Wednesday, October 3, 2012

King, the snake

About a decade ago we visited some homeschooling friends who were going to move cross-country, because they needed to divest themselves of some of their menagerie. I was thinking we'd adopt their frilled lizard. It seemed to be a cool kind of pet to have.

When we arrived, we had a change of plans. It turned out that our friends had mail-ordered 500 live crickets (food for the lizard), and the night before one of the boys had knocked the box over. My friend had vacuumed up hundreds, but the apartment still crawled... and hopped... and jumped.

And that is how we acquired a snake, Because although I have never liked snakes, at least they eat frozen mice. And if you knock over a box of frozen mice, they do not jump around the living room.

The snake's name is King, because he is a California king snake. He was officially Big Guy's pet, though I'm not sure Big Guy ever handled him. Once, about three years ago, I succeeded in persuading Big Guy to give King some water. But in his nervousness, Big Guy put the water bowl down on top of King. And snakes, believe it or not, do not like to have heavy water bowls placed on top of them. That was the one and only time King ever bit anyone.

In recent years I have fed King only minimally. He'd grown, you see. When we'd gotten him he was perhaps a foot long; today he's at least three feet. He would consume a rat a week if I supplied it, but that was expensive and only caused further growth. I looked up how long king snakes in the wild could live without food, and based my rat purchases on the minimum. (While I was looking that up I learned that the lifespan of a king snake in captivity can be over 20 years. Yikes!)

For eons I've wanted to hand King off to someone else. Two years ago I was sorely tempted to let King loose in the woods behind our house. I couldn't, of course, because he's never lived in the wild, and this isn't his native habitat, and it would just be wrong. Then this year a new science program opened up in our neighborhood. I spoke to the owner, and she agreed that her place could use a snake for kids to look at. Wahoo! Not only could I offload the snake, but I could feel virtuous about it.

Today some teenagers arrived to transport King to his new home. But before King left, Little Guy wanted to pet him. For the first (and probably last) time ever.

Goodbye, King. My tour of duty as chief snake-charmer here is done.

1 comment:

  1. A snake over three feet long? In your house?

    Yeah, I'd be offering a pet like that to a science center too.