For almost the past ten years we have traveled with four snakes. One of these snakes, our bullsnake Hatch, turned 10 this August. Chuck hatched her out in an incubator at the Denver Zoo after a pair of bullsnakes at Cherry Creek State Park in the Denver area produced 13 eggs. Hatch’s was the only egg that hatched.
Hatch emerged from her shell snapping at everything in sight, as most bullsnakes are wont to do. Only 8 inches long, she grew quickly as she ate every morsel Chuck offered her. From the beginning, we used her in our reptile programs in schools, RV parks, libraries, parks, and fairs. Once out of her cage, when she realized she was not going to be offered a mouse, she became docile and obliging as an education animal, a model representative for her species.
After several years, her impressive size brought gasps from school children and adults alike when we removed her from her travel bag during a presentation. She was always a hit and always conducted herself well in classrooms and other educational facilities.
But reptiles continue to grow their whole lives, and Hatch was approaching six feet. Even her large cage was becoming a bit cramped for a snake her size. Since we live in our RV and space is a premium, we realized it was time to part with Hatch.
Only one name came to mind when we thought about a home for her – our good friend Bryon Shipley, the zookeeper and reptile researcher who served as Chuck’s mentor while Chuck volunteered for years in Denver Zoo’s reptile building and absorbed as much information as possible from Bryon about snakes and other reptiles.
Bryon uses his snakes for programs at state parks and other venues. Because his elderly bullsnake recently died, he was willing to accept Hatch into his collection to help with his presentations. Along with Hatch, Chuck gave Bryon 10 years worth of feeding charts and records he had kept as Hatch grew. While she was always in good hands with Chuck, we know that Hatch is in good hands with Bryon and will continue to be a valuable education specimen for years to come.
No doubt we’ll see you again down the road, Hatch. Thanks for all your patience as an ambassador for a misunderstood species!