This is Kernel, the corn snake.
He is my housemate’s pet and my companion when I’m home alone. Kernel does not like to stay in his cage; he has wedged open his cage so many times that we have had to put heavier and heavier dumbbells atop it.
We bring him out regularly to slither around the apartment, and he has discovered a love for hiding below our fridge, dishwasher, and stove.
Coaxing him from these cozy niches has been challenging to the point that my housemates have erected little cardboard barriers to prevent these excursions.
Even mice do not tempt him from the darkness and warmth beneath these machines, probably because he is fed well: a single white lab-rat-looking mouse is delivered via chopsticks to him about every week. He swallows each whole.
Every few months, Kernel loses interest in escaping and exploring; he seems fatigued, depressed even. He morphs from his usual orange to a dusky gray.
But several days later, he will shed his outermost layer, regain his bright hues, and move with a newfound vigor. He is physically strong, mentally goal-oriented, and emotionally comfortable in his own skin(s).
I want to be more like Kernel.