Three summers ago, I started volunteering at The Toledo Zoo and I fell hardcore in love with animals. I had always loved them, but when I started getting more involved and eventually got hired I started seriously thinking about getting a snake as a pet.
When I was a kid, I was terrified of snakes thanks to a documentary my dad showed me where a man got consumed by an anaconda. Now we've come full circle, and my baby ball python named Kluber lives happily in a bedroom at my dad's house. It took my sister and me some convincing to get my dad and stepmom on board with owning one of the most feared animals ever in a tank in our bedroom, but after a thorough powerpoint presentation, two educational youtube videos, and my background of animal handling and zoo training, they finally agreed to let a danger noodle into our home.
When we started looking for a baby ball python from a reputable breeder, we already knew we wanted a young male with some kind of abnormal color markings. We also knew that we were going to name him Kluber after Corey Kluber, the pitcher for the Cleveland Indians. We searched long and hard for a unique animal that didn't completely break the bank, and thanks to Morphmarket we stumbled across Twin City Constrictors. They had a fresh group of baby pastel 100% albino ball pythons for sale (which basically just means they are lighter in color and will have albino babies) and we immediately fell in love with one of them.
After talking to the owner and deciding a time to have the baby snake shipped to our house, we exchanged the cash and set out to make the coolest and safest ball python enclosure ever. One of the references that really helped was this video by Brian Barczyk on how to set up a starting enclosure that won't make your wallet cry. Once everything was ready, we just needed to wait for the overnight shipping of our new snake friend.
Kluber gives amazing hugs Megan Carmen
When the box showed up on our porch, I was the only one home so I got the honor of seeing our new pet for the first time. I opened the box, and the tiniest, cutest, most terrified face I had ever seen stared back at me from inside a small plastic cup. The poor guy was so scared, and I would be too if I had just spent all night in a box on a truck. I opened the container and reached my hand toward him. Now I know exactly what all of you snake haters out there are thinking.
For those of you wondering "Did he bite you?" or "Did he use his incredible rage against humans as an excuse to strangle you to death on the spot?", the answer is no. Ball pythons are shy animals and get their name because when threatened or in danger, they curl up into a ball instead of attacking. So as I reached my hand into the cup to move him into his cage, all he did was shake in fear. Sometimes it is important to recognize that we as humans are the biggest predator around.
Snakes take the best selfies Megan Carmen
After a week or so spent acclimating in his cage, baby snake Kluber had become comfortable enough to be handled. We started out slow to make sure he felt safe and wasn't stressed, but he just so happens to be the most amazing snake ever to live and he loves to explore and scope out the outside world so he was instantly in love with being out of his tank. He even started to sit in the branches at the top of his tank to let us know he wanted to socialize.
Time to explore! Megan Carmen
There are a lot of things that make owning a snake fun, like seeing their personality develop, watching them explore, and seeing them shed. For us though, Kluber has been a family bonding experience. I got to share my passion and love for these incredible creatures with my family and educate them on the proper care necessary for reptiles. I saw my once-apprehensive stepmom, Melissa, form a bond with Kluber and become genuinely interested in him and snakes in general. We all gathered together in awe the first time we watched him eat, shocked that something without arms or legs was able to devour a mouse that fast. But most importantly, we all have developed a love for a creature that extends beyond anything we could have predicted.
Kluber enjoying his home Megan Carmen
When we received a two-month-old ball python back in August, never did we think he would be as important to us as he is. He has his own nicknames, a very special personality, and the cutest little tongue ever. Kluber is now just under two feet long, the perfect amount of chunky, and eating an adult mouse every two weeks. He will grow another three feet and be as big around as a baseball bat at his prime, and he will live another 20-30 years. It is so exciting to watch him grow and develop and it is so gratifying to know that we get to be a part of this creatures life. It's exactly like owning a dog... just not as fuzzy and with significantly fewer legs.