When I bought Ara, my first large python, she was only about three months old, probably weighing less than half a pound even though her slender body was between two and three feet long. She was a beautiful reticulated python (shortened to ‘retic’ by reptile people) who could grow to 30 feet long and 300 pounds. Different species of snakes tend to have different personalities, with retics having a reputation for aggressiveness. I’ve since learned, with these and many other animals, that they don’t read the books about them, exhibiting individual characteristics as we do.
At first Ara and I were terrified of each other. She would often strike at me even when I walked past her enclosure, making me afraid to try to handle her more than necessary for cleaning. Pythons are not poisonous, but do have lots of needle-sharp teeth. I became concerned about keeping her because she would become so huge. When I asked reptile person for advice, I was told to feed her more than the dealer had suggested. Duh! The poor little thing was hungry when fed only one juvenile rat per week. No wonder she tried to bite me!
Baby snakes tend to strike at anything that moves because it may be either food or a threat. As they gain experience, they learn what is appropriate food and better ways of avoiding danger. When Ara became more relaxed because she wasn’t hungry all the time, I began to gently touch her on the back – not reaching for her head, which is threatening. I didn’t try to pick her up at first for the same reason. Her experiences with people had not been very positive up to that time. I made sure I was as relaxed as possible when near her; they certainly feel our energy and my nervousness would transmit to her. Soon Ara quit flinching at my touch so I started slipping my hand under her, letting her slide across it. Before long I was able to pick her up and carry her without bothering either of us, and we became friends.
Life With Ara
During the years I lived with Ara, she taught me many things. I had thought snakes would be somewhat simple, due to their small, primitive brain. However, I found they have individual preferences, express some emotions, recognize and become attached to each other and even sometimes a human. They definitely learn, both skills they would need in the wild (such as appropriate food), and those only possible in captivity.
When Ara was much bigger, I snake-proofed my rented duplex (not an easy task nor one I recommend to people who haven’t lived with big snakes) and let her and Atlas (a smaller male retic) roam most of my living space. I fed them in special places, decreasing the risk of a bare foot walking past being considered food. When Ara was hungry, she would crawl into her feeding cage, a place she didn’t go otherwise. If I ignored her, she would crawl across me to get my attention and then return to the feeding cage.
Many years after Ara died, I kept feeling her over my right shoulder. To learn what she wanted to tell me, I finally asked a professional animal communicator to talk with her. The following is part of her message:
“We (all animal species) are so excited to have people awaken and know that we speak!”
“…Ross [raven] has heralded the coming of magic from the unseen world into your [Adele’s] life. The magic is awareness of the unseen – such as me and many others. Just the fact that you wanted to hear from me speaks volumes about your new awareness. How thrilled I am!
“…Leaving [dying] was my choice and not caused by you. I am still with you. My love has always been there, guiding you and supporting you. This is true of all those you have loved who have gone on. They are still with you!. Yes, many of us have come back in other forms to lead other lives, but understand – we can be in many places at once. Time is not as you know it or see it.
“… I have not wanted to be a human and live without my awareness. Those of you who have chosen to be human, meaning living in the dark, have my utmost love and respect. It is a great path to be able to find your way out of the darkness into the light and to lead others.
“All of you who are listening to other species now are leaders and therefore being supported by us who wish the love changes to occur on this planet now. We (all animal species) are so excited to have people awaken and know that we speak!”
from Janet Roper, Animal Communicator & Educator http://janetroper.com/pet-python-snake-janet-roper-animal-communicator-educator-missoula-montana/