The Gilded Serpent


The Gilded Serpent presents...
Belly Dancing with Snakes
by Neferteri

Edited by Maureen Garrett
I am Neferteri and the cute guy wrap around me is Seiti. He is an Albino Green Burmese Python, approximately 5 years old and about 5.5' long.  Seiti is my baby and he loves the camera.  I take him to a lot of photo shoots and he seems to know when the camera is near and strikes a pose.  Seiti the Ham, why he does this is his sssssssssssecret.  Seiti came into my life by chance.  Someone else had put a deposit on him and never came to pick him up.  So as fate would have it, he became mine.  Seiti also has his own fan club, (I kid you not).  When I dance with him, his fan club wants to know when and where and they usually show up.

Seiti is one of 33 snakes that I presently own.  Why in the Goddess's name would make anyone want that many snakes?  I need one for each costume I have!  Just kidding.  While I do have a colorful assortment of snakes, that isn't the reason.  I just really fell in love with snakes.  Next year I am planning an exhibit and we have plans to breed them.  My snakes have Arabic names, the Borneo Blood Python is name Reda (guess who his name sake is), the Columbia Boa is named Amir after the drummer Amir Sofi, and I have a stunning Stripe Motley Corn, which is an orange snake with a white stripe named after my husband Mostafa.  I have quite a few female snakes but I don't know how some of my sister dancers would feel about that, perhaps I might ask them!

Snakes make good pets.  There is no changing the litter box everyday or waking up early or re-arranging plans to walk the dog.  There are no annual shots or neutering or spaying requirements.  They eat either every other week or so and can even act as deterrents to burglary, certainly if roaming freely in the house when someone breaks in. 

Before getting a snake, it is important to remember several things.  Snakes can live for 25-30 years.  This is a long time to be committed to an animal.  They will probably out last most marriages. 

They are wild animals and one must never forget that, so respect them.

  Another important thing is if you want a happy and health snake, just like with anything else, you will have to work at it.

Reading and conducting research about the kind of snake you purchase is also very important.  I currently have Pythons, Rainbow Boa Constrictors, King Snakes, Corn Snakes, and Taiwan Beauty Snakes.  I had to learn about the temperature humidity, which ones can be housed together or not.  Also, I have two gorgeous albino California king snakes. 

They are cannibals so it's a big "no no" to house any king snakes together, except when they are breeding.  But even then, someone has to watch them at all times.  My female did try to eat the male!

So always check and make sure you are knowledgeable regarding their best living conditions.

My snakes have their own room with a scenic view of Las Vegas, and it is temperature controlled.  I change the water at least once a week, often more if they soil the water.  There are about 26 bowls of water to change weekly.  I am glad I pay a flat rate for water.  Bedding is changed at least every six weeks.  I recommend Aspen Bedding. 

A priority for anyone with a snake is to handle it as often as you can.

This will make the snake more adapt to being picked up and held (one of my trade secrets).  Also, I never feed them in their enclosure (feeding takes more time this way but it is worth it).  I do this because they will not associate feeding with the opening of the cage.  If you feed them in another container like a large Tupperware bowl (there goes my Tupperware rep!) the snake won't snap at you.  I find a lot of people get snapped at and wonder why?  I have been doing this for years and never had a problem with them.  It is more work but the benefits of knowing you are not going to get bitten is worth the effort. 

Another important thing is to never handle their food with your bare hands and then try to feed the snake.  This is a sure way of getting bitten. 

I have seen so many people pick up a rat or mouse and wonder why the snake bites or snaps at them.  Remember the smell of the rodent is still on you hands and the snake will not be able to tell the difference.  I always use tongs to put the rodent in the cage.  Which brings me to another point. 

Please do not feed your snakes live rodents.  Contrary to popular belief, the rodents can injure the snake.  They are trapped in a container with the snake.  The rodent has teeth and claws and will injure or take out an eye of the snake

It does no good for the snake to fight for its food, other than having a hostile snake that you can't pick up.  After handling your snake you want to wash your hands.  Snakes can cause you to become sick, remember they shed their skin.  So wash your hands just like with any other animal you handle.

As far as heating goes, it is recommended to use a heat mat outside of the tank vs. heat rocks, which can burn your snake.  I recommend a heat mat outside the tank.  I find heat rocks can burn your snake so don't let anyone talk you into purchasing them!

The last thing I suggest when purchasing a snake it to buy one from a reliable breeder, as you would with a dog or cat.  Not to bash pet stores, but they really don't take the time or care with snakes in my opinion.  I have acquired all of my snakes from good breeders.  I have heard some horror stories, luckily, I have great breeder here in Las Vegas, The Snake Shop (Seiti's old home).  They are awesome and they guarantee the health of their animals.  They can tell you about the temperaments and eating habits of each snake.  They really care about the animals they sell you.  If a problem comes up you can call them or bring the snake in at no charge. 

It might sound like a lot of work but it really isn't once you get the hang of it.  A lot of time and effort is put into my snakes because I love dancing with them, and this love translates as not having to worry about my snake's attitude.  Belly Dancing is complicated enough without having to worry about an unhappy snake.  I truly enjoy watching and learning about these creatures that have been here for millions of years.  They are remarkable.

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