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Pet People

Monday, June 18, 2007

Loving what others think is "unlovable"

I know a woman named Sherry, who loves snakes (and other reptiles, but snakes first) in the same way that we love our dogs and cats.

She works at APSU, and when she first was introduced to a little snake someone brought in to the office, she didn't like it and was uncomfortable. But the little snake grew on her and she fell in love with it. That was many years and many snakes ago! She and her husband now have dozens and dozens of snakes in their home. Even big pythons!

When I edited the publication Animal Tracks, I did a story on Sherry and her husband Donny. We once went to Nashville to see what was probably the biggest snake in Tennessee, a huge python at the home of another snake lover. That thing had to be 30 feet long and as thick around as a big tree trunk! Sherry and Donny do educational presentations with their babies, often at Dunbar Cave.

While most of us aren't going to have snakes in the place of dogs and cats, we can all use an education on them. Too many people will kill a snake--any snake--when they see one, which is not good!! Snakes prey on a lot of things we don't' want around are house and are important for nature's balance.

Above are pictures of Lucky being born. Sherry says: "This is Lucky B, Blackie’s baby (our 30-year-old ball python), sticking her head out of her egg yesterday morning. I incubated her in a deli cup with damp moss and put it under our water bed. She hatched in 83 days.We’ve named the baby Lucky B because of her horseshoe on the back of her head. She’s a keeper for us. Her mom is 30 years old. Her dad is about 7 years old and she hatched Tuesday night."

I love this! I can just imagine what Pam will say about a snake under HER bed, put there on purpose.

Sherry, if you get to read this, tell us more!

As you all know, my niece had a pet snake, but it was a tiny one. Sherry has to by frozen rabbits and other such things for her big boys and girls!

posted by Sandy at 6/18/2007 10:07:00 AM


Blogger Sherry said...

That's my baby!! Or, well, my grandbaby. Blackie's her mom. She hatched out last Monday and we named her Lucky B because of the horseshoe on the back of her head. She's in her first shed and as soon as she finishes that, we'll start offering her fuzzy mice. Of all the snakes we have, ball pythons are my absolute favorite. There's just something adorable about seeing a tiny nose peeking out of an egg that makes you fall in love. Of course, the neck massages from one are wonderful. We have four reptile education shows the week after next, with one being at the inn at Paris Landing State Park at noon. Our next one at Dunbar Cave will be on July 21 @ 11 am and it will be on boas.


Monday, June 18, 2007 10:26:00 AM  
Blogger Sandy said...

What was that first snake you met years ago at APSU? It was a Rosy something and wasn't it's name Rosy as well?

Neck massages! Hey, maybe that's what I need, a big ole snake! I've been scrunching up my shoulders lately and have been sore in my neck and shoulders area. Hmmmm. Do you think The Boss will go for that? LOL. Sadly, he's one of those people, like Pam, who are insanely afraid of snakes of any kind.

Tell me more about this putting of the egg under your water bed? You just mean under the bed like you'd store a box of shoes or something, right?

How many snakes do you have now?

Monday, June 18, 2007 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger pearcehart said...

Snakes are not my thing but it's wonderful that people can choose the pets to love or not have pets at all. (Although, I never trust someone who doesn't love pets.) I think it's fascinating to raise a critter from birth and learn about it. Great job, Sherry!

My nephew wanted a snake when he was 11 or 12. I did some research and discovered that one had to feed snakes small mice called fingerlings. I read how you whapped the mouse on a table-top to kill it to drop into the snake cage. I explained that to my nephew and at first, he was ok with it. I then took him to a pet store to show him the mice and he stood there for a long time watching them play and then decided he didn't want a snake after all. I wasn't trying to talk him out of it, but I wanted to make sure he understood the responsibilities of having a snake as a pet, including feeding it snall rodents that start off alive, or even later, feeding it small rodents that are STILL alive.

The only pets I really disapprove of are wild animals or endangered exotics. I know it's hard not to want to help a sick or injured wild animal, but it's nature's way for wild animals. The food chain and all that. But that is MY opinion, others may vary...

Monday, June 18, 2007 11:52:00 AM  
Blogger Sherry said...

The snake that got me over my fear of snakes was Jezebel, a baby redtail boa that belonged to a student. Peppermint, a Rosy boa, was my very first snake. She was a tiny little slip of a thing when I bought her. I used to take her everywhere. She'd stay at work with me and I'd put her in a tiny box, with a washcloth for a bed and she'd sleep away the day. I'm not so sure you will convince the Boss the benefits of a snake massage but I would be happy to bring a ball python by and give it a try! lol

To incubate that little egg, I put it in a deli cup with dampened (not soaking wet) moss and stuck it under my water bed (my bed sits on a pedestal and has storage area underneath it. It's heated to 88 degrees so I stacked some books under the bed and sit the container on that. It maintained pretty much an 86-88 degree temp. I checked on it weekely, making sure the moss didn't dry out. Around a week and a half before it hatched, I noticed the egg started dimpling so I knew it was getting close. I took a pair of scissors and cut a little tiny slit in the egg two days before the little one started sticking her nose out of the egg. They actually have an egg tooth and will cut the egg themselves but I wanted to make it a little easier for the baby so I cut a tiny slit. Seeing that little head sticking out of the egg was so exciting but when I watched it crawl out of the egg a few hours later, I was ecstatic. Right now, she's in the nursery (a small cage) with dampened papaer towels because she is going into her first shed (that usually happens a week to ten days after hatching) and then I will start feeding her. I'll start her on live fuzzy mouse (eyes still closed but moving around just enough to entice a feeding response) then I will switch her/him onto frozen/thawed as soon as possible.

Monday, June 18, 2007 3:18:00 PM  
Blogger Sherry said...

Oh, Sandy, we have over 200 now. That includes our personal collection, the babies we have for sale and the animals we take in to the reptile rescue. The animals in the rescue are never sold. If they're healthy, we try to adopt them to good homes. If not healthy, they stay with us. Large snakes such as the big burms, we keep due to their size and the fact that few people are willing to do what is needed to care for such a large constrictor. Those, however, we use in reptile educational programs. We're taking in another five snakes into the shelter this coming weekend.

Monday, June 18, 2007 3:20:00 PM  
Blogger Daisylouu said...

Someone please email pam before she gets on this blog! She will be upset seeing those photos!

I'm the snake lover in the family. When I was 13 and madly in love with a boy who had an extensive collection, I also fell in love with his black rat snake, "Kroy". I was amazed at how snakes were so much more docile than I originally thought. I was always told if you see a snake in the woods you had to stay perfectly still and let it crawl all over you because if you moved it would chase you. Now I know better and any snake will move AWAY from you.

I know how exciting a birth can be. I had a milk snake that laid eggs and also had a garter snake that had live babies. I was sad when our pet snake "Killer" died, as were all the neighborhood kids who passed that thing around more than a "funny cigarette" in a van at Woodstock.

I'm back from my Bahama vacation. Very sad to see the stray dogs roaming.

Monday, June 18, 2007 8:13:00 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

Ok, I was thinking I could handle this snake stuff when I saw the other blog entry because I thought the little mice were dead but when Iread this about the poopr poor precious little baby mouse who was still alive with it's little eyes still shut, just a new live baby being fed to a snake it is killing my heart! I just can't stand the thought of that. I mean if it was dead thata is one thing but it's a live baby! bI love little mice. And as we all say on here we all know what it feels like to have feelings for certain animals. I am about to collapse sobbing here. bI'm sorry but I just can't help the way I feel about feeding any live animals to another!

Monday, June 18, 2007 10:44:00 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

P.S. Daisylouu, thanks for thinking of me and being sensitive to my fear. It really means a lot to me as I can't help all I feel and fear.

Monday, June 18, 2007 10:47:00 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

Forgot to update ya'all on Fly Boy. Went to his neurologist hoping to get a ok for him to go back to work tomorrow but instead, he has to go back for one more cerebreal arteriolgram so Wed. we will be spending the day at Vanderbuilt again. They have to make sure there are no tiny bleeds starting again before giving him the go to fly. He is sooooo disapointed he can't go back to work tomorrow. This had been such a long and frustrating road for us. Please say a prayer he will come through this without any complications and all will be fine. It is still a stressful procdure for him and for me waiting. It will be about 4 1/2 hours for the procedure than he has to lie flat for two to six hours then can go home. We appreciate all the prayers you've all ready given and all those you will uplift for us now. Will update you as soon as we get results. We are expecting good news.

Monday, June 18, 2007 11:14:00 PM  
Blogger B said...

PAM! When you get Flyboy back to 100% -we will have a Friday night jamboree on Madison street. The whole crew of Pet People can swing by and life a glass-maybe even Skeeter will be able to life a glass with us if we plan it right. And you tell Flyboy to hang in there! My mother always says "Everything in the Lord's time, not in the time you want it in." I'll keep you guys in my prayers, but I know its all going to work out.
Speaking of prayers, please everyone remember my babies-Charlie has a stye in his right eye lid, Pearl has started sneezing all over, and Lucy has a bladder infection again. Whenit rains, it pours.
This all started on Sunday. Pearl is the one that worrys me--Vet told us if she ever showed any signs of an illness that we needed to let her be checked out. Lucy has had many bladder infections, its always pills and water change. We had bought a filter for the kitchen that was supposed to make the water where she could drink it--evidently it didn't work.So theres another 30 bucks up in smoke for nothing. BUt if it was 300, we'd scrape it up to keep our babies. SO , everybody remeber the three musketeers (soon to be four)when you say your prayers today--We would appreciate it very much

Tuesday, June 19, 2007 10:07:00 AM  
Blogger Sandy said...

Sorry about the snakes Pam, but we must cover all pets! I feel the same way you do about the thought of the feedings, but as you know, that sort of thing goes on the woods every single day between all kinds of animals. When Tarzan was a wild stray I saw him with a chipmunk in his mouth and you know how cats are....not quick killers. It brought tears to my eyes. I can't watch ANY nature shows that involve lions taking down deer and similar scenes. So believe me, I understand.

Brett, I am so sorry about your pet problems! Just because Pearl is sneezing, doesn't mean it's her former illness. Suzanne at Cats are Us told me that sometimes new cleaning products can cause that. Was that citrus air freshener at your house new? Something like that can cause it. Also, cats do get sneezy colds, unlike dogs. Please let us know how things go with them all. And sties are the worst! Poor babies!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger B said...

I was wondering if may be the air conditioning gave her a slight cold--there have been no real behavior changes. But i"d feel safer and have peace of mind with a vet visit.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger B said...

I was wondering if may be the air conditioning gave her a slight cold--there have been no real behavior changes. But i"d feel safer and have peace of mind with a vet visit.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger B said...

oops--my computer stutters

Tuesday, June 19, 2007 11:37:00 AM  
Blogger Skeeter said...

As soon as I saw the snakes I was hoping that maybe Sandy had given Pam a heads up on the picture! Pam sorry if you were a bit shocked at that sight but just remember, it is only a picture….. Only a picture….

When we first moved into this house, I was killing snakes left and right, then one day it bothered me so I got on the computer and educated myself on them and have only killed one since. It was a rattlesnake and I am sorry, I do not want a rattlesnake in my yard so he had to go. We try to stay clear of the woods in the summer months so as to not come across any snakes. We have the neatest little snake down here in GA called Worm or Earth snakes. They are the size of an earthworm and so cute. I find them under the pine straw when I am working in the yard. I pick them up and observe them then let the go into an area where I think they will be save from my feet smashing them. We find the occasional black or rat snake but we just direct them towards the woods away from the house where they will be safe.

One of my brothers snake sat Cannibal the King snake from the Biology department at school one summer. My dad did not go into their room that entire summer! He was ready to kill all his sons over that one as he has a big fear of snakes…. I learned a lot about snakes that summer. They would take cardboard boxes and lay them in the garden and catch smaller garter or rat snakes for Cannibal to eat. One time they came up empty and had to go to the store to purchase a mouse. I did not like watching that but it was funny as Cannibal went for the mouse and missed and caught himself on the tail! I had to laugh and say see it hurts don’t it. I about died at the sound the little furry mouse made when Cannibal finally caught it. Broke my heart and I did not have much respect for snakes after witnessing that. I was just a kid but did not like seeing one animal eat another animal but I did learn that was life.

I once saw a mama cat eat her newborn kitten! That was heartbreaking but I decided that mama knew that something was wrong with it and she was just getting rid of it. I have to change the channel at times during chases because I know the big cat will catch the bunny or what ever it is chasing. I don’t like to see it. I see the hawk catch birds in the yard and that bothers me too but again, I know it is nature. We try to stay at bay with the wild animals in our yard but it is so tempting to pet the baby deer or the raccoon when they come into the yard! But so far, we keep away from them because we know we would hurt them if they lost their fear of man. We are nice but the next human they come into contact with, may not be nice as us…

Sorry Brett, you will have to raise that glass without me! Sniff sniff, we will not be coming in July as we were planning. Read todays post and you will see why… I will get that Zebra this fall or you can mail it if you want the thing out of your house. Again, thanks for thinking of me with the zebra! Sweet person you are indeed!!! I hope your babies are better soon. My mom just had their youngest baby, (well, I am the youngest baby,) I am talking about their cats, Patches at the Vet. She was sneezing and then started having problems breathing. Turns out she has Bronchitis! Did yall know a cat could get bronchitis? Doc put her on a fibulator or something like that for a few hours to break up the mess and now she is on medication. Not sure if she will have to take it forever of if this is temporary medicine. Strange how cats and dogs get human type health issues!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007 2:37:00 PM  
Blogger Skeeter said...

Hang in there Flyboy! Soon you will be flying high in the skies like the bird you are....

Tuesday, June 19, 2007 2:38:00 PM  
Blogger pearcehart said...

Skeeter, I change the channel too! I just can't bear to watch it. I am horrified at the thought of humans killing whales and baby seals. I know that it is allowed for Native People as it is their culture, but it makes me hurt so much. I was appalled that the whale they got that antique harpoon head from was 130 years old. What that creature must have seen in all those years! It's such a shame....

Tuesday, June 19, 2007 3:15:00 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

I understand that nature has to keep a balance, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. I know there are people out there who like snakes and all, but I think they are unnatural and the only good snake is a dead snake. Anything that can move without legs and eats other live animals in MY OPINION have no place here. They just gross me out. It's one of the few times that I scream like the girl I am. I have issues with spiders too.

It was sad to see that whale killed, but I have less of a problem with the eskimos killing when they will use all parts of the animal. I can't watch anything being killed on TV. When we visit my in-laws I don't watch much TV since they like to watch hunting shows. I have to leave the room.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007 3:53:00 PM  
Blogger Skeeter said...

I did not see the thing on the whale but the Saint told me about it. I had no idea they lived so long. A few years ago while we were in Gatlinburg, we went to the Rainforest zoo place in Pigeon Forge. Anyway, in the nursery they had a baby snake coming out of an egg and I must say it was very fascinating to see that event unfolding before my eyes. I knew right then and there they are living creatures and do belong on this earth. That does not mean I am crazy about them but do tolerate them. At the very next exhibit I saw a baby alligator eat a dead baby rat that was laying on a log! It was really sad for me but the worse was a small dead baby mouse still naked being eating by a lizard at the Zoo in Columbia, SC. I could not help but wonder if the mommy mouse missed the baby….???... but I will admit, I squash spiders and ants and swat flys too… And yes, I eat hamburgers!

Anyway, forgot to welcome you Sherry to the Blog! I don’t care for snakes as pets but do not think less of you for loving them. Some people don’t like cats but I hope they do not hold that against me either! Some one has to take care of the unwanted pet snakes too so for this I thank you! Hope you post more on here with us. As you can tell we speak our minds when it comes to animals but we are as harmless as your boa’s....

Tuesday, June 19, 2007 9:34:00 PM  
Blogger Sandy said...

I don't buy that "it's my culture" BS. It's just political correctness run amok. People's culture in days gone by used to involve slavery, honor killings (and to this day to), scalping, virgin volcano offerings and tons of other horrors. I say it's time for your culutre to join the 21st century instead of whining. It's the same lame excuse people give for sport & trophy hunting.

Adrienne. Other animals eat "live things" This was very disturbing to me, but long ago I saw on TV young lion cubs learn to hunt and they got a baby deer and the started munching on it before it was killed. THAT by far is worse than swallowing an infant mice whole. I get tears every time I think of it and I will never watch such a nature show again.

Fish swallow other fish. Birds swallow down worms and insects and so on. I do understand your loathing of snakes--The Boss is that way and so many others. My dad was. But I truly believe that is a TAUGHT response, enforced since the days of the evil serpent in the Garden of Eden.

I dont' care for snakes, but I don't have that extreme fear some have. I'll hold them with no problem and I'm sure if I spent more time with them I'd grow to feel more comfortable.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger Sandy said...

One more thing. Sherry would tell you this too I think if she gets back here. She'll feed her big or adult snakes dead mice and rats she buys frozen. In the wild snakes eat as they eat, but if they are pet snakes they are fed DEAD rodents because, believe it or not, a snake can really be hurt by a live rat or mice. So they are nice and dead before they get eaten.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger Pam said...

Sandy, I don't have a problem with feeding snakes dead animals but it still bothers me thinking about when that sweet little furry baby mouse was fed alive to the snake. That breaks my heart! Poor little baby never had a chance to live. So sad.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 9:51:00 PM  
Blogger Sandy said...

I know, but just think of all the mice used in labs...and other animals, even dogs. It's terrible. At least the snake eating is quick. Lab experiments aren't. And they the food WE cows, pigs and chickens must live in factory farms and are led to the slaughter..that is a million times worse. Why I want to be a vegetarian or at least buy meat from a local farm where you know the animal at least lived a normal life. In the old days, that's how it was. Now there are too many people and they have to "grow" animals just for food.It's disgusting.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 10:29:00 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

No No No I try so hard not to think about all that cause when I do I get heart wrenchingly sobbingly sad and upset about it! I like to try and buy products that have never been tested on animals too.

Thursday, June 21, 2007 2:41:00 PM  
Blogger Skeeter said...

Gee I hope we have not run Sherry off....

Thursday, June 21, 2007 9:10:00 PM  
Blogger Sherry said...

Sorry, I've not been back on. I just have been busy and forgot to check. We buy frozen and that's what we feed. Even the rabbits for our large snakes are already frozen when we get them because I can't stand to feed live. As Sandy said, a mouse can kill a snake in a heartbeat. However, that said, while sometimes you can start a new hatchling on a frozen/thawed rodent, usually you have to start them on live to get the feeding response kick started. Otherwise, they will literally starve to death. It's sad and I switch them over as soon as possible.

I used to be terrifed of snakes but not enjoy them very much and also love to do educational presentations so people can come to not fear them.

TN also has the earth worm and they are really cute to see.

Friday, June 22, 2007 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger Skeeter said...

That is really interesting Sherry. I had a bad fear of snakes and was killing them when we first moved here. Then we educated ourselves a bit on them and now just direct them out of the yard. The earth snakes are cute. We find them all the time. They just look earthworms until you see their little head with mouth and eyes! I think they are neat. We find them dead at times and wonder what happens to them as we do not see any injuries on their limp bodies. I think I have a picture of one if anyone wants to see it let me know and I will try to find it amongst all of my animal photos. Of course we know Pam does not want to see it…

Friday, June 22, 2007 2:17:00 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

Cute skeeter? I don't think so! Maybe if I wasn't so scared of snakes I would be able to see the cuteness in the babies but can't do that now. I do think those ( Albinos is it? )light yellow colors ones hve a pretty color but still don't want to be in the same room with one ever!So Sherry please, no hard feelings and nthing personal to you but I won't be able to do a a cookout at your place ever,ha. I'm sure you wouldn't want someone like me there with this fear anyway. I do understand your love for them and as we say about everything on here, someone loves everything. That is a good thing and it's good you love snakes. I did have a moment where I took up for a snake. It was years ago and I made myself watch a movie about them, hoping it would help me stop fearing them, it didn't. Anyway the movie was called PSSSSSSTTTT or something cloe to that spelling. It was about a guy who turned into a snake, a real reality type thing you see. A man in it had a pet snake named Harry and I remember not wanting Harry to get hurt and someone was trying to I think, it has been a long time. Anyway the point is I was rooting for the snake. I know that is ahrd for you guys who know how scared of them I am but it's true but I didn't have to be up close to Harry in real time. I could NEVER watch snakes on a plane and in fact it makes me nervous to fly now. With all the nut jobs out there one of them could decide to make that happen on a smaller scale.

Friday, June 22, 2007 4:19:00 PM  
Blogger Skeeter said...

I was reading in the paper yesterday where some crazy nut was trying to smuggle snakes and lizards into ceramic gnomes while sending them to Australia! How crazy is that. The picture in the paper showed a snakes tail coming out of the gnome! It was funny but I was thinking poor snakes. They had to kill all the snakes and lizards. I think they should have put the nut case down that sent them as well..... I think they were in with cargo to go to a business….

Friday, June 22, 2007 5:02:00 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

Well now sh--! Skeeter, you got me feeling sorry for the dang snakes that were killed! Of course I feel sorry for the lizards too.

Friday, June 22, 2007 9:17:00 PM  
Blogger Sherry said...

Ah, Skeeter, send me a photo of your little earth snakes. You can send it to

Little Lucky B ate her first meal over the weekend and then I introduced her to her mama. It was touching because Blackie looked her over, backed away and then came forward again to see her better. Since Blackie and 30 years old and this is her first baby, I think she's a little shocked at what she produced. Lucky B met her daddy, too, but Blackie was the one who wanted to see her baby the most.

Monday, June 25, 2007 8:44:00 AM  

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Pet People

Sandy Britt, an animal welfare advocate and volunteer with Clarksville rescue organizations, takes care of three dogs: Zoe, Scooter and Peanut; two cats: Catfish and Tarzan; and one husband, Glen, and according to him she takes care of them in that order.

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