Jungle Ball Python[Ed.'s note: this post contains some vivid descriptions of snakes that may disturb some readers]. My son, John has a pet python. He's a jungle ball python, about 4' long. The python does not do very much, except to wait on his log, in his tank, for a meal. His moves are infrequent and very deliberate. He does not waste a single joule of energy, and just waits patiently for food day and night, week after week, month after month.. Snakes and alligators don't require a lot of food, and can wait for 5 months or more for a meal. They don't exercise, play, show personality, get crazy, or cause any trouble. They just wait for their next meal, single minded, hard wired in their next task..

The snake exhibits several signals when he is hungry, and can be seen after he sheds or evacuates, for example. When he is hungry, I feed him live rats. Although the snake is a master at camouflage and deception, he knows when a rat is being introduced to his tank. Snakes generally have poor eyesight, but can detect the presence of a rat through smell and vibrations. The rat goes into the tank, and the snake sits there sizing up his prey. It can go for 30 minutes to an hour and a half, while the snake watches the rat, waiting. He slowly puts his body in position, moving and flexing his coils quietly, maybe taking 30 minutes for a set up. He will sit perfectly still, while the unaware rat walks all over the tank, sometimes over the rat and,….the rat doesn't have a clue of the dangers. The snake finally senses his best opportunity, strikes at the rat, bites him on the back of the neck, and wraps his body around the rat suffocating him quickly. The rat squirms and quivers while the snake constricts a little more on each exhale of the rat. The snake is so quick, you can hear a swoosh when he attacks, much like the swoosh you'd hear in old Bruce Lee films when they were fighting.

The python, having dispatched his prey, lets him go and positions him for the swallow. When he's ready, he disjoints his jaw and puts it over the rat's nose, and uses his body to push the rat into his mouth, wiggling his neck to allow the rat to be swallowed. It takes about 15 minutes, but that big rat, 40 times the size of the python's head, is swallowed and the snake goes to the corner to hide and slowly digest his meal. I like the way the snake always strikes the rat in the same exact place, with quick dispatch. He makes a split second decision with his pea sized brain and wins. Trading can be like that, requiring split second decisions, and hard lethal strikes.

 The snake has a ritual for eating his prey, and manages to eat without wasting energy, getting hurt, or alerting his prey. Many trades require you to sit patiently for weeks or months for the proper set up, positioning yourself then swooping down on the prey just like the snake does. Snakes have many admirable qualities that traders should study and emulate. These traits include patience, economy of motion, concentration, surprise, and a quick but lethal offensive. No matter that the rat has a brain that is the same size as the snakes's, and is probably much more intelligent, he always loses to the python, every time. The snake is hard wired for the attack, has infinite patience, and will dispatch his prey quickly……all qualities successful traders should strive to practice and learn.

Pitt T. Maner III responds:

These guys are in the news down here in South Florida. Too bad there have been some irresponsible owners.

"Reptile retailers, brace yourselves: the federal government wants to ban the import of some large and seemingly popular snakes. Responding to growing concern over the spread of Burmese pythons in the Everglades, the federal Fish and Wildlife Service proposed Wednesday to ban both the import and interstate transport of the python and eight other snake species, all large constrictors."

A possible 10 to 100 thousand burmese pythons in the Everglades is amazing — they are bit too good at what they do.

My cousin is a big time, amateur "herper" and I remember going with him up to Orlando about 15 years ago to a national convention held there and it was quite impressive to see the reptiles on display and the captive breed ones for sale — water dragons, White's tree frogs, skinks, all sorts of snakes, etc. Very educational. One of the things I remember was a lecture about trying to catch a very large snake that escaped in a multi-room facility — the idea was to set the trap along a wall as the snake would tend to cling to walls as it moved from place to place. Big, non-venomous snakes though can still give some nasty bites.

Here is a summary of South Florida's non-indegenous species, the local vets get a lot of dogs who have tried to lick the Bufo toads.

Marion Dreyfus reminisces:

I remember living among unexpected boas and two-step and three-step crates in Thailand. I came home one night to find a 6-footer in my living room, as we lived near a thriving klong. The maid Sumpohn slew it with a shovel before it bit me. We called her Richard [the Lion-hearted] for a while. Up-country, I stepped gingerly on the roads near fields of produce, as much longer than 6-footers would slink out and slither on the hot bake of the dusty roads. And in Cambodia, I was foolish enough to wear a snakeskin dress in Ankhor Wat, and was actually chased by some outraged untethered serpents not happy with my attire. I changed my dress subsequently, and rode elephants, tall off the ground rather than encounter the ground-bound cold-blooded fauna.

Once, though, I overnighted at a friend's farm in Connecticut, and woke with a serpent cosied up next to my prone body. His pet had eluded the glass cage, somehow, and sought random visiting warmth. It was not the best wake-up notice I have ever experienced.





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