom puts it, would 'jump over the back of the couch' to get one!
c. 1992 - c. 2001
Named for a favorite Lordi song, Pyromite was my first betta fish, and my first jump from the simple Sea Monkeys and triops to something with a bit more in care requirements. He was a beautiful dark orange veiltail with an almost bluish sheen sometimes seen. Pyro was a very chill fish, actually allowing me to—gently—pet his dorsal fin while he rested in his favorite plants.
Along with his brothers below, Pyro accompanied me through a bout of homelessness, including a night's stay in a homeless shelter, and ultimately made his way to California with me, where he lived out the rest of his days. Pyromite was truly a special little fish who helped get me through some very tough times.
2008 - c. 2012?
The beautifully pumpkin-orange Gallifrey was my second betta, also a veiltail. He was named for the color I recalled seeing in Doctor Who, of the planet Gallifrey. I thought he looked much the same. Personality-wise he was admittedly a bit outshined by his brother Pyromite, but I loved him just the same. I wish I had more pictures of these little guys, but I managed to dig up a few nice ones.
Galli was one of the bettas who traveled with me while I was homeless. He, too, survived a couple of crazy roadtrips and ultimately made it to California to happily live out his life. He outlived Pyro a bit, and if I recall correctly, both were buried in the pot of my cactus when they passed (I never
flush my fish!!).
2008 - c. 2012?
The third of my bettas, the multicolor crowntail, Flitter, was perhaps my most skiddish fish. That said, he danced happily for his food like any other betta, and I swear
if this fish could have, he would have followed me everywhere like a puppy (he sure tried to within the confines of his bowl!). Flitter had a funny habit of sleeping nose-down, tail-up in his silk plant, where I guess he felt safe.
Tragically, Flitter was the one casuality of my homeless period. Along the difficult trip from Pennsylvania to California, I tried hard to minimize the stress on the fish during my travels, but in the end it wasn't enough for little Flit. I made a casket for him out of an Altoids tin, and when I got to California, I buried him in the garden.
2008 - c. 2009
I have had many other bettas over the years, mostly rescues from Wal-Mart if I'm being honest. I know I shouldn't have supported them selling bettas in the first place, but I simply couldn't bear to leave behind the little suffering beauties (I even once, bare-handed, separated a pair of bettas that had been cruelly thrown together in the same cup). Two of my rescues were special needs, one with no tail due to fin rot and another with just a sliver of a tail and nub of one fin. Both did well with me, in special shallow bowls so they could more easily come up for air.
Unfortunately the names of my other bettas through the years have been mostly lost to time and my bad memory. I recall a female named Opal, a big beautiful red boy named Big Red, and a silver boy with
a(n apparently harmless) tumor on his back end named Silver (I was so creative with my names, lol). Unfortunately the rest I can't recall. But I have always loved my fish and done my best by them, improving my keeping as I learned more over the years.
I haven't kept bettas in many years now, but I'm just itching to get a new one. Some day!