|The Gilded Serpent presents...
More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About
Living With Constrictors
They are NOT like mammals. Get
that thought out of your mind. Constrictors do not love the way we know love
to be. They do not communicate the way we mammals communicate. If they had
hands with which to gesticulate with, their gestures would be more unintelligible
as are the gestures of an Eskimo to an Aborigione. Snakes do not have a brain
which functions the way a mammal¹s brain would function. In fact, snakes
have a brain stem, which serves their purpose of survival as a species. Nothing
less, and possibly nothing more, except for the few moments when they may do
some extraordinarily perceptive things. Trying to communicate with a snake
of the constrictor type is much safer than trying to communicate with a venomous
snake. In attempting to communicate with your constrictor and failing, the
worst we can expect, is a sore throat.
I was born in the Chinese Year of the Snake ... so due to my snakelike view
of the world, I do have an advantage However, except for a few instances of
clear telepathic communication 23 years ago when I lived with my first snake,
and a few lucid dreams here and there, I can say that my snake companion truly
has no idea who I WAS (i.e. guardian, care-giver, bringer of mice and rats).
Snakes don¹t remember anything. They can survive just fine without the
encumbrances of memory. Through death and survival, they have a genetic memory,
but when they look at you, they only know who you ARE at that moment, and I
do mean "moment."
If you are serene, they relax
and settle upon your body. If you are anxious, they are on the lookout
for the source of your anxiety... and even suspect you!
On the first night I spent alone with my first snake, he lay contentedly coiled
about my neck. We shared long moments of bliss. Then my human mind conjured
a scene in which I imagined that he was strangling me and there was no
one at home to help me be free.
My heart began to beat fast
and strong! Gregor's coils lay over my heart, and he felt the vibrations
of my heart beats. He sensed danger! He feared whatever it could be
that I feared. He tensed up.
Tensing up always makes muscles contract,
thus making his coils smaller, and beginning an indubitable strangle. I saw
my fears becoming reality. I saw the headlines in tomorrow's papers announcing
the dangers of keeping exotic and unpredictable animals. I feared for my
life as the oxygen slowly depleted in my brain. I faught with Gregor like
St. George without his sword. (By the way, I was also born on St. George
Day). Gregor (if he were capable of writing for the Gilded Serpent) would
be writing that this hysterical woman wouldn't let go of him in such a time
of danger when they really needed to get away from the danger that had befallen
them. Since he was a Ball Python, his genetic code said "ball up at
time of danger, and maybe you'll just roll away." My heart beat stronger
and stronger, until something in my human reasoning kicked-in. "I wonder
if I'm causing all this? I wonder if I can slow my heart down like a person
trying to fool a lie detector test? I wonder if I've scared this poor little
creature half to death and myself nearly to oblivion?"
I focused on my breath. I slowly massaged the inside of his coils. I breathed
with the rise and fall of his breath. I relaxed, he relaxed. I breathed freely,
he breathed calmer and calmer ...("The danger must have passed, he would
write, and my supporting structure seems safer now."). Needless to say,
stage fright has no place in
One time when I had to take my present snake, Sultan, to the vet, said: "You
hold him; he knows you better." NO, he doesn't know me better. What he
should have said was: "You hold him, you have better vibrations." Snakes
know all about vibrations .... but they don't know you! Get the thought out
of your mammalian brain. We like to give names to our cars, our computers,
and to anthropomorphise just about anything. We love, we relate to things as
ours and we talk about Gregor or Sultan or Julius Squeezer or Hoser as if they
were family. But all along, Gregor is a highly evolved being who genetically
saw no use for hands and legs. You'd just have more limbs to wash and keep
clean). I have a suspicion that they have also evolved in other ways. What
need is there for a full brain? Thoughts only get in the way when you¹re
trying to meditate.
In all the years I've kept snakes under my roof, I've wondered what they must
be up to. I have put fresh water in his big bowl, checked the humidifier and
thermometer and have gone to catch a plane. I met new people, taught workshops,
performed numerous shows, collected tons of receipts from restaurants for my
IRS travel meal deductions, returned home filled with memories of new cities
and new friends only to find that Sultan had rearranged his napping position.
You probably have heard of a "New York minute" but have you ever
heard of a "snake minute?" A New York minute is about three seconds
long. A snake minute is about three hours long. In winter, a snake minute can
be as long as three days.
Don¹t get me wrong, a snake
can move very fast.
If you look away, your pet snake can
be in your neighbor's yard in a New York minute. Sometimes, when you are
looking directly at your pet, convinced that you will catch him in any mischief
if you keep your gaze steadily upon his body, you may discover that he is
not where you thought he was. In fact, he may be securely wrapped around
the radiator leg with your only hope of freeing him before his skin begins
to burn, which happens before his inner body sensors feel the heat, is to
slow down your panicked heart, and massage the inner reaches of his coils,
to free him from his supporting structure. How
did he get from the middle of the floor to the radiator? Why, in a snake
minute, of course. How would you ever have noticed on human time?
Once a snake keeper (and therefore protector by necessity) learns about snake
time, it can become an advantage over such pets as poodles, who live in poodle
time. You can time your comings and goings so that you may only need to board
him at your local bedrock and mousefast when you travel for several months.
Snakes have few needs, but those needs are vital... as in vitality... as in
vida... or "life" in English. They need WATER, AIR, FOOD, privacy,
warmth, darkness, light, exercise, cleanliness, and freedom from fear. That's
all. They appreciate a mate and all of the above for their kids.
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Ready for more?
Kind of Snakes are Good for Dancing? by Neferteri
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.
with Snakes by Maria
may not need to be walked and played with as do dogs and cats, but they do
like to be handled – in fact – it is essential that they become
accustomed to being handled by you particularly, in order for the snake to
find dancing with you acceptable.
Dancing with Snakes by Neferteri
have their own room with a scenic view of Las Vegas, and it is temperature
7-31-00 More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Living With
Constrictors by Eva Cernik
heart beat stronger and stronger, until something
in my human reasoning kicked-in. "I wonder
if I'm causing all this?