Hissing Fit

Sophomore Taylor Bouillon’s pet snake likes to cuddle


One early morning, sophomore Taylor Bouillon woke to find her pet snake torn to shreds. She immediately knew that her cat was the unruly culprit.

Rushing over to her beloved pet and throwing her cat out of the room, she moved the tank and watched in horror as her snake’s lifeless body fell to the ground. She picks up her snake, tears streaming down her cheeks. Then, out of the corner of her contact-less and blurry eye, she sees the snake move. Shedded skin hangs off of the snake’s body, tricking Bouillon’s eye.

Bouillon first adopted her snake from someone her father worked with who was breeding and selling snakes on their own property. Bouillon went to the coworker’s house and was able to choose the snake she wanted, which happened to be a baby Ball Python who later became Alaska, named after a drag queen.

“My mom didn’t want me to get (my snake), and then my dad said that he would get it for me,” Bouillon said. “We brought her home, and I said, ‘hey Mom, guess what I got today?’ and she was like, ‘alright, well as long as I don’t have to pay for it’. To this day, my mom has not touched her.”

Ball Pythons have a tendency to curl themselves into a ball when they’re nervous, with their head pulled firmly into the center. This unique habit earns them their name.

“When she gets scared, she tries to bite me,” Bouillon said. “It doesn’t hurt when they bite you. It’s scary, unless they think you’re food, then it’s gonna hurt cause they wrap around you. But if they’re just defense biting you, then it doesn’t hurt you— it just scares you.”

Ever since Bouillon first adopted Alaska, she has been feeding her live mice and rats that she purchases at a feed store in Austin.

“She has that habit of once she gets into that tank, ‘oh, it’s time to eat,’ so whenever I put her in there her head goes up and she starts coiling up,” Bouillon said.

Friend of Bouillon, Caitlyn Howell, first met Alaska at the beginning of sophomore year when she went over to Bouillon’s house for the first time. She said that she was not afraid of it.

“I’d die if I had to feed it,” Howell said. “She only likes feeding it live mice because the snake likes it better.”

Being only a year and a half old, Alaska is about 18 inches long. She has brown and black patterns on her skin and a white underbelly.

“(Ball Pythons) can’t stay in a small tank their entire life,” Bouillon said. “They’ll need something bigger eventually. Right now, (Alaska) is in a tank that’s pretty big. Be prepared to spend money because tanks are pretty expensive.”

Like most pythons, Ball Pythons have a very docile and inquisitive personality. They are non-venomous and relatively small in comparison to most other pythons, making them easy to handle in your home.

“You can feed them once a week and never handle them, and they’ll be completely fine,” Bouillon said. “I can just watch TV and hold her in my lap and she’ll slither around; she’s cute and she’s curious. She’s even gotten stuck in my hair before.”