I’ve hesitated to write about Jazzie because so many humans can’t connect to snakes, and many are even disgusted by them out of fear, childhood nightmares or just general dislike, but please give this story a chance.
I realize it’s very difficult for a lot of humans to connect with creatures that aren’t furry, warm and cuddly, but in my heart, I believe all creatures have personality, behavioral habits, likes and dislikes, which leads me to think they have souls. We’ve seen it in all of the reptiles here at the S.C. Coastal Animal Rescue and Educational Sanctuary in Georgetown — the tortoises all have different personalities, the lizards do as well, and yes, even the snakes. At SC-CARES, we’ve rescued creatures of all shapes and sizes, warm-blooded, cold-blooded, furry, feathered and hoofed.
Jazzie is one the most abused and neglected animals we’ve taken in at SC-CARES. Jazzie is a Burmese python, in the constrictor family, and should have been hatched in the wild somewhere in Asia, but because of the exotic pet industry, he became part of the reptile trade. Constrictors are nonvenomous snakes and squeeze their prey to eat.
He came to us in 2010, was 6 feet long at only 1 1/2 years old, and SC-CARES became his fourth home. Jazzie unfortunately had been abused and mishandled, creating a dislike for humans and mistrust in our species. This snake’s only defense against humans that mistreated him was to attempt to bite. When he arrived, he was so aggressive toward humans, he would lunge at us from inside his enclosure.
Jazzie carries scars on the inside and the outside. Black scarring on his body indicates a heat source that was left in his area uncovered that burned his skin. Like humans that fall asleep in the sun, reptiles are notorious for lying on warmth and not realizing their skin is burning. All heat sources should be covered to prevent this from happening.
With a life span of 30 years, Jazzie at 6 years old is still very young and already 10 feet long. With the potential to grow to 12 to 20 feet, he’s a very large snake. Trust is something both parties have to work at for rehabilitation to occur. In the last four years, we’ve seen dramatic improvement on Jazzie’s part. We have taken all the necessary steps to ensure everyone’s safety, so Jazzie’s enclosure is under lock and key.
Any time we’ve been near his enclosure, we move very slowly so we don’t frighten him. By moving slowly and talking softly, we are now able to clean his enclosure and change his water, all while he’s eating. This is a wonderful step forward for all of us. We don’t think Jazzie will ever tolerate being held, and after all that he’s been through, we can’t blame him. At least we feel that he lives in peace and is fed and safe from abuse.
All creatures have a purpose, and it’s not critical that we love or even understand them — just that we can in some degree respect their right to life!