The Snake Keeper
Written by Ava100   

Sabra Chapman is fun and cute and bubbly.  The kind of young work professional who's in her late twenties and hangs out at the pub after hours.  

Still, there's one key characteristic that makes her truly unique.  Sabra keeps snakes.  

She just started self-proclaimed "obsession" but she feels telling her story is a great way to connect to other young people who might be in the same position.

"From a young age, I'd had an interest in the 'unusual', I remember finding a newt as a small girl and keeping it for awhile. It had a little pool and plants in a make shift viv.  I took it to school for show n tell and was asked by the teacher if i would donate to the nature reserve at the school. I remember being really annoyed I'd lost my pet! Mum said I also had a tendency to catch bee's and snails! I never seemed content with budgies, guinea pigs or cats!" she says.  As she got older, Sabra met a few friends who kept lizards.  It wasn't until she met friend Chris, however, that things really started to change!

By then she was already 28!  "I met Chris last June.  'Oh by the way, I keep a few reptiles,' he told me one night. Little did I know at the time it would set me on a course to owning 8 royal pythons and 1 hognose (currently, anyway!). Chris and I became good friends and when I finally visited his house he introduced me to the 4 royal pythons he had, from then on I was hooked, he taught me how to look after them, cleaning, bathing, feeding, etc.. and for that I will always be grateful!"

After realizing what keeping snakes would involve, Sabra finally took the plunge and got one.  She went to a reptile shop in London and looked at Mojaves, pastels, and yellowbellys.  She loved the the Zebra Pastel.  She decided it was the one!

"Boy was he long.  I was worried that I wouldn't be able to handle a bigger 'baby' snake but I knew any snake I got would be big eventually so after mulling it over at the pub down the road (and a couple of vodkas to calm my nerves, after all this was £400 for a first snake), I decided the zebra pastel was the one!"

She continues, "Bringing Sebs home was the best day, but also the most nerve racking.  Would I be able to look after him ok? Would he like me?? I made a few 'school boy' error's in those first few weeks, I was scared to pick him up and shut his tail in his lid once (ohhh i felt bad about that one) but after a month we were soulmates, and still are to this day. He will always be my baby!"

Guess it was meant to be!

According to Sabra's story, shortly after bringing Sebs home, her friend Chris went to Thailand for 3 weeks.  At that point she realized she needed like-minded people to talk to.  She searched the net and found a couple of reptile sites but the best one by far was RFUK, so she says.

"I joined up and am very glad I did! I've met several people on there I would call friends now! Whenever I have a problem, it's the first place I go! There are so many experienced keepers and for novice keepers like myself it's invaluable."

The snakes really ARE her babies.

"In a way I think of my snakes as 'my babies' because they are totally dependant on me.  I love them all (even the hissy hognose). My day consists of: Wake up, check snakes and temps, change their water, shower go to work, get home, check all snakes and temps, go make dinner, spend 2-3hours, cleaning (if necessary,) and handling generally letting them crawl about, then bed! So as you can see they are like children in my world. I put a lot of effort into making sure they are happy, and have space and time to crawl around and are handled a lot."

Sabra currently has 8 ball pythons and 1 hognose.  She also has a boyfriend of 7 months who she's also getting hooked on snakes.  He, too, has a rather large collection.

But is he as obsessed as Sabra???

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