Monday, June 30, 2008

Stupid Pet Tricks? or, What, Wait, What Did You Say??

The following is apparently a true story.

I heard it from an online friend yesterday ... it happened to a girl/woman an RL friend of her knows. (Urban legend? Maybe, if it hadn't sounded so very plausible.)

I would like to say, first and foremost, that it should be ILLEGAL to be this fucking stupid. People like this stupid cow are a major part of the reason why reptiles have such a bad rep. It really should be illegal to acquire any animal as a pet unless you can prove that you know what the needs of that species of animal are and you understand the way it thinks and the way it perceives the world.

The woman this happened to, let's call her Ms X ... she was the owner of a pet snake. I don't know what kind exactly, just that it was some kind of boa. (My friend who heard the story doesn't know much about reptiles, so I didn't find out that detail ... but obviously it was one of the more aggressive species. >:-)

Ms X brought her snake to the vet, and explained that she was worried that it might be sick. It had stopped eating, it would eat hardly anything, and refused even foods that up until recently had been fast favorites. She wondered if maybe it was sick ... or of course it might be constipated. (If there is a blockage in a reptile's digestive system, because it's swallowed something indigestible, this may cause it to stop eating.) A valid concern, I'm not suggesting otherwise. BUT. There was also the matter of the snake's strangely altered behavior. It had started to climb up into her bed, but not to curl up and sleep - no, it would stretch out in its full length on her bed. 'It never used to do this before, doctor' ...

The vet apparently 'looked at her' ... yeah, I'll bet!! He was probably thinking WTF?? Is she this stupid or is she just pretending? Apparently she sincerely was that pig ignorant of the behavioral patterns and development of this animal that she had VOLUNTARILY taken into her home. So the vet had to sit her down and explain to her that You see, miss, what's happening here is that your snake is making plans now to eat you.

It's measuring her for size, and it's starving itself. WTF did she think it was doing?!? What else could it be doing??

Ms X went home alone, leaving her so-called pet behind at the vet's office.

People like that really should not be allowed to own animals. We all should really have to prove that we understand the species that our pets belong to, and are fully aware of their needs and their expected behavior. Strictly speaking, Ms X ought to have been eaten ... that would have been the most efficient way to ensure that she wouldn't pollute the gene pool any further with her obviously very strong DUMBASS gene. (The Darwin Award is given out posthumously, so she might have come out ahead.)

The thing about snakes is that they are very, very simple creatures, and they perceive the world in a very simple way. Absolutely everything a snake encounters, it groups into one of two categories: food and nonfood. To a snake, nothing exists that does not belong to one of these two categories. All kinds of 'dead' things, ie things that are not nor have been alive, are of course nonfood. When it comes to living things, it is size, and size alone, that determines which category something ends up in. To a, let's say three month old boa constrictor, a kitten will be food, whereas an adult cat will be nonfood. But the snake will grow and when the same individual is, let's say three years old instead of three months, the adult cat too will have been moved to the food category. (Presumably before then, actually. But ... three and three. It sounded good. :-)

This becomes a problem when STUPID people acquire these animals and don't also acquire the knowledge they need to have in order to understand how their pet perceives the world and them. There are some reptile owners who actually think that their pets 'love' them or similar bullshit ... that the animals miss them when they're away and are sad when they don't see them, etc. Utter crap!! :-) Those types of feelings originate in the forebrain, and reptiles only have hindbrains - end of story.

This stupid snake owner has no doubt deluded herself into thinking that her pet has some kind of feelings for her, that it 'likes' her or whatever ... again, crap. What's happened here is obviously that when this animal was first taken into her home, it was a juvenile and quite small. She, the owner, was then categorized as nonfood, because she was much bigger than the snake was at that time. But since then the snake has grown, whereas Ms X has not grown ... ie, in the snake's perception, the imbalance between predator and prey has been corrected, and it may now be possible to bring down this prey.

Size alone determines category ... big humans are nonfood and small humans are food. And what is big and what is small depends of course 100% on the size of the snake. >:-)

The moral of this story is: maneating predators should not be kept as pets!!!!

(Something people really shouldn't need to be told.)


Leisha Camden said...

This story's being discussed on the Scandinavian BookCrossing forum today (that was where I first heard it) and a lot of the members there seem to think it's probably an urban legend. I wish I could think that! I really hope it is. But unfortunately I have no problem believing that it's true. Certainly the snake's behavior seems completely realistic. And yeah, people definitely are that stupid ... :-(

Leisha Camden said...

Something I just remembered as an example of how people really are this stupid: someone on a turtle forum a couple of years ago (a serious and professional forum) who wanted to know 'what my turtles do at night when it's dark' ...

She didn't know, because she didn't see them because she was asleep ... Um, YEAH!!!?

WTF did she figure diurnal animals would be doing at night when it's dark??

Anonymous said...

OMG... I won't claim to be a snake expert here... but if I were to own one (especially a major predator), I would definitely learn details like...

How big can it get?

What are the reasons snakes will stop eating?

Food VS non-food (it's all a matter of size)

Snake + feeling love for their owners = I don't think so...

Leisha Camden said...

The thing is that you don't need to be an expert, because you don't have a snake. :-)

Clever as you are ;-), you immediately spotted the most salient point in my post. As a pet owner, we need to educate ourselves about the species that we keep. I told this story to a coworker today, and he was pretty shocked ... he said he would never have guessed that that's what the snake was doing, he'd have had no idea. But he doesn't need to have any idea about how snakes behave, because he's a cat owner! He just needs to know about cats. Which he does. What is so sad is that there are SO many reptile owners out there (maybe especially in this country, unfortunately but unavoidably) who have totally unrealistic ideas about their pets. I've actually heard someone say (an American) that his turtle was 'a great mom'. Um, NO, she isn't. She isn't a 'mom' at all. In fact, if she steps on her newly hatched baby turtle and crushes it, she doesn't care. That's what kind of a 'mom' his turtle is. Anthropomorphism is a bad thing ... and especially when it comes to reptiles, which are so much more different from us than the mammals we keep as pets.

But where was I. :-) Oh yeah. If you decide to get a certain type of animal as a pet, then obviously you do the research first. Especially when it comes to things like how big the animal can get ... and especially when it's a potentially dangerous animal.

Do your homework, people! If not, you deserve to be eaten by your pet. ;-)