European Spotlight: Eric Haan
Haan earned the nickname “The Snake Guy” after bringing his 8-foot boa constrictor to the Sembach Annex library for a children’s presentation.
How long have you had snakes as pets or been interested in snakes?Well, I grew up in south Texas and I spent a lot of time playing around with rattlesnakes, which was really stupid. I was about 10 then.
Have you ever been bitten?No, thankfully, especially with rattlesnakes. But if you have a snake long enough, they have teeth and they eat stuff, it’s going to happen eventually. I’m just waiting for it. And if this guy bites me (pointing to his snake), I’m going to need stitches.
What did your mother think about you playing with rattlesnakes at 10 years old?At the time I was living with my Dad. We lived out in the sticks. We’d be driving down the road, and we’d see one crossing the street and he’d stop and be like, “Snake!” We’d jump out and grab it by the tail and swing it around. It was really stupid. But my Dad was all for it. It was me and my two brothers and we were just a whole bunch of bachelors who didn’t behave enough.
So what do you like most about snakes? Why are you drawn to snakes and not dogs, like most people are?Well, they’re just about the most beautiful pet you could get, and they’re very low maintenance. And if you get to know them, they’re actually really loveable. They have a lot of personality. And they’re quiet.
A lot of people are really afraid of snakes. Do you think that’s fair, or is there a good reason to be afraid?I think snakes really got a bad rap starting with the Bible. That’s where it all started. I do think it’s unfair ’cause if you look at domestic snakebite accidents versus pit bull accidents, the ratio is really in favor of the snake. If you know how to handle a snake, you’re going to be fine. And you can have a pit bull your whole life, and one day it might just jump up and tear your throat out.
Is there anything you are afraid of?Spiders. I don’t do spiders. I can’t touch a daddy longlegs. I will jump on a table. Actually, anything with more than four legs gives me the willies. I don’t know why. It’s always been like that.
Have any of your snakes escaped?All of them. If they want out, they’ll get out ... Usually if they get out, they’re just looking for some place warm, so the first place you check is the water heater. And they’re usually there.
What types of things do snakes eat?When they are like little bitty babies, you have to get baby mice. They’re called “pinkies.” The little babies with no hair on them. And then you upgrade to mice, and this guy eats rats. And eventually we’re going to have to start giving him guinea pigs and rabbits ... If this guy was out in the wild, he could get big enough to where he could eat dogs and possibly even a small deer.
Movie “Snakes on the Plane.” Good or bad?Some of the CGI (computer-generated imagery) was laughable. But I enjoyed it. I saw it in the theater.
So what do snakes do for fun?Sit.
Interview by Scott Schonauer.
Eric HaanAge: 26Title: Maintenance worker for Sembach Lodging at Sembach Annex, near Kaiserslautern, GermanyHometown: Paris, Texas
Pacific readers: Know someone whose accomplishments, talents, job, hobby, volunteer work, awards or good deeds qualify them for 15 minutes of fame? How about someone whose claim to glory is a bit out of the ordinary — even, dare we say, oddball? Call Paul Newell at Stars and Stripes with the person’s name and contact information at DSN 229-3158 or e-mail him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.