The Reptile Room was warm. Very warm, and filled with slithering reptiles and crawly lizards.
“You have to stay quiet,” hushes the counselors, “you have to stay five feet away from each other while holding a reptile, and make sure you sit down onto the ground so you don’t drop them. Make sure they stay away from your neck, too.”
On a hot day the Reptile Room could be dreaded due to its warmth. On the rare cold day campers would gratefully huddle in the warmth and perhaps peek at a snake or lizard.
During the first week of camp I “adopted” the Speckled Kingsnake. Her name was Carly, and she was sort of vicious. For the first few days she was fine. For some reason, a few days in, she would begin to squirm in my hands and try to bite me, but would actually bite herself instead.
I was scared for her, I really was. I see pictures on the internet of snakes eating themselves and it genuinely scared me. I quickly put Carly back in her enclosure and worry. I would stand there and watch her watch me and just worry. She was a wild-caught, which may be the root of her frightening quirks.
That’s when I began to take Legolas out, and despite what everyone said about him, he was tame. After my trauma with Carly I would sit on the dirty ground with Legolas puffing in my hands and watch the other campers interact with their reptiles.
Most of the campers sit with their friends and choose compatible snakes. Other people, like me, choose solitary snakes and have to sit alone.
During the last week of camp I adopted a Prairie Kingsnake, named Molly. She was tamer than Carly but was still slightly twitchy. I would clean her enclosure, replace her water, then take her out and hold her for about 10 minutes before switching to either Legolas or a Leopard Gecko.
My best friend had become infatuated with Leopard Geckos, affectionally calling them Geckard Lepos, and would take out two at a time and let them sit on his chest. The room was warm and I always felt a slight worry that he would fall asleep and roll over the Geckos. He never did though.
Right next to the Reptile Room was the Small Animal Room. Whose great idea was that? And right next to the Small Animal Room was the Cat Room. Whose great idea was that?