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Bradfordville Bugle

Jessica & Dorian: Young pet owner sheds a light on snakes

Feb 15, 2023 04:15PM ● By Stephen Klein

Dorian Martinez is a seven-year-old with a very special friend.

Her name is Jessica, and she is a five-month-old ball python who lives in a terrarium set up in the family room of Dorian’s apartment off Blairstone Road. 

When asked what led him to choose a snake for a pet, Dorian considered for a moment.

“I don’t know. I just really like reptiles. I wanted a snake for a long time.”

Dorian’s simple answer was spoken with the conviction and enthusiasm of a child with a calling.

When Dorian approached his mother, Niya Martinez, with his desire to own a snake, she wasn’t sure at first.

“I was a little apprehensive,” Martinez recalled. “But he did so much research, and he promised he would be able to take care of it. He told me everything that we needed to do, and he wasn’t afraid. He totally leads the way. I’m still a little scared of it, but I’m warming up to having a reptile in the house and in the family. All because of him. He’s super knowledgeable, and he’s shown no fear.” 

Jessica was purchased from Carol’s Critters, a locally owned pet shop in Tallahassee, in November 2022 as a late birthday present for Dorian. 

Jessica slithers out of sight, finding a comfortable place to hide in her enclosure. Her brown and black markings naturally camoflouge her.

Martinez related that she and Dorian would often stop by the pet shop to look at the animals, and each time he would ask if they had a ball python available.

When the time came to choose his own ball python to take home, Dorian says he was drawn to Jessica’s face.

“It looks like she’s smiling,” says Dorian. “I like her eyes too.”

Jessica, for her part, seems comfortable with her human family.

Ball pythons are so named because, when startled or threatened, they tend to coil into a tight ball as a natural defense mechanism.

In Dorian’s arms however, Jessica was relaxed and appeared merely curious when The Bradfordville Bugle visited to interview her owner.

Asked why he chose to name his pet snake “Jessica,” Dorian answers, “I just really like that name.”

Currently a second grade student at Tree of Life Tallahassee, Dorian’s interests primarily revolve around animals, especially reptiles, with snakes being a particular fascination for him.

Dorian Martinez (left) poses with his brother, Dillon and Jessica, the family's 5 month old ball python. 

It is Dorian’s dream to one day open his own shop that sells reptiles.

“I would just say that snakes are animals too,” says Martinez of her son’s new companion, “and they can be cuddly. They might not look like it, they don’t have legs, but give it a try. Definitely the stigma about snakes is not true at all. It brings Dorian so much joy, and anything that brings that much joy can’t be that bad.”