"Situations Wanted: Looking for a large warm sunlit room where I could let several large snakes crawl around for exercise on weekends. 782-2360 at 6 p.m."
The first man who answered Perry Didriksen's classified advertisement didn't mince words."Are you the guy with the snakes?" the caller asked.
Didriksen told the man yes, he was the man with the snakes.
"Well, you're not bringing them here," the caller said, and hung up.
Didriksen said he was amused, but not surprised, at the caller's reaction.
"Snakes are really a lot of fun . . . but most people are afraid of them because they haven't been exposed to them. They haven't been around them that much," Didriksen said.
His several large snakes are what he says - large. The largest of the large is K.S., or Kleine Schlange, which is German for "little snake." She's 14 feet long and weighs 90 pounds. Inside Didriksen's home in the Pleasant View area, K.S. is curled up in a long, glass cage that is about 3 feet high. A taped sign on the front of the cage reads: "Reptiles Need Love Too. Treat Me With Respect."
Didriksen, 30, said he became interested in snakes as a young child growing up in New Jersey.
"My dad would always catch snakes and bring them home, you know water snakes or garter snakes.. . . We'd keep them for about two or three weeks, then turn them loose."
While Didriksen doesn't find his selection of pets odd, he said he can understand why some people may be startled at his menagerie.
"Most people have almost no exposure to snakes, so they don't understand them."
Didriksen crosses the room and opens the lid on another, longer cage that holds Harry and Cleo, a pair of 8-foot-long Burmese pythons. Harry seems a bit more curious than his girlfriend, and in a slow, slithering movement he advances out the cage to peer at the visitors. The visitors back up.
"Snakes are docile, but they're not affectionate like other pets. It doesn't matter to them one way or the other," Didriksen said.
But are these dangerous?
Well, yes, they can be.
"It's never a good idea to let one get completely around your neck, or they can strangle you. You have to know how to handle them and know how to spot the signs that tell you they would rather be left alone," he said.
Although Didriksen's snakes are not poisonous, they do have sharp teeth.