Owners insist snakes are like any other pet

Luke Hutchinson | Staff Writer

Approximately 250 species of snakes can kill a human with one bite.

Some animals do not enjoy playing fetch or rolling over – especially ones that are carnivorous, legless, and elongated; despite people’s thoughts about owning a snake, some students are fascinated by their behavior. Owner of two snakes and freshman Logan Young said his mom is somewhat reluctant regarding his choice of pet.

“She hates snakes,” Young said. “She just doesn’t like how they look and how they seem slimy, but honestly they are so fun to have, look at, and hold.”

Young said each snake has a unique personality, similar to dogs.

“I get my (six foot) corn snake out all the time because she actually enjoys being handled and doesn’t try to bite, but on the other hand my (seven foot) ball python is way more aggressive, so I can’t get him out anymore,” Young said. “He has actually struck at my dad before and came pretty close to biting him. What I like about my corn snake is that she’s curious, almost like she’s a person that likes slithering around my room. ”

While snakes only eat about once every two weeks, their diet is a factor that can turn many people away from keeping one as a pet. Young said he used to feed his snakes dead mice, but he no longer can.

“I used to feed my snakes defrosted mice that were already dead, but over time my snakes wouldn’t eat it, so I started feeding them live mice that they’re interested in,” Young said.

Ball python owner and senior Brent Suer said his least favorite part of owning a snake is feeding, and that he avoids feeding live rodents.

“I think it’s more humane to feed a rat that’s already dead and thawed, rather than a living animal,” Suer said. “I offer mine food once a week, and it will usually eat every week or other week.”

Suer said that he volunteers at Arrowhead Reptile Rescue (ARR), a non-profit organization that takes care of unwanted reptiles. He said while he felt safe getting his Ball Python from the rescue, some of the other animals there have had rough pasts.

“Ball pythons are actually really docile and were even used by African kings as (live) jewelry,” Suer said. “I have been struck at by boa constrictors and Burmese Pythons, which are more dangerous. There is a (15 foot, 110 pound) Burmese Python there, which is the third largest snake in the world, that was mistreated and disrespected by his former owner, who also didn’t feed him often. One night he got drunk and decided to sleep in the python’s cage, which got upset and constricted him to death.”

Suer said that an animal rescue like the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) is probably taken more seriously than ARR.

“I could see the SPCA being called an actual animal rescue,” Suer said. “That’s because reptiles aren’t as well liked by people who fear them, so it makes sense that people don’t support (ARR) as much.”

According to healthresearchfunding.org the fear of reptiles, called Herpetophobia, is one of the most common animal phobias in existence.

Junior and seven year snake owner Noorah Basher said women with snakes are stereotyped to a further extent than men.

“People need to realize that having a snake is just like having another pet, even maybe a dog,” Basher said. “Most people say that girls are more afraid of snakes and want nothing to do with them, and I’ll be honest I was a little bit afraid at first, but he’s actually really gentle and cool to have.”

Suer said he realized what most people who own snakes stereotypically look like after he visited multiple reptile expos.

“There’s something about having snakes that makes people feel strong, or like they have dominion over the animal, and so people who are just kinda weirder have pet snakes,” Suer said. “I’ve gone to expos before and seen people who have like 50 pet snakes, and they are mostly older men with ponytails and weird beards.”