Very recently, I purchased my standard ball python. It was an impulse decision that made my boyfriend uncomfortable. You see, he already has a chocolate pastel ball python named Jormangandr. He loves snakes and reptiles. I, on the other hand, am petrified of snakes. The way they move, the threat of being bitten, it all makes my skin crawl.
I had nothing truly ready to house a snake. But, I had watched a lot of Snake Bytes on Youtube with Brian Barczyk. And sure, Brian got struck at – a lot. But, he made it look easy. The way he talked about his animals you would think he was looking at art.
So, on a Sunday afternoon, I called my local pet store and they agreed to open for me so I could check out their snakes. I didn’t know if I would buy one, but I wanted to look. My boyfriend went with me and as we stood with the owner looking at the ball pythons, it hit me. Not the love and affection for these slithering fiends. But the realization that the only way to overcome my fears was to jump in with both feet.
The owner took out this little snake, told me it was a female, and that she was an industry standard. He laid her in my hand and my heart started to pound. But, calm as could be, this little snake stayed put in the palm of my hand. No quick scary movements, no attempts at biting. She just chilled.
“I’ll take her.” The words were out of my mouth. My brain had certainly not consulted with my knotted stomach or my racing heart. But, the owner took that little snake from me and tucked her into a small plastic shipping container, asked how far I was going with her, and rung her up along with some substrate.
It took me three days to come up with a name. The lists were obnoxious and I felt like I asked everyone for their opinions. In the end, I settled on Delilah. I made a post on Facebook introducing her and admitted that I was balls to the wall uncomfortable with my decision.
The first time I held her at home, I thought my knees were going to give out. Every breath from her looked like a sign she was going to take a bite out of me. I was so afraid that I could not bring myself to pick her up or put her back without my boyfriend right there to observe her every move.
I persisted in interacting with Delilah every day leading up to feed day. And it got better. I was able to get her out on my own and put her back without trembling. I thought about her all day at work and shared more pictures of her. I talked to her like one of the cats.
And then, feed day happened. This was Delilah’s first trip out of the bedroom and my first time feeding a snake. She sat for forty-five minutes in her feed tank while her mouse thawed. Of course, there had to be a hiccup.
All snakes are escape artists. I didn’t think that Delilah would attempt to get out of her feed tank. The sides were too high, I told myself. I would only be away for a minute. None of that is true. I came back into the dining room, where we feed the snakes, and Delilah was balanced precariously along the edge of her tank, her little butt looped around the edge. A mini heart attack later, Delilah was safely at the bottom of her tank and the lid was securely locked in place.
They tell you that if you do not want to waste thousands of dollars on feeders, do not get a ball python. As of right now, Delilah has eaten every time I have offered to her. And I am grateful. She is quick at eating, which I am also grateful for. The power and agility with which Delilah takes her frozen mice is majestic and beautiful. It would be terrifying if it were ever directed at me. I admit, I came away from that first meeting feeling mildly frightened.
But now, a solid month later, I love my ball python. I take Delilah out and hang out with her every day except two days after feed day. We are ending up on having a conversation about personal space because Delilah is far too interested my face for my comfort. But I love her. I recently bought a new hanging plant for her because it was colorful and she has since then started wrapping herself in the foliage and bathing in the warmth of her heat lamp.
And since getting Delilah, I don’t really feel that the statement “I’m afraid of snakes” fits me. They are creatures deserving of respect, for sure. But I’m not afraid of them. Not now.
I plan on applying this lesson to my life. Because who knows what else I’m holding myself back from? Don’t live your life based in fear.
Until next time.
Nicole and Delilah