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When I was 15, I begged my mom for a lizard. After much debate, she finally gave in and I got Clyde the Iguana. He was awesome. Friendly, curious and just plain cool. He used to sit on my shoulder while I typed up school papers. That was before computers were in every house, so it was an old-school typewriter. He loved the sounds of the keys clicking.
Clyde lived for four years and grew to about 5 feet long. I don’t have pictures of him because all my photo albums from my teen years are packed away in a mess of a garage, but he looked exactly like that guy up there. Sadly, Clyde died young because of a calcium deficiency. It was my fault. I didn’t use the right lamp. I didn’t know. When he got sick, we didn’t have a vet that specialized in reptile care close by and we didn’t have the internet to look things up. I was devastated.
Years later, I met Sal. He introduced me to his Ball Python, Sess. That’s her, in the picture above, curled up on Sal’s head! Before Sess, I’ve always been kind of scared of snakes. Okay, terrified! I am still a little skitzy around the smaller ones with long fangs, but I’ve discovered that I really love certain types. Mostly constrictors.
It may sound strange to those who have never been around snakes, but Sess definitely has her own personality. She’s a pretty relaxed snake and seems to like being held. When our power went out from Hurricane Sandy, I held her every night for a few hours in between three layers of clothes to keep her from freezing.
About two years ago, Sess got a weird skin condition. It looked like some of her scales had an infection of some sort. I honestly don’t know what it was called. I did a ton of research and had such a hard time finding answers. Sal had treated Sess with silver sulfadiazine in the past when she got burned on a malfunctioning heat rock, so we gave that a try. Since Sess was housed at my neighbor and friends’ house at the time due to Sal’s living arrangements, I spent a lot of time taking care of her. I cleaned her and treated her several times a week until the condition went away.
Between playing nurse to Sess and keeping her alive during the power outage, you can say I’ve bonded with her quite strongly over the last few years! I’ve also learned a lot about snakes, especially pythons. Things like:
- Snakes really don’t eat all that often! Sess eats maybe every two weeks. Less often in the winter.
- Older snakes don’t shed as often as baby snakes because they’re not growing as fast. Sess is in her 20s. I think she’s gotten a bit fuller since we met, but she hasn’t gotten much longer than her 5 feet.
- Some snakes get significantly longer than others! We went to a cool reptile show back in 2013 and they had this really long albino-looking snake. Sal’s son got to go up and help hold it. He’s the smaller child on the right, next to the guy with the red hat. Although now, he’s almost as tall as me!
I also learned that having someone who understands reptile care would be an incredible help, especially in our area. We still only have one local vet that specializes in reptiles, and I don’t particularly like or trust that vet. I am so thrilled the petMD® and PetSmart® teamed up to create the Reptile Center.
The Reptile Center is a section of petMD run by actual vets who deeply care for and understand reptile care. The site is constantly evolving to bring updated information on everything from preparing for your first snake to dealing with retroviruses in snakes. Obviously, it’s not limited to just snakes. You’ll find care info on everything from turtles to lizards! Through their partnership with PetSmart, you can grab everything you need for reptile care right through the Reptile Purchase Center. Follow petMD on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with news.
I really wish I had a resource like them when my Clyde got sick. Maybe I would have had a few more years with him. I’m excited to see how Reptile Center continues to expand. I’ll be bringing you more tips and information over the next couple of months. Sal just got another snake about two weeks ago, so keep an eye out for pictures of her!
Do you have a reptile pet? If so, what do you love about it? If not, what type would you consider getting?
WOW! I am sorry about your iguana. I bet he was a fun pet! I have never had a snake, and do not plan on getting one, but it sounds so interesting about Sess the snake. They do not eat but every 2 weeks! Wow. It is nice to know that you took good care of this snake and bonded with him. Thanks for the info on snakes. I found it very interesting.
Thank you! I really loved my iguana. He was a super cool pet.
When i was a kid my sisters and brothers had a shared pet Iguana, his name was Einstein. He was pretty big too, but he was missing part of his tail from a accident from something from whomever had him before us, can’t remember what happened exactly. We had him for a while before we gave him away, as we became to busy to take care of him any longer, and we also had guinea pigs and a pet rabbit. As a kid it can become overwhelming with too many pets.
We have guinea pigs too. We had a parrot, but gave him to my cousin because he required a lot more attention than we could provide, so I know what you mean there.
My daughters wanted a lizard when they were younger. They had it nice and tame and enjoyed it as a pet…. until, the tail fell off. That freaked them out and they didn’t want to touch it again!
My son has a California King snake that he named Bella…so we say she is a girl though we’ve got no idea lol. She eats a mouse every couple of weeks. Kyle gets her out once in awhile to hold her and let her stretch out all over!
Having two boys, I’ve been exposed to my fair share of reptiles and while I’m warming up to them, I haven’t gotten brave enough to have one as a pet yet! It sounds like you’ve had great experiences and perhaps one day I will get brave enough to allow one in my home!
Start small, with a cute little lizard! But get something easy to care for. Honestly, I went with an iguana when I was younger because they eat veggies and fruits. We fed him salad every day. No bugs chirping in my room!
I think snakes are the coolest! My husband won’t let us have one, but I’d definitely get one in a heartbeat!
I don’t have one, nor will I ever. I actually just had a little garden snake in my backyard this morning. It slithered over my foot and I screamed so loud that my neighbor came running.
Want to hear something funny? I am TERRIFIED of the little garden snakes. Small snakes freak me out. Giant constrictors? Not so much.
I have a huge fear of snakes. I got chased by one in the rice field and ever since then, I get terrified with the sight of snake.
I’m loving the reptile resource center they set up. I’m terrified of snakes but somehow my kids never inherited that fear, they like them!
Thanks for the realizations you’ve shared. Still, I’ll stay away from reptiles. My family is allergic to them.
How fun! About 5 years ago we had Pythons as pets – 13 to be exact! They actually are pretty nice pets to have and pretty easy to take care of.
Oh wow, that’s a lot of pet Python’s! It’s like Monty Python’s entire circus! Mwa ha ha! I am horrible at making jokes.
I say you are so cool for having Clyde as a pet. I’m terrified of reptiles and I don’t think I would allow my kids to own one if they ask.
I am sorry but me and snakes can not be in the same room without me passing out or something worse.
I don’t own a reptile pet but it seems fun to have one although it can be terrifying as well. I’d love to own a snake though!
I learned a lot just from reading. 🙂 I had the opportunity to care for a snake once in a conservancy I volunteered for, but I declined. I”m a big chicken. 😉
I’ve never owned a pet reptile. Just the normal dogs, cats, hamsters. Just hearing you talk about them they sound like every other pet I’ve ever owned.
I grew up with green iguanas so they wouldn’t freak me out but snakes? I cannot do. They freak me out more than anything!
It’s funny because they really freaked me out too until I met Sal and handled Sess. I admit that I get nervous around other snakes that I don’t know. I’m definitely more comfortable with certain types.
I currently do not have a reptile. I have had turtles and iguana’s in the past. Right now I have two dogs and watching a friend’s dog while on vacation. At this time, that is that plenty of pets for my household.
I would love a turtle! I think I would need to move to a farm for all the pets I want one day, lol!
i have had a few reptile pets over the years. We had a five foot corn snake named Mazey and two bearded dragons. They were fantastic pets.
Corn snakes are pretty! I didn’t know they were constrictors until now (just looked them up).
Cool! I would love to handle more snakes. I haven’t really done anything except for pet one when I was really little. I would love to get a bearded dragon later in life though 🙂
I really want a bearded dragon too. My cousin has two and they are just so cool.
Snakes scare me!! ‘m not sure if I could ever have one as a pet. However, that iguana looks adorable!
I’m not such a fan of reptiles and definitely don’t want them as pets. In junior high, the science department had an iguana and that was pretty cool to see in his habit but I didn’t care to touch or hold him.
That is so nice that you held her during the power outage to keep her warm! She seems like a really awesome snake. I don’t think I’m brave enough to own one or even touch one though! Haha
You are a lot braver than me! I do not like snakes at all! LOL
My 6 year old wants to get a huge iguana. Not sure what I think, but who knows.