Snake: The Essential Visual Guide to the World of Snakes
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The World's Most Spectacular Reptiles & Amphibians
by William W. Lamar, Pete Carmichael (Photographer), Gail Shumway (Photographer)
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(My new favorite snake book!-ed)

The Gilded Serpent presents...
More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About
Living With Constrictors
Eva Cernik

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 snake dancing!

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?
2-11-06 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.

12-15-05 Dancing with Snakes by Maria
Snakes 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.

3-3-04 Belly Dancing with Snakes by Neferteri
My snakes have their own room with a scenic view of Las Vegas, and it is temperature controlled.

7-31-00 More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Living With Constrictors by Eva Cernik
My heart beat stronger and stronger, until something in my human reasoning kicked-in. "I wonder if I'm causing all this?

creat with

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