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Uploaded:2020-11-05
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Meet our newest ambassador, a beautiful albino gopher snake. Learn where she came from and get to know her story.

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Hello, and welcome back to Animal Wonders!

I’m Jessi, and a couple weeks ago we got a call to take in a young gopher snake and I wasn’t prepared for how beautiful she would be! Just look at that pattern with those bright colors! [CHEERY INTRO MUSIC].

We first introduced her in our recent Reptile Room Tour video and asked for name suggestions from everyone. So thank you for all of the write-ins! We then picked a handful of the suggestions and asked our Patreon community to make the final decision with a vote for their favorite.

So for the big name reveal, this little beauty is now officially Starburst! I think it's super fitting because she's both brilliant like a star but also kind of reminds me of my favorite Starburst candy colors. Starburst is an albino gopher snake which means she lacks the darker pigments seen on most wild individuals.

She’s considered an applegate phase which means she was selectively bred for more enhanced colors than a normal albino, with a whiter white and brighter orange, yellow, and red blotches. I think she is beautiful, but I actually prefer the natural coloration of gopher snakes over selectively bred color morphs, but no matter what color she is, all that matters is that she has a good home. Starburst came to us from someone who had her for a pet for several years, but when they had an unexpected life change, they could no longer keep her.

We actually have a good history with her previous owner since he’s been a big help in finding appropriate homes for displaced animals in our community for quite a few years. So when he contacted us and asked if we had room for this special gal, I just had to say yes because he really cared for her and couldn’t think of anywhere else he’d want her to be besides Animal Wonders. And because I knew she had been well taken care of, I felt comfortable bringing her right into the Reptile Room without a quarantine period.

Though I am still careful to wash my hands after handling her before handling another reptile. So over the last 2 weeks I’ve gotten to know Startburst a bit better and this is what I’ve found. She’s on the smaller side for being about 3 years old, but based on her enthusiastic appetite.

I’m thinking she’s going to grow pretty quickly! Starburst eats about 2-3 mice or small rats every 1-2 weeks, and she’s not a picky eater at all. She is picky about how she interacts with me, though.

I’m actually really happy with how calm and settled she’s become, but you can see she was pretty active when I first picked her up. She hasn’t been handled very much previously, so she’s not super comfortable being picked up out of her enclosure. Which is a little bit of an issue because I gave her plenty of natural items in her home, and when I go to pick her up she ends up wrapping her body around anything she can.

This is a pretty common behavior for snakes, but Starburst is a bit more determined than most and I end up having to take a lot of the stuff out or dragging it around to get her out. But I am happy that she doesn’t seem to be super defensive, which means she doesn’t hiss or strike. Hissing and striking are really normal behaviors for gopher snakes, especially when they’re young and/or unhandled.

I can see Starburst’s nervousness about being handled when she makes quick and jumpy movements. If we just take a moment to compare her behavior with our other gopher snake, Pinecone, you can see Pinecone wraps her body tightly around my arm and then hisses loudly when she’s uncomfortable. Starburst is not doing the typical gopher snake thing, which only means that she has a different personality and it’s my job to figure her out and find a way for her to feel more comfortable being handled.

Since she’s not feeling defensive and hissing or striking, I think more frequency in coming out of her enclosure and just spending time being held is going to go a long way. Starburst is also a very curious snake. As soon as she was introduced to her new home, instead of hiding and hunkering down in the nearest hiding place, she began investigating every nook and cranny.

I like seeing her get cozy in her hollow log, but it’s also nice to see her climbing on top of it and actively engaging in her environment. With some consistent interaction, I’m thinking Startburst is going to calm down and get comfortable being handled and she will make an excellent ambassador. As an ambassador, she’ll get to teach about why gopher snakes are an important part of their ecosystem.

And with her unusual colors, we’ll also get to educate about genetics and adaptations. I’m definitely looking forward to sharing her with audiences as soon as we’re able to. I also wanted to share something that we’ve been working on that I think you’ll enjoy.

Check out these snake scale pendants! Featuring Starburst and our other snakes’ shed scales! They’re up in our Animal Shop right now!

As well as a few other new products like our quill earrings and necklace charm from Kemosabe and Kizmit the porcupines. And these beautiful feather displays from Sunny the turaco and Zoe the Amazon parrot. I love sharing the animals with you each week, and I think it’s pretty neat that you can actually have a small piece of them as your very own.

All the proceeds from our Animal Shop go directly to the care of the animals, so you’re not only getting something for you, you’re giving them a gift, too. I’ve put the link to our Animal Shop in the description below. Thank you for letting me share Starburst with you!

I hope you enjoyed getting to know her. If you’d like to keep up with all the animals at Animal Wonders, be sure to subscribe and I’ll see you next week with more animal adventures. Thanks!

Bye! [BOLD OUTRO MUSIC].