Sammy’s New Skin

By Stevie Stumph

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    Sammy Snake was busy crawling out of his old, dry skin when Hosea Hamster scampered by. “Ha-ha!” laughed Hosea. “Sammy, you certainly look funny—like a worm crawling out of its cocoon.”

    Sammy Snake turned to his old friend and replied, “Snakes always shed their skins in the springtime.”

    “I don’t see why you should shed your skin. Your old one looked just fine to me,” said Hosea.

    “Every year I grow bigger so my skin becomes too small,” Sammy explained. “In the winter I hibernate, and I grow a new skin under the old one while I’m asleep. When I wake up in the springtime my old skin is dry. It splits along my belly and I crawl out of it. It’s like being born again every year.”

    Hosea looked puzzled and replied, “Sure sounds like a lot of trouble to me. Why don’t you just stretch your old skin? That’s what I do. Watch this!” He puffed out his cheeks, making his little round face look like a fuzzy Ping-Pong ball.

    “No, no! You don’t understand,” cried Sammy, a little exasperated. “My skin doesn’t stretch like yours. It has to be hard and tough so it won’t tear when I crawl over sharp rocks. My skin needs to be strong enough to protect me from the hot sand and from Benny Badger or he could bite through it with his sharp teeth.”

    “I see,” replied Hosea. “A skin that can do all those things couldn’t be expected to stretch too.”

    Hosea sat on his hind legs and watched Sammy wiggle and squirm.

    Finally all his old skin came off. As Sammy crawled free of the skin, he gave a sigh of relief. “Well, I’m glad that job is over for another year. Boy, am I hungry! I’m hungry enough to eat a. …” His beady eyes fixed on the plump little hamster sitting in front of him.

    Hosea caught the message. Quick as a wink, he scurried down the path to safety. He paused for a moment and turned to say, “So long, Sammy. I’ll see you later—maybe we can play after you’ve had your dinner!”

    Illustrated by Claudia Heaston