Saturday, September 12, 2009


I happen to like snakes. At this stage in my life I can't say I'd like to have one, but there was a time many years ago when I saw a really lovely tiny green snake at a pet store, bought it and a smallish aquarium-type glass box for it to live in, and took it home to show the kiddies. The kids' dad took one look at it, ran into the back yard and said he wouldn't come back in until I took the snake back to the pet store. Seems I didn't know he was terrified of snakes.

The other day at a friend's house one of the young teenagers there showed me their new California kingsnake like the one in the picture above but much smaller. It was very pretty and I think I surprised him by not being afraid of it. I asked what they fed it. He opened the freezer and hauled out a box with dead baby mice packaged in ziplock bags. I yelled "GROSS!" and he smiled and agreed with me. We both admitted we liked to see the snake a whole lot more than the dead baby mice!

My sister had a snake once. Her young son was going to be in a talent show doing an Indian dance. He was in Indian Guides, had his costume, and to insure that he was a hit in the show my sister bought a big snake at the pet store. She and her little son worked out the dance steps with him holding the snake in both hands up over his head while a friend beat on a tom-tom.

The dance went well. Her son's stock went up, which is what she hoped would happen. He was a quiet little fellow and he suddenly found himself the center of attention, which was helpful for his little self-image. He was 7ish and he had a younger brother and sister. The three of them would sit on the floor in front of the TV with the snake draped across their laps. Each had a section to pet. The snake was well loved.

The snake resided with them for a while and finally my sister got tired of the feeding process, which was not then done with frozen mice, and she told the two boys that it was time to let the snake go back to its natural habitat. She lived in Mission Viejo just shortly after it was built and there was still lots of open space around. She told them to take it down to the wash and let it go. They weren't happy about it but agreed to do it "for the snake's sake!"

About 20 minutes later she heard them running back, whooping and hollering with way too much enthusiasm. Wondering what was going on, she opened the door to find the boys holding a large iguana that obviously someone had similarly released into the wild.

A few months later the boys exchanged the iguana for a big frog, which one day disappeared somewhere in the house and since she couldn't find it she assumed it had escaped. Later, in a flurry of housecleaning one spring she moved a large piece of furniture and found one very dessicated frog.

Although I did like lizards, reptiles and the like -- and even took a wonderful Zoology class in high school where we had snake hunting field trips -- I never, after that one abortive try, kept them as pets. Where my sis and I got our interest in them I don't know. We both had it, but only one of us got any mileage out of it! All our kids are middle-aged now, and someone always brings up a pet story when we are together. Lovely memories, those.

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