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Posted by W von Papinešu on September 05, 2002 at 19:32:30:
GAZETTE & HERALD (Calne, UK) 05 September 02 Snake proves a charmer
Smartie the snake scared a Calne family out of their skins when he moved in but the Seymours will shed plenty of tears when he leaves in September.
Sharon Seymour, of Pennhill Road, was scared the snake would break out and devour the family's pet hamsters and gerbils, when her stepdaughter Clair bought it home two years ago. But Smartie has grown on the family, from 30 cm to 3 ft, and is now part of the furniture.
Miss Seymour, 18, bought the Miami corn snake two years ago but because of the financial constrictions of starting at university in September she can no longer afford to keep Smartie.
"I'd touched a snake before but we were a bit dubious about having one in the house," said Mrs Seymour.
"But we love the thing now. When Clair goes away for weekends my husband and I fight to feed it. I understand Clair's decision to sell him. She feels she's leaving us with a burden and she's got enough hard work to do to support herself as it is."
Miss Seymour, who will read German and Italian at Anglia Polytechnic, said: "I've always been interested in snakes probably because I'm allergic to fluffy creatures like cats and dogs. I wanted an animal I could look after without sneezing."
Smartie was three months old and millimetres thick when he arrived at the Seymours. He lived in a camera film case with a hole punched in it at first, but now he resides in a shoebox in a metre long, heated vivarium.
He eats mice, which come frozen in packs from the pet shop, but before they are fed to him they need to be defrosted.
Miss Seymour entrusted her sister Zoe, 19, to feed Smartie one weekend but she misheard her sister's instructions and had to spend an hour cleaning the inside of the microwave when the partially frozen mice exploded.
Miss Seymour couldn't think of a name for her snake until her boyfriend randomly came up with Smartie, which stuck.
Miami corn snakes suffocate their prey and are non-venomous. They are common in the south east of the USA.
Miss Seymour said: "Smartie does not like to be handled every day but I probably take him out and hold him twice a week. He's so friendly and he just curls around your body."
She is looking for a new home for Smartie and anyone interested should ring (01249) 822498.