Thursday, April 30, 2009

"Something Wicked This Way Comes........"

In case you're wondering what to do today and just can't come up with anything, let me offer you this advice: Do anything except hold a snake right after it eats. I know the risk of this is high. I'm here for you.

I offer this tip from first hand experience. They don't like it.

I have learned quite a bit about feeding snakes. And I have also learned quite a bit about snakes that have been fed. You should probably stop reading at this point.

Goodbye! Have a nice snake-free day!

(Elevator music here.....................)

You're still here aren't you.

Suit yourself but I will not be responsible for the violent illness you are about to experience. Please keep all arms and legs inside the ride until it comes to a complete stop.

Several years ago, being the demented homeschoolers we are and having a sickening and morbid fascination delightful and childlike curiosity about nature, we decided to buy a snake. We had been to the fair and seen ball pythons, and, discovering they rarely bite and don't have big fangs (they're constrictors) we figured this was the three-foot-long, two inch diameter reptile for us.

Twenty bucks later we were picking ticks off a snake.

Yes, that's right dear reader. Did you realize not only dogs get big, fat disgusting ticks but so do snakes? Aren't snakes, in their own dear way, gross enough already?

Well, the answer to that silly query is no, they are not. They can, in fact, become much grosser for a variety of reasons.

We learned about snake ticks through vast internet searches. We always search endlessly about whatever new endeavor we embark upon so we may never have to do actual housework or yardwork again be good and trusted guardians of anything we acquire. Upon discovering snake ticks we also learned how to remove them. You must inspect millions of snake scales while looking through a magnifying glass and checking for little black things attached under said scales. If you are cursed and reviled among women lucky, you will find them. You then use tweezers to pull them off. You must do this for a SNAKE'S comfort and health even though you might be tempted to let your best friend die of tick poisoning before combing through her entire body hunting for ticks.

The next adventure will be getting your snake to eat. Yes, snakes, just like everything else, must take in nourishment. Purina does not make snake food for you to put in a cute little bowl with your pet snake's name emblazoned on the side. (Our snake's name was "Max." My apologies to our wonderful HUMAN friend, Max. It was before we knew you. He was nothing like you. I have never even known you to have fleas, let alone ticks.)

Back to feeding your snake. Where snake food comes from is from rats. That's right. Rats give birth to other rats and, before they are fully grown, you feed those rats to your snake. So, you will have to go to the pet store to buy what they call "feeder" rats. You may feel somewhat squeamish about this but it is, after all, what snakes do: keep rodent populations down. But, occasionally, in the feeding process, problems arise. Some snakes can actually be fearful of live rodents running around their cage and so develop eating reluctance. They can even die if they wait too long to eat. You, therefore, as the pet owner, must take them to therapy where they will lie on very long, narrow couches and tell their therapist about how having ticks picked off of them has made them afraid of EVERYthing. The therapist will admonish you and then advise you to kill your snake's food before you offer it.

That's right. In order to become a qualified and caring snake owner, you may personally, with your own personage, in person, have to kill rats, or at least knock them out. This is simple, the websites all say. Simply grab them by the tail, give them a swing, and bop their heads against something hard. This will knock them out kill them instantly. At that time, lay the soundly "sleeping" rat in the snake's cage and, if given ample privacy, he will consume them without terror to the rat or snake. They claim this is the most humane way rodents are eaten in captivity or in the wild. This seems to make sense and you hate and loathe your husband for ever bringing this stupid thing into the house appreciate the man you've married when he offers to take care of this unpleasant business.

Once your sleepy-time rat is safely ensconced inside your snake's cage, you may find your snake still won't eat. Eating is a very private snake activity, and just as we, as travelers, may experience that uncomfortable feeling of, how shall I say it, public bathroom reluctance, so, in the almost same way, your snake won't eat because then people might actually KNOW he eats and that would be so embarrassing. If this goes on too long, sometimes help is necessary. For your snake, this means using forceps to hold your peacefully dreaming rat, prying open the jaws of your snake, and forcing the issue, as it were. This may be unpleasant but will result in severe trauma for women, children, rats, and snakes successful nourishment for your snake and establish you as a responsible pet owner.

Eventually, our snake began to eat on his own and we no longer had to resort to these draconian measures. But we also needed more rats. Thus, we purchased Jack and Jill. Jack was a pleasant fellow and became our pet. Jill, his brawling wife, chose never to make nice and bit me heartily the first day we brought her home. However, she was prolific. So much so that we sold her offspring back to the pet store on occasion. Rats give birth to LOTS of rats. She often had litters of 14 or more. Max could never keep up. Snakes typically eat only once every week or two. Consequently, Jack and Jill had separate bedrooms.

We came to be quite fond of Max. Love is perhaps too strong a word but we enjoyed his wrapping himself around our arms and moving, seemingly without effort, up our shoulders and around our throats. We tried not to take this personally and only disengaged him when we were in danger of blacking out. Bo was very good with him and "wore" him frequently around the house. The Wild Man was still too young for snake handling or charming (unless snakes are charmed by putting them in your mouth which he tried to do) but found Max's company fascinating. I came to like feeling Max draped over my shoulders and around the back of my neck as I sat typing at the keyboard. (Of course, people thought we were brave and clever incredibly stupid and moronic and we may have lost friends we actually liked.)

And it was in one of these tender snake/owner moments between Max and me that I learned a cardinal rule about snakes: They must have time to digest.

Max had just finished a particularly successful feeding session a few hours earlier when I decided we should have some warm and fuzzy bonding time together. I had work to do at the computer and thought the company would be nice. I picked him up, everyone had a look and some touching and handling, and then I placed him in his favorite position draped lazily dangling around my neck. I took my seat. I wasn't typing very long when I felt him begin to move. This wasn't all that unusual as he wasn't always stationary. In fact, his moves frequently felt almost massage-like and I reveled in the relaxing effect taking place in my shoulder muscles. I smiled. His movements seemed to become more pronounced. More than I had felt before. He seemed to be lurching, in fact. I became paralyzed and stricken dumb with the horrifying realization that this snake could hurl on me concerned.

"Grizzly!" I screamed as though my underwear had suddenly become consumed in an all out conflagration called out. "I think Max is going to throw...............................up."

And at that moment, there for me to behold in all its slime covered rat glory, was our snake's breakfast - every last dead nose, feet, fur, and tail of him - laying on my lap in one whole and intact package.

There really aren't words to describe this particular situation. You can't move or the thing will slide down your legs, and you can't simply sit still with a dead, slimy rat in your lap and a retching snake around your neck. So you just continue to shout out, "Ewww, EWWWW, EWWWWWWWWW!!! while your husband dashes in and hoses down your underwear with the fire extinguisher. Eventually you know he will discover the truth and bring you a paper towel because HE sure as heck isn't grabbing that dead slimy thing off your lap.

Thus, when you are tempted to buy snakes, kill rats, and allow serpents to encircle your throat, refrain gentle reader. Oh, not from the purchase. Ownership is delightful as you can see. But do wait a proper period of say, thirty years or so, before holding your resplendent reptile after he has dined.

Don't say I didn't tell you so because I guarantee you: you heard it here first.

"I'm not about to go out and buy a snake for a pet. I mean, I may have faced a few fears but I'm not insane." Kristen Davis

Copyright 2009

*Photos are stock imges from the internet but are very like our snake.


  1. Peering between fingers over my eyes (like a person does when they don't want to see, but yet they do, sort of), I read your post. And I'm speechless! Except, now I know the reason I was never tempted to buy a pet snake!

    And the slimy rat? Eeeewwwww! I'll probably have nightmares tonight! I should have stopped reading when your warned us!

  2. Dr. Doolittle...YOU are a wonderful weaver of "tails"...Enjoyed this so much...especially, as it brought back memories of my own grammar school days and the snakes our 4th grade class held captive....gross, maybe....fascinating, certainly... advisable, not...Love this gory story! You are a master and a very extraordinary woman! ~Janine XO

  3. Oh my! I HATE snakes. I cannot imagine owning one. Then picking off ticks. Then buying vermin to kill and force feed and... You are insane. You deserve a dozen slimy dead half-digested rats in your lap! Gross.

    I feel nauseous. ;)

  4. HAHA!! This post made me laugh!! :D I enjoyed it very much... although i do not enjoy it for the fact that you had rat puke in your lap lol ;) I don't really like snakes OR rats so i think i'll just stick with my dog and cat ;) lol

    I hope you have a wonderful day!!

  5. hahahaha! Excellent story! Reminds me of my rottweiler and hurling whole rabbit story. Wish I had your gift of storytelling. :)

  6. I cannot believe what I do sometimes ... I saw 'it' coming and I still hung on...I was warned.. you gave me ample time to reconsider (would an attorney claim that was a disclaimer?) ...I DID IT anyway. I continued to read your post ... I KNEW what was coming ... my 'crazy' sister used to feed her boa constrictor rodents ... thank God, that was after I had left home. Forget that I had just finished eating oatmeal for breakfast.. oh my, excuse me (where's a lap when you need one!?) ... I'm back ... I HATE snakes ... but I am/was captivated by your 'tails' and read your post to the end!

  7. I had to read this post in two parts, I got to laughing so much! Here I am supervising the high school computer lab with 7 senior students and I'm laughing out loud. Now they think their lab monitor is crazy! Great post, Robynn!

  8. Robynn, I hate snakes. I am sorry! My dad calls me Miss. Muffet--does that tell you anything?

  9. AAAACK!!!!

    Ack. Ack. Ack.

  10. Snakes and rats, no. Just, no.

    If Bub ever asks for a reptile or a rodent for a pet, the answer is, "Mommy is allergic, how about a goldfish?"

    I don't know how you do it.

  11. Oh. My. Word. Funny! ...and gross!

  12. You! I can see the whole thing! And Wild Man with it in his mouth! He and Eli must be related which we knew already considering our "similarities"! We bought a small snake for Andrew when he was 9 or so and he was so afraid to reach in to get it to hold that it became my job. It did bite, but honestly, it felt like a little pinch. Ended up back at the pet store and he never begged for one again.

    I caught up on your posts last night. Great video clips! Amazing talent. I'm sure I could have been talented in some way if only.....

  13. Snakes do not belong in the house. EVER! End of story. I HATE SNAKES! In houses. It's cool that they're out in the wild, but I will never be in the same structure with one. And then feeding them live rats. Oh. My. Gracious.

  14. OMGosh ...I haven't even finished, but have to say that I am finding your cross through hysterical (I usually type my comments eternally where I can spell check) back to the story... and yeah, the last cross through "hate and loathe your husband for ever bringing this stupid thing into the house " ..let me just say I do NOT like snakes... okay, back to the story... sure hope it's not a 'to be continued, I'm already wanting closure. Okay NOWWW back to the story.
    Okay glad there was a sort of closure .... kind of still ...speechless.... yeah, no worries here on THAT EVER happening. It is just one of those things that I will NEVER need to even be concerned with happening. Ugghhh--eewwww--iiihhh.
    Oh and I copied the line"" just after reading it and before I went on..". I came to like feeling Max draped over my shoulders and around the back of my neck as I sat typing at the keyboard."... This, sister, :-) is where we are SO DIFFERENT.
    Hmmm... uhh... thanks ?? for the ... images I have in my brain.

  15. Oh Robynn .. this was so fabulous .. I ran the emotional gamut from ahh to ack to aaargh to OY VEY

    What a wonderful and yet totally disgusting in a good way post!

    Husband loathes snakes .. me, I dont know but I do know I agree with Ms Davis's quote

  16. Have you got any stories about spiders?

  17. (Part 2)
    My first effort went into hyperspace.

    I was saying . . . . Thank you for this fascinating story about snakes and rats. You know, its something I've always wanted to know . . . it is in my little book entitled, "Things to find out urgently before I pop my clogs". I wonder why it regurgitated the rat!
    Perhaps it wanted to put ketchup on it first as a taster. Or it could be the rat was not dead and wagged it's tail which tickled the snake causing it to wretch! Then nature took over. It might even be the snake was a bit 'rattled' and felt sorry for the poor little mite and gave it another chance to live. Why did you not ask the snake? It might have told you - then you could have done part 2 for us. Must sign off before this turns into a post. Loved the story and "I will be back" like the Terminator! Your mate, Eddie

  18. So glad you are all "enjoying" the story. And yes, Eddie, I DO have stories about spiders - several of them. And there is actually a part two to this one and I s'pose I should tell you all that part as well. I was afraid no one would come back!!

  19. Ughhhhh.....

    Thank you for that! My boys BEG me at least once a month for a pet snake and although I would never admit it to them, I have considered it for a split second at a time!

    Your story has changed that....FOREVER!!!


  20. Robynn this was freakin HI LA RI OUS!!!

    I mean Im sorry for your displeasure in the events of this rat puke, but come on that was too funny!

    Here comes the peer pressure!

    You have got to get over your fear like the rest of us and vlog! I will hold you hand if need be. You just have too great and funny a personality not to share. I love reading your posts and thusly know that your vlogging would be even better.

    As Nike says "Just Do It"

    Love and Prayers,


    I hope that wasnt too strong. LOL

  21. wow, you are so much braver than I am. I don't know if I could touch one let alone handle it. :)

  22. So not a snake fact the only thing could compel me to read something about snakes is that it was written by you and I do not like to miss a Robynn post! Love your sense of humor, girl! :)

  23. You are too much! You are the MASTER! I also ran the whole gamut of emotions... shock, horror, repulsion... and a little envy of just how courageous you are! I just think your kids are so lucky to get all of these experiences through your willingness to try!

  24. And that is only ONE of the reasons I'll never have a pet snake. Ewwwwwwww!!!!!

    My daughter would have LOVED having you as her mom. She begged for a pet snake from the time she was about ten years old until she moved away from home a few months shy of her 21st birthday. She made up for lost time by buying three snakes, a 3 footer, a 5 footer, and a 7 footer. I can't tell you the sleep I lost knowing my petite little daughter was letting a 7 foot boa slither around her neck!

    When she moved from Germany, she had to find new homes for those three, but now she's in England, and once again has a pet snake. I'm breathing easier about this one. It's a baby corn snake. She feeds it 'pinkies' (newborn rats). Ewww!

  25. I must say I was squeemish ( sp) during the entire read, but had to read every word. Eww eww eww eww eww, is right!

  26. That's hilarious! I had no idea snakes could throw up after eating, but I guess it makes sense...

    My very first boyfriend had a boa as a pet and it was actually quite friendly.

  27. What a riveting and disgusting post on snake ownership. You should consider writing a care & keep manual for pet stores.

    Honestly, the worst part of this story was when you had to "pry open" your snake's mouth with forceps.

    FORCEPS? Seriously? Like those used on a vagina?

  28. I'm quite speechless!! What a fabulous and hilarious and scary and weird story. We have snakes around the bush near us, but not the ones you want to bring in the house or you'll end up dead (being from Australia)!

    In the future, I will now picture you with a snake draped around your shoulders every time I read one of your posts (sans half eaten rat). Too funny!

  29. I thought the full glass of strawberry lemonade my hubby knocked over and deposited on my lap night before last as we waited for our meal we ordered celebrating our wedding anniversary was bad...I had one sopping sticky lap. But snakes, landsakes NO THANKYOU...only 2 types of snakes in the world - dead or alive and dead is better for me. I read the posting all the way through and it just gave me the willies!

  30. Oh, you are so brave. I see a snake and start screaming. Now, you need to visit Pam and her awful snake. I admire you.

  31. ROFLMAO!! I have to catch my breath here!! My husband wonders what the hell I'm laughing at!! This was so funny, I loved every word of it! Now I'm off to read the rest!! You made my day!!

  32. Enjoyed that! My son kept tarantulas and snakes ... I thought he was a strange young man until I was persuaded to 'feel' the snake. I was impressed by the velvety feel of the skin. Never could take to the spiders though.

  33. Oh, il faut avoir du courage pour prendre un serpent dans ses mains...
    Cela dit, j'aime beaucoup les serpents, je les trouve fascinants !
    Kisses from France,

  34. Oh, il faut avoir du courage pour prendre un serpent dans ses mains...
    Cela dit, j'aime beaucoup les serpents, je les trouve fascinants !
    Kisses from France,

  35. I think I just threw up a little in my mouth. This was so totally gross, and yet I had to read till the end.
    There must be something wrong with me too.

  36. Oh, I know you warned me but I couldn't stop reading. All I can say is that you cured me from ever wanting to own a snake, ewwww and I'm looking forward to having (nightmares with snakes throwing up on me) a very restful sleep.
    P.S. The part in brackets should have strike through but I can't figure out how to do it here.

  37. As a snake owner, I am disgusted at your disrespect and lack of knowledge before purchasing such an easy and fun pet. You better go back to cats and dogs where you can't mess up.