Not Zick, this is SSSSZack.
SSSSZack is a young Florida Kingsnake also, just like Zick, but he is a wildling, not captive bred.
"He's hurt, I found him by the sidewalk."
While I was happy that one of my kids was kind enough to rescue an injured snake, I had to temper that with a safety message to the whole class.
Being as diplomatic as I could, I tried to be grateful to my snake rescuer for his kindness while reinforcing the fact that as kids, they should not be out there grabbing snakes, since the penalty for mistaken identity can be severe.
We had the usual talk about leaving wildlife alone, which I present very convincingly, even if hypocritically, since I am a snake grabber since about the age of 9.
SSSSZack's injury is located about one quarter of his length back from his cute little head. There is a puncture and some swelling. Last Friday, I daubed on some Neosporin to try and prevent infection.
Since that time SSSSZack has been in a Rubbermaid hospital snake box here in the dining room. He is active and behaving normally except for reduced movement behind the injury.
It's not a total lack of snakey sinuosity, just reduced movement. The tip of his tail has movement, so it's not a case of paralysis.
Maybe it just hurts.
He seems to be showing some improvement back there, so we will see.
I didn't attempt to feed him, since I was afraid the meal might not get through the injured point or move correctly if his back end wasn't responding well.
I think I will attempt to feed him tonight since things are looking a little better.
Don't get too attached though ... I'm not sure SSSSZack will make it.
I will keep you posted.
Zick, on the other hand, is doing great.
I introduced "Zick" the baby Florida Kingsnake a few weeks ago here at PF. At the time I believe I mentioned that one of my reasons for bringing her into my classroom was to have her serve as a serpentine ambassador.
Because, y'all know that ...
t's easy to fear snakes if you never are around them.
It's easy to hate something you fear.
It's easy to kill something you hate.
It was my belief that having Zick in our class, watching her eat, bask, shed, and grow would win over the hearts and minds of my students.
I'm not always right, but there is solid evidence showing that I was correctamundo this time.
A few days ago, a cute little 5th grader came in asking about Kingsnakes.. It seems her classmates had all picked different snakes as research projects.
We talked about Zick and I offered to bring Zick down to the 5th grade for a visit if it was okay with her teacher.
The next morning, the same girl showed up with a tiny, 4 inch long ringneck snake.
"What does it eat? , she asked.
We talked about ringnecks, and I encouraged her to let it go since it's hard to find food for such a tiny beast.
One day later, she walked in to my classroom with a young grey rat snake, all 9 inches of him. He was actually the perfect size to keep as a pet, so we talked about simple Rubbermaid box snake habitats and general rat snake care.
That afternoon, I walked down to the elementary wing of our tiny PreK-12 school. It's an older redbrick building with all the musty, booky, chalky school smells I remember from my own elementary experience.
I mean this building looks and smells like a REAL school.
After a few deep breaths of schoolhouse essence, I knocked on the 5th grade door and was greeted like a celebrity. The kids were pumped about their snake research and each one was an expert on their chosen species.(GOOD JOB 5TH GRADE TEACHER!)
I had Zick the Kingsnake in her Rubbermaid travel cage. We talked about kingsnakes, safety, and the good things snakes do. While we talked, I held Zick up so they could get a good look.
I wish I could remember all their enthusiastic comments, "Fabulously awesome" is one that stuck in my head.
After a while, I pulled a thawed pinky mouse from my pocket and they crowded around to watch Zick eat.
"Will she bite you?" they asked.
I assured them that even though any snake, even a pet one, could bite you, Zick was very tame and had never struck at me.
At that point, I dangled the poor, dead mousling by the tail to get Zick's attention. She was instantly interested and struck almost immediately.
For the first time ever, she missed the mouse and got my finger.
The entire 5th grade gasped in unison.
"SHE BIT YOU!"
I could feel her hanging from my finger, but it didn't hurt,... she's too small to even break the skin, so I just carried on.
In a moment, she let go, retargeted, and nailed the mouse.
Once Zick was committed to eating the pinky mouse, I backed off and let the children crowd in around the plastic box. They were completely awestruck as she worked the seemingly too large meal into her mouth and down the hatch.
While a few may have still had snake jitters when I left, I could tell that the majority of these kids thought snakes were pretty cool animals.
... and you gotta love that.