Snake Watching

This afternoon as I trudged through the Science Building on my way to class, I was tired.  Tired because I can’t sleep in the the summer.  Not by choice, but because apparently something in my chemical makeup decides that it’s more fun for me to lie awake at 4 am, or to awaken suddenly after a dream in which my right hand sports a constellation of disgusting bug bites.  Tired also, from keeping up with four kiddos under 4, all of whom are delightful, but all of whom have seemingly bottomless energy stores.

I paused briefly, as I am wont to do, by the snakes’ cages.  8-Ball the Ball Python was curled snugly in his heated box, but Ramses the Boa Constrictor, who I have rarely seen move, was sliding over and around his faded tree limb.  Old skin was peeling off his muscular body in thin white sheets, and he seemed desperate to be free of it.  Every so often he lifted his head and neck high into the air and peered around in agitation.

I came back to the snakes as soon as the professor nodded us on our ten minute break.  Someone from the biology department had apparently been in to clean, because Ramses’ skin was piled on top of his cage.

I couldn’t resist touching it, and was a little shocked that it felt exactly the way I thought it would; it was crackly and dry, like a piece of your skin peeled from a bad sunburn.

Even later, after class was finished, I plopped right down in front of Ramses to watch him finish the job.  There were still bits of shredded dead skin hanging from the sides of his head.  It took him a few turns around his rock and water bowl to get rid of them.

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