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Slick the Snake By Rhonda

I have always had a love of reptiles. When I was growing up, one of my favorite things to do in the summer was catching snakes and lizards. One of the greatest things when I moved out was that I could have any pet that I wanted. When I was living with my mom, she didn’t like me bringing snakes into the house. I had to keep my critters in the garage. This was fine as they were indigenous species and were acclimated to the weather.

I moved into my own apartment when I was 18 years old, it was the summer of 1983. The first thing I did after setting up my new place was get myself a new pet. I brought home a baby Burmese Python! I named him Slick, and he lived in a 10-gallon glass tank for a short while, until he started to grow. This type of snake can grow up to 12 feet long. My husband built another cage for him when we moved into our mobile home. It was 4 feet by 2 feet and 2 feet deep. A very nice size, mainly glass and wood. Slick lived in here until we bought our house

in 1990. We had a four-bedroom house now for just the 2 of us. Slick got his own room! Eventually this room became my daughter Jillian’s room. Leif made an enclosure that was about one quarter of this small room. It was floor to ceiling made of wood and wire. It had 2 wire walls in the corner of the room by the window.

I had a heat rock and lights, but it was hard to keep the temperature to a tropical 80 degrees. We put blankets on the screen sides but still had trouble keeping the temperature up.

This was the beginning of his health issues. He got a cold, and I could tell by how he kept his mouth open to breathe. He just looked uncomfortable. This went on for about a week when I decided he needed to see a Vet. I made an appointment for a vet that specializes in exotic animals for later that week. I was happy and confident that this was a step in the right direction. But then I realized I was going to need a little help getting Slick to the vet. I was working at Safeway as a checker, so I started looking for folks that were off on Tuesday, the appointment day. I got a lot of interesting responses from my co workers when I asked

for help. Some people didn’t know I had a big snake. Slick was about 10 feet now. Most friends were scared and/or intimidated by the size or didn’t like snakes at all. I asked lots of people, but no one was willing to help. I was getting down to my last few options when I asked Ginny. She was a few years younger than me and a super sweet young lady. She was a petite red head with porcelain skin, but she also had a fear of snakes. She offered to help as she was hoping that it might help her with her fear.

Tuesday morning came and Ginny showed up at my house to help. She was a little nervous. I had her look at Slick in the cage first. She was so brave. We talked about the strategy

of moving Slick from the cage out to the car. Looking back on this now, maybe I should have bought a large pet carrier. I was young and lacked a lot of experience. I proceeded to pick up Slick. I cautiously scooped him up (as much as I could) behind his head and then grabbed a section of his body about halfway down. Next Ginny had to lift and support the middle to tail section of Slick. We started traveling out of his room, down the hall and out the front door. It was the trickiest getting him into the car! Again, Ginny would not have anything to do with his head. We eventually got in with Slick. I rested his head on my lap. Now to drive! That was an exciting experience. Negotiating the traffic, driving and keeping Slick’s head on my side of the front seat. I am happy to report that we made it to the Vet without incident!

Slick was examined and it was determined he needed antibiotics. The Vet gave him a shot before we left. He gave me 3 syringes to give

him more doses every other day. I was taught the proper way to give a 10 foot long python an injection. There is a fat part on either side of his spine. That’s the spot for the shot. I had to peel up one of his scales and go in about 1⁄4 inch with the needle. After the injection, I was to rub the spot to help move the medicine through his system. The shot made a little juicy bubble on his back. For the next injections, I had friends come over to hold his head while I put the needle in his back. I was glad when I was done with that, and he got better.

I had forgotten all about this story until I ran into Ginny and her mom at an event. It had been 26 years ago. Ginny introduced me to her mom by saying, “Remember Rhonda? She’s the one I helped take her snake to the vet.” I couldn’t have done it without a little help from my friends!

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