July 24, 2007

Playing with snakes and then going off on a tangent...

This little beauty (or someone from his family tree, anyhow!) was in my next door neighbor's backyard yesterday. I hadn't the chance to mess with snakes in years.
I used to be quite the reptile fanatic. Seriously. You wouldn't know it now, for I married a man who abhors reptiles. Go figure! Since we have young children and live out in the 'sticks' I will settle for the potential visitors that we might get here and there on the property. For now. I really am fascinated by reptiles and other sorts of 'creepy-crawlies.' I think we have a lot to learn from them and they really do make great pets. For some people, anyway.
I worked at a handful of local pet stores in my younger years and had acquired quite the collection of critters. The only real perk to working for minimum wage is the discount on all the things I'd wanted to buy anyway. Well, there was that and the fact that I got to play with all the critters!
I was actually hired at my first pet store when I was still in high school. They put me in the bird/small animal department because that is where they needed the help. Not only did I continue to be interested in reptiles but I also developed quite a fondness for birds. Well, mostly one bird in particular; a Jenday Conure named 'Kylie.' The first time I stuck my hand in her cage, she nearly crushed one of my knuckles! After taking my hand back (while it was still in one piece!) and mumbling a few choice words as I walked away, she decided that she liked me.
Okay, so she really liked the blueberry muffin I had in my hand later...but it was my hand holding it, right? It was love at 'second sight!' She not only decided that she liked me but that she hated everyone else.
I had to have her.

I think her price tag was around $400.00. I did get a discount and after a couple of paychecks and some graduation money she was mine. I didn't have her long when I realized that she not only hated most people, but children and other pets as well. She was horrible. I loved her. If she let someone within a few feet of her without freaking out, that person could do almost anything with her. She would hang by your finger while you flipped her upside down and swung her back and forth. You could cup your hand around her back and cradle her in your hand like a baby.

She even took showers with me. She would climb down the shower curtain and stand in the full-force of the shower head like she needed it to wake up like she needed her coffee. Boy, did she love her coffee! Kylie would hop down from wherever she was to snag a sip of my coffee. She would actually perch herself on the brim of the mug and guzzle down the coffee. The whole time she would be laughing hysterically.

Kylie didn't talk much. Though she did say a few words here and there was much more obvious how much she screamed. Maybe it was all the coffee.


Anyhow, I ended up leaving her at my parents' house when I got my first apartment. I couldn't see being able to stay in an apartment with a bird that loud. Plus, I had had my oldest by then and wasn't too fond of the idea of keeping her anywhere near the baby. She would attack anything she didn't like, which was pretty much everything. She would go after my mom's German Shepherd and grab ahold on one of his toes. Luckily, my mom and I were both right there. I grabbed the dog's head (which was so big he could have easily swallowed that bird in one gulp!) while my mom pryed her little beak off his toe.

Like I said, she wasn't afraid of anything.

I couldn't have Kylie in an apartment, but that didn't stop me from having tarantulas, rats, love birds, snakes, etc. Reptiles are the best pets for apartments. They don't make noise, shed fur, or even smell most of the time.

I used to have the neighbors over when it was time to feed my Ball Python. It was like the Discovery Channel, but live.

So, back to yesterday...I was suprised at how nervous I was trying to catch that snake! I had been bitten by that same variety more than a few times. It had just been so long since I had been that close to a snake. Add that to the fact that this was still a wild animal and I had a few butterflies in my stomach!

This little guy was at least a good four feet long and flawless! There was not a scar or tick to be seen. I had a wire coat hanger bent like a hook and tried to pick him up with that first. He was warm, so he was quick. He slithered off the hook before I could even get the rest of him off the ground. He then scurried around a corner and got all wound up behind a drain pipe. Now, those of you who have handled snakes know how they are basically one, big muscle. He was all 'balled up' in just the right spot and that hook was not getting ahold of any part of him. Finally, I just grabbed him with a pillow case and pulled him inside of it. We left the kids to play in the fenced-in yard while my neighbor and I walked to the back of where our properties meet.

We let him go there. Hopefully, he'll keep his distance from the houses. I definitely like knowing he is nearby. California King Snakes eat mice, frogs, lizards and other snakes. Their specialty is rattle snakes. They are immune to the venom of a 'rattler' and can eat one almost as big as they are.

Now, that's the kind of snake we all should want to have around. I just wish they were welcome in the house!


wildtomato said...

Now, that's the Leann I know!

The next time you come here, I'll take you to my friend's house. Her Amazon Tree Boa just had the cutest babies! One is red and the other one is yellow. I've only seen pictures since I'm really not that eager to play with snakes.

Perhaps you can convince your husband to have reptiles if you let him know how profitable they are! From what I understand, unlike cats and dogs, people are encouraged to breed reptiles in captivity. My friends plan on selling their snakes.

Kari said...