Madness with pets

I live in a mad house. When I returned from work this afternoon, my husband opened the door and announced solemnly, “I’m sorry I’ve got some bad news. Another chicken had died.”

Ben went to the garden this morning and found one new hen had died. Her feathers were scattered around the garden, but there was no signs of injury. Could she have been attacked again?

We’ve lost 3 hens so far. One was possibly killed by our adopted cat; the second one was killed by my neighbour’s dog.

Pets are important in our family. Last week, before going out shopping, I asked my husband if he needed me to buy anything.

“It’d be helpful if you could get some locusts,” he said matter-of-factly while playing on his computer game.

“But, darling, I’m only going to the Co-op just down the road.”

Father and son keep a skink named Georgy and she eats locusts and mice. To keep the skink alive, we keep some locusts in the lounge in a small container on top of the large vivarium measuring 120cm x 60cm x 60cm. Sometimes, the locusts would escape and crawl near me and try to type my post for me. To keep the skink happy, we keep some dead mice in the freezer. When frozen, dead mice looked like squids or prawns. I’ve been cautious tying not to defrost dead mice for my sweet-and-sour prawn.

My husband hinted that the vivarium seems a bit too small for Georgy. When a new, larger vivarium arrives soon, I think it’s only sensible that I move out to give father, son, skink, locusts and dead mice more space.

My Related Posts:

Tragedies of the chickens (

25 thoughts on “Madness with pets

  1. amphomma

    Ahh, the things we do for family and pets! We have one kitty who has been a part of our family before my husband and I were even married! I think the cat has done more to accommodate us and our changes than we have for him!

    1. Janet Williams Post author

      We used to keep a cat, but he chose to run away from us unfortunately.

      We have many cats in this neighbourhood, and this time, we suspect that one of the cats came to disturb our chicken and possibly causing the death. It was just one theory.

    1. Janet Williams Post author

      All my Chinese friends (wherever they’re from, China, HK, Singapore or Malaysia) in the UK don’t keep a pet, except one family, and this family keeps goldfish.

      When I was a child, we used to keep some chickens for the Chinese New Year. We looked after the chickens for a few months, and I would help plucking the chickens’ feathers once they’d been killed by my mum.

      1. Red Slider

        I detect a bit of method in the madness, Janet. Locusts advising that you might better feed the skink mice than locusts and leave them to do more important work, like typing. I think they might have a story to tell – perhaps reveal the real culprits in the chicken coop? (Colonel Mustard in the Hen House with the knife?)

      2. Janet Williams Post author

        Indeed, Red Slider, in this household, we have spiders and locusts. When I finished my post this evening, my husband just came back from Pets at Home with 3 boxes of locusts (about 24 locusts). There’s a food chain here in the lounge. Husband is going to feed the locusts salad, and locusts will be bed to the blue tongued skink. I’m sure locusts are intelligent and they will reveal the murderers one day.

  2. French Cheowyong

    Dear Janet

    This is great reading. I enjoyed it very much. It reminds of the time when my boys kept snakes — not big ones — in the house and when they returned to UK at the end of their school vacation, the snake/snakes were conveniently placed by my bedside table so that I could keep an eye over them. They were smallish snakes in biggish jars but with out a lid, only a piece of clothe held in place by rubber bands (!) so that they could breathe, the boys said very determinedly. Keep an eye over them I certainly did to make sure they didn’t escape.

    They get pretty excited too when over lunch one day a tarantula walked unhurriedly across our patio. I hastened to add this was all in tropical Kuala Lumpur where we lived on the edge of the jungle in Kenny Hills. They went off immediately searching for more but got scorpions instead. All became pets very quickly. Prestigious area in the Federal Territory but snakes, monkeys, toads and frogs and 1 tortoise were common companions in our garden, not to mention the mosquitoes. Christopher once had 72 bites on his arms and body in one afternoon. A miracle he didn’t get dengue fever or malaria as he was not taking any prophylactics. The food if left on the patio table was often stolen by the monkeys. The tortoise remained with us for a while and was often taken for a swim in our pool or a walk down the garden held by a string tied to one leg. I can tell you tortoises are not that slow.

    Fortunately for them, Zoology was my course of study at Uni so I didn’t panic whenever they turned up with something wriggling away in a bottle or at the end of a stick.

    We have been keeping chickens for some time. A month ago John my husband let the chickens out for the day as usual but forgot to put them away for the night. The fox got all but one. A very sad end for them. When we looked out of the window that morning I commented that some pigeons had met with an unfortunate and sad end that night, little realising that they were our chickens! We will go and get some more.

    John traps mice for a friend . It gets into my deep freezer now and then but I am not too happy when that happens. If frozen his wife will thaw it out and blow dry the hair so that it fluffs out again before feeding it to their pet snake! Do you do that?

    You are great to put up with the various pets of your son/husband. Sound like a fun/happy household . Ben sounds like a delightful and entertaining boy.Another Attenborough in the making!

    Best regards


    1. Janet Williams Post author

      Dear Cheowyong,

      Thank you for such a wonderful story on a Friday night. You’ve taken all of us back to the tropical heat of Kuala Lumpur with this enchanting story. Thank you very much. I really enjoy reading your story with all these exotic pets.

      Before keeping this huge blue tongued skink, 3 years ago, we had a milk snake called Fang. One day, Fang hid in my bag and went to work with me in my school. Fang jumped out of my bag in the staff room and slithered to the headteacher’s room. It was mayhem in the staff room. In the end, the caretaker came to my rescue. He passed me a box and helped me sellotape the box and I quickly drove home with the snake in a sellotaped box. I later realised Fang managed to slither into my bag uninvited as his glass door was ajar. This matter was ‘investigated’ after I went back to work. I became an instant sensation in school after my 15 minutes of ‘fame’ with the snake.

      Talking about thawing dead mouse, yes, I helped out very occasionally. The mice are little and pinky, and we normally put them in a bowl, and poured hot water over them. At a glance, in a bowl, the mice look very much like ‘squid’, the kind of ‘sotong’ that I used to have in Malaysia in sweet-and-sour.

      Now we have 2 chickens left. Sorry to hear about the death of your chickens too.

      I like the idea that John ‘traps mice for a friend’. I think we’ll make good neighbours.

  3. anexactinglife

    I love your story but it’s sad about the demise of the chickens! My sister raises gerbils to feed to her snake so they always have live prey. I would not go that far for a pet. I only have 2 cats – and I am not raising them to feed them to anything 🙂

  4. ShimonZ

    It’s hard maintaining a balance in our own hearts… in our own minds… and hard sometimes to keep that balance working in our relationships with people, within the family… Then when we start inclusing animals into our household, it becomes still harder. One has to choose the living creatures carefully. And in doing so, we can appreciate the mystery of this world… within which, all the living creatures find their own homes…

  5. marshland

    A nice post to read, including some of the replies. Really interesting. I’ve handled conger eels & freshwater eels, I’m not a snake person but Astrid held a python at Australia Zoo. It’s a pity about the hens. My neighbour swapped the hens for the rabbits, the hens have less room but are in a hutch and the other neighbour’s cat won’t go anywhere near the rabbits. Maybe stick a couple of rabbits in with the hens might protect them from cats at least.

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