Now if you were hoping to see me enveloped by a twenty-something feet long reticulated python, you are going to be disappointed. Firstly, the local pet shops don’t seem to stock anything quite so big—the second reason has a lot to do with cowardice.
Earlier today, I ventured into Midchew Pets, which is in the Parkway Shopping Centre in Coulby Newham near Middlesbrough, and very nearly ventured straight back out again. The shop does have quite a few snakes, but the animal that was chosen by Anne to be my photographic companion for this task was an adult corn snake (Pantherophis guttatus) measuring five feet in length.
There were one or two other candidates, but the dwarf boa (tightus squeezicus) in the next case threw a look that simply said: “Don’t even think about it. . . .”
Anyway, corn snakes are usually fairly docile, rarely bite and are blessed with attractive patterning that it’s hard to notice when you’ve got your eyes closed. This particular snake was around four years old; in the wild they usually live for six to eight years, but can live considerably longer in captivity.
Anne encouraged me to place one hand fairly near the snake’s head (easier said than done) and explained that the snake would curl its body around my arm. The snake did pretty much what Anne said, and although its body was relatively thin, it certainly wasn’t without strength (the corn snake kills small prey by constriction).
The skin was dry and smooth, not entirely what I’d expected, but apart from a couple of moments when its head turned and brushed against my hand, snake and human got on famously. Here are a couple of pictures by way of proof, and a massive thanks to both Anne and the snake for helping me to tick off another task.