For Goodness Snakes!

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Have you ever surprised yourself by changing your mind on something you didn’t like, or perhaps even feared? That is just what has happened in our house! 

I’ve loved animals my entire life. However, growing up in Texas, I was always fearful of snakes. After all, at the weekend ranch my parents had when I was a child, most of the snake population that slithered across the ground or hid under rocks were venomous! From coral snakes to rattlers, I never wanted to cross paths with something like that!

During the week in Houston, we didn’t think about snakes, but at the weekend place in the hillcountry, you had to watch out! Circa 1970 something

During the week in Houston, we didn’t think about snakes, but at the weekend place in the hillcountry, you had to watch out! Circa 1970 something

Meanwhile, in Denmark, my husband grew up with no snakes to worry about in the area, except for a poisonous asp. However, my husband has always had a huge fear of snakes. His fear was only made worse one day while he was mowing the lawn a few years back. Suddenly, I heard screaming from the front of the house. Fearing he had been hurt by the lawn mower, I flew down the stairs, running into my husband who was now inside. He still had all his arms and legs, but was as pale as a ghost. A six foot long, black rat snake had fallen from the sky, mere inches from my husband, almost landing right on him! It was dead when it hit the ground; as it turns out, a large red-tailed hawk had dropped its lunch! 

Before my daughter was even born nineteen years ago, I was already earmarking “American Girl Doll” catalogs, and dreaming of tea parties. While she loved both, her most favorite toys were little colorful rubber frogs and a stuffed Webkinz animal snake she took everywhere named “Slither”. 

My daughter as a child. She loved dolls, but frogs and snakes were her favorite things!

My daughter as a child. She loved dolls, but frogs and snakes were her favorite things!

Maybe it was all the episodes of “Crocodile Hunter” we watched when she was little, but Audrey did NOT inherit a fear of snakes. When she brought home a pet corn snake given to her in her freshman year of high school from a favorite teacher (who breeds pet snakes as a hobby and for local pet stores) we did not totally object, as long as she took care of it. The snake Audrey was given was beautiful, with pink eyes and orange and white skin that resembled candy corn. Audrey named him Noodle, and since it had already been a pet, it was grown and used to being handled. 

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Noodle lived in our family’s playroom. My husband and I learned so much from him! Soon, we no longer feared him, and loved to watch all of his little antics inside his tank. He was so docile, and very friendly. Fascinating to watch, he was quite entertaining, and I even got brave enough to hold him. He had a nice tank, with lights and a cute little “Outback Snakehouse” hideaway made from a small box and camo-colored duct tape.

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We had Noodle for over five years, until this summer, when one day, something suddenly was wrong. After an emergency trip to the vet, we found out that he was old for his type and color morph, and sadly, he passed away later that evening. 

Audrey was crushed, and we all felt heartbroken. For the first week afterward, none of us wanted to even sit in that room. It felt like something was missing. 

My daughter really missed her pet. We live in a small town, and keep in touch with several of her favorite past teachers, so Audrey emailed her former teacher about Noodle’s passing. We felt like we had lost one of the family dogs! 

Over a month went by, and we still missed our little buddy. The room did not have the same life to it. Audrey had been working and saving for awhile, and she has been through so much since the pandemic (being class of 2020), so when she asked if she could purchase another snake, we said it was okay. 

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Our new friend is a baby boy Ball Python, named Pie. He is beautiful; the markings on his sides look like little owls. We quickly all became quite attached to him! He is quite the stylish snake, with a vintage sewing treadle sewing machine as a base for his aquarium, his supplies stored inside the drawers. 

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Get a puppy and everyone congratulates you. Get a pet snake, and people tell horror stories of pet snakes, lost in homes by accident. Soon, however, he slithered right into my heart!

When we first brought him home, none of us could stop peeking at him. Active and curious, he is fascinating to watch! 

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However, sometimes life seems like a sitcom. On the second morning after we got him, Audrey was in her room upstairs taking a final for school online. My husband and I looked in the snake tank downstairs, but saw no sign of Pie. Fearing he got out, we frantically looked in every nook and cranny: NO SNAKE. My husband even lifted the tank a bit, but saw no snake. Not wearing his glasses, my husband pointed near my foot. “There he is!!!!” I jumped and screamed. It was not the snake, but the metal base of the treadle. I finally gave up and had to relunctantly relay a message to Audrey, who had to explain to her professors that her pet snake must have escaped, and the noise and disruption was from her two snake-fearing parents. 

Pie was in his tank, but unlike corn snakes who often lay around stretched out, Ball Pythons like to “cuddle”, like their names, into “balls”. Pie had gone into “The Outback Snakehouse”, found a piece of loose tape, and trying to snuggle inside, got himself stuck! It was chaos when we realized what had happened! In the end, he was fine, and we found out what a good boy he was, because despite the probably painful situation, he never struck.  Later that day, we went out and bought him a new, official snake hideaway. 

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The following week, all was good until Pie decided to perch up across the thermometer and humidity gauges, attached to the glass with adhesive strips. (Male Ball Pythons like to climb more than females). Before we could get to him, we saw the thermometer and Pie tumble to the bottom of the aquarium! All would have been fine, except that the adhesive back was now stuck to Pie’s little head! Hysterics ensued again, but Baby Pie was a good boy, letting us remove it (think of a bandaid being pulled off) without incident. His aquarium is now completely baby-snake-proofed!

Pie is growing and happily eating, very accustomed to his surroundings. He takes naps in his plant in the afternoon, is active several times a day, and lifts his head as if to say hello whenever anyone walks into the room. I am totally smitten!

A few weeks after Pie came to live with us,  Audrey heard from her former teacher. They had three new baby snakes that hatched, related to our beloved Noodle, and would Audrey want one? We had an extra tank, so it was not an expense, except for an extra light fixture. We met Audrey’s former teacher, with his three adorable kids in tow, to pick up the snake- so small it fit into a small deli salad container! Like Noodle was, Baby Snake “Macaroni” is also an albino corn snake. Two weeks old when we first brought him home, he was no bigger or fatter than a small #2 pencil. He is eating well and growing nicely. Brighter-colored orange than Noodle was, he loves to bury himself at night under his wood shavings, like he is putting himself to bed. 

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As for my husband and I, we no longer fear snakes, but respect and admire them, and think they are fascinating! I even will hold our pets (with my daughter near)! Their skin is soft and smooth, (it gets duller looking as they get close to shedding). I also learned that they do have personalities!

Blep!

Blep!

There are differences between the two types of pet snakes, including care, and how they act. Corn snakes move faster, slithering, while Ball Pythons move slower, sort of inching along like a worm. Mac the corn snake opens his mouth and sort of scoops water to drink, while Pie the Python resembles a puppy, lapping water up with his tongue – adorable! According to our veterinarian, corn snakes and ball pythons are both good, docile snakes for pets. They need care, just as any animal does, and attention. They can get stressed from loud noises, need a good feeding schedule, and do not smell (we keep the tanks very clean, and use wood shavings meant for pet reptiles). No, our pets won’t get out, as they have the proper sized tank with the proper locks. No, if they DID get out, they won’t eat our chihuahua. In fact, they might not be able to eat at all, as our pet snakes do not eat live food, but “gourmet rodents”, packed in individual frozen packages, like small Happy Meals. Our pets are also fed in separate containers than they live in, so they do not associate their tanks with food. Depending on the type of corn snake, they can live from 6 to 15 years, and ball pythons can live up to 30 years in captivity. It’s neat to think that when my daughter is my age, Pie will still be around!

I understand when there is a fear of snakes. I still don’t want to tangle with a wild snake outdoors, especially one that I don’t know is there, but I love to see them (safely from a distant). They are quite misunderstood. In the wild, they do not want to come in contact with us, either, and are a very important part of the earth’s ecology and food chain. In Connecticut, we only have two types of venomous snakes, rarely seen in my area.  Almost all of the ones we see are harmless, non-venomous garter snakes. Pet snakes should always be ones that were bred in captivity, for the purpose of having as a pet. Do your research, as they do require special care. 

This beauty was hiding among some tall weeds. I decided to do a different chore.

This beauty was hiding where I had been pulling weeds… I decided to do a different chore that day.

When my daughter gets older,  and we eventually become “empty nesters” {sniff, sniff}, she will take her two reptile pets with her. I can honestly say that when that day comes, I will really miss “Macaroni”  and my “Sweet-T-Pie”! 

Thank you all for joining me here at the blog…now don’t just “slither” on by, leave me a comment and say hi!

 

Until Next Time…Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

Leave a comment 26 Comments

  1. Joanne says:

    In 1969 I was given a boa constrictor “Rosie” to nurse back to health from a mouth infection. I used to take the snake to school as an instant lesson plan in case the teacher did not leave me any class work. The added benefit was that the children all stayed quiet and in their seats as the snake rode around the room on my shoulder or arm.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Joanne, what a great story! Thank you so much for sharing! I can just see you with Rosie in tow, and the kids eyes all wide with wonder. Love that! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  2. Judy From Maine says:

    I too, am afraid of snakes. I must say you and Hubbie were very brave to allow snakes into your home, but a good lesson learned. Thanks for making snakes a little less scary.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Judy, thank you! I was hoping to make them a little less scary! Thanks for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  3. Bonnie Ellis says:

    Nicole, I really enjoyed your article on snakes. In Minnesota we only have one poisonous snake and it is hidden in the bluffs along the river. But snakes are beautiful. Thanks for writing.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Bonnie, thank you! It is pretty much the same here – the rattler we have here in Connecticut is mainly found along the rocky parts. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  4. Denise says:

    You are still braver than me but I love hearing about your newest pets! Enjoy!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Thank you, Denise! I still can’t believe how much we have come to love our pets. Right now, I am no longer fearful of coming across a snake while out in the yard and garden; recently we have bears roaming our neighborhood. Love to see them but NOT up close! Thank you for reading and joining me here at the blog! Have a happy fall! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  5. I grew up with an almost psychotic fear of snakes, inherited from my mother. As an adult, when I had a run-in with snakes, I would have a full-blown panic attack. You can imagine how that interfered with my new-found love of garden when I was in my 50’s. Anyway, I finally decided that it was going to either be my garden or the snakes, so I went to an outdoor spring festival where someone was demonstrating a large snake and letting people touch it. I swallowed my fear and ran my hand over it, letting it slither on me. It wasn’t cold and slimy, it was warm and smooth, like a nice leather belt. While I still do not like snakes and give them their space if I run across one, I no longer run in fear. Live and let live!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Barbara, I love this! Many, many people share the fear of snakes. I love that you were brave, and did not let your fear of snakes keep you from doing something you enjoy, like gardening! I was surprised the first time I touched a snake at how it felt warm and smooth, too. Snakes keep the rodent population in check, so everything keeps balance. Thanks for sharing today, and happy gardening! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  6. Ann says:

    You did not mentioned how big they get?

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Ann, typically, male snakes are small than females, so male ball pythons get to about two to four feet long, while females can be in the three to five feet length catagory. They are “fatter” snakes, with more girth around than corn snakes. Corn snakes can grow a max of two to five feet, but are much more “slender” than the ball python varieties. Thank you for asking! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  7. That was a beautiful tribute that made me smile. Thanks.

  8. Ellen Andersen says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I’ve always loved snakes and I disheartens me so when so many folks have a morbid fear of a creature so beneficial but they never try to learn about that creature…. I have a cornsnake like Noodle above. Slinky is going on 19 years old now.

    I have two resident black snakes in my garage. They take an egg from the hens once in a while which is fine by me and they keep the garage free of mice. A mutually beneficial relationship!

    Your daughter is a champ!

    Ellen

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Ellen, thank you so much! My daughter is not as outgoing as I tend to be (I can strike up a conversation with anyone, lol), but I love that she uses her pet snakes as a conversation starter. If someone is afraid of snakes, she will talk to them about her pets and how beneficial the snakes in the wild are.

      We are both very excited to hear that your Slinky is nineteen! That is wonderful! We used to have a very large black or rat snake in our garage once, too, but I think it found its way out. I have not seen any skins in awhile.

      Thank you so much for visiting the blog and saying hello! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  9. Sandi King says:

    Nicole, what a wonderful story. I am so glad you and your husband grew accustomed to snakes and are no longer so afraid of them. My son and daughter-in-law have owned snakes for years and have had many different kinds and sizes and ages. They also have dogs and cats and hens and roosters. My daughter-in-law makes pets out of most of them – one rooster flies up on her shoulder when she goes inside the pen. She is amazing with animals. I always made pets out of my hens when I was younger – I also had a calf, cats, dogs, and birds in my menagerie. But never a snake as my dad and mom wouldn’t have allowed it. But my brothers and I would go into the woods and look under rocks to find red and blue racers – so much fun. Love reading your blogs.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Sandi, thank you! I am so glad you enjoyed the post. Your son and daughter-in-law sound liuke my kind of people! We, too, have a gentle rooster and consider our hens pets. :)

      Thank you for sharing your memories! I love that you have always had a “menagerie”, too! I also looked up blue racer snakes. We do not have them here in Connecticut, but we do have a close and very important relative, the black racer. :)

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I always love hearing from you! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  10. Barbara Collins says:

    Loved your story, Nicole! Many years ago, when my children were young, I owned a nursery in Mississippi. We had water moccasins that occasionally would wrap their long bodies around a tall plant in a pot. We irrigated everyday, so they must have enjoyed the added moisture. I would hear one of my employees holler “Snake” and I would come running with a shovel to chop it’s head off. I know it sounds cruel but they are very poisonous and it was the only way to get rid of them. We also had little garter snakes that my kids played with. I remember my daughter playing with two of them one day, tying their tails in knots, draping them over her ears. She let them go at the end of the day. I bet those little snakes were so happy to be on their way!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Barbara, thank you…I am so glad that you enjoyed the blog! Cute story about your daughter! Now, water moccasins are a VERYnscary snake if they are where they can bite! At my dad’s place he had in the hill country, we once had a rattle snake hiding in the kitchen under the oven! THAT was scary! I was always taught when up there never to put my feet in my shoes unless I checked inside them first, and we also always turned the sheets back before climbing into bed, just to be sure. We also had scorpions up there. We don’t really have things like that here in Connecticut, thankfully! Thanks for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  11. Juie says:

    Loved the story about your “sweet” snakes.
    It makes me want one…They seem interesting,
    I’m sure you can get REALLY attached to them.
    They probably DO, get a bad rap…
    Thank you for enlightening us…

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Julie, thank you! Yes, they do get a bad rap, and pet ones are so easy to get attached to. They can really make great pets, and even recognize their owners/handlers. Now, Pi actually climbs up to be held when we open the tank and grab the snake hook! He loves attention. Just like any animal, they learn trust from being treated gently. I surprised myself by how attached I am to ours! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  12. Beverly Battaglia says:

    Very interesting and surprising how they can be good pets.
    Love,
    Mother

  13. Marie says:

    Farm girl Nicole,
    Thank you so much for sharing your awesome story. My grandsons have had snakes over the years. They LOVE them! Me, not so much when they are out and about the house at times.
    Farm Girl hugs, Marie

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Marie, what a wonderful grandma you are to have your grandsons bring their snakes over! Thanks for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

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