Friday, November 23, 2012


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Not that anyone's reading this particular blog (except my husband, who's contractually obligated)  Oh well, this would be why I split it off from my other blog.  Most people, I'm learning, either aren't enthralled with reptiles or are actively repulsed by them.  I guess I've been pretty sheltered because although I knew there were folks who didn't like snakes or were scared of them, I never understood just how intense those feelings were.  My brother and sister-in-law came in our house yesterday to pick up their six-year-old (we were babysitting him for a couple of hours) and it was clear they're uneasy about the idea of snakes.  They're okay-ish with the sand boas, due to their small size, but the sand boas are babies and the ball pythons... well, they don't know they're incoming.

My brother said if we got snakes that were going to reach three or four feet in length he'd never come over again.  I didn't have the heart to tell him that we've kind of already passed that threshold, and I don't know how to handle this, really, other than to reiterate that the snakes are well-secured in their vivariums and to make certain he knows we're not going to be hauling the snakes out at random family gatherings.  Or at any family gatherings at all, for that matter.  Forced exposure is never a good thing -- for other people, or for the snakes.

So my hope is that the whole "out of sight, out of mind" theory will work, because the snakes are coming.  We're adjusting the thermostat levels as I type.  Scales and Lucy will be here tomorrow, just in time for holiday insanity.

I mean, I understand misconceptions -- I've had some myself.  One reason I initially wrote off ball pythons as an option was because I thought if they escaped they could prove to be a danger to our other animals; that's simply not the case.  Ball pythons are the pinheads of the boid world.  Seriously, Google images of "ball python" and look at their heads.  They're itty bitty, especially compared to the rest of the snake's body size!  The dog and the cats are too big to ever be considered reasonable prey for a ball python, and BPs are such retiring animals that their instinct upon finding themselves free of the vivarium and out in the big, bad world would be to find the nearest dark, safe place and hide.  They wouldn't be hunting; they'd be looking for security.  They're reptiles.  Instinct drives them.

Unfortunately, the same human tendency to anthropomorphize our furry pets can also lead to an innate distrust of reptiles.  A dog or cat's body language is part of common lore, and easily understood.  Wagging tails, purrs, open canine mouths, feline head rubbing... all these things are comprehended and seen as signs of happiness and contentment.  Snakes, though, can't smile.  They don't even want to smile.  And a "tail wag" from a snake is a warning sign.  They're the antithesis of everything we've been taught to want in a pet.  Snakes are not warm, fuzzy, or loving.  They don't get excited to see us.  They don't purr with contentment in our arms.

In fact, the only positive a snake experiences when being removed from its enclosure is a warm perch on its keeper.

And even so, some people choose to have them in their homes.  I choose to have them in my home.  My child's happiness is everything to me, and just seeing the look of happiness when he's holding Slither tells me I've made the right choice.  I hope that my family will understand that we're not going to make them "bond" with the snakes or anything ridiculous like that, but in the case of some relatives I'm just not holding my breath.


  1. I have a relative who told me that you just can't trust snakes. I told her that goes for anything with a mouth and teeth. There was a reptile guy at our local library recently an d he brought 3 smaller (4-6 feet) snakes and a 12-ft Burmese (among other things). He said something like, yes, this snake can bite you. So can the person you are sitting next to. It's a good reminder. We do trust dogs and cats a lot more but really, who can do more damage?

  2. Oh good point! And yes, snakes just seem to get the short end of the stick when it comes to fear issues. I think if most folks understood that a snake's brain is composed of very straightforward wiring that they might lose some fear. Like I said in the "Why Snakes?" post, they're very basic, and understanding those basics goes a long way to understanding snakes in general.