My daughter’s snake is named Monty, and of course he is a python. She wears him twined around her neck and peeking out of her hair, an unnerving Egyptian necklace.
“He’s grumpy today,” she said to me on the phone.
“Grumpy. What does grumpy look like?”
“He gets kind of tense and very very still.”
“Lovely… I think you should do a webcomic of him.
Sad snake. PICTURE OF SNAKE FACE.
Angry snake. SAME PICTURE OF SNAKE FACE.
Happy snake. SAME PICTURE AGAIN.”
She laughs. This makes me happy.
We live in Hawaii where there are no snakes, so the first thing she did upon getting to college in California was buy one. I like snakes. I like the sinewy strength of their grip, the cool smoothness of their scales, even the slightly musty smell, like fermented bean sprouts… Distinctive but not unpleasant.
She says, “I had a gross snake owner moment, though.”
“Yeah. I don’t have time to buy him live mice, so I got the dead fifty-pack.”
“The what?!” This is the one part of being a snake owner I don’t think I can deal with. I like mice too.
“The fifty-pack of dead frozen mice. Anyway, I microwaved one and fed it to him, and he hucked it down in about a minute, which is fast, so I thought he was really hungry so I made him a second one.”
I am picturing my beautiful daughter, with her delicate long-fingered hands, prying dead frozen mice out of a ziploc bag and putting them in the microwave. I hope she puts them on a plate.
“But I guess he wasn’t really that hungry, because he just struck it and bit it, and shook it back and forth, and blood and guts squirted all over the place, and then he tried to climb out of the box.”
My face is squinched up. I cover my eyes with my hand and wish I could turn off my always-lurid imagination.
She went on, “The frozen dead ones are kind of delicate. They fall apart easily and maybe I microwaved it too much. Anyway I had to give him a bath and wash all the gore off, and then clean up the mouse bits. It was pretty gross.”
I think I’m glad, once again, we don’t have snakes in Hawaii. While they could indeed help with our mouse/rat problem (see A Better Rat Trap entry) they would also add to the many challenges our endangered native birds face. We are ever-vigilant here about invasives, both plant and animal, because our endemic populations are so delicate and rare. Monty, I'm sorry, you can't ever come visit.