Sunday, January 13, 2008


Somehow, naming a snake Fluffy, seems somewhat inappropriate especially since Fluffy is a reticulated python. For those of us not familiar with snake or python terminology and according to Wikipedia, a reticulated python is a non-venomous python species found in Southeast Asia. This is the longest snake in the Old World and competes for the title of the world's longest snake with the South American green anaconda, Eunectes murinus. No subspecies are currently recognized.

Fluffy was bred by Bob Clark who raised him from a hatchling and the zoo paid $35,000 to the snake's breeder in Oklahoma to keep the reticulated python on permanent display. By the way Fluffy is a male despite the feminine moniker. While on loan last year, the python helped draw 1.53 million visitors, just under the zoo's attendance record of 1.56 million set in 2006, said Pete Fingerhut, the zoo's associate director.

Fluffy is about as long as a moving van and thick as a telephone pole.

"I really love that snake; I think it's a special animal," Fluffy's raiser said. "It's so big and tame and wonderful. But I have to deal with the realities of life like everyone else. I like to have the money, and I know she's got a great place to live there."

Tame? A boa? Presumably when raising a boa, one does so with a great deal of care...and caution. In as far as Mr. Clark's professed love for Fluffy - different strokes for different folks!

The Columbus Zoo doesn't buy animals very often, said Executive Director Jerry Borin. Its animals generally come as exchanges from other zoos or through breeding loans or donations, he said.

Fluffy is on display in a 25-foot enclosure with a pool and a few plants, where he eats two 10-pound rabbits a week. In the wild, pythons native to Asia eat whatever they can catch, starting with mice and lizards when they're small and graduating to pigs and goats. There are a few reports of human victims.

Somehow and maybe it's just me but the idea or mental picture of Fluffy putting the squeeze and bite on live rabbits is very disconcerting. The largest known reticulated python, named for the cross-hatching patterns on their skin, was 32 feet, 9 1/2 inches when killed in 1912 in Indonesia.

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