05/18/12 A STORY ABOUT A BOA PART ONE

As you know I love stories. We are working on a book called “Behind the Snake” and this is part of that, so I decided to put this story out here to continue on with that project and specifically for a day that was memorable, the day that FB (that’s it’s sign) goes public!

A funny thing happened the weekend of September 19-20, 2009. I was set up at the NARBC Arlington, Texas show and of course as usual distracted by a million different things. Mainly I was excited because I had some new Blood pythons out for the first time and people got to see some of them and that was great!

At some point when I was just standing behind the table quietly by myself, a gentleman came up and said he wanted to ask my opinion about a snake he had. He asked would I mind taking a look at it and see what I thought. In the split second that I realized what was happening and what I was looking at, I collected myself and calmly said something on the order of “that is really fantastic” or “incredible” or “amazing.” I don’t know what I thought. I know my blood pressure probably went up 50 points, though externally you would have thought I was casually examining your traditional, nice normal pet snake, brought to the table to make an assessment. I was stunned.

Though Dave and I were absolutely first and foremost “Python” people, since 1994, when I got our first morph of a Boa constrictor, a Kahl strain albino (and that’s another story that will be in the book), I became hooked on Boas. So along with the pythons, up until that day I had spent roughly 15 years working with Boas. I spent a lot of hours with our fantastic projects, loving all of it, in particular of course our VPI Caramel Albino project. Our projects with Boas have always been very limited because of our other interests, so I specifically narrowed them down to 1) VPI Caramel Albino, 2) Motley, and 3) Sharp Albino, by the time this guy showed up at our table.

Now you have to realize on this day I am at a show, I am standing at my table, and around me are one hundred shark reptile guys standing behind their tables. If and when they lay eyes on this snake they will go absolutely nuts. It was obvious, that in this crowd, I was not going to have a chance of getting this snake, if the guy was parting with it that day.

I looked down at the snake, I think it was about 2 ½ feet long, the most solid black snake I had ever seen.

I said to the guy, “that is stunning, congratulations, good luck with the project, keep me posted.”

He thanked me, walked away from the table, and that was the last I saw him.

A little more than two years later the beginning of October 2011, I was sitting at my desk, where I am sitting now as I write this, and the phone rang. Now as most of you know, I never answer the phone. I’m taking this opportunity to publically apologize for not answering the phone. I have almost become a 100% text or email person, so if you are reading this text me, email me, I will answer 24/7 unless I’m sleeping. I get an absolute F in responsible phone answering.

But on this day for some unknown reason, unknown even to myself, I picked up the phone. “Tracy, this is Jeff, the one with the Black Boa.” The Black Boa? Are you kidding me? Trust me, if you showed me a solid Black Boa 30 years ago, I remembered it. I was stunned. He actually still had the snake. Oh he got a ton of offers that day, none from me.  It turned out he just really loved that snake, so he packed it up and went home with it.

In two years I didn’t hear any mention of this snake from anyone. I absolutely thought someone had it, but was keeping it under wraps. Jeff said he just brought it home and wanted to work on the project himself, which in our conversation at the table, I had encouraged him to do. But now his circumstances had changed and he wanted to sell her, and her parents, and some of her siblings that he had kept.

He could have called anyone to sell the snake, but he called me and I could not have been more thrilled.

Meanwhile as everyone knows the climate regarding the keeping and breeding of Boa constrictors in the past two years had decidedly changed. Two years of absolute insanity regarding the potential listing of this species as “Injurious” along with the giant pythons and Anacondas, made it a distinct reality that Boas could be banned from interstate trade. This potential action had without question been having an effect on the trade in Boas. Everyone in the past two years since I first saw Jeff and his Black Boa was experiencing a dramatic slowing of sales. Several major businesses were so affected they stopped working with Boas all together.

In essentially an on the spot decision, I had to show our confidence in our ultimate victory on the Boa listing, show our belief that the market had a future, or just be happy enough to hopefully produce Black Boas one day that would remain in Texas.

Based on my long held motto, “if you don’t buy the snake, you don’t own the snake” we bought the snake.

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