Student charmed by snake becomes boa’s campus caretaker

Jessica Godwin is a college student, a soccer player and an animal enthusiast.

But unlike her peers at Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa, Godwin is the caretaker of the largest cold-blooded creature on campus : a 9-foot, 25-pound, red-tailed boa constrictor named Naven.

The Rancho High School alumna was sitting in Paul Bartelt’s zoology class last fall when he took Naven out from a cage in one of the biology labs. Most of her classmates squirmed, but Godwin was mesmerized with Naven from the beginning.

“When Dr. Bartelt brought (Naven) out, I just became really interested in her,” Godwin said. “She’s just so calm. I just kept petting her, and I fell in love with her.”

Bartelt told the biology sophomore he was looking for someone to be Naven’s caretaker and asked Godwin if she was interested. Godwin accepted the task and began caring for Naven in August.

Godwin’s duties include feeding Naven and cleaning her cage every two weeks. She also lets the boa constrictor roam freely along benches in the lab.

However, though Naven requires little maintenance and is usually docile, Godwin is cautious when she initially approaches the snake.

“When I first open the cage, I have to be really careful,” Godwin said. “I have to first initiate contact so I don’t scare her . Even though she is a really calm snake and doesn’t attack, I have to know the procedures.”

Godwin said her favorite part of caring for Naven is watching her roam the lab.

“I like putting her on the lab bench,” Godwin said. “She’ll react to little things, put her head up and look around. I love to watch her reactions. She’s such an interesting creature.”

Bartelt assisted Godwin in cleaning Naven’s cage at first and supervised her for the second time. Since then, Godwin has taken care of Naven on her own, and Bartelt said he is impressed.

“I love to get students involved, and I knew this was a wonderful opportunity for Jessica,” Bartelt said. “She’s so enamored with the snake, and she’s very conscientious. Jessica’s doing a great job.”

Bartelt said that in the 10 years that Naven has lived at Waldorf College, Godwin is the first student caretaker. Godwin views her job as an honor.

“I’m proud of what I do,” Godwin said. “It seems silly, because I care for a snake but it’s a college’s snake. If the school owns it, it shows they have trust in me.”

Naven is a popular part of Waldorf College. Bartelt said he often performs magic shows on campus where he turns a mouse into a snake with Naven as the star. Godwin said students often notice Naven in the biology lab window but are unaware of her connection with the snake.

“When I tell people I’m the caretaker, some people say, ‘What? No way!’ and some people ask if they can watch me take care of her,” Godwin said. “It catches people by surprise.”

Godwin also was caught by surprise. Although she grew up with pets at home, including a snake that her brother and sister owned, she took little interest in the reptile when she was younger. Now, Godwin considers taking care of Naven one of her favorite hobbies.

Godwin said that though she has learned valuable lessons in taking care of Naven, she has little intention of turning her current job into a career.

“Taking care of (Naven) is more like a hobby than something I want to pursue,” Godwin said. “I could be a zoologist or veterinarian, but the future is open to anything right now. If someone offered me a position to take care of another animal, I would take it just so I can get more of that experience.”

Contact Paradise/Downtown View reporter Lisa Carter at lcarter@viewnews.com or 383-0492.

Local Videos
Butterflies At The Springs Preserve
The butterfly habitat is now open at the Springs Preserve. Learn about butterflies and take in the peaceful surroundings. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
The Bellagio Conservatory's spring display has a Japanese theme
The Bellagio's conservatory is hosting around 65,000 flowers, to form a Japanese theme this spring. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bonnie Springs closes (Caroline Brehman/Kimber Laux)
Bonnie Springs Ranch near Las Vegas officially closed its gates Sunday, March 17, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Honoring a fallen North Las Vegas Police officer at his namesake school
The 20th Annual Raul P. Elizondo Honor Day celebrates the fallen North Las Vegas Police officer's legacy at his namesake school. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Windy day in Las Vegas Valley
The Review-Journal's camera on the under-construction Las Vegas Stadium the was buffered by high winds on Wednesday, March 14, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
March gloom falls on Las Vegas
After a rainy overnight, gloomy skies hover over Las Vegas Tuesday morning. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
John Katsilometes gets his head shaved at St. Baldrick's
Las Vegas Review-Journal man-about-town columnist John Katsilometes gets his head shaved by former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman during St. Baldrick's Foundation shave-a-thon on the Brooklyn Bridge at New York-New York in Las Vegas Friday, March 8, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
The Blue Angels take flight over Las Vegas Strip
The Blue Angels’ U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron flew their signature Delta formation over a part of the Las Vegas Strip, McCarran International Airport and east Las Vegas and were scheduled to fly over Hoover Dam. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Gross World Records
A group of about 20 children gathered around a TV at Sahara West Library on Feb. 27 for a history lesson on the most disgusting world records.
Graduation for Renewing HOPE program
The Renewing HOPE program graduation for homeless who spend nine months in Catholic Charities program. Graduates are preparing to enter the workforce. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Car crashes into Starbucks near Las Vegas Strip
Lt. William Matchko of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police gives details about a car crashing into a Starbucks at Sahara Avenue and Paradise Road, near the Las Vegas Strip, on Friday, March 1, 2019. (Jessica Terrones/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Car crashed into PT’s Gold
A 60-year-old man who police believe was impaired drove into a PT’s Gold at Silverado Ranch and Decatur boulevards Thursday night, Metropolitan Police Department Lt. William Matchko said. The driver was hospitalized and is expected to survive. A man inside the bar was hit by debris but drove himself to the hospital, Matchko said. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Driver crashes vehicle into PT’s tavern in south Las Vegas (part 1)
A driver suspected of impairment crashed a vehicle into the wall of a PT’s Gold tavern, at 4880 W. Silverado Ranch Blvd., in Las Vegas on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. (Katelyn Newberg/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Driver crashes vehicle into PT’s tavern in south Las Vegas (pullout)
A driver suspected of impairment crashed a vehicle into the wall of a PT’s Gold tavern, at 4880 W. Silverado Ranch Blvd., in Las Vegas on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. (Katelyn Newberg/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kids Read Books To Dogs At The Animal Foundation In Las Vegas
Kids from local Las Vegas elementary schools took part, Thursday, in a program at the Animal Foundation, where they read books to dogs. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Pioneer Trail highlights historic locations in West Las Vegas
The Pioneer Trail, a 16-site route of historically significant locations in Las Vegas, starts at the Springs Preserve and snakes east until it reaches above the brim of downtown. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutefsya
Vegas Warm Weather Hits Las Vegas Valley
Between Feb. 20-21, parts of the Las Vegas Valley were hit with 7.5" of snow. Less than a week later, it was sunny with temperatures in the 70s. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dr. S. Jay Hazan, a World War II veteran, talks about his arrest at the VA Hospital
Dr. S. Jay Hazan, a World War II Army veteran, was arrested in November after he caused a ruckus at the VA Hospital in North Las Vegas and stole his driver's car keys. He was arraigned on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019, and the charges will be dropped after 60 days. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Claytee White talks about Black History Month
An interview with Claytee White, director of the Oral History Research Center at UNLV. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Reflecting on the Moulin Rouge and a segregated Vegas
Former employees of the Moulin Rouge, the first integrated hotel-casino in Nevada, talk about what it was like in the brief six months the casino was open. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas home prices
Home prices rose in every ZIP code in the Las Vegas Valley in 2018 for the second year in a row, according to SalesTraq. Prices grew fastest in older, more centrally located areas. But prices were highest in the suburbs. The top three ZIP codes for price growth were 89119 (29.8%), 89146 (25%) and 89030 (24.6%). The top three ZIP codes for median sales prices were 89138 ($464,500), 89135 ($420,500) and 89052 ($370,000).
Wagonwheel Drive overpass reopens after ice closure
Overpass at Wagonwheel Drive reopens after ice on the onramp caused the ramp to be shut down, Feb. 22, 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Keeping warm at the city of Las Vegas’ homeless courtyard
With help from the city of Las Vegas, a Salvation Army shelter stays open during the day Thursday and Friday, offering a safe place for the homeless to find respite from freezing temperatures and snow. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sloppy, Slushy Road Conditions Lead to Slow Traffic
Traffic slowed to a crawl on Jones are near Russell as conditions worsened Thursday. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Winter storm blankets west side of Las Vegas Valley
On Wednesday evening through early Thursday a winter storm dumped more than 7 1/2 inches of snow on some parts of the Las Vegas Valley. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas snow day for children
Las Vegas kids play in the snow that fell on Feb. 21, 2019. (Belinda Englman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Snow closes Red Rock Canyon, residents enjoy rare snowfall
The greater Las Vegas area was hit with snowfall on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2019. This video shows the areas surrounding Red Rock Canyon and the Summerlin community. Video by: Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Las Vegas kids attend school in the snow
Las Vegas children attend school during a rare snowstorm on Feb. 21, 2019. Staton Elementary School and other CCSD schools remained open. (Glenn Cook/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
People enjoying the snow in Summerlin
Fox Hill Park in Summerlin was busy Thursday morning, Feb. 21, 2019, with people enjoying the rare snow that fell overnight. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NHP advises motorists to take caution during Las Vegas snowstorm
NHP advised motorists to take caution during the snowstorm in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
It is a rainy Valentine's Day in Las Vegas - Video
These scenes come from the Las Vegas Stadium LiveCam (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
ad-high_impact_4
TOP NEWS
Home Front Page Footer Listing