BHS Verbatim Interview: Mr. Portuese


Mr. Portuese is a well-known teacher at BHS. Many know him as the forensic science teacher and the advisor of the Marine Science club. But, unless you’re his student, you might not know that he actually has a pet snake in his classroom. Our head editors at The Eagle’s Cry interviewed Mr. Portuese to learn more about his famous class pet, Snakey. 

The Eagle’s Cry: How long have you been teaching here at BHS?

“Since 1997.”

The Eagle’s Cry: What year did you get your snake?

“In 1997, my first year.”

The Eagle’s Cry: How did you initially get Snakey?

“I was a bio teacher, so teaching 10th graders, and Jessie was his name. He came to me and said, ‘I got this snake, but my mom won’t let me keep it, so can we keep it here?’ So I said sure, thinking it would last a few, five, six years.”

The Eagle’s Cry: How did he get his name?

“It was the name given to me by the student who owned him.”

The Eagle’s Cry: How old is he?

“Well I’ve had him for 25 years and he was that size when I got him. So I’ve got no idea how old he is. He could possibly be the oldest corn snake in history!”

The Eagle’s Cry: Has he ever escaped? If so, what happened?

“Yes! Probably about 15 years ago, somebody opened up the top [of the cage] as a prank I guess because I was away at my brother’s funeral down South. So when I came back I found the top was off and the snake was gone, so I thought that’s it. Then I find out that the kickline girls found him in the auditorium.”

The Eagle’s Cry: Did you leave him for the week or did you have someone taking care of him?

“No, ‘cause he only eats every two weeks. It’s one mouse every two weeks, and there’s a heater in there with a timer. So I’ll feed him before I go and he’s good.”

The Eagle’s Cry: And do you give him live mice?

“No. It was live mice for most of his life, but for the last 10 years, it’s been frozen mice you buy at a pet store and thaw out. I don’t think he’s quick enough to catch one [live mouse]. Actually, I don’t even think he can see anymore because it looks like he has cataracts in both eyes. So, I don’t know if he’d be able to catch a live one.”

The Eagle’s Cry: Do you think you’ll still keep him after you retire?

“Yeah! What am I going to do, kick him out to the curb?”

The Eagle’s Cry: Is taking care of him difficult?

“No! It’s very easy. You just got to change the paper after they poop, and that’s about it. I take him home in the summer, naturally, and we bring him back in September.”

The Eagle’s Cry: Do you have any memorable moments from his time at BHS that you’d like to share?

“Well, he has helped a lot of people get over their fear of snakes. A lot of people are petrified of snakes because they think they’re slimy, or they think they bite. He’s like a mascot; he’s been here as long as I have. And he’s been seen by hundreds and hundreds of students over the years, so he’s kind of special.”