Walking Rocks?

Query: When I was in Death Valley earlier this year, I saw some enormous 750-pound rocks that appear to travel across the desert on their own. I remembered your article about rock tortoises, and wondered if that’s what these rocks could be?

Corn of Plenty (Part 4 of 4): A Field Guide by Dr. Midas Welby

Corns of the Air: Air-corns utilize their horns for jousting, playing tic-tac-toe, and spearing food in mid-flight. Air-corns often lurk undetected in trees, wood piles, and rain gutters. When bored, they use their horns to ring the doorbells of unsuspecting humans. When the door begins to open, the air-corn flies away.


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Going On Hiatus

December 6, 2014: I am loving college, but I have to admit, I’m overwhelmed.

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Pine Cone Feeders

A Present For Imaginaries: When winter comes, I get concerned about providing extra shelter from the elements for Imaginaries. Recently, I read about people who build wildlife brush shelters out of branches and plants in their yards, and thought this was a great idea.

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More About Dragons At The Preserve

Cheese and Sugar: The Annals this month talks about the two great secrets of dragon management that Iranigami learned from Eastern dragon-keepers in the 13th century. Here at the Iranigami Preserve, we use those two secrets today – the secret about cheese, and the secret about sugar (see photo). These two secrets make it possible for us to care for dragons that have no place left to live because their habitats have been destroyed. Without these secrets, I don’t think I could keep up with the work of caring for dragons – I’m not as young as I used to be!

Mind you, while all dragons eventually respond as expected to being fed cheese and deprived of sugar, not all dragons react in exactly the same way. Some dragons shrink very quickly once we omit sweets from their diet, whereas others take a long time to shrink. So we believe it’s wiser to treat all dragons as potentially dangerous until we’ve had a chance to test out their tolerances and reactions to cheese and sugar.

Nobody at the Preserve ever steps outside without plenty of string cheese in their pockets. It’s very simple, really. To calm down an agitated dragon, we feed her cheese. Milk and yoghurt will also do, but cheese is the most efficient, and also easier to toss down the maw of a ravening dragon than a gallon of milk. It works every time, although the amount of cheese it takes can depend on the species, her size at the time of the encounter, and just how agitated she might be.

As for myself, I always have at least a pound of cheese in my kit bag, along with smaller pieces in my pocket for easy access.

The other thing we NEVER do at the Preserve is carry gum or sweets outside. We keep all our dragons small, for easier management, and if we want them to stay small, we have to make sure they get absolutely NO sugar or honey in their diet. It’s the glucose in the sugar and honey that causes them to grow in bulk. Deprived of this, even the largest dragon may eventually shrivel up to the size of a chameleon.

We used to keep all the dragons down to the size of a terrier, but discovered that some of them didn’t thrive as well during the winter hibernation at such small sizes. For the last few years, we’ve tried feeding controlled amounts of sugar to our dragons in the fall, aiming to get them up to the size of a large dog or a small pony. This has turned out to be an ideal hibernation size, as a pony-sized dragon going down for a winter’s sleep comes back in the spring the size of a cat, which is entirely manageable for us.

We’ve developed out an individualized sugar regimen for each dragon, which has been working out fairly well. A few times we overshot and wound up with elephant-sized dragons, and on other occasions we didn’t give enough sugar and the dragons were so small by spring we could hardly find them in their caves, or see their scat to count them. This is another reason why the winter check-up is so important to us, so that we can adjust the sugar feedings accordingly.

If you should meet a dragon, I advise against feeding sugar under any circumstances without a trained dragon-handler present. On the other hand, cheese can be a life-saver. It’s almost impossible to give a dragon too much cheese – if she overeats, she’ll just lie down and sleep it off – but if you give her too little, the situation could get out of hand for you.

I’m not mathematically-inclined, but Xax is. In his blog this month, he gives the formula to calculate how much cheese a dragon needs to calm her down. As for myself, I do it by feel, but if you’re good with numbers, Xax’s formula could really help. Not to be over-dramatic about these things, but knowing the right amount of cheese to calm a dragon could save your life someday! - NONNY, Keeper of the Preserve and Iranigami sympathizer


Copyright © 2012, 2013, 2014 by Penelope Stowell. All rights reserved. This website is a work of fiction and does not depict any actual persons, creatures, places or events.