Matilda has been getting ready to shed, turning dull and gray, spending her days curled in her Kleenex box (the variety printed with roses and a green background). Yesterday she poked her head out but couldn’t have seen much because even the keratin over a snake’s eyes becomes thick and dull, obscuring their vision. It must be like trying to see through fogged glasses. I check her frequently, hoping to catch her in the act of peeling out of the old skin. I’ve only managed it once.
The snakes I’ve seen at the zoo, pet stores, or biology labs are generally busy doing nothing. By contrast, Matilda is quite active. When not waiting to shed, she comes out of her box every evening to explore her tank. When I take her out and let her slide around my arms and shoulders, she seems very intent on going somewhere, though I doubt she knows where any more than I do.
I like tree boas and vipers for their bright green color and I think boas are not particularly attractive, to put it tactfully. They have clunky heads and grim expressions. Corn snakes like Matilda have sleek heads and round pupils that make them appear more like us. Try looking at the narrow, vertical pupil of a viper’s eye and then look at a corn snake’s eye. With the latter, you’ll feel a sense of recognition. This has nothing to do with the snake and everything to do with us, which is why I can also say that corn snakes have a cute, amiable expression, when they technically have no expression at all. They are among the prettiest of snakes. I hope Matilda sheds soon. She looks very uncomfortable right now. I can only compare it to that pre-menstrual feeling of bloat and irritation that female readers, at least, will understand.