A Fun-Loving Guide to the Natural World for Kids and Adults

Ambassador Corn Snakes, Taraj and Katai

People often think we’re a little odd when they find out we have snakes as pets.  And despite the fact that we both love snakes, it took us a while to make our decision.  You see, snakes are one of those animals that don’t really domesticate.  Sure, they get used to being handled, but snakes will readily re-adapt to the wild if they’re released into the right ecosystem.  And it felt strange to us to consider keeping such ‘wild’ creatures as pets.

We finally decided that we’d go ahead and bring snakes into our lives, but that we’d hold ourselves to a condition.  The snakes wouldn’t be pets so much as ambassadors.  As soon as Taraj and Katai (who were brothers and came to us when they were the size of pencils) were grown to an impressive-enough length, we began taking them to schools, libraries, nature presentations, and community events, where they swiftly became stars.  Corn snakes are so beautiful that few people can resist coming up to meet them, even if they’re afraid of snakes.  For hundreds of people, Taraj and Katai have been the first snake they’ve touched, and by the end of the presentation, many people end up having their pictures taken with one of these two brothers draped around their necks!

During the summer, we bring all of our snakes out to bask in the sun and experience some quality outdoor time.  While some of our other snakes are terrestrial, Taraj and Katai have arboreal tendencies, and love to climb.

It may be an unfair trade-off.  They live lives of captivity, only getting to go outside once in a while.  But they’ve made a difference for lots of people, and made a difference for lots of snakes, since many of the people leave the snake presentations with a new respect and curiosity for these wondrous creatures.  We hope that Taraj and Katai get to touch many more people’s lives in the coming years!

15 Responses to “Ambassador Corn Snakes, Taraj and Katai”

  1. Those snakes are some kind of BEAUTIFUL! Do they live in upstate New York? Thanks for being ambassadors for snakes. So many people hate them and hurt them without thinking.

  2. I can’t think of two better people to care for these ambassadors to the natural world!

  3. I have to admit that although I believe in live and let live, like many people I’m a bit creeped out by big snakes. I recognize that they are beautiful, important members of ecosystems, however and am disturbed by the persecution so often suffered by totally harmless snakes. Bravo to you for sharing your knowledge and expertise with others and helping to promote understanding of these neat animals.

  4. Hello Jackie,

    You’re absolutely right that people often hold some ill feelings toward snakes. We feel really lucky to be able to introduce people to some really friendly ones =)
    These corn snakes are a southern species, very common in Florida and ranging upward from there — we’ve heard of them found in New Jersey, though! You have the black rat snake in New York, which is closely related (though not at all similar in appearance), and the Eastern Milk Snake, which isn’t so closely related, but looks VERY similar to the Corn Snake!

  5. Thanks Ted, we feel lucky to have the privilege!

  6. Hi barefootheart!

    We understand how they can be a little ‘creepy’. We feel the same way about tarantulas! Fascinated, but a little intimidated =) That’s been one of the most rewarding parts about bringing these two to presentations — taking the time for people who are a bit tentative to have their ‘first touch’ of a snake (often they’ll begin with the tip of the tail). We like to give people as much time as they need, and sometimes people will actually be crying when they first touch the snake’s scales. It’s quite beautiful to behold!

  7. I love this post. Your snakes are lovely. I too have a couple of snakes as “pets”. One is a young corn snake, we affectionately names Corny, and a large California King Snake, that is the most wonderful shade of chocolate brown and yellow….named Brownie of course. I use them all the time for programs for children. The kids love them and are naturally drawn to them. One of the greatest feelings to watch the transformation from fear to respect.

  8. Hello MObugs41!

    Thank you so much for helping to spread the word about snakes — we wish we could meet your California King snake! Sounds so beautiful =) It truly is amazing to watch people’s curiosity get the better of their fear.

  9. [...] have them visit my garden, even if they’re not so eye catching as Kenton and Rebeccas’ corn snakes! Here are some of the blooms the snake and I enjoyed. Prague Spring (Lambert 1989) Chance Encounter [...]

  10. Many, many years ago I had a good friend who had a boa constrictor. I believe his name was Spike (the snake, not the friend). When Spike took sick my friend, not having a car, asked if I would drive her and Spike to a veterinarian who treated exotic pets. I remember her having Spike out of his basket while in the car and me suggesting that she put him away before some unsuspecting driver beside us saw him and drove into a ditch. I believe Spike received an injection of some sort from the vet - a vitamin shot maybe? - but, sadly, he died a few days later. My friend was very upset, but after a suitable mourning period, she purchased another snake.

    Are you familiar with the picture book “The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash..”? I remember it being a favourite with my kids when they were young, and it would be a good recommendation for your snakes’ young fans.

  11. Hello Grammarian!

    Such a sad tale, especially as we also lost a boa constrictor once.

    On another note, we have not heard of the book you mention, and we LOVE picture books. We’re going to make a trip to our local bookstore to see if we can get it ordered!

    Thanks so much for letting us know about it!

  12. Not all wild creatures do so well from being kept by humans but I think the trade off for these snakes is probably pretty sweet - regular food, protection from predators, a cosy place to live and quality outdoor time. Not to mention respectful handlers :) Sounds good to me! And as educators I bet they are second to none.

  13. We do like to think that they have things pretty good, and they certainly are good educators, as you’ve pointed out! We don’t like to see anyone in a cage, but they seem to enjoy the climbing branches, rocks, and platforms in their home. Still, that outside time is fun for all, and they really seem pleased in the tangle of a willow’s branches.

  14. I have a 6 1/2-foot gopher snake I refer to as my “ambassador.” He is the most docile snake I’ve ever owned in 20 years, and he’s an albino so kids are fascinated. I’m glad to see there are other ambassadors out there. Beautiful snakes.

    P.S. - You can see my ambassador gopher snake in this video (he’s a YouTube star as well):


  15. Hello Brandon!

    We loooove Diego! He is absolutely beautiful- what a delightful ambassador! Thank you for sharing the link to your video on the ‘21 Interesting Facts About Snakes’ (as well as some other very neat videos). We’re so glad that you are out there helping people to understand more about snakes- it’s amazing how little the majority of people actually know about snakes, but so fun to watch as people shed their fear, open up and begin to explore, ask questions, and decide to touch and hold these unbelievable creatures!

    It’s funny, but snakes often steal the show, don’t they? We once had a lovely Columbian Red-Tailed Boa named Aria that Rebecca used to belly dance with. Whenever the show was over, the audience members would flock to Aria (with Kenton serving as ‘body-guard’), proclaiming what an exquisite creature she was, and what an excellent ‘dancer’. Luckily, we both adored Aria just as much as the audience, so there were no jealous behind-stage fits

    Kudos to you and Diego for sharing yourselves with the world- Keep up the great work!

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