The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

A Slithery Secret: Mr. Deveraux’s Classroom Snake Lives Amongst Us

In the remote depths of the science wing, there is a bizarre secret concealed in the back of room 147. Not only will you discover the scattered tools used to conduct various labs in the room, but you will find yourself with your jaw dropped at the discovery of a snake squirming in his solitary domain. While he may be intimidating at first, once you get used to the presence of the scaly creature in your classroom, he will only induce a sense of wonder to those wanting to know the process of taking care of him.

The snake, named Dinger, settled into his new home at Tenafly High School in the fall of 2023. Dinger’s caretaker, Mr. Deveraux, gained approval from the science supervisor, Mr. Rendell, to house him inside the school, and he has already become part of the THS family. Students see Dinger daily as they walk into their biology class, and some have even taken it upon themselves to help in the process of caring for him. 

“I have a student that helps me,” Deveraux said. “I’ll have him clean up the tank and change his water and stuff like that. On feeding days, the kids like to watch him. So, I let my classes watch him eat sometimes.” As a result of such interactions, the students and their classroom companion have already formed a special bond. 

Additionally, contrary to popular belief, some snakes aren’t high-maintenance. This is why they differ so much from other pets that have a reputation of being friendly. Devereux only feeds Dinger once a week, which is sufficient for the snake. He also normally checks if Dinger has water and if the temperature is right. He sprays water in Dinger’s terrarium to ensure that there is good humidity, and after he cleans up his feces, he calls it a day. It’s important to know that feeding snakes is not for the squeamish, since they eat live mice every 7 to 10 days. But after 10 years of working alongside Dinger, Devereux is used to it. As a biology teacher, he wanted to explain why some snakes only require food once a week. “Since you and I are warm-blooded, we need to constantly eat, because we’re using energy to stay at 98.4 degrees,” Devereux said. “However, Dinger doesn’t regulate his body temperature. He just lies under the heat lamp so he gets his temperature regulation from the environment. It costs him less energy to survive than us.” Overall, a ball python like Dinger is relatively easy to care for, and the chill nature of ball pythons makes them an atypical but great partner. 

We also need to clear up any misconceptions about snakes. Not all snakes are aggressive. For example, Dinger, similar to most ball pythons, has a timid nature. The defense mechanism of this shy snake is to curl up in a ball rather than strike at someone if it feels scared. If you ever get the chance to visit the beloved THS snake, don’t be afraid to say hello. Most of the time, he doesn’t bite. 

For those hoping to adopt a snake, Devereux advises you to “make sure you’re in it for the long haul.” Having a snake is a commitment that is much less superficial than having a fragile goldfish. Dinger already witnessed 10 years’ worth of biology classes, which proves that if you’re considering letting a reptile into your family, be prepared to stick with it for a long time. Devereux suggests that you have a contact that you know will be available to help care for your snake if you ever travel. And most importantly, be prepared to show it plenty of love and care.

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About the Contributors
Val Reyes
Val Reyes, Guest Writer
Val Reyes ('26) is excited to write stories in The Echo about pop culture, current events, and student life. In her free time, she likes music, painting, and baking pastries.
Serra Cetin
Serra Cetin, Staff Writer
Serra Cetin ('26) is excited to write for The Echo for the first time. She enjoys writing stories about current events, entertainment, and expressing her opinion in opinion pieces. She plays piano and is on a dance competition team.