Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Boa on the Loose Must Be Slithering toward My Place

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Boa on the Loose Must Be Slithering toward My Place

Article excerpt

Sorry if the column seems a little tired today. Not getting much sleep lately. Not since reading last week that a boa constrictor was on the loose in suburban Philadelphia.

Yes, it does seem a bit of a stretch to think that this 7-foot boa, a Swarthmore veterinarian's pet named "Snakey," would end up making its way to my particular home some 300 miles away. But it can't be ruled out; the odds seem just as astronomical against winning the Powerball, and yet we keep seeing people on television holding oversized checks to show it has occurred.

A boa constrictor can typically travel 1 mph. Not quite Usain Bolt speed, but if our calculations are correct, a snake leaving Swarthmore last Monday with its internal GPS aimed at my abode could be on my doorstep -- or under my bed, or in my closet, or slithering out of my toilet (at the worst possible time, no doubt) -- a week from now. And that's what I'll be worried about for the next week, unless he (she? it?) is found.

An estimated one-third of the human population has ophidiophobia, an irrational, crazed, idiotic fear of snakes. This one's not proud of it. Rather ashamed, actually. Know all about how they do a lot more good than harm, they're more afraid of us than we are of them, we'd be overrun with rats and other vermin if not for them. Undoubtedly, they've gotten a bad rap ever since Genesis (referring to the Bible, not the rock group).

Doesn't make a bit of difference. I could no more stand being locked up in a room with one of them than with a group of Yankees fans.

People like David Spiegel view snakes differently, of course. He's Snakey's owner, and he says the boa lives a safe, well- adjusted life with him and his wife, their two cats and small dog. They raised their kids around the 23-year-old snake.

Mr. Spiegel's accustomed on nice summer days like last Monday to letting Snakey outside near the back door to soak up the sun. The snake is checked on periodically. On this particular occasion, however, it disappeared.

Mr. Spiegel called police, but he says Snakey's of no danger to anyone except small animals like rodents.

"He's not out to do anyone harm," the veterinarian said. …

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