Pet of the Day

May 28, 2005

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Den of Earth, the Pet of the Day
Name: Den of Earth
Age: Eleven years old
Gender: Male
Kind: Okeetee corn snake
Home: Stevensville, Montana, USA
   This, at just about life size, is my Okeetee corn snake, Den of Earth. Den is eleven years old or so, and around five feet long. Den got his name from the animated movie 'Heavy Metal', in one part of which a scrawny teenaged kid named Denny is sucked through a dimensional warp of some kind, emerging on the other side as a massive, bald, brawny man whose first words are "Huh. No hair. Big!"

    I bought Den, sight unseen, in 1996, and was expecting a snake about half the size of what I got. Since I'd just seen "Heavy Metal" for the umpteenth time, the first words spoken by Den of Earth popped into my head, and the snake got stuck with it.

    This photo was taken the day Den and my two snow corns won the Most Unusual Pet category of a Purina-sponsored show and contest at the 92nd (or maybe it was 94th) Annual Stevensville (Montana) Creamery Picnic, this past August. It was less than a week after my partner and I packed up everything we owned and hauled ourselves 500 miles across three major mountain ranges to start a new life, and what a new start it was!

    Unlike most snakes I've met, Den is absolutely trustworthy around people. Even having some ribs broken accidentally by a toddler once did not produce a strike response! I have taken Den to a number of parties, classrooms, libraries, and science fiction conventions over the years, where he acts as an ambassador. No less than four of my sci-fi convention friends over the years have bought corn snakes because of how much they liked Den and his temperament. He seems to particularly enjoy the company of children and the attention they lavish on him every time I show him off. And, on more than one occasion, someone phobic of snakes has asked to pet him, and it is always with great pleasure that I can assure them he is totally safe. I will never forget our old maintenance man, a large and burly type of fellow, bouncing around squeaking "My friends will never believe this! I touched a snake!"

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