Seeing potentially dangerous animals playing nice with kids is typically cute. How many dog people have looked at pictures of large breeds like German shepherds, Doberman pincers, Great Danes, and so on and have been slayed by the cuteness?
Of course, some cat people don’t get it and think the child is in jeopardy, when in reality that family dog is the child’s protector.
I bet both dog and cat people would have a problem with this. And actually, thousands on the internet have already expressed their dismay. And I have to agree with them.
The Family Pet
In this case, the family pet is a snake. A 13-foot Burmese python to be specific. His name is Nay-Nay. Personally, I think his name should be No-No. As in this pet is a big no-no.
Jamie Guarino, a 34-year-old dad from White Lake Michigan raised Nay-Nay from when it was a little more in size than a small rubber band.
Guarino set off a storm when he shared a video of the python playing with then 14-month-old Alyssa. It was uploaded to the Barcroft TV channel and features Nay-Nay slithering over Alyssa while he talks to both daughter and snake in a baby voice.
Yes, horrifying on so many levels.
Guarino is a professional snake handler and according to abc7News he claims to have been a “snake charmer” since he was a teen. For those not familiar with the term, Wikipedia has the following to say about snake charming.
“Snake charming is the practice of appearing to hypnotize a snake (often a cobra) by playing and waving around an instrument called a pungi. A typical performance may also include handling the snakes or performing other seemingly dangerous acts, as well as other street performance staples, like juggling and sleight of hand.”
Guarino is confused by people’s reaction to the video.
“When people see this clip they mostly react with fear or negativity. And I don’t understand why.” He then continues, “This is an embedded fear, and I think people are brainwashed.”
And to those who he feels are brainwashed, he has a message.
“To those of you who might see this video as irresponsible or dangerous, please take a minute. Don’t judge based on fear or something you don’t understand. Snakes can be, and are, loving animals.”
He may feel so, but many viewers did feel he was irresponsible in his actions, and rightfully so.
Let’s take a moment and separate feelings from fact. Unlike dogs and other large animals that have been bred to be pets—or at least bred to be around humans, that is certainly not the case with Burmese pythons.
Here’s what National Geographic has to say about this snake.
“…generally docile disposition…”
“Attacks on handlers, sometimes deadly, are not uncommon.”
“Burmese pythons are carnivores, surviving primarily on small mammals and birds.”
“They kill by constriction, grasping a victim with their sharp teeth, coiling their bodies around the animal, and squeezing until it suffocates.”
Little Alyssa Guarino was a “small mammal” when this video was taken. So it’s not surprising that so many took exception, despite Guarino’s assertion that,
“My daughter was absolutely in no danger.”
There have also been much publicized incidents in the last few decades where pythons ended killing children. In one case, reported on by the New York Times in 1996, it appears the snake mistook it’s owner for food.
“A 13-foot python, kept as a pet in a Bronx housing project by two teen-age brothers who hoped to make careers out of caring for reptiles, killed one of the brothers yesterday afternoon, possibly having mistaken him for food.”
In another, more recent case in 2013, two young boys in Canada were killed. National Geographic reports,
“The deaths of two young boys found strangled in New Brunswick, Canada, early Monday morning have been blamed on a snake that escaped from an exotic pet store located beneath the apartment where they were staying.
Police speculate that the serpent escaped its enclosure at the Reptile Ocean store sometime overnight, got into the ventilation system, and then into the upstairs apartment where the young boys, reportedly brothers aged five and seven years old, were staying over with the son of the store’s owner.”
Guarino tries to skew these facts with some facts of his own.
“If you research the facts there 95 per cent more dog attacks than snakes.”
Perhaps because most people wouldn’t get close enough to a snake for it to attack?
Whatever his reasoning in uploading the video, things didn’t go quite as Guarino planned. The Oakland Free Press states that the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office has asked the Department of Human Resources to launch an investigation into whether his children were being neglected or abused.
What do you think? Are pythons really just cuddly creatures that are misunderstood?
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