Critters in my basement...

When I tell people about the range of "pets" that we keep in our house, I always get funny looks. So before I tell you a little more about the critters that live in my basement (and that I don't consider MY pets- thankyouverymuch) I figured that I should start back at the beginning. Back when I met then man who would one day become my husband...

When I started dating Brandon back in High School, he was many things - popular, athletic, smart, good looking - pretty much ALL the things you're looking for in a guy when you're 16! As I got to know him a little better, I learned that he also had a few rather geeky attributes... (1) He was a "closet" D&D player (uh... yeah... Dungeons and Dragons!?!?) - something I found out totally by accident as he never offered the information on his own (the game books were hiding under his bed... if you can imagine that!). And (2) I've never met anyone as interested in animals as he is (which is no doubt what led him to complete a Bachelors degree in Zoology and a Masters in Biology).

Shortly after we started dating, he somehow convinced his parents to let him have a fish tank. Not just any fish tank though - he had to have piranhas. They were really just the beginning... after the piranhas, it was a gerbil. After the gerbil it was a lizard (or two? I don't remember). Somewhere along the way, he developed a pretty big interest in reptiles - and particularly in snakes. Yes. Snakes. His first snake was your basic ball python, a pretty small and calm snake that you can find in almost any pet store. Since then he has bought and owned and traded a number of different types of snakes. Yes. Snakes. (in case you missed that). Since then I have learned more than I ever thought I would about the creatures!

You wouldn't think so - but it turns out that snake keeping is like any kind of "collection" hobby or interest. There's an incredible range of what is available, what is special or unique and what they're worth ($$) There are snakes for $30 and there are snakes for $30K. I'm not kidding. $30K!

Before I go any further, let me just say that "yes" it's all a little creepy to me too. When the interest in snakes started - all I could picture was this stereotypical image of a greasy/creepy guy with longish hair, leather pants, unkept facial hair and tattoos. I've since learned that there are a lot of normal-looking people who own, breed, or are simply interested in reptiles. All the same - I still have trouble removing the stereotype image from my mind.

When people find out that Brandon keeps snakes as pets in our house (YES - IN MY HOME) the reaction is usually a questioning look followed by "You LET him have snakes?" "What about the girls?" "Isn't it dangerous?" "What do they eat?" "Where are they?"."Are they poisonous?". And when I got pregnant with Layla I was surprise how many people just assumed that the snake would go. Yeah... not so much.

People are funny though and most are actually very interested in the critters (as long as they stay at our house). I can't tell you how many visitors have asked for a "tour" of Brandon's "collection" or (worse) asked to watch a snake eat (uh huh... we're weird for having snakes, but you want to watch it eat... just for fun?!?!). On occasion, Brandon has even brought a snake or two to school to show his science class. He always comments on how much more attentive and captivated the kids are - proving that the allure of "show & tell" doesn't die off after grade school!

When we bought our house and started the renovations, we built a small room (to be fair it is actually more of a "walk-in-closet" than a room) for Brandon to keep his critters. Before you gasp or sigh or roll your eyes... let me just say that it works for us. I'm serious. I forget that they're there. The door has a lock on it so the girls can't get in. And Brandon is happy to have the space... and to pursue his hobby with no interference... or almost no interference from me.

Last summer he (we? I'm still not sure) decided to take the whole snake-keeping thing to a new level and try to start a small business. He (we?) borrowed some $ from our savings and bought a few "special" ball pythons to breed and hopefully make some babies that are worth more (hopefully MUCH more) than their parents.

We're currently in the "snakes doing it" phase of this process and don't know if or how this is going to pan out, but it makes for some rather bizarre and interesting dinner conversations - "the mojave ball is ovulating", "the spider ball won't eat", "the male and female are locked-up"... Only time will tell if there are babies being made... and if the babies are "special" or not (ie. worth a lot of money or not). Then we just need to find buyers. Are you interested?! ;-)

So... in case you're curious, the current head count in our basement reptile room is (as far as I know):

- 6 ball pythons (1 spider, 2 regular, 2 mojave, 1 pastel)
- 1 Suriname boa constrictor
- 2 green tree pythons (mother and son)
- 2 milk snakes (the only ones with names, Fan and Heater, named by Layla!)
- 2 leopard geckos (with babies on the way)

...oh... and the most recent addition is a praying mantis egg case (housing up to 100 babies) - GROSS. But not as gross as the cockroach colony that he had living/breeding in our walk-in closet at the old condo. ICK ICK ICK. That was bad. That will never happen again. That is another story for another day...

What can I say? I love him. If this isn't love (and by this I am referring to supporting his interests, no matter how different from my own) than I don't know what is...


...So which are you? Grossed out? Interested? Neither?


Lisa said...

Definitely interested!!!!

Amie said...

I think it's awesome!! While I would never personally have a snake (our kittie would hate that...) I think they are extremely cool creatures. I have always been very awestruck with them because they are so unlike anything else out there.

But cockroaches, no. Definitely no.

Laura Wheeler-Paquette said...

Don't know what I think of that - definitely interested, but not sure if I would like to deal with them if they were in my house.
Would love to have the photo ops though ;)

Eric's Mommy said...

That is really cool! People think we are crazy having so many pets. We have 2 Pitbulls, 4 Guinea pigs, 4 Tiger Salamanders, 1 Bearded Dragon, 1 Frog and 2 Fish.

A. said...

I love the responses! no one is weirded out (and often people seem that way in person)... FANTASTIC!

Aimée said...

Fan & Heater.


Jessica said...

Snakes DO have their advantages:

No shedding (fur)
No destruction of furniture/electrical cords
No stinky litter box (and ongoing, 10-year-plus debate about how often it should be cleaned)

I have to agree with Amie, though. I would draw the line at a cockroach colony.

A. said...

Aimee - YOu can't help but wonder what she's thinking when she names the snakes "fan" and "heater" and her stuffed animals things like "kitchen"...???

Jessica - all very good points - especially the cockroach colony "X". He was breeding them to feed his red ackie (a lizard) instead of keeping crickets. The advantage of cockroaches being that they breed a lot and a little vaseline around the top of their container and they can't escape. STILL. GROSS. and... NEVER. AGAIN (!!!)

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