The Social Significance and Meaning of Snake Companionship
This paper will explore the world of human-snake interaction and human relationships that are derived from associations with snakes. Through ethnographic analysis, "thick description," and grounded theory, I will explore what it means to have a snake as a companion animal and the social consequences of snake ownership. I will also categorize snake owners based on levels of objectification and empathy or anthropomorphism in their interactions with snakes as well as discuss the ways in which snake owners commonly manage their stigmatized status in society. Finally, I will investigate the epistemological challenges with "knowing" snakes or possessing "snakeness" as snake owners attempt to form meaningful relationships with their companion animals.