Jennah and Lotus do almost everything together. They wake up together, go to class together, venture on roadtrips together, and even go out to the bars together. Lotus has many qualities of a good companion and friend; she’s loyal, loving, observant, and sweet. She’s not too clingy, low maintenance, never snaps, and is a great listener. The only downside is that she might crawl all over your man if you don’t keep an eye on her, but she can’t help it! That’s because Lotus is a beautiful 7-month-old ball python, Universty of Oregon student Jennah Stillman’s pet and loyal companion.
Jennah and Lotus’ friendship began at the beginning of the school year. Having grown up in Northern California, Jennah remembers having always loved reptiles. Once she heard that one of her hallmates from freshman year was selling baby ball pythons, she knew she had to have one. Like any responsible potential pet owner, Jennah talked with him about the maintenance, care, and lifespan for a ball python snake and a few months later, Lotus became a new addition to her home.
While pets can be fun to have around the house, they also can require time and money, two things that many college students are short on. While Jennah agrees that having a pet in college might not be for everyone, she assures that snakes are fairly easy and cheap to care for. In contrast to
domestic pets, such as dogs and cats, snakes are opportunistic eaters, meaning that they only need to eat every 2-3 weeks, and can last up to 3 months without eating if they have to. Other than food and water, snakes only require a moist environment, a terrarium and a heat source, such as a heat
lamp, all of which can be easily found from previous owners on Craigslist.
“Snakes are different. They don't need the constant TLC that mammals do. Granted, the more you hold your snake and interact with it, the more friendly and relaxed it will be.” They do require lots of love and attention, something that Jennah has no problem doing. To keep Lotus in a warm misty environment, Jennah admits that sometimes she’ll even take her in the shower with her. “[It] isn't as weird as it sounds!” She explains, “I just hold her in one hand and just being in the warm, wet shower is really good for her! It’s cute.”
Despite the bad rap snakes get, seen as creepy crawlers with poison fangs and dangerous rattling tails, ball pythons like Lotus make great pets because they are fairly docile and tame. Jennah says, “The best thing about Lotus is that she isn't like the typical perception of a snake. Most people instinctually think of a cobra with fangs that moves really fast or something that is creepy and tries to squeeze them. Lotus isn't like that. She couldn't move that fast even if she wanted to. She has a very delicate nature about her, where she moves slowly, gently, and just looks around at what's going on. She's never struck at anyone, or even made anyone feel unsafe while holding her. A lot of people have a fear of snakes because that's what society teaches us to fear… Many people get a chance to hold Lotus and they realize that not all snakes are like that.”
And it is for that exact reason that Jennah and Lotus spend so much time together. When Lotus gets tired of roaming around the terrarium or Jennah’s room, Jennah’s been known to take her out on errands, occasionally let her curl up in her sweatshirt when she goes to class, and let Lotus hang out
on her lap during long car drives. As for nightlife, Lotus has been known to be a little bit of a party animal. “I take her with me to friends little parties or get-togethers sometimes because now many of my friends know her and love her, so they like seeing her and hanging out when they can,” Jennah
says. Lotus has even been known to bar hop!
“The bar experience was definitely the worst and best [story] as of yet... I brought her to a girlfriends birthday party… and after some drinks and some dancing, before I realized it, we were walking down to the bar and I still had my snake. We got to Max's and my girlfriend's had her out in a hand, on the bar, right in front of the bartender's face and he was absolutely not down with that. They brought her back to me and I tucked her in my sweater trying to hide her. The bartender walked up to me and very firmly asked me to leave then. First time I've ever been kicked out of a bar, but oh well!”
For Jennah, having a pet in college hasn’t been a burden, but rather a fun exciting experience with surprises around every corner. With a stable and safe environment, lots of love and responsibility, Jennah has made a great home for Lotus, as well as loyal companionship, something that all pets
and their owners should share. As for Lotus, she seems to be enjoying every minute of her college life. Jennah beams, “She’s had quite the snake life thus far!”
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Lauren Messman is a sophomore journalism major and business minor at the University of Oregon. She is originally from sunny Scottsdale, Arizona and in her free time likes to play guitar, practice photography, exercise, and hang out with friends. She is currently the head of the philanthropy cabinet in the Chi Omega sorority chapter on campus and enjoys planning events to raise money for their charity, the Make A Wish Foundation. Music is a major passion and inspiration of hers and she enjoys going to concerts and music festivals all over the country, including Coachella, Sasquatch, and Outside Lands. After college, Lauren hopes to write for a magazine, newspaper, or contribute to a multimedia publication. Her dream job would be to write for a music publication, such as Spin or RollingStone. Follow Lauren on twitter @MissLoMess.