Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Meet Cross' Critters: Part II: Ozzie


What can I say about Ozzie? I vividly recall days slumped over my 6th grade desk only to hear the THWAP! THWAP! TWHAP! of Ozzie's tail against the glass cage. He'd thrash in his water dish, slice with his claws, and devour a helpless mouse with his mighty jaws. His reptilian mug looked of an annoyed teenager listening to his mother spout on about breaking curfew.

But Ozzie had his softer side as well. The times you picked him up and held him just right, he never struggled or slashed. He laid in your gloved hands and for a moment you almost thought you could raise him up to your face so his tiny forked tongue could kiss your cheek.

Nile Monitors like Ozzie are found in many regions of Africa. They are excellent climbers and can run at impressive speeds (Ozzie was always a squirrelly one!) These beautiful creatures appeal to the casual pet owner when young, but the following quote best describes what that pet owner faces as "Ozzie" ages.

"Very few of the people who buy brightly-coloured baby Nile Monitors can be aware that, within a couple of years, their purchase will have turned into an enormous, ferocious carnivore, quite capable of breaking the family cat's neck with a single snap and swallowing it whole."
(Bennett, D. 1995. Little Book of Monitor Lizards, Viper Press, Aberdeen, UK)

Deep down, don't we all have a little Ozzie in us? Luckily, many of us had a Mr. Cross of our own to teach how to control the Ozzie inside.

"Live, Learn, Teach"

Like a scaly, reptilian Indiana Jones,
I’ll whip with my tail and snap at your bones,
I’m mean and ill-tempered, a terrible brute,
I suggest you steer clear.
Away with you! Scoot!

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