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November 29, 2010

Keeper's Nose

A keeper who owns a sulcata for a long, long time will develop what is known as "Keeper's Nose." This condition has nothing to do with looking like a sulcata but it does have to do with acclimation to a sulcata and all its delights.

The problem is, of course, sulcata poop smells. I've raised Frankie from the time he was a month old to his present 9 years of age and 75 pounds. In all those years I've gradually adjusted to the smell of his poop. It just doesn't smell that poopy to me anymore. This is Keeper's Nose.

Most are unaware of the Keeper's Nose phenomena. The "getting used to poop smell" happens so slowly that it goes mostly unnoticed.

A long time sulcata keeper can take deep breath inside a sulcata's shelter complete with fresh sulcata poop and say "Ah! Smells like a beautiful summer day on the farm." This just isn't true. A bucket of fresh sulcata poop is stinky and does not smell like fresh earth.

Visitors and friends are saying, "Holy crap! This place stinks like the pachyderm house at the zoo!" The sulcata house does smell nearly identical to the zoo's elephant house. There is just a little difference: the elephant lays down more poop than the sulcata.

I happen to take great pleasure in taking friends and their children to visit Frankie. And so I recently did when friends brought over their grade school aged boy and girl to meet the famous Frankie for the first time.

The temperature was chilly so Frankie spent most of the day in his gigantic new heated shelter. Although I clean it daily by scooping da poop, Frankie and his adobe always remain the scent of sulcata de' ordure.

I walked the two young kids down to his shelter and opened Frankie's door. Just like a proud sulcata mom, I nearly pushed the two kids to see the wonder of Leann's world (that would be Frankie).

I stood behind the two kids who are now three feet into the shelter. I beamed with pride. Very quickly, the little boy squeals, "Can we go now?"

Wait a minute! This is the boy who has been begging his mom to see Frankie for three months. Can Frankie at 75 pounds be that scary in real life?

The boy made a quick dash out the door. The girl, a bit older and trained in Southern Manners, walked out at a normal pace. I closed up Frankie's enclosure and then turn to ask them what they thought of Frankie.

The boy had pinched his nose closed with one hand. Big wet tears were coming from his eyes. The girl, probably not wanting to offend me, did not pinch her nose but still those eyes were full up with moist tears.

I was lost to what was going on.

Then the boy exclaimed, "Wow, Frankie is really cool but he STINKS." The Southern trained young girl nodded although I could see her holding back her true feelings: At any moment, she was going to hurl. Still, they loved Frankie.

I try to be constantly wary of Keeper's Nose. I love my beloved sulcata so it's easy to overlook his faults. I am so used to Frankie de' odeur after nine years that I don't think about it.

Don't be like me. Put up a sign to remind yourself.

Sulcata stink.

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