Friday, October 2, 2009

Rats and Snakes and Lizards, Oh My!

I learned very early on in my relationship with Nate that he's not a huge fan of our reptile cousins. This did concern me for a moment as I had one day hoped to once again be the proud momma of a Savannah Monitor but I quickly decided that I'd rather cuddle with Nate than with a giant lizard.
As Nate and my 4th anniversary is approaching, I believe that I made the right choice (most of the time).

I've told Nate a time or two that I grew up with reptiles but I don't think he's fully grasped the extent of the reptile love in our home. My mom was not ever a big fan of the snakes and lizards but she allowed them into her heart because she was married to my dad and they came with the territory. Dad enjoyed the reptiles but was faced with a problem when his reptile collection began to eat him out of house and home.
At the time he had around 10-12 (I can't remember the exact number) boa constrictors and monitor lizards that lived on a rat diet. The amount of rats that my dad had to purchase had become a burden and so he was faced with the most terrifying decision of his life: Get rid of the snakes or raise rats. To some, this would be a simple choice: Get rid of the d@mn snakes. But my dad dearly loved his scaly friends so getting rid of them wasn't so easy to do.
I remember my dad saying many times "If I were on a road and there was a bear at one end and a rat at the other end, I would run toward the bear." So raising rats for my dad was the equivalent of me making my living jumping out of planes. "If I were on a road and one end dropped off into nothingness and the other end had a spider, I'd curl up in a fetal position and wait until I starved to death."
My dad faced his fear and soon we had a lively little corner in our basement that became the nursery for the little rats who were born on what seemed to be a weekly basis. Our lives then resumed as our rat problem was solved and our snakes and lizards ate like little cold blooded kings.
As a whole there wasn't anything out of the ordinary by having these pets. It was fun to show our friends. Dad would go to schools and local parks to show off his 12 foot long boa whom he called "Big Mama." There was the time that mom was standing next to dad as he opened the cage of his big iguana. The iguana took a flying leap and landed on mom's face. And there was the time that Captain ran up to my dad with his fingers bleeding. My dad told Captain he needed to be more careful with his pocket knife. Turns out that Captain stuck his fingers in the water monitor cage and the lizard bit him.

The story I really want to tell is about a little girl who lived in the basement of her family's home. Every morning she woke up to go to school. She would grab her clothes, run down the dark hallway, hop up the stairs and get dressed by the warm radiator.
One day her father's favorite snake escaped from it's cage. This was not a favorite snake of the little girl's. It was a milk snake and had a very ill-favored look about it. Such as this:

After a few weeks, the family decided that the snake had probably escaped outside and froze to death. It was a very hard time for the little girl's father. He mourned the death of his pet. The little girl didn't really care/jumped for joy.

One morning as to her usual custom, the little girl grabbed her clothes and began to run down the dark hallway towards her beloved radiator. In the darkest part of the hallway the little girl placed her foot down and stepped on something cold and slithery. It moved! She screamed, threw her clothes in the air and ran half naked to her parents room to tell them that she had bravely found the snake.
When she and her father arrived back to the hallway and turned on the light all they saw on the ground were her clothes. She picked up her shirt and pants...or her father picked up her shirt and pants (it doesn't really matter who picked up the clothes) but there was no snake to be found. It must have slithered back to it's hiding place. Rejoicing because the snake was still alive! Yay!!!
The little girl climbed the stairs and sat by the radiator as she pulled on her shirt. Then she stuck her foot in the left leg of her pants...something slithered in her pant leg and brushed her ankle. She bravely screamed again and went running without pants on to find her father. This time owner and pet were reunited in a teary hug.

And the little girl, well from that day she began to go gray. And she never took her clothes up to dress by the radiator again.


Tia said...

We used to have a boa constrictor too. It was my brother's dad's. It sat in our living room in a 6 ft. tall cage. I hated that thing. I remember one morning my brother woke up to it in his bed. Horrifying!! I hate snakes!!

Alicia said...

My husband hates snakes too!! They give him the creeps even if he just watches them on TV.

I'm the same way about Spiders

It sounds like your situation is just like mine!!

hil said...

Haley, i'm beginning to wonder if the little girl in the story was you...

man, i could handle a snake, but never a lizard. they give me the willies. recently, my very pregnant friend came over and when i opened the door, a tiny lizard ran inside. i started to panic that this gila monster got inside and i stepped towards the kitchen because i was going to get a cup, place it over the lizard, tape the cup to the floor, and then lay in the fetal position until Frankie got home to take care of it. luckily, my very pregnant friend said, "do you want me to get it?" and she bent her very pregnant body over, picked it up, and placed it outside. oh, the bravery of that girl.

did your experience give you a fear of snakes for the rest of your life, or does it just remain spiders and nothing else?