Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Snakes Quite Near Planes

Sometimes Ken and I swing by the convention centre out by the airport just for the hell of it. We check out the digital signboards to see if there are any good conventions going on that might be open to the public. This Sunday, we hit a double jackpot.

The first thing that caught our attention was the Reptile Retailers' Convention. Never been to one of those before - let's go!

It was in a giant airplane-hangar type space with bare, concrete floors: around 100 booths of all things reptilian, from snakes to frogs to turtles, and all the attendant gear. Most of the breeders were fairly low-key, running small, family businesses. The smaller live goods were on display housed in clear plastic take-out food containers.

I marched straight up to the first table loaded with stacks of small snakes coiled in plastic tubs. The vendor was a breeder of pythons. It only took a few curious questions before the guy on the other side of the booth pulled one of the snakes out for a closer look. It was all coiled up, napping I guess. I put out my hands and received the knot of snake. I thought it might react to being handled, but it didn't move a muscle.

After I'd held it for a few moments, the snake guy took it back from me to demonstrate the appearance of its belly. He uncurled the snake like it was a length of pliable wire. That got it going. When he put it back in my hands it stretched out and started flicking its tongue out to smell me. Yes, you heard it here first (or maybe not, but the fact remains) snakes smell with their tongues. It was a little freaky until I got used to the feel of it moving around and breathing, but once I did I would have been happy to hang out with it indefinitely. It was a beautiful creature.

It was happy to hang out with me, not so much like a dog is pleased to make a new friend, but because snakes like to be anywhere warm. As far as it was concerned I was a convenient source of body heat. I started to think that I might like to have a snake as a pet, considering that Ken is allergic to everything with fur and feathers. At least a snake is a semi-realistic option.

Supposedly snakes are easy to take care of. This is what I was told at the convention: they only eat once a week and only poop once a week. They don't bark, shed, or need to be taken out for walks. They'll hang out with you and watch TV if you like. And you don't have to feed them live prey. Yes there were quivering piles of worms and grubs available for sale, probably more for the geckos and lizards anyway, and the pinkies... Poor pinkies. Pinkies are baby mice or rats that have not yet grown fur. The mean old snakes like to eat pinkies for lunch.

Yes, it's kind of awful, but hey, I'm not a vegetarian. I'm a scavenger, eating meat that someone else has killed for me. No reason why I couldn't do the same for a snake: go to the pet store and buy a pack of frozen pinkies, then thaw one with a hairdryer once a week and leave it for the snake. That's the easiest way to do it. I don't think I'd be able to throw a live pinky in with a snake and watch the food chain at work. If you think that means I'm a hypocrite, fine. I maintain that I'm a product of our culture, and I have more important things to do than get all turned around trying to change that particular piece of my brain.

There were live pinkies available for sale at one particular booth. Four varieties actually: mouse pinkies, rat pinkies, and then the next stage up of each. Little rats and mice with their eyes just starting to open and a fuzz of the softest fur. The guy selling them was handling the furry ones like they were nuts and bolts, absently picking up a handful of them and sifting them through his fingers back into the pile. They didn't fall far, and then blindly burrowed their way back into the warm huddle. I reached out and touched one. It was soft as could be. Well, that's the natural order for you. Cute little things get eaten by big ugly things. If it weren't for all the comforts of civilization I'd probably have been eaten by angry bears ages ago.

The only thing that truly gave me the willies was the scorpion. It was stuck in the smallest type of plastic tub, the kind I fill with olives from the antipasto bar at Fiesta Farms grocery. That scorpion was pure bad, I'm telling you.

The turtles were kind of cute, in their wrinkly way. So were the exotic frogs, in every colour of the rainbow. We met a 2.5 foot-long monitor lizard sitting on his owner's lap, and some really, really big snakes. The big snakes eat full-grown rats, which were being sold, stone dead, in plastic-wrapped six-packs by an unsavoury-looking fellow at a barren booth full of styrofoam coolers. I wouldn't take his job, let me tell you. Can you imagine that? Running a business where your valuable inventory consists of cases upon cases of big dead rats? Could that possibly be fulfilling?

Anyway, I don't think I'll be getting a snake anytime soon. Those pythons grow to be three feet long, and pretty heavy. They're not really so cute then, I guess. Well, if I had a giant mansion where I could keep them in a special snake room with tropical plants and whatnot I might do it. But for now I think I'll stick to my houseplants.

Coming next post: what was the other part of the double jackpot? Stay tuned to find out!


Just Plain Tired said...

Can't honestly say I'm a fan of snakes myself. (or reptiles in general now that I think about it) Does sound like it was interesting set up though.

DarcsFalcon said...

Have you thought about some of those little gecko type things, or chameleons? I've heard those make fun pets for those that can't tolerate the fur/feathered variety. And you can keep them nice and contained in a fish tank. :)

Sounds like you had a fun day. I like doing spontaneous things like that. :)

Jameil said...

I like snakes a bit, too but your description of the pinkies and rats? A bit too much for me. Blech. Never gone convention searching. Sounds intriguing! Lol

darcknyt said...

I enjoy those kinds of outings! Loads of fun! Heh.

whatigotsofar said...

On a whim, you drove to Sauggytown and went to a reptile breeder show?

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

That's pretty cool that you randomly happen upon some fun conventions. I've held a snake before ... they don't creep me out, though I'd never consider bringing one home as a pet. =)

Kate said...

What an odd thing to run into!

Sparkling Red said...

JPT: Reptiles don't have universal appeal. I guess that's why they're so popular as pets among people who feel misunderstood and unloved - they identify with the reptiles!

DarcsFalcon: Geckos are cute but I prefer a pet that can be handled. A chameleon might be fun. I don't know much about them. However, I do find snakes more beautiful than chameleons. They look a lot like grumpy old men.

Jameil: I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to handle seeing the pinkies, but it wasn't as bad as I thought. I hope they don't suffer too much when they become snake noms.

Darcknyt: You would have liked it. There was a bit of a horror vibe going on there.

WIGSF: We were already out at the airport, having gone to Zet's for brunch. If you haven't been there yet and are a fan of breakfast combos that include excellent home fries, you should check it out.

Nilsa: I wonder what Somi would make of it if you brought home a snake!

Kate: Yeah, I love it when life presents random curiosities like that.

Warped Mind of Ron said...

Hmmm.... you don't want the reptiles that wag their tails because they are most likely rattlesnakes. I would get the python as I bet they give super duper HUGS!!!

Karen said...

The other part better be VERY good because that snake think gave me heebee geebees.