The Great Escape, or How to Lose a Python in One Easy Lesson.

It used to be that having a pet was a simple thing, because pets used to be fairly simple. You had a dog or cat or a bird, or if you were really adventurous, an aquarium with tropical fish.

Then along came exotics!

About 10 years ago I adopted a baby Ball Python. He’s pretty easy to look after, as long as his tank is heated to the right temperature and he gets fed once every couple of weeks.

(A story I wrote with photos of Pluto feeding)

He’s also one of the more timid species of snake, with a tendency to curl up in a ball when threatened (hence the name). Actually in 10 years he’s only bitten me twice, and both times were my fault for startling him.

His history in our home has been fairly uneventful, that is until the night of the Great Escape.

A few weeks ago I was home on a Friday night, and decided to watch a movie. I took Pluto out of his tank and sat down with him over my shoulders and turned on the TV.

Several hours later I woke to a sinking feeling in my stomach, and no snake in sight!

Funnily enough, that was the same time my wife walked in the back room and noticed the open tank.

Needless to say, I did not get much sleep that night, looking for him everywhere, to no avail.

Have I mentioned that snakes are experts at concealment? It’s what they do.

To make matters worse, we were having a family barbecue the next day! We spent hours on Saturday looking for him, and thought of cancelling the event, but since it was for my Mother’s birthday that wasn’t really an option.

Anyway, the guests were very understanding, moving around quite cautiously, and using the buddy system whenever someone had to go to the bathroom, because apparently their biggest fear was that he would be hiding in the toilet bowl.

The evening was actually quite a success, and the escape gave everyone something to talk about. When the sun went down some adventurous characters formed search parties and went looking for him with flashlights, but came up empty.

I stayed up well into the early hours of Sunday, waiting for him to show himself, but he was too smart for that.

Most of Sunday was spent tearing the house apart, including ripping the fabric off couches and mattresses, checking the pipes in the basement and gaps under the fridge, stove and furnace as snakes like to curl up where it’s warm.

We had just about given up, and were almost consigned to waiting until he got hungry and showed himself, when I flipped open the lid of my wife’s antique Singer sewing machine. And there he was, less that 15 feet away from where he had escaped from!

It was a little bit of a struggle to get him back in the tank as he seemed to like his new digs, but eventually he was back home, and we were all able to breathe a sigh of relief.

Looking back, it’s something we can laugh at now, but at the time I have to say there was a certain tension in the air, to put it mildly! From now on I have promised never to take him out without someone else present, and preferably not during a boring movie!

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