2014-05-16

About Makeba

 This is Makeba.


Makeba is a juvenile ball python (python regius), who we adopted a week ago.

When he came to live with us, Makeba was severely underweight, dehydrated, and covered in burns from a heat lamp half the length of his back.

We first met him a week before that. He was at an animal rescue that wasn't specialized in reptiles, and his living conditions were dire. Despite seeping burn wounds on his back, he was kept in an enclosure bedded with wood shavings, in low humidity, and the only heat available was from overhead lamps that burned him to begin with.

He was lethargic, his skin loose, dull, and shedding in chunks. The spectacles on his eyes were so cracked and scratched up that he could no longer see through. He'd soak in his water dish to try and rehydrate, and drag the wood shavings and his own filth into it.

Later we learned that the whole time he lived at the shelter – 6 months! – he was receiving about 1/5th the amount of food that would be appropriate for his age and size.

I tried to take him home right away, but the folks at the rescue weren't going to let me. They said they wanted to keep him there until he fully healed in a month or two (which given his condition was questionable). If I wanted him sooner, they said, I should talk to their reptile specialist, who'd be back next week. But I should be prepared to wait some more, because they have application paperwork, and I would need to fill it out and prove that I will have appropriate living conditions for the snake.

My heart was breaking to leave him there for a whole extra week, but I was hoping that snakes' natural tendency to conserve energy will allow him to hang on.

Seven days later, I marched into the rescue shelter determined to walk out with the poor python, whatever it took. I had brought a plastic tub to transport him home in, and wore my "lucky snake jacket" which coincidentally I wore every single time I adopted a snake before.

Universe sided with me this time.

I was greeted by their reptile lady: "Hi, how can I help you."

"I'm here for the ball python that you have."

"Okay. Did you see him before? He's got burned a little while back."

"Yes, I was here last week, but your colleagues told me I should wait till you're back. I would really like to give him a good home."

"Alright."

And that was that. 

No waiting, no pleading, no discussion of the size of his new enclosure. No adoption form even.

As if I suddenly had Jedi powers and was able to exercise mind control, I walked out of the rescue shelter with the sick snake hanging on to me under my jacket.

I hope he will make it. I'm bathing him in Betadine solution to keep his wounds clean, and keeping his enclosure at elevated humidity while he heals his wounds. He ate on Monday and went into shed the next day. I hope he'll reemerge with clear eyes from this one.

Every single snake owner manual I read advised against adopting sick and mishandled snakes, but to hell with that advice. He needs a shot at getting better, and we're going to provide him with the best care we can so he has that shot.