Our 8 year old daughter has always been an avid animal lover, so when she began asking for a reptile, it wasn’t all that surprising. Combine that with the fact that her best friend has a few small lizards as pets, and it was bound to happen.
She was intrigued by the possibility of a snake or lizard as a pet, and hubby was leaning toward a lizard.
Just one problem: I wasn’t in a hurry to have an insect-eating lizard – and its stockpile of revolting live insects – in our home. I remember nightmare scenarios as a kid when my brother’s lizard’s crickets would end up hopping all over our house and keeping everyone up with their chirping. Plus I have a problem with live feeding anything – it’s just grotesque to me.
I was far more in favor of a pet snake. I’ve loved snakes all my life, and have been around friends’ snakes, but have never owned one myself. So I made a persuasive case to hubby and our girl. Snakes are clean and odorless, only peeing/pooping about once a week. Snakes can be fed far less often than a lizard – weekly or even fewer feedings are fine for a ball python – and can be fed pre-killed prey. Snakes are fun to hold and actually seem to enjoy the warmth of humans, or at least don’t try to constantly escape like lizards do. Plus, snakes are really, REALLY cool! Just ask Taylor Swift.
Hubby was skeptical – he’d never been around a pet snake and had a bit of snake bias, as so many people do. But he was up for taking Z to the reptile expo to talk to some experts and hold some critters. They did that on a day when I was taking Napa somewhere, so I didn’t get to go with them – but E sent me a steady stream of awesome photos of an excited Z holding various lizards, snakes and more. She was in her element!
Now, E and I had talked about getting Z a reptile for Christmas, but I never dreamed he’d purchase an animal that very day. It was supposed to be a critter research and fact-finding trip only. I never thought for a moment it could end up as more than that.
So imagine my surprise when I got home that evening to find Z in our kitchen cuddling her new best friend, an absolutely ENORMOUS ball python!
I’ll admit, Nagini’s size threw me at first impression. I had been envisioning a nice, small ball python for Z’s (and our family’s) first snake – something really tiny and manageable so that, God forbid, the rare, worst case scenario of a bite should happen, it wouldn’t be that bad.
But hubby immediately explained why they had fallen for Nagini: she was basically a rescue situation. She was a good snake in need of a good home. She was unbelievably affordable. She was friendly and had been handled a lot by children in her prior home. She is HUGE, but otherwise she is absolutely perfect – exactly what we’d wanted in terms of personality and peaceful nature. And, most important, she and Zoe had already “bonded” and were practically inseparable.
Once I got over my initial trepidation about her size, I got to know Nagini and was soon head over heels in love myself. She is the perfect pet for Zoe. She is quiet, docile and gentle. She lets us know when she wants to be held and go exploring outside her enclosure – and she also lets us know when she wants to be left alone (usually if she is shedding or digesting a meal or about ready for her weekly pee or poop).
Nagini is, in a word, amazing. She’s truly the most spectacular creature it’s ever been my privilege to share a home with. I love dogs and cats and hamsters and parrots, but a large snake is another realm entirely. She’s an easy keeper and she is otherworldly. She’s elegant, mysterious and low maintenance. She is beautiful and strong – an apex predator – yet she is shy and will avoid confrontation at all costs.
I needn’t have worried about her biting. Ball python bites are very rare and they must be sorely provoked to ever get them to that point – and even when provoked, they would far rather hide or escape than strike. Nagini only wants to strike one thing, and that’s her food – and she knows we are not food.
Since bringing Nagini home, we’ve encountered many friends and family members who are terrified of snakes – and we’ve even helped a few get over their fear by slowly, gradually introducing them to her royal highness Nagini. She’s a beautiful, graceful and peaceful creature we are proud to share our home with. If you haven’t gotten to know a ball python, we welcome you to visit and get to know our Nagini! She’s a great ambassador for her kind.
Do you fall into the love snakes or hate them category? I’ve learned that most people tend to side one way or the other, with few in between! I’d love to hear your reptile stories in the comments below or over on Facebook.