Welcome Rex

Everyone who has worked hard deserves to retire at some point. And this, we feel, goes for snakes as well.

Our kingsnake, Spike, is approaching 24 years old, and we feel it’s time to give him a well-deserved rest. Spike has been instrumental in converting people from fearing snakes to respecting snakes. For many, just thinking about snakes gives them chills. But those who have had the opportunity to handle this gentle reptile discovered that he posed no threat as they experienced him undulating through their fingers. Several even commented that the slithering sensation was somewhat calming.

Spike’s Career

Spike’s career began as classroom educator where he helped students understand the importance of snakes in the ecosystem, then moved on to include RV parks, libraries, visitor centers, and science centers to educate a broader population. It also included several television appearances where he charmed the weatherman who used him to help deliver the weather on the 4:00 news in Yuma, AZ.

Aging

But over the past few years as he’s aged, Spike’s muscle tone has diminished and bumps of possible arthritis have formed along his spine, making him more difficult to handle. Without his ability to constrict, his four-foot body slumps and dangles and slips through our hands. Whether this is uncomfortable for him, we cannot tell. But it’s certainly not the way he should be presented.

Welcome Rex

With this in mind, we decided to retire Spike and let him live the rest of his days in luxury and solitude. To take up where he’s left off, we acquired a young California kingsnake that we named “Rex.” Even though he is small at this point, Rex is a voracious eater, attacking the dead mouse that Chuck dangles in front of him as if he just emerged from a year’s hibernation. But he takes well to being handled and likes to intertwine through our fingers and slither up our arms. He recently had his first experience educating youngsters at Arizona’s White Tank Mountain Regional Park. We are looking forward to introducing Rex to more school children and adults who will hopefully learn from this youngster as others have learned from Spike.

Rex’s first experience in education (Chuck holds him in his left hand)

6 thoughts on “Welcome Rex

  1. Rex, I remember you very well! Your parent’s, Chuck and Betty, educated me some about you. I enjoyed the peacefulness of getting to hold some of the snakes. Very calming! I learned a lot from your very kind, smart parents? You rest and just lay back sweet boy!

    Welcome to Spike! He sounds like a new puppy?! You are in great hands Spike, tell mom and dad “hi” and I miss them!?

  2. That’s awesome Spike gets to retire! We had a carpet python named Kaa who played such a role in our educational events. She unfortunately passed from an aggressive cancer, but even in her death she continued to educate. She went to the CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital, and the staff was excited because they had never seen this type of cancer in a snake.
    I hope Rex continues the important work of being a gentle ambassador, such an important role!!

    • Russ,
      Thanks for the comments! We share the same objectives in regards to a misunderstood animal that needs all the help it can get! Spike was hatched out by Vern Veer, who I volunteered with at the Denver Zoo. His replacement is working out well and should also have a great life getting the message out!

  3. I love this post. I didn’t even know that snakes could have arthritis. what I appreciate most though is the compassion you exhibit and that by sharing this post, you have expanded my capacity for compassion as well.

    • Charmaine, thanks for those kind words! We keep learning almost daily about those arm and legless specialized animals. With all the anatomical differences from the human side, I have learned that snakes and other reptiles can share many health challenges common to us. And, many of these animals could suffer and die in the wild without our knowledge. It’s only in a captive environment that we become aware of those conditions. We really appreciate your comments!

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