Manga! A Guest Column by TangognaT
Wednesday Happenings

Snakes on a Blog

In the front of our house we used to have some overgrown boxwoods that housed a garter snake family. They enjoyed sunbathing on top of the bushes, and I suppose they lived somewhere underneath. Being rather shy, they usually zipped away at the slightest sound from us. One of the highlights of Junior's life was when our plump orange tabby cat caught one outside and brought it in, alive, for our viewing pleasure. In a moment of creative panic, I swept the snake back out with a broom, to the great disappointment of boy and cat.

Since we re-landscaped a bit, I have not seen the garter clan as much, but Junior did find one of their sloughed-off skins in the garden this summer. I didn't know about his discovery until I spotted it lovingly arrayed on the back of the living-room couch. At that point  I strongly suggested that the yard was a better place for the skin. Out it went.

But here is a herpetological item that I am happy to keep indoors: the book Why Do Snakes Hiss? And Other Questions About Snakes, Lizards, and Turtles. Written by Joan Holub, this beginning reader is full of interesting reptile lore (oooh, spitting cobras, cool) and features some good-looking photographs and illustrations. The Dial Easy-to-Read book is rated a Level 3, for "reading alone, harder words, longer text." The print is still fairly big, and there's enough white space so that the pages don't look at all distracting. Lots of kids  enjoy nonfiction more than fiction, and a book like this one has a nice chance of engaging a nature-loving reluctant reader, too.  For the younger child, Why Do Snakes Hiss? makes a good read-aloud.

(For some resources for reluctant readers, check out Elizabeth Kennedy's page on the subject at


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Been reading your blog since TypePad featured it. Do you have a list of recommended books for 3-year olds? Nowadays, he's into Shiver Me Letters: A Pirate ABC.


Mike, thank you for visiting. A list for 3 year olds is a good idea for a future post! Have your read the Curious George books? Also Maggie Smith's "Counting Our Way to Maine," Bill Martin Jr.,'s "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom," Anne Rockwell's "Good Morning, Digger," and Sarah Weeks's "Two Eggs, Please" (one of my son's all-time favorites). Keiko Kasza's "A Mother for Choco" is one I read to my son's preschool class, as well as Philemon Sturges's "Little Red Hen (Makes a Pizza)." Oh, and Donald Crews's "Freight Train."

Hope this helps!

I love garter snakes! We used to catch them and keep them as pets as a child. My Mom was so awesome she even set up a special tank for our finds. I have not seen any here, but we do have the cutest little ringneck living in the basement!

Junior would love to have a snake as a pet! Right now we have a cat and two crickets.

If you love garter snakes, you HAVE to read "A Gathering of Garter Snakes," by Bianca Lavies. It's a kids' book, with great photos, about thousands of garter snakes who spend the winter in a big pit in Canada. Very interesting book...and a little eccentric. I found the book at the library.

This will be GREAT for my "snake loving" son, who CONSTANTLY is looking for more scales to read :) His pet snakey sends his best too.


What kind of pet snake does your son have, Amy? Now that Theresa has mentioned that she used to keep garters as pets, I'm thinking that I ought to get some sort of aquarium/habitat set-up. Junior would adore it. I probably have until next spring to weigh this decision over! Haven't seen many garters lately--so none around to catch.

Hi Susan,

Sorry this is so late. I believe my son has an African Yellow bottom snake - not sure if that's the right name. But it's a great house pet and easy to care for. I have to admit, I don't do the cleaning or feeding.


Jr. would probably still like a snake, but as for now he has goldfish in his room and we have 4 chickens outside! We are reading a book called "The Snake Scientist," though. It's interesting, though a little text heavy for Jr., who's not quite 8.

I'm in a weird position as snakes are my "natural" fear as opposed to spiders, but I find them so freaking fascinating at the same time. Especially the cool ones, like the spitting cobra, lol. Thanks for sharing this.

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