Little Snake Is So Obsessed With Her New Birdhouse
“She loves it to bits.”
It’s a natural instinct for many snakes to hide under rocks or logs in the wild. But one snake named Sammie has a rather unusual place that makes her feel safe and secure — a place where snakes are not usually allowed.
Vivien Leanne, a pianist and music teacher in Suffolk, England, had no plans to adopt a snake when she met Sammie. With a bearded dragon named Kit and two ancient tortoises already at home, another reptile was the last thing on her mind.
Out on a lunch break one day, Leanne was taking a walk down some unfamiliar streets when she came across a pet shop in trouble. With most of the tanks empty, one tiny albino corn snake, with red eyes and pink scales, caught Leanne’s eye.
“A local pet shop went bankrupt and all these tiny snakes desperately needed homes,” Leanne told The Dodo. “She was really too young to be sold and the first few weeks she got used to being pampered nonstop.”
Though the first weeks were difficult, Sammie began to grow strong, and proved to be the perfect late-night companion for her busy mom. “I got Sammie when I started my master’s degree, as I needed something to cuddle while I studied,” Leanne added. “She’s nocturnal and it was so comforting when I was studying all night to have someone to talk to.”
Sammie has always liked to find secure, comfortable hiding places, though some are more convenient for Leanne than others.
“She likes curling up under my hair and napping (so does Kit),” Leanne said, “but I have to be careful, as one time she actually tangled herself into my braids and refused to budge!”
Sammie is able to completely disappear into her mom’s long, thick hair, and so good is that hiding place that she will even, on occasion, join her mom for work. “I’ve taught whole piano lessons with the student unaware that there’s a little scaly friend lurking on my shoulder,” Leanne added.
While her mom’s hair will always be her favorite hiding place, Sammie has found somewhere else to shield her from the bright sun and it’s a bit more convenient for all parties involved: a birdhouse.
“Originally the birdhouse was for my bearded dragon Kit. He’s just grown old enough to have his first ever brumation [winter hibernation] and he was a bit unsure how to make himself hide. He kept getting wedged against the tank or burying himself under his water dish and getting soggy and annoyed, and a grumpy sleepy lizard isn’t the best company,” Leanne said.
When Leanne saw the birdhouse while out shopping, inspiration struck.
“[I] figured if I took the base off it and sanded it down, it was about the right size and I could spy on him through the peephole (as brumation is also a scary time for lizard owners),” Leanne explained. “I smoothed down the edges and lined it with his favorite blanket, and he snuggled right down and slept for two months solid.”
When Kit woke up from his hibernation full of energy and ready to play, Leanne decided to see if Sammie would like a turn.
Nobody could predict quite how much Sammie would love the little wooden dwelling. “I scrubbed it out and this time filled it with substrate straw so she could dig her way into it and ‘discover’ this cozy little cave with its own little peeking hole,” Leanne noted. “She loves it to bits.”
Leanne is not entirely sure what it is about the bird feeder that makes it a household favorite.
“A lot of store-bought reptile hides are designed to hide them, but feel artificial or thin,” Leanne said. “Kit often falls asleep hugging a branch because he likes to sink his claws in; I think the birdhouse has the same kind of sensation and also the wood absorbs heat during the day, which any reptile approves of. Cardboard doesn’t do that, and plastic doesn’t feel natural to them.”
These days, Sammie loves burrowing under the birdhouse, hiding herself completely for some alone time. “Sam has always had wooden hides like hollowed-out tree branches, but I think she prefers the fact that the birdhouse is designed to be sheltering and she can hide completely if she wants to,” Leanne said.
This has caused some jealousy between the reptile brother and sister.
“Kit is sulking,” Leanne noted. “I may have to get another birdhouse so next year they don’t have to share!”
Though Kit has to share his hideaway for the time being, the lizard has plenty of comfortable places to lounge. “In the summer, he has a deck chair and a hammock, as it’s important to keep cool,” Leanne added, “and have a space for one’s teddy.”