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 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.
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.
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.