Randy Mac’s Livin’ It Up: Remembering my cute little pet…puff adder

Randy Mac

Randy Mac

Peter Shaustokonovich. Now THERE’s a name to remember!

It was a made-up name our pastor of many years ago would use when telling a story. It was also the name I gave the 7-inch-long Eastern United States spreading adder (snake) — pronounced properly, in Texas, anyway, spread’n ădder — my dad caught and gave to me.

Robbie and I had been married a very short while. I put the snake in a small aquarium and set it on a small table in our apartment den. These snakes are completely harmless and you can’t even MAKE one bite ya. Instead, when threatened, their first defensive operation is to raise their head off the ground and flare the skin just below the head, looking like a miniature cobra (thus “spreading adder”).

If this fails to deter the attacker, the snake will blow a short burst of air through its nostrils and hit the enemy, as if striking…but with its mouth closed.  (Therefore, they are also known as “puff-adders.”)  If an attack is still imminent, the snake will roll over onto its back and play dead.

During the summer and early fall I was able to feed Peter little green tree frogs. (Food chain: Don’t be alarmed.)  When the weather turned colder, the frogs were no longer available, so I had to resort to other ways of making the weekly feedings.

Snakes will not just crawl up and pick up a piece of lifeless meat. So all winter long I’d take a small (frog-sized) piece of raw meat, run hot water over it for a few seconds, pry Peter’s mouth open enough to get the edge of the meat in it and lay him back down. He would then proceed to swallow his supper. We made it through the winter.

One spring afternoon I was met at my car by the apartment manager when I got home from work. Sally asked me if it was true I had a snake in our apartment.  I verified. Turns out someone who had gone in to our apartment to change the a/c filter had ratted. Or snaked.

The conversation then went something like this:

Sally: “You can’t have a snake in your apartment.”

Me:  “The lease papers say it’s OK to have pets in small cages or aquariums. He’s small and in an aquarium.”

Sally: “You don’t have a top on the aquarium.”

Me: “I’ll put one on it.”

Sally:  “Look, either the SNAKE’s gonna go…..or YOU AND the snake are gonna go.”

Peter Shaustokonovich went.

About a month later, on Robbie’s very first day as a school teacher, our parakeet, which was out of its cage for a while, flew out the door as Robbie left for work. I went and told Sally that if someone found it, it was ours.

As I was leaving the office, I looked back and asked, “So we CAN have birds in small cages?”

Sally said, “Yes.”

I grinned and said, “Good!  I’m gonna get us a chicken so we can have fresh eggs!”

Sally was hollerin’ and I was laughin’ as I closed the door behind me.

Life’s an adventure. I’m livin’ it up!  (And helpin’ others do the same!)

Randy McLelland, known as “Randy Mac,” is pastor of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship and and entertainer. He can reached at randymac@randymac.com.





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