I Have a Pet Snake: A Guide

  1. What Not To Do

I have a pet snake. I got her in the height of my Harry Potter freak-out, when I thought evil was edgy and Voldemort had a point. Her name’s Nagini, in homage to The Dark Lord’s viper sidekick. She’s only small – her scales are a patchwork of burnt orange and normal orange, with stitches of cream in-between. She’s adorable, really. However, what I originally had in mind was something bigger, and scarier. Instead my parents pulled out a pintsized earthworm on my 15th birthday, their shiny faces all smiley and grossly expectant. I gotta say, she has the evil attitude down. To this day all she ever does is sleep, eat, and glare at me. If I knew parseltongue it would be lost on her. She is not a conversationalist.

This is supposed to be a helpful guide to owning a snake. It’s more of an autobiographical tale of what-not-to-do. Take it from me, I would know.

  1. Don’t Be A Punk

I’d had Nagini for 6 months before her sadistic nature rubbed off on me – be warned, living in close proximity to a nihilistic reptile will do things to you. I traded my sympathy of Slytherin for punk music. If I wasn’t shouting at my parents I was painting my nails a darker shade of black. The Ramones became my favourite band, and Nagini’s own personal auditory torture. She’d curl in on herself and resent me from the centre of her enclosure, avoiding the vibrations of Blitzkrieg on the glass. I think she could sense that Tommy Ramone was a crap drummer, because she’d slither deep into the shadows if I ever played any of their early stuff. Sometimes I still do it, if she’s being especially bratty.

If you find your snake’s antivenin, i.e. The Ramones, SpongeBob, or Sandalwood scented candles, use it wisely. It’s powerful, but it could work against you. I for one wouldn’t enjoy waking up to find my snake trying to consume me in the night.

  1. Don’t Try To Convert Your Snake To Veganism

Nagini eats the corpses of tiny frozen mice, which is very punk rock of her. Unfortunately I couldn’t hold on to that 16 year old persona of mine. I still listen to The Clash on my bad days, but there came a stage where coaxing a snake to eat a tiny mouse was beyond my limit. I may as well have been dangling the poor thing alive over a mousetrap, hearing its squeaks reverberate in my ears.

I had been vegan for 3 months and 4 days when I caved and begged my sister to feed Nagini for me. The arrangement only lasted about 2 weeks, until I accidently ate a burrito. Still, dangling a dead mouse by its tail always feels like a betrayal to my 17 year old vegan warrior self.

This is why I can tell you, on great authority, that snakes do not eat lettuce – under any circumstance. If you leave lettuce in your snake’s enclosure it will wilt. You’ll be left with leaves of neglected lettuce and a snake with a vengeance. Don’t underestimate their ability to hiss at you while you sleep.

  1. Don’t Beat Yourself Up

I don’t blame Nagini for glaring at me from behind the glass. She’s seen a lot of me. She’s dealt with my crap at a closer proximity than any other thing alive. Even now, long after the black nail polish and the tofu, she looks at me with disdain. She still scowls the same, if not more, than she did the day my parents brought her home in a cardboard box.

If you follow my guide and you still find your snake curling away from you and into the farthest corner of its enclosure, you might be like me – you might just have a pet snake with a crappy attitude. But it’s okay. If there’s anything I’ve learnt from Nagini, it’s that it’s nice to have a constant in life. Even when that constant is a pet snake who hates you.

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