Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cold-Blooded: Or Why My Snake is Cooler than Your Dog

Okay, I do love dogs. However, dogs don’t really jive with our little drove of droids (or the apartment we live in) and both Funk and I have always had a love for all things Herpetology.
                When I was growing up, my dad always had iguanas (and our awesome cat, Lix, who is still kickin’ it strong at nineteen years old!) so, some of my childhood memories are of those awesome green creatures crawling up his wall-papered apartment walls and attending Cold-Blooded conventions where I got to pet Burmese Pythons and hold DuMeril’s Boas. I was probably one of the only girls not scared of our first grade class Rosy Boa and who had two fire-bellied toads at home named Yzerman and Federov (yes, those were Redwings players at the time).
                So, when Funk and I first started dating and I found out he had six (6!!!) snakes, I was elated; and earned awesome points for wanting to hold them. We’ve downsized to three (Jadzia, a Green Tree Python, Charlie, a Ball Python, and Cleo, a Grey-Banded King Snake) but have added three Bearded Dragons (Toothless, R.D., and Gronkle… all named after How to Train Your Dragon dragons). We are, officially, a reptile family. And yes, I think it’s rad.
                And no, none of the snakes are going to eat Droidlet.
                Here is why having reptiles rock:
                After initial set up, reptiles are semi low maintenance. Yes, there needs to be heat lamps and the right environment in their cages or tanks, but once all that’s set up, they get fed every two weeks and need watering every once in awhile. Other than that, the snakes just need to get handled occasionally (or all the time!) and sometimes need a little help shedding.
                Just like any other pet, they’ll teach Droidlet responsibility. He’s definitely going to be helping out with the Bearded Dragons. We bought them when we were pregnant and have called them Droidlet’s dragons since before he was born. As soon as he’s able, he’ll be helping clean their cages and feeding them their meal worms. Plus, how rad will that be for his friends who come over and maybe have never seen a reptile before?
                Reptiles can cuddle, too! Have you ever had a snake wrap around your arms or curl up in your lap and just rest in the warmth of your body? No, it’s not a death grip, the snake is smart, it knows it can’t eat you. Bearded dragons love chilling on your shoulder or chest. You’re sharing your body heat with a cold-blooded creature and getting to feel their way awesome skin.
                There are different options for feeding. I know a lot of people freak out about feeding the snakes live mice (and if you are on the whole animal cruelty or living the vegan lifestyle, obviously snakes aren’t for you). I totally understand. But there are options. Don’t mind the mice but aren’t cool with them being live? You can get frozen pinkies for your snakes! Also, there are some water-dwelling snakes that eat fish (if that’s easier for you). And don’t forget about the other reptiles out there – most turtles and tortoises are vegetarians, Bearded Dragons eat meal worms and crickets, and iguanas eat everything from lettuce to corn.
                Exotic things are pretty awesome. Our Green Tree Python looks like a mix between a dragon and the snake from The Jungle Book. She is gorgeous. It’s like having a piece of moving, living art in our living room.
                Plus, the more people that own snakes and other herps, the more education gets spread about how they aren’t “bad” animals. Snakes do bite. They strike when they’re hungry and they think food is in front of them. Sometimes the heat signal from a hand reaching in their cage, especially when they’re hungry, can be mistaken for a warm mouse squirming around. But dogs bite, too; cats scratch; birds nip. All animals come with some sort of “what if” situations. I think because of cultural mythology and a lot of hype, reptiles (especially snakes) get a bad name. However, like with any animal, it’s all about safe handling and good pet ownership practice.
                Long story short, I love my Funk and Droidlet, and our herp kids.


  1. My mother got me my first pet when I was about 3 years old.

    A gopher snake named Baja. It had crawled into her boss's office and when everyone else was terrified and wanted to kill it, she caught it and brought it home (she'd had pet garter snakes as a girl).

    Awesome pet. I have had more snakes than any other pet.

  2. That's such a cool little story, Daniel!

  3. I used to have a ribbon snake named Grima. I got her because I loved snakes but couldn't deal with the mouse eating snakes since I've had pet mice and rats.

  4. Carrie, I totally understand. I always had rodents growing up at my mom's house. I can totally remember my first pet rat, Precious. I think a Ribbon Snake was the perfect solution!

  5. Snakes are great pets! As a child, I had two pets snakes: a black snake (also named Cleo!) and a garter snake. And I'm so glad we did, as I've never been afraid of them.