Believe it or not, I’ve always loved snakes.
I’m a fan of snake print, serpent mythology – and yes, even actual, live snakes themselves.
I remember the first time I was able to touch and hold a snake as a child. It was mesmerizing! I loved how smooth and dry the scales felt – not slimy or slippery at all. It was love at first touch.
I have so many weird and fun snake stories from throughout my life.
When I lived and worked in NY, I managed PR for Iams Pet Foods. I once landed an early-morning talk-show segment for an Iams-friendly veterinarian and her puppy, but the producer wanted me to line up other people and pets.
I convinced a friend with a snake to get up early and be on the show. That’s how I ended up driving a giant python in a pillowcase into NYC at 4 am one cold winter morning.
Then, when I first moved to Dayton and I was living by myself, I went out driving one evening after work and stopped at a local tattoo shop. The folks working were super friendly and, when I complimented the shop snake, asked if I’d like to hold it. That’s how I ended up sitting in a tattoo shop for hours with an enormous boa constrictor wrapped entirely around me. I only wish I had a pic!
I didn’t own a snake myself until 2018 because I was concerned about the feeding aspect, since I also love small mammals. I wasn’t sure if I could personally handle feeding rodents, either live or frozen. (I was right – I couldn’t.)
But our kiddo loved snakes too, and Z begged repeatedly for one. We finally agreed that we would get her a small snake and hubby would handle the feeding.
Then, E took her out to a reptile expo one day without me, and they fell in love. That’s how we ended up with our daughter’s first snake, a five-foot-long ball python beauty we named Nagini. Within a year we had added two more serpents to our family.
We’ve since re-homed both of our ball pythons, as both Z and I were far too squeamish about feeding them and E got tired of doing all the work. We still have our beloved Western hognose, however, and Piglet is likely here to stay. We just can’t quit this little guy!
So, why do we love our little hognose so much? Here are the top five reasons we adore Piglet:
- He’s adorable. This one almost goes without saying, but our Piglet is quite the handsome little dude. He’s not a standard Western hognose – he’s a very pretty orange albino variety. Our other two snakes were exquisitely gorgeous too, but Piglet’s really something. He even has a tiny, upturned pig snout. Piglet is the best because he doesn’t mind doing adorable photo shoots with tiny thmed props. Also, did I mention that he likes to sleep in a little cardboard toy car from Ruby’s Diner? There is not much cuter than that.
- He is a relatively easy feeder. Compared to our other two snakes, Piglet is pretty easy to feed. We had some struggles in the beginning, and he does take a few months off from eating every winter, but during the rest of the year, he’s a good eater. Plus, because he’s so tiny, he only eats frozen pinkies (newborn baby mice) which are easy to keep in the freezer and defrost. Also, if he doesn’t eat for some reason, these tiny little guys are a lot easier to dispose of than larger prey.
- He has a feisty and sassy attitude. Hognoses have several zany behaviors which make them fun and funny companions. Piglet will hiss and mock strike anytime anyone comes near his enclosure, including when we give him food or water. He would never actually bite anyone – in fact, when he strikes, his mouth is closed! This is just bluffing behavior to make himself seem big and bad. Hognoses will also puff up like a cobra (hence their other name, puff adder) to seem bigger. Piglet can even triangulate his head so that it appears like a rattlesnake’s head. Once you are holding him, he’s calm and mild-mannered, but he will act all ferocious and sassy until you pick him up. Hognoses will even play dead if they are stressed enough, but thankfully our Piglet has never been that anxious.
- His small size makes him super manageable. The above bluffing behaviors might make me nervous if he were the size of a boa constrictor, but Piglet is super tiny. When we first got him, he was the size of a number two pencil! Piglet’s small size makes him seem less threatening – and actually makes it super cute when he acts like a terrifying maniac. He is three years old so likely he will always be a little guy in size, and that’s just fine with us! His oversized personality more than makes up for his diminuitive appearance. As Z will tell you, Piglet’s a tiny boi.
- Z paid for Piglet herself. While our two larger ball pythons were gifts from us, Z saved up and paid for tiny Piglet herself when she was just nine years old. That puts him in a very rare category indeed; he’s the only pet she has ever paid for with her own hard-earned cash. She knew exactly what she wanted – a Western hognose in a different color variety than standard – and she picked him out herself. I think that’s another reason why Piggie has extra special staying power even though other pets (sorry, ball pythons and guinea pigs!) have not lasted as long.
Have you ever met a Western hognose in person? If not, you are welcome to come meet our tiny gentleman anytime. Piglet is quite a character and most people who meet him find him extremely endearing!
Got any snake tales to share of your own? I’d love to hear them, as always, in the comments below or over on Instagram or Facebook.