“I’ve thought of a name for the new snake,” I told Chuck a week before we even went looking for a western hognose to replace Roggen who died a couple months ago. “How about ‘Encore’?”
The look on Chuck’s face answered my question. We’d have to give it more thought.
Plans for Reptile Show
When we arrived at Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge in Florida at the beginning of November, we made plans to drive to Tampa for the reptile show the second weekend of the month. Picturing the fairgrounds in Jackson, Wyoming, I gasped at the size of this one when we drove into the fairgrounds in Tampa. Several types of shows were scheduled for the weekend; and after paying a fee to park, we wound around several roads in search of the reptile show.
People already waited in line for early entrance into the show, which was available for an extra fee. When we finally entered the building, we became enmeshed with a mass of humanity, including scout troops, families, hobbiests, vendors, and curiosity seekers. A variety of reptiles were displayed, but snakes were the dominant feature.
As we passed by display after display of boa constrictors and pythons, which seemed to be the most popular, we finally asked an exhibitor if he knew anyone with western hognose snakes. “I think the guy over there has some,” he said, pointing to the middle of the floor.
Skirting visitors and other exhibits, we finally located a vendor that seemed to specialize in western hognose. On their table were small plastic containers, each holding a hognose labeled with sex, exotic types and colors, and prices ranging from $125 each. However, we did not want a hybrid, but rather we searched for just the normal pattern. One larger container displayed a cluster of standard, unaltered hognose babies writhing together in coils. This container was labeled “$60 each.”
Looking for a Male
“We need a male,” we told the exhibitor. Because males are smaller than females, they take up less space, a big consideration as we travel in our RV.
But the exhibitor wasn’t sure how to sex these young snakes. “Check with the guy in the blue shirt,” he said, pointing to another exhibit.
Sexing the Snakes
While most experts sex a snake by probing their cloaca, Mr. Blue Shirt indicated that he could determine the sex of a hognose by examining the length of their tails. He opened the container of snakes and looked at each one. “Female,” he said, putting the first one back. “Female, female, female, female,” he repeated for the next few. And then, “Here’s a male!” He handed the 2-month-old hognose to Chuck.
“This is our guy,” Chuck said after some examination. The vendor placed a paper towel in the bottom of a small round plastic container, put the snake on top of it, and sealed it with a lid. Breathing holes lined the rim of the container.
Holding our new acquisition, Chuck and I walked around the show to check out the other exhibits, finally ending up at the vendor with frozen mice. “I need some pinkies for this little guy,” Chuck told him. The vendor pulled out a small package of two dozen tiny baby mice. With this in hand, we headed back to the Refuge, 130 miles away, to place it in our freezer before it defrosted.
Naming the New Guy
“How about Woody for a name?” Chuck suggested on the drive back. The name was in reference to Lake Woodruff NWR where we were spending the winter. But since a western hognose is not from the Florida area, I said I would prefer something western.
“Or how about the name of a town in eastern Colorado?” I said. After all, we named Roggen after the Colorado town where he was found. “Maybe Sterling?” No. “Wiggins?” No.
After we arrived back at the refuge, Chuck placed the new snake in Roggen’s old cage. Then he took pictures and put them on Facebook. We were thrilled with the congratulatory responses we received, and even though we didn’t ask for a naming contest, we were offered some suggestions.
“We think his name should be Harley, as in Harley Davidson, the Hog,” one friend offered. But since we are not motorcycle people, we put that name aside.
“I would name him Woodrow and call him Woody,” another friend suggested. But we had already decided against that name. This friend, however, quickly followed with another comment, “I changed my mind. I like Harley, too.”
“I still want something western,” I said. Thinking of other Colorado towns, we nixed Burlington, Punkin Center, Wray, Akron. Nothing fit.
In the meantime, other friends weighed in with their comments. “I agree; I think the name Harley is very appropriate!!!” said one. And from another, “I like Harley!”
“So what do you think?” Chuck asked me.
“Well, it’s kind of cute.”
So, thanks to our Facebook friends, our new hognose snake is now officially “Harley.” Now we hope he begins eating those pinkies!