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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

May 20, 2013

Girls Who Like Reptiles are Weird

By Elizabeth Creith

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I’ve always loved reptiles--in fact, I’ve sometimes said that the reason I married David in the first place was that he was the first man I’d met who actively encouraged me to keep snakes. Listen--men like that don’t come along often. I know there are other considerations in choosing a mate, but the moment he said, "Well, you could get a ball python; they’re handsome and gentle,” I heard violins.

Girls Who Like Reptiles
Despite the stereotype, there are a lot of women and girls who like reptiles, such as this crested gecko. Courtesy Cioli & Hunnicutt/I-5 Studio

There are more women and girls who like reptiles than you might believe, and there are more men who are afraid of them. Whenever I do a school visit and bring out a corn snake for the kids to hold, I keep my hands under theirs to catch the snake in case they drop it.

Who drops it? Not the girly girl in pink ruffles with "My Little Pony” barrettes in her hair. No, that kid is cuddling the snake, giggling when it tries to wriggle down her neck and asking if she can kiss it on the lips. ("No,” I say. "Snakes don’t have lips.”) She pouts when she has to give it back and calls it "sweetie.”

The kid who drops the snake is the tough customer with his hat on backwards, wearing baggy jeans and a Megadeath T-shirt. He struts up to the front of the class, holds out his hands and then jumps and pulls them away when the snake actually touches him. I feel bad for that kid. He’s so busted. Miss Giggly Pink has just kicked his butt in the macho department, and doesn’t she know it … sitting there, twirling her hair.

Girls who like reptiles tend to come and work for us, too. I remember Kristen, who was putting away a tree frog when it panicked and squirted about a quart of stinky wet poop all over her hands and her shirt. Well, it wasn’t a quart of poop really, because the frog itself was the size of a tablespoon, but it was a quart of stink, for sure.

Kristen didn’t say "Gross!” or even "Eww!” What she did say was, "Oh, I love him!” like he’d just handed her a homemade valentine. Maybe girls who like reptiles are weird.

If so, then I'm weird, too. My favorite lizard is the flying gecko, a 4-inch-long, bark-colored lizard with webs between its toes and a wide flap of skin on each side that lets it glide through the air. They bark like a Pekingese on helium. They aren’t snuggly lizards, like bearded dragons. (And really, only a girl who likes reptiles would describe even a beardie as "snuggly,” right?) They don’t like to be touched. They are looking-at lizards, not petting lizards, and I’m fine with that.

But when an order comes in, it must be put away, and even looking-at lizards must be handled for that. I’d put away all but one of this particular order and had only a final male to scoop out of his shipping tub and put in the terrarium. As I picked him up, he grabbed onto the web between my thumb and forefinger and chomped down.

It wasn't painful, but I couldn’t get him off. If I tried to pry his jaws open, I’d hurt him. There was nothing to do but stand with my hand in the terrarium, flying gecko dangling, and wait. And wait. David brought me a coffee. Eventually the gecko writhed and wriggled in what looked like a tremendous convulsion, then let go and zipped to the back of the terrarium.

Obviously he had given me a neck-breaking shake, stunning me long enough for him to escape. Or at least, I’m pretty sure that’s what he thought he’d done. Me, I just thought he was as cute as all get-out.

"Oh, I love him!” I said.

Yup, girls who like reptiles are weird.


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