Snake it till you make it: Engineering student tames anxieties, exotic pets

Engineering major Christopher Alanis lets Creed, a yellow ball python, crawl on his left arm. It’s one of 12 snakes owned by the student – all of which are ball pythons.


Some people might run away in fear from snakes, but mechanical engineering major Chistopher Alanis chooses to give them a home. A natural interest in biology eventually led him to own a room full of reptiles as a college student. Alanis sat down with Et Cetera reporter Paola Martinez to discuss this unique hobby as well as life on campus.

Q: Why did you choose mechanical engineering as your major?

A: I’ve always enjoyed working with mechanical parts with my hands and just learning how physics works in our world.

Q: What kind of dream job would you like to have with your degree?

A: I’ve always wanted to learn how to build robots that automatically make things or maybe fix airplanes at an airline or something of that nature.

Q: Are you planning to get your associates degree here at Eastfield and then transfer over to a university?

A: I’m planning to be at Eastfield for two years and then transfer to UTD.

Q: What are some of the challenges that you have faced while at Eastfield?

A: Definitely being scared to go to school. Doing that whole thing, being uncomfortable with trying new stuff.

Q: What about school is intimidating to you?

A: Being around people I don’t know. It’s very anxiety-inducing.

Q: How have you overcome that situation?

A: I’m just kind of doing it. I’m having to do it no matter what. So slowly just putting myself out there. Talking to people definitely helps.

Q: Outside of school, is there anything that you like to do? What are some of your hobbies?

A: I love gardening. I love my plants and also love to take care of my animals. I have some snakes, some fishes, some tortoises and a turtle. And I do have to feed them every day and make sure they’re clean. I also like to play video games and spend time on my computer. I like to go to the gym. I try to go almost every day, but that usually doesn’t happen. But I do go every week.

Q: You mentioned having snakes and other pets. What made you decide to have snakes and how many do you have?

A: When I was younger biology always fascinated me, and I’d go look for lizards and snakes in my backyard and then just check them out. Learning about them was fun, other niches and stuff like that. I have 13 snakes, and they’re all ball pythons.

Q: Is there a reason why you specifically chose ball pythons over other snakes?

A: I feel like they’re the most unique looking snake. They are very cute. Their patterns are very nice. Also, their metabolism lets some go prolonged periods of time without eating, which definitely helps on food costs.

Q: You mentioned you had other pets. What other pets do you have, and which ones are your favorites, besides the snakes, of course?

A: I have a softshell turtle. I don’t know his gender, or its gender, but he’s pretty cool. He’s unique looking, kind of ugly — but in a good way. I also have an Oscar fish. He’s very sassy. He’s by himself. He eats a lot every day, always hungry. I have two tortoises. They are nameless, but they’re slow and just fun to look at.

Q: Snakes are commonly feared. Since you have them as pets, what’s something that you’d like the general public to know about them?

A: Snakes are never aggressive. The only time they ever strike at somebody is if they think that person is food or they’re a direct threat to the snake. I’ve never been chased by one of my snakes. I’ve only ever been bitten once, and that’s because I had a mouse or a rat. My hands just smelled like rats, and they thought my hands were food, but never have I ever been scared of my snakes. Also, a lot of people think snakes are poisonous, but snakes are venomous. Poison needs to be ingested and venom is injected.