Moody Gardens in January – 5

Crocodile monitor

Every relationship thrives on the little moments, when you see your loved one in his or her true light. For me, there’s nothing more exciting than watching that little vein in the middle of my beloved’s forehead throb with exasperation, usually when I make some innocent suggestion. For instance, telling her “Did you know that Moody Gardens has a crocodile monitor on display?” makes it pulse like the lights in a techno nightclub, because she knows what’s next. Namely, three dozen photos while I ask her “And how could you say ‘No’ to that cute widdle face? I mean, it’s like a big scaly cat, and I’m sure we could tame it down. We could even let it sleep at the foot of the bed like one.” That’s usually when the pulsing stops, and I can hear the sound of her Elbows of Doom as they slide out of their sheathes and drool venom on the carpet. And now you know why we’ve been together for the last 11 years, because there’s no way I could ever get tired of that sort of excitement.

Crocodile monitor

After a chat with some of the reptile keepers at Moody Gardens, I discovered that they have a tradition for naming many of the reptiles. All of the venomous snakes in the facility, ranging from bushmasters to Gaboon vipers, have names after flowers, such as “Daffodil” and “Tulip”. The crocodile monitor, though, is named “Mr. Awesome,” and it’s only partly sardonic. The Gardens use stout nets to keep many of their animals in one place while also allowing good air circulation, and Mr. Awesome spends most of his time testing every last space on the net to see if he can get out. He’s particularly studious when kids walk by, and I can only imagine how industrious he is about trying to escape when the net opens for feeding or cleaning. Everybody should have a Mr. Awesome in their lives, don’t you think?

Crocodile monitor

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4 responses to “Moody Gardens in January – 5

  1. My daughter did a world tour in 2011-12 and spend much time in southeast Asia …anyway, while sitting on a curb eating, what did she see crawl out of the drain a few feet away? You guessed it: a monitor that looked very similar to yours! Needless to say she jumped up quickly, but then got busy with the camera!

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    • That was probably a Salvator’s water monitor: they range across a significant portion of the Pacific Rim. The good news is that they’re generally very gentle-tempered for monitors, and I regularly see completely tame water monitors at reptile shows. In fact, most of the times that you see “Komodo dragons” in movies and in television shows, you’re usually seeing water monitors standing in for them. This is partly because Komodos are critically endangered, and partly because really big Komodos don’t think twice about biting if they have an opportunity.

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