11/09/2005

So soft and cute

Truer words were never spoken. The little nose, the tiny whiskers, the little, beady red eyes that bulged when Bobo the python squeezed it to death. The mouse we fed to our snake tonight was indeed, so soft and cute. Jacob pronounced it so as he fled from the room in tears. Yes, we fed our snake tonight, for the first time since we acquired the reptile, oh, about a month ago. Ball pythons don't eat very often, are opportunistic feeders in the wild, and tend to get obese in captivity (only in America are our pet snakes too fat, too!), so I wasn't sure exactly how to proceed. The people who had the snake before us said he ate about once every two months, but sometimes more if he seemed to be on the prowl. Well, he seemed prowly, so we gave him a mouse. He disposed of it with suprising and sickening speed. I was actually quite impressed. Jacob was not. I prepped him pretty well when we bought the mouse, telling him that it wasn't going to be our pet, that it was really Bobo's food. He's told everybody and anybody who will listen that our snake "eats live mice".Still, he insisted on checking out the rodent in the carrying cardboard box, which was labeled "Handle me with Love". He also was really eager to watch Bobo eat the mouse, so I didn't let him play with it, or touch it, or even name it, because I knew he would freak out if Bobo ate "Puffy", or something like that. He freaked out anyway. That mouse was, after all, so soft and cute. So now we have a dilemma. Do we keep the snake? Do I use this opportunity to teach my child about nature, the great circle of life, and try to break his obvious bias for furry animals? Or do we just get rid of the creature and feel relieved while wallowing in our own irresponsibility as a pet owner? I feel strongly about taking responsibility for the animals one chooses to bring into one's home. I mean, it's like kids, right--don't have 'em if you're not going to raise them! Still, I guess my child's mental stability does come first. It won't do to be a good pet owner if my own child has nightmares about getting eaten by a python, now, would it? As squeamish as I am about the whole thing, it was pretty cool to watch the snake hunt. It was like the Discovery Channel, right there in the comfort of our own home.

15 Comments:

Blogger annegb said...

I'm with Jacob.

11/10/2005 03:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Yikes! I'm with annegb and Jacob. Although I'm with you on the whole circle of life being fascinating. Just not in my living room! Thought about getting a dog? Hamster? I seem to remember you saying you're not a cat person...

11/10/2005 09:15:00 AM  
Blogger Heather O. said...

Elisabeth-

We are actually getting a dog today--hooray! Jacob is very excited.

Hamsters and other rodents are out. They are stinky, messy, solitary animals, and make lots of noise at night.

I have to say, all things considered, the snake is a good pet. He's quiet and clean, and doesn't demand much. Well, except, you know, a live mouse now and then.

Cats, as is well documented, are of the devil. Besides, I'm allergic.

11/10/2005 10:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Sara R said...

My brother had an iguana that ate live crickets (and tofu). That way you still get to see the circle of life, but somehow it's more fun when it's crunchy crickets getting eaten instead of a soft and cute mouse.

11/10/2005 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger Tracy M said...

Well, what a connundrum. My husband is a big fan of snakes, and had several in our pre-married life; it's probable we will again someday have one. I used to fall in the "soft and cute" camp, but my thinking has changed over the years. Everything and everyone has to eat- even the Lord's snakes. My husband refers to all rodents simply as "prey", not pets. (He really is a kind guy, too..!) If Jacob is totally traumatized, maybe letting him know he never has to watch it again will help. Or are the frozen mice an option? That might not be so bad, if the snake will take them. I'm with you on the rodents and cats camp though. No thanks!

11/10/2005 11:18:00 AM  
Anonymous manaen said...

Is your snake available to rent for a week? I'm disputing control of my place with a rodent family who are too clever for traps and such. One died in the wall, causing an odor so bad that I look forward to going to work. Your natural eradicator would be silent and inodorous.

11/10/2005 01:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Yeay! Congrats on your new dog! You know, I'm much more of a dog person and I DO understand why people might hate cats, but I can't help feeling that cats are universally and unfairly singled out as objects of extreme hatred. IMHO, cats should form a special interest group and engage a PR firm or something to influence public opinion in their favor. Hmmm. I wonder what Charlton Heston is up to these days.

11/10/2005 01:42:00 PM  
Anonymous heather h said...

Poor Jacob...Personally I'd get rid of the snake, I am NOT a reptile person. But, that aside, if the snake fits well into the family except for the feeding thing then keep it. It doesn't need to be fed very often, and it doesn't need to be fed in front of Jacob. Who says you can't feed it at night after he has gone to bed. He also doesn't have to go with you to buy the "prey". Just my 2 cents.

11/10/2005 02:44:00 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

Takes me back to my first job after I married your husband's dad. I worked in a lab at the University of Washington--neonatal biology. These doctors and researchers took care of premies by day and researched in the lab by night (or something like that). One of the researchers was a lover of snakes--exotic poisonous snakes from wilds of southeast Asia. Another couple of researchers loved boa constrictors. They owned two of them who lived in the lab. They used to do weird things like sew sleeping bags and other accessories for the boa constrictors. (Can't remember whether they actually took them camping, but they definitely walked around the office with the snakes lovingly swathed about their necks.)

The snakes lived in the lab in little incubators that premie babies live in. I guess we had the rejects from the hospital. Mornings, as one of the receptionist/secretaries, it was my job to go about the various rooms of the lab and pick up the coffee cups and other messy droppings of the humans. Often the hungry snakes would show unusual interest in my comings and goings.

On a regular basis, the folks would bring in a few extra white mice (easy to get at a research hospital) and put them in the incubators for the snakes. I came to believe that snakes do need to live.

I do digress. . . . But my advice on Jacob? That's harder than walking down memory lane. Obviously you need to be careful. But it might be okay for a while to not have Jacob attend the feedings. There are all kinds of physical acts that adults conduct in private. We teach children about them appropriately. And include them appropriately. (I can provide details if you miss my possible point.) But snakes must be snakes. And eventually we have to come to grips with nature. And our children, as they can understand and cope, must go on this journey too.

Still averting the gaze. Little white lies. Obfuscations. They're all part of sound parenting. . . .

11/10/2005 10:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Vanessa said...

I was in 4-H and one year one of our sheep, Bart was his name, did not make weight at the fair. So we had to keep him, instead of selling him at the auction at the end. That fall we ate Bart. My dad took him to the butcher and the next day we had little Bart chops in the freezer. It was strange because we fed him everyday, took him out to play. But in the end, we understood it was his purpose to be eaten, so we got over it.

11/10/2005 10:26:00 PM  
Blogger annegb said...

We have two great big dogs and one medium sized dog who thinks he's the boss of the house. And one remaining cat, plus all the pet stains from the cats who died of old age in the last few years.

I'm re-thinking this pet thing. My cats don't eat the mice in the house, so we have mice that we have to take care of every once in awhile. But my cats and dogs make the hugest mess and they are expensive.

A snake would eat the mice and not make a mess and would not bark all the time and bother the neighbors and scare the mail lady to death.

Hmmm.....

11/12/2005 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger Tanya Spackman said...

Though my sister found it kind of interesting to watch her sweet ball python (Amadeus) eat, I found it disturbing. Thus, when I had to feed him a couple times when she was out of town or something, I followed a strict policy of dropping in the rodent and immediately fleeing. It worked well. (She and I were both college-age at this time.)

Thus, my suggestion would be to just have Jacob not watch the feeding. Denial is good in all ages.

11/14/2005 11:02:00 AM  
Blogger higherbeing said...

I think the snake should eat you

7/19/2006 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger higherbeing said...

I think the snake should eat you

7/19/2006 09:24:00 AM  
Blogger higherbeing said...

I think the snake should eat you .

7/19/2006 09:25:00 AM  

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