Steven and His Reptiles

     Steven has always been fascinated by reptiles, especially snakes and alligators.  He has obsessive compulsive disorder, ADHD, and Aspergers Syndrome, a type of high functioning autism which has an obsession and great knowledge of one subject.  His talent lie in everything there is to know about reptiles,

     Growing up, Steven was the biggest fan of Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter. Every Halloween he would dress like him in a safari suit and hat, and carry around a 4 foot long stuffed alligator. He made a really cute Crocodile Hunter!

     Once, while our family was having a picnic in the woods, Steven spotted a snake in the rocks.  He got down on his haunches and said “Crikey, ain’t she a beaut!”  A crowd of kids circled around him as he crawled along with his arms out holding a long stick.  Knowing it was a common garden snake, and not some boa constrictor, did not dampen his enthusiasm.  He put on a real Steve Irwin show for the crowd, and when he did catch the snake on the stick, the audience screamed and backed away.  He then started giving them details about the lovely snake.  It took some doing to get him to replace the snake back in the rocks. He finally did because he did not want to take it away from its “natural habitat.” 

     Since the age of 12, he has regularly volunteered at a shelter for rescued reptiles.  He knows everything there is to know about every reptile, the temperature they need in their tank, whether they needed a wet (rain forest) tank or a dry (desert) tank. He knows what each and every one eats, if it sleeps at night or during the day, and whether it is dangerous.  Because he knows which ones are dangerous, he has been instructed to NEVER bring home a dangerous reptile. He has, however, brought home many of them and set them up on shelves in his basement bedroom.  He keeps a lock on each cage for my own sense of safety, even though he says the locks aren’t necessary.  At first I was scared of the snakes, but he first brought home small ones and, as our comfort level rose, the snakes became larger and larger.  The last snake he had was a 20 foot long Albino boa constrictor.  I wasn’t afraid!  Of course, I had to stay away when he fed it large rats to eat.  He indicated it was up to the guinea pig/rabbit stage, but I said there was no way in the world he was going to do that in my house.  Rats are useless to me.  Guinea pigs and bunnies are way too cute and cuddly!

     Anyway, this snake managed to have eggs on Easter morning!!!  (I thought maybe it was a little thank you from the Easter bunny for not eating his comrades.)  We all watched in amazement as this snake squeezed its body and squeezed its body and an egg came out.  Then more squeezing, another egg.  By the end of the morning it had delivered 28 eggs!  Its body was almost entirely flat by this point, having discharged the bulk of the eggs from the length of its body. As much as I am not a reptile lover, watching this sight was fascinating.  Steven then took the eggs to the hatchery at the rescue shelter, and 24 little baby boa constrictors hatched.  (A few, sadly, didn’t make it.)

     Now, at age 17, Steven continues to have his share of reptiles.  The most he has had at one time were 24, a variety if lizards, snakes, tarantulas, and even several alligators.  Today, he has limited his collection so he would have more room in his bedroom to sleep.  (He’s grown to 6 foot 3, so a small single bed no longer “cuts it”.)  He still has a tarantula, an alligator, and a gorgeous chameleon.  He volunteers a few hours a week at the reptile shelter, but not as many as before.  He is a TEENAGER now, you know, so he has found time for other interests.

     I have never discouraged Steven’s interest in reptiles (I’ve only discouraged him bringing home dangerous ones.)   It is his hobby which calms him down.  He feels knowledgeable and smart.  This is the one area he excels in life and I could never take that away from him.


Comments on: "Steven and His Reptiles" (3)

  1. Hi Lindsey,

    Please give my congratulations to Steven!

    That’s not an uncommon pattern with Aspies. For example, I consider myself an NT with dogs (and to some extent with cats), albeit an Aspie with humans. Funnily enough, some of the very people who pride themselves on how they can read other people like books…get bitten by dogs.

    Getting back to snakes, Steven might have already told you that they disproportionately bite young, intoxicated men…

    …wait for it…

    …on the hands and arms.

    Maybe some of these guys could use Steven’s help next time they go out adventuring.

    Incidentally, I put out a regular newsletter on how Aspies can get along better with others…and vice versa. It’s free and better than free, since it may include special offers from me. No one’s contact information is given out without their express consent. If you’d like to subscribe, please drop me a line and I’ll be happy to set you up.


    Jeff Deutsch

    • 5kidswdisabilities said:

      Thanks for the info. I will subscribe to the newsletter. Steven HAS been bitten a couple of times. He does not feel pain, so it never bothered him, and, fortunately, the snakes were not poisonous! He keeps a bottle of rubbing alcohol in his pocket to pour on the snake if it bites him. The snakes don’t like the taste and the alcohol cleans the wounds. The alligators, fortunately, have never found him tasty.

  2. Good morning Lindsey,

    Like I said, please drop me a line and I’ll be happy to subscribe you. (I need an email address for you, and see none on your blog.)

    Does Steven simply not feel pain, or is he simply less sensitive to pain than others? If the former, my fingers are crossed for him!

    Good point about the alcohol. I saw a show which said that if a nonvenomous snake* tries to constrict someone, you can repel it by (1) pouring alcohol on it, (2) pouring warm water on it or (3) bending its tail back. What does Steven think?

    [*] When I was a child, such snakes were referred to as “harmless snakes” – No way!


    Jeff Deutsch

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