Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Snake in my Guest Room

On Fridays at Tohono Chul Park, we offer a reptile show, Reptile Ramble, in which two herpetologists talk about and demonstrate a number of local reptiles, assisted by docents. I always feel incredibly fortunate when I get to be one of those docents, because I consider that show one of the most important things we do at the Park. It educates visitors about how to tell one snake from another, and why they shouldn’t fear or harm any snakes, even rattlesnakes.

I also love the show because I have fallen in love with the snake I demonstrate most often, the beautiful, beautiful Common Kingsnake. The snake’s owner is going away for July and August, and this year he asked me if I’d take care of “Leo” (the king) for him while he’s gone. I jumped at the chance, and yesterday Leo moved into our guest room. Here are a couple of pictures of Leo from Reptile Ramble, showing his incredible beauty:

How many fingers  6-24-2011 10-47-26 AM 1480x1777Common Kingsnake and fingers

snakehands 10-15-2010 10-17-17 AM 328x344Leo, performing in the Ramble

And here is Leo’s cage, with just a glimpse of Leo hiding in his little rock cave. I’ve been in to say hello a few times today, and he is no longer retreating the second I show up. Perhaps soon I can get a picture of him more relaxed and stretched out. In a future post I’ll tell you more about this remarkable species.

Aquarium side 6-25-2012 2-14-22 PM 3523x2055

                                                                     Leo’s glass-sided cage


  1. Say hi to Leo for me! Can't wait for more photos. Are you feeding him?

  2. Your post title reminds me of a short story I'm thinking of self-publishing, except that snake wasn't in a cage. Roi has stayed overnight with his old friends Amber and Timi, in their oldest son's room.
    ""Spiders?" Amber moaned. "I didn't know about those. I'm sorry, Roi."
    Probably just as well he hadn't mentioned the snake that had been in bed with him this morning, Roi thought. It had been a perfectly friendly little grass snake, but he doubted that Amber would see it that way."

    1. That's a funny idea... good luck with publishing it!

  3. How are the cats handling it or do they even sense Leo?

    1. I had thought they might be aware of his scent, but I haven't noticed any of them hanging around the guest room door. I don't know if he scents that there are cats around or not. Mostly, so far, all he does is lie curled inside his little cave or more stretched out in the aquarium. I'm going to change his water today and hang out with him for a while. He seems to lead a really boring life, but I'm not sure how much stimulation snakes need or prefer.