I can’t imagine anyone being frightened by Thika (my wife’s 10 inch Kenyan Sand Boa), but we have had visitors who didn’t want to be in the same room as her tank. She is very quiet and is not at all nervous or hostile. (Of course, I have never understood why anyone would want a Kenyan Sand Boa: they spend 98% of their lives buried up to the nostrils in sand. They are only active at night, and “active” means they “swim” through the sand where you can’t see them.
host “Wanna see our snake?”
h"There she is."
v"But it’s just a vivarium tank filled with sand."
h"I know, isn’t she neat?")
I understand why (some) folks don’t want to get too near Shango (the 24 inch Ball Python), but he is actually calmer and friendlier than Thika. He will loop a few inches of himself around my wrist and then start exploring the surrounding space. He sheds hard and we have to help him once in a while, but if we start about six inches behind his head and work toward it, by the time we are touching his head he won’t even flinch.
I do understand why people are not keen on feeding snakes. We had started by buying only frozen mice (they don’t fight back, reducing the chance of infection in the snake), but one month both of our snakes went on hunger strikes that only ended when we gave them live food. Debbie soon discovered that live food was expensive, so we began raising our own. (The trick is to not name them, no matter how cute they seem.)
I will occasionally find a garter snake (not garder or gardner–they are named for their apparent resemblance to old-fashioned garters to hold up stockings) when I’m mowing. I always make it a point to move it back to the meadow where I don’t mow (after showing it to Deb, of course).
While no snake is slimy (they are generally dry and firm–a very pleasant texture), the garter snakes do have an odor reminiscent of aging fish–probably because they are in moist clay and dewy grass. The only “problem” I have with garter snakes is that they are so afraid of me that they are liable to wriggle out of my hands and fall to the ground while I try to move them out of the way of the mower. I hate to think of them dislocating a disk in the fall.
Spiders are also neat critters. Most summers we get a jumping spider nesting in the mailbox. She doesn’t bother the mail and we don’t bother her. (It is, of course, a new spider each summer.)