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Penny slithers past Xena in snake-naming effort



Photo for: Penny slithers past Xena in snake-naming effort

We asked for your thoughts, and Penny was the narrow victor in social media votes cast to name the Plum Creek Nature Center’s new ball python.

The snake was recently acquired as a rescue animal after the nature center’s previous ball python, Bud, passed away following an illness at the estimated age of 30. He had served as Plum Creek’s resident snake ambassador for 10 years.

The new snake is an approximately 5-year-old female. Rather than name the snake themselves, Plum Creek staff suggested four possible names that would suit the female python: Penny, for her shiny copper-highlighted skin; Mali, for South Mali in West Africa where ball pythons are a native species; Cleopatra or Cleo, for the Egyptian ruler who was known for her great beauty and was often portrayed with a snake; and Xena, for the mighty TV show heroine, “Xena: Warrior Princess.”

After hundreds of votes were tallied on the District’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, pretty Penny narrowly defeated warrior Xena. Suzy Lyttle, an interpretive naturalist at the nature center, said staff members are happy with the choice.

“We like the name because when you look at our new snake in the sunlight, her scales shimmer like a brand new copper penny,” she said.

So far, Penny seems to be getting acclimated.

“Staff, volunteers and visitors have all had great interactions with the python,” Lyttle reported. “Penny has been curious about the visitors at Plum Creek Nature Center. She will move around her home and check people out. Children who attend Plum Creek’s 'Nature Play Day' program were very excited to learn that Penny is 5 years old, just like a lot of them! The animal care volunteers noticed that Penny was very active, so they made her a clubhouse to play in and she loves to weave in and out of the holes of the box.”

Penny will now take Bud’s place helping the District educate students during "Hands-On Herpetology" field trips; "Frogs, Snakes and Turtles" youth group programs; and at many public programs and events. She will be on display with the other animals at the nature center. Plum Creek's menagerie includes Smashbox, a three-toed box turtle; Daenerys, a bearded dragon; and Shoebert, a tiger salamander that is native to the area.

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