Last Updated: Apr 27th, 2015 - 11:04:56

Face to face with snakes
By James Peacemaker, Jr. Managing Editor
May 29, 2014, 13:47

JAMES PEACEMAKER JR./HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT Nicole D’Amico and Mazzem and Adam Abouhashem get a look at a corn snake at Enon Library.
CHESTERFIELD — Kids and parent alike got a chance to get up close and personal with snakes recently at Enon Library.

They learned how to tell the difference between venomous and nonvenomous snakes found here in Virginia, about snake behavior, and which snakes make good pets.

Jessi Sakiewicz, a reptile expert from Rockwood Nature Center, explained lots of fun facts about snakes: that they don’t have eyelids, how they sense vibration with their bottom jaw rather than hearing, how they shed their skin more often when they are young, and how some snakes don’t lay their eggs but rather keep them inside their body until they hatch.

She showed off a hognose snake, a black snake and a corn snake as well as her ball python, which is named such due to its tendency to curl up into a ball when disturbed. They put their head in the middle of the ball.

“With all that muscle, it acts as pretty good armor,” Sakiewicz said.

Sakiewicz said snakes can make great pets but are not for everyone.

“They are not like your typical dog or cat. They are not going to love you. … They learn to trust you,” she said.

She said that snakes learn to recognize people, but even then a pet snake more than likely will still bite you at some point.

Jessi Sakiewicz, a reptile expert from Rockwood Nature Center, holds a western hognose snake.
“Its one of those pets where you are going to have to take the good with the bad,” she said.

Sakiewicz brought out here own pet ball python, a species from Africa.

The python has four rows of needle-like teeth. She has owned this snake for eight years and it has never bitten her, but that doesn’t mean the species is completely safe.

“I don’t recommend them for young kids,” she said, because of the ability to constrict.

“At four and half feet long, she is stronger than any person. She looks very fat but all of that is muscle,” she said.

Sakiewicz said the five-pound snake has nearly dislocated her thumb a couple of times just by moving around.

“I buy $5 watches from Walmart because she breaks them,” she said.

Sakiewicz feeds her python dead rats, but that doesn’t keep if from constricting them before eating them.

“There’s still a little bit of that prey drive,” she said.

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