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Gilded Serpent presents...
What Kind of Snakes are Good for Dancing?
by Neferteri

“So many snakes, so little time.” What is a girl to do? I am often asked what is a good snake to dance with. Well, that depends on two things. The first is what type of impression do you want to make? And then, of course, what is the snake itself like? This is one of the many reasons why I own and work with over forty snakes; the other reason is I need one to match every costume I own (just kidding)!

The truth be told, suitability is really up to the snake. Some will dance with you and some won’t; some will dance one day and not another, and there is nothing you can do unless you are willing to have more than one. I assure you if anyone tells you that snakes can’t communicate they are so wrong. I have a few snakes that have made it clear that show business is not for them. The snake will let you know one way or another that it is not comfortable. My five-foot Columbia Red Boa, Amir, is a good example.

I took Amir on a photo shoot and he would not un-coil. He has such a grip that he almost choked the life out of me. I thought ok, maybe he didn't like the flash, but a few months later at a convention he decided again not to un-coil; he hissed and tried to hide in my costume, and kept this behavior up for about ten minutes. I didn't want to repeat a “Janet Jackson moment”, and I did not want him to rip my bra, so back in the cage he went. Amir is now happy at home, leading the life of a stud.

Then there are my King Snakes. They are small, gorgeous snakes and I have three. They are a great size to dance with, but they have a very nervous stomach. I have tried all three, and they have either urinated (not a good smell and you won’t get it out of your costume) or just would not sit still. The other thing is, if you get one - be wary. They have to be housed separately because they are cannibals and will eat each other (and other snakes). So King Snakes are not on my list to dance with.

I have, however, been blessed with some snakes that do well dancing and do well at children’s parties. They have never bitten me or anyone. They tolerate the craziness of a stage show - the hot lights and the large crowd. I did a show on Halloween at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. There were about four thousand people, lightning on and off, fog, dancers, balloon drops and my snake and I. He, (Seti) performed like a pro, so much so that he had a few groupies following us!

Another pair of snakes I own, my Borneo Black Blood Pythons, are known to be generally difficult and not user-friendly. But the ones I have love attention and do well in public. The male I own was an adult when I got him and he is a sweetheart. He does really well with kids and he makes a stunning impression with his bright orange head and brown python body.

My personal favorite is my Albino Green Burmese Python. He is six feet long and very friendly. Seti loves to dance and have his picture taken. He will sit in his base and will pose for pictures and he does really well with children. He does, however, have his cranky moments. If I dance too long with him he will un-wrap himself and try to get down to the floor as if to say, "I'm out of here!”

Corn Snakes are good snakes too, and they come in a wide range of colors! I like them because they are good-natured and adapt to fluctuating temperatures. The only drawback is that they don't show well because they are small - not big like the Boas.

There is no way to know about a snake's behavior for sure, but if you want to buy a snake go to a breeder - someone who knows the snake’s history. I do not recommend the internet, as there are some breeders just looking to sell you anything. I have been very fortunate that my breeder knows the history of the snakes she sells. She also knows what I do for a living - it is always good to let a breeder know what you want the snake for.

If the snake seems calm and friendly, then you are off to a good start. No matter what type of snake you get, you have to work with it so that it gets used to you and what you are going to expect from it. I take mine with me to the laundry and I walk around my apartment complex with them. Do not feed the snake for at least a week before you are going to dance with it. This can be tricky, since gigs can come up at the last minute, so this is another reason why it is a good idea to have more than one snake. Consider these guidelines and choose your snake wisely.


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