Crystal Gilbert is called the ‘snake whisperer’ by some for her knack with nurturing and healing snakes. (Keili Bartlett / The Northern View)

Rescuing reptiles in Prince Rupert

‘Snake whisperer’ Crystal Gilbert heals and rehomes injured pets

Crystal Gilbert used to be terrified of snakes but now the Snake Whisperer — as she’s known to friends — owns 12, many of which are rescues and it’s not cheap.

Her fiancé Les Temple wanted a snake for a pet, and one day Gilbert surprised him with their first.

That was four years ago, she’s since become so good at taking care of snakes, Gilbert said she has even trained some of them to only poop on paper.

READ and WATCH MORE: A wishlist for Prince Rupert’s wildlife shelter

Gilbert has tricks to tame snakes. She scent-trains them by putting a worn shirt in their cage so they get used to her smell, and eventually see her as “a piece of furniture. The more regular their surroundings are, the calmer they’re going to be.”

While Gilbert and Temple love rescuing snakes, it’s getting expensive.

It currently costs $60 a week to feed all 12 snakes, but as the snakes grow larger — the boa constrictors are expected to grow up to 10 feet long — it’ll be $120 a week. Almost as much as their rent, Temple jokes.

Then there’s the heaters, hides, huts, water bowls, and tanks. Temple builds his own snake huts.

To offset the costs, Gilbert makes fully-beaded dreamcatchers, which she sells at the Museum of Northern B.C. or for custom orders. The former owners of Paws and Claws found several tanks for the snakes, and Leeann’s Pet Shop has helped with advice and finding new homes for the snakes.

One of their snakes, Anarchy, is moving to Kitimat next week with a new owner. Gilbert said the couple is always available to help.

“We stick with the new parents for as long as we need them. They can call us for any advice, anything at all. We’ll rush over and we’ll help.”

Any money they earn from rehoming a snake goes to feed the other snakes in their care.

So what is it about snakes that helped them slither into Gilbert’s heart?

They’re surprisingly calm and cuddly. She said the snakes have a similar effect as service pets.

“I used to suffer from severe depression. It’s just something about these guys that calms me. I hold them and my panic attacks go away,” she said. “I guess I feel like their mommy.”

Her snake skills can be sought out through Leeann’s Pet Shop, which also accepts donations on behalf of the rescued snakes.

Soon, Gilbert and Temple may have even more snakes on their hands — one of their boa constrictors may be pregnant. If she is, they will rehome the baby snakes.

READ MORE: Grade 7 students fundraise, offer donations to Prince Rupert’s wildlife shelter

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


(Keili Bartlett / The Northern View)

Just Posted

Prince Rupert Library recognizes National Indigenous History Month

Friends of the Library Book Club puts the focus on Indigenous authors and reconciliation

Smooth sailing expected on 14 major roads in Prince Rupert by end of summer

Construction underway with city’s $2.4 million paving budget

City of Prince Rupert seeking public input on Community Enhancement Grants

Survey now available to the public focusing on project priorities

Junior A hockey on the horizon for Prince Rupert player

Brett Fudger signs with the Vernon Vipers of the BCHL

Break-in at Prince Rupert Post Office causes service delay

Office closed most of July 8 morning after overnight forced entry

Global Sports Bra Squad Day in Rupert

The event encourages athletes to run in whatever makes them comfortable regardless of shape or size

Psychics, drones being used to search for missing Chilliwack woman with dementia

Drones, psychics, dogs and more have been employed to help find Grace Baranyk, 86

B.C. mom to go to Europe court in hopes of getting alleged abducted daughter back

Tasha Brown alleges her estranged wife abducted their daughter Kaydance Etchells in 2016

‘Benzos’ and fentanyl a deadly cocktail causing a growing concern on B.C. streets

Overdoses caused by benzodiazepines can’t be reversed with opioid-overdose antidote naloxone

Scheer on Trump: It’s ‘offensive’ to question the family background of critics

Trump is being called a racist for saying that the four congresswomen should go back where they came from

Instagram expands Canadian pilot removing ‘like’ counts to more countries

Social media giant plans to roll out the test in Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Japan, Italy and Ireland

Pamela Anderson adds star power to B.C. Green Party town hall

Celebrity attended Nanaimo meeting with representatives from U.S.-based environmental group

Olympic softball qualifier gets $150K boost from provincial government

2019 Americas Qualifier to be held in Surrey from Aug. 25-Sept. 1

Gas price inquiry questions Trans Mountain capacity, company denies collusion

The first of up to four days of oral hearings in the inquiry continue in Vancouver

Most Read