"You have a snake?" my friend asked as she gasped and gave me a look of pure horror. Unfortunately, this was not the first time I had gotten this reaction from someone when they find out what I keep in my room as a pet. In fact, before I get my snake my dad told me that I shouldn't post anything about my snake on social media because "people wouldn't understand and they would think I'm weird." Harsh, right? I certainly thought so.
However, owning a pet snake has taught me that people truly have a deep-rooted fear of snakes. A wise friend of mine once told me that people are afraid of things they don't understand and I believe that applies to snakes. People are afraid of snakes because they think that snakes are more dangerous than they actually are. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of venomous snakes that can kill a full-grown adult, but people don't usually own those.
I own a one-year-old Western Hognose. This particular snake is venomous but not to humans. He is extremely adorable and has a little nose that is turned upwards like a pig's nose, hence the name. Despite his harmless nature, people are terrified. Snakes can and do bite, but snakes are not aggressive creatures. Only defensive. Zoologists will argue that there is no such thing as an aggressive snake, and I believe that entirely.
Over the year that I have had my snake, I have learned not to tell certain about my little critter. There has been some wonderful individuals that like to ask questions about my snake or see pictures of him because they are curious, but most people shrink away. I work with kids and I find that kids are more likely to be intrigued by a pet snake than an adult. When someone does understand my willingness to keep a snake as a pet, I usually end up making a new or deeper connection with the person.
Aside from the occasional awkward conversation, the hardest part about owning a pet snake was getting used to the feeding. Most pet owners will suggest that you feed your snake frozen mice, not live. Even though the mice are frozen and already deceased, it was strange for me to feed my snake the first few times. I love all animals and I don't like the thought of an animal dying, but I kept telling myself that feeding a dead mouse to a snake was all part of the circle of life.
People always ask me, "Do you hold your snake?" and the answer is yes, of course I do! I am not afraid to hold my own pet and if I was, I probably wouldn't have it. Maintaining and cleaning my snakes cage is super easy and takes almost no time at all, as most snakes leave very little waste.
People also ask me why I decided to get a snake, but I don't have a short answer for this. I have a lot of anxiety and I had heard that snakes can help reduce anxiety when they wrap around your wrist. The tight wrapping feeling can help reduce anxiety, and so far I have found that to be true. I also got a snake because I've wanted one since I was a kid and thought they were cool. Before getting a snake, you must understand that the snake is not a dog, and it will never love you. You can't play with a snake like you would a larger pet, and despite the friendly nature of most, they can still bite. However, I learned that snakes are fascinating creatures, wonderful pets, and are sure to get a conversation started with just about anyone.