Pet Product News Editorial Blog:
September 4, 2012
Your Pet Snake Will Never Love You
By Elizabeth Creith
I love animals. I even love animals most people don't love, such as lizards and snakes.
What I understand, though, is that Reptiles R Not Us, or even remotely like us, except for being carbon-based vertebrate life-forms. Another thing I understand is that many people who love reptiles are living in a state of delusion.
Take Bearded Dragon Guy. Bearded Dragon Guy didn't start out loving reptiles. He didn't even want a lizard. That was his wife's idea. Bearded Dragon Guy was actually a little creeped out—or is that “crept out”?—by the cute little six-inch-long beardie his wife bought. He was a good sport about it, though. He didn't object, as long as he didn't have to handle the thing.
Three weeks later, Bearded Dragon Guy came into the store looking chipper and upbeat.
“Hey!” he said as soon as he saw us. “I was watching football the other night, and I had a couple of beers, and I got the beardie out. He sat on the coffee table and watched football with me. We bonded, man! It was cool!”
Now, I'm happy that Bearded Dragon Guy is no longer crept out by his wife's pet. That is pretty cool. I'm not going to tell him that the only thing the beardie will bond with is his own status as Head Lizard. I won't disturb his little fantasy; it's harmless, after all, maybe even beneficial, if it makes him happier about his wife's taste in critters.
What I find less easy to take is the assertion—usually by young men—that their snake loves them.
I don't know if I've ever heard a young man—we're talking the macho, just-got-enough-facial-hair-to-qualify-as-a-beard group here—say that his dog loved him, or his cat, or his parakeet. But snakes? Snakes love these guys, to hear them talk about it.
“You know,” I said to one young man, “your snake doesn't love you. It will never love you.”
“Not even if I'm really, really nice to it?” he said.
“Not even if I'm really nice to it and I have it a really, really long time?”
“Sorry, not even then. They just don't have what it takes.”
“But if you, were, like, really nice to it and gave it a big cage, and lots of mice, and, like, had it for years and years?”
At this point I wished I hadn't opened the subject, but I was too far into the conversation to pull out.
“Snakes can't feel love. Snakes have little reptile brains, which handle the four Fs: fight, flight, feeding and mating.” (We run a family-friendly store, right?)
“Oh,” he said. “So, like, they couldn't love you even a little bit?”
It was on the tip of my tongue to say, “Look, for snakes, it's simple. It's all hormones and timing. They don't have to think about love, right? They don't have to think about things like personal hygiene and dressing up and good manners and sitting through a chick flick in order to get a chance to mate.”
I opened my mouth to say this, and then I really looked at him. He was five-feet-eleven, in jeans with the crotch around his knees and the hems frayed from dragging on the floor. He slouched and he needed a toothbrush and a breath mint. His T-shirt said, “My other ride is your sister.” His beard looked like three days' worth of stubble, and he had his baseball cap on backwards.
“Maybe he could love you a little bit,” I said.
And maybe some of Us R A Little Like Reptiles.
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