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Feature Meredith Neltner

Python Perfect

WKU student thinks outside the box with her new pet

By Meredith Neltner

McCall Ponzer

After two years in the dorm, it was finally time for McCall Ponzer to move into her first apartment and more importantly, get her first pet. It couldn’t be a boring, high-maintenance pet.
It needed to be interesting, yet easy to take care of despite her busy lifestyle.

“I saw one of my high school friends post a picture of her snake on Snapchat, and I thought it was so cute. That’s when I decided to do some deeper research,” Ponzer said.

Turns out ball pythons are gentle snakes who require feeding once a week. For someone who describes themselves as irresponsible, like Ponzer, this seems more manageable than a more high-maintenance pet like a dog or a cat.

She decided that a ball python was perfect and did all the necessary research to make sure there would be a snake coming to WKU’s campus this fall.

To start, Ponzer needed to figure out the logistics of owning a snake, like what it eats and what type of habitat it needs.

As expected, snakes require a special diet that typically consists of rodents. As babies, they start off eating small insects and eventually graduate to mice as they get older. They can get up to 5-feet long and by that point must eat large rats.

Ponzer plans to keep her snake on a mouse diet to keep it from getting too big for its container. The more often the snake is fed, the bigger it gets, and the larger the rodents it needs to eat. This means she must keep it on a consistent, weekly feeding pattern to maintain its average size and mouse diet.

In regard to obtaining its food, Ponzer said pet stores sell frozen, dead mice that makes the process easier.

“I haven’t figured out where I’m going to store these frozen mice because I’m sure my roommates would be a little grossed out if I put them in my kitchen freezer,” Ponzer said.

Every now and then however Ponzer said she would feed her snake a live mouse as a treat.

Another important aspect of owning a snake is buying it the right enclosure. At first, Ponzer needs buy a 20-liter tank when the it’s a baby and invest in a larger tank as it gets older and bigger. She would also need to include a heat lamp to cover half of its cage but keep the other half cool for when the snake gets hot.

Snakes also like to have a little hiding place in the cage and a branch to climb on for entertainment purposes.

After learning more about this animal, Ponzer seems excited to bond with her new pet and even picked out the name Salazar Slytherin based off her house in the Harry Potter novels.

“I feel like I can identify with a snake, not only because I’m in the Slytherin house, but also because they’re graceful and nocturnal,” Ponzer said.

As a night owl, she’s excited to be awake at the same time as her pet and have some company in her room as she falls asleep.

Though this pet seems perfect for Ponzer, there are some precautions she will have to take for the safety of her snake and those around it.

Ponzer’s roommates like to throw parties, so she will have to keep her door locked so any intoxicated college students don’t bother Salazar. She also needs to keep her door shut daily, so her roommate’s dog doesn’t bother the snake.

In regard to the safety of her roommates and guests, Ponzer is not worried because this breed of snake does not bite and are described as docile creatures.

Overall, Ponzer is thrilled to be getting such a unique, cool pet and can’t wait to show all her friends and family.

“People will think it’s badass,” Ponzer said.

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