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The Student News Site of Lampasas High School

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The Student News Site of Lampasas High School

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Slithering Into Retirement

Zith Leaves Science Classroom
Deja Bushong
Zith explores her new enclosure at science teacher Deja Bushong’s home.

Zith educated students. Like any good educator, she taught students about the environment, how to escape an enclosure and eat rats. 

Zith, the ball python, retired April 19. She will spend her older years at the home of science teacher Deja Bushong.

“She has slowed a lot and she’s not eating as much as she used to,” Bushong said. “I just wanted to reduce her levels of stress and get her eating  a little bit more, so she’s at a home where she’s not being handled  quite as much and she can just kind of live life on her own terms.”

Bushong said she would always introduce her students to Zith at the beginning of the school year, and never forced anyone to interact with the snake.

 “Most of the time, as the year progresses, when I have the snakes out, people will get more and more inquisitive,” she said. “They realize that nobody’s been bitten and there have been no issues. A lot of them eventually will pet or sometimes even hold the snake before the end of the year.” 

Bushong has had Zith for five years, and Zith is 20 years old.

Zith prepares to leave for her new home April 19. (Joseph Neuenschwander)

“My brother and his wife had to move and they couldn’t take reptiles where they were going,” Bushong said. “So they gave her to another teacher with the stipulation that she stayed in a classroom and then that teacher left and I kind of inherited her.”

Zith helped Bushong overcome her fear of snakes and helped her to pass it on to other people. 

“She’s very docile,” Bushong said. “She’s always had a very sweet temperament. In the five years I have had her she’s never bitten me. She’s never even really hissed at me. She’s just very sweet.”

Zith disappeared for ten days earlier this year after she escaped from her enclosure. 

“[Zith] is the reason that we now have tank security on all of the tanks,”  Bushong said. “She just decided to go on a walk about. She never left my class room, but she explored on her own for about 10 days before I finally found her.” 

Senior Rae Shannon was in Bushong’s forensics first period class and was one of the first people to know about Zith’s return. 

“It was like a scavenger hunt to find [Zith,]” Shannon said. “When we found her we were all so happy and relieved that she was ok.” 

Bushong has a new classroom snake named Xantha which she hopes to breed with her other snake named Zedd.

“Xantha is a banana yellowbelly and she’s heterozygous for the piebald gene,” Bushong said. “Zedd is piebald pastel and when I pair them, I should get at least half piebald pastel snakes with a pair of Banana, yellowbelly, pastel and Various combinations of the three, so they should make some really really interesting babies.” 

Xantha now lives in Zith’s old enclosure and Zith moved to Bushong’s house where she lives in a 55 gallon tank. 

“It’s really similar to her old one,” Bushong said. “The tank is a little bit smaller but she still has her hide that was in the tank at the school. I took that home so she has some familiar stuff in there.”

Shannon said that Zith was such a joy to have in the classroom and that she’s always been sweet. 

“I remember her always trying to find dark cold places to hide,” Shannon said “but she always made my day a little brighter.”

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