One Christmas morning, freshman Adam Duong found a surprise waiting for him. That surprise was his soon-to-be reptilian friend: a pet python he named Houdini.
“The reason why I named him that was because the first time I ever got him, he got out, and even to this day, he’s still trying to constantly escape,” Duong said.
Duong had originally asked for a snake in the past, but he was surprised that his parents actually gifted him one.
“Having a snake is just a part of me wanting to be different, and I figured snakes are both different, dangerous, and exciting,” Duong said.
Houdini has positively affected Duong’s life by giving him more confidence in himself.
“It gives me a sense of pride to have him around,” Duong said. “On my more stressful days, I would hold him, and his presence would help calm me down. He’s the most caring thing I’ve got in my life. He means a lot to me.”
Over a year and a month of having Houdini in his life, Duong has established a trusting relationship with his snake.
“I’ve heard that being near my snake while he eats is a way to gain his trust because that’s naturally a very vulnerable spot for him to be in,” Duong said. “I just have to physically be with him and not do anything while he eats.”
Although Duong said pet snakes do not tend to be emotional, he has seen Houdini display personality traits. Given that snakes are usually quiet, he enjoys seeing the progress of how an unsocial pet can begin to grow a sense of trust around him.
“He’s very curious and gets scared easily, even of his own food,” Duong said. “Then there are times when it comes to feeding—all fear leaps out of his body, and he’s just a total killing machine.”
Through caring for Houdini, Duong has had his fair share of stories that have influenced how he cares for his pet snake.
“I didn’t realize that a mouse could leave a scent on you, and snakes could pick that up. I bought a mouse and I put it in his aquarium to eat,” Duong said. “I didn’t wash my hands, so he smelled me, stopped paying attention to the mouse, and bit me. Then I freaked out and flung my hand so he flew across the room.”
However, Duong encourages others to purchase a pet snake if given the opportunity. Although snakes are often misconceived, he believes they can surprisingly prove to be pets people can bond with.
“Snakes are pretty exciting pets to have, despite being very slow and unemotional,” Duong said. “But trust me, you’ll find your share of stories in getting one.”