Snake It Up

Famous snakes in history: the slithery Svengali in the garden of Eden. The randy reptile in the Jungle Book. The colossal creature in Anaconda. Of course the proverbial snake in the grass. And bald, beady-eyed political consultant James Carville, whose wife Mary Matalin lovingly dubbed him "Serpent Head."

None of the aforementioned will be putting in an appearance this Sunday at the Miami Museum of Science and Space Planetarium's Snake Day. But a host of folks and their venom-free pets, and the snakeless but curious, are invited to the final installment in the museum's Reptile Appreciation Day Summer Series. Held in conjunction with the exhibition "REPTILES!: Real and Robotic," the series previously honored turtles and lizards. Now it's the snakes' turn to be celebrated.

"We were building up!" says Joy Satterlee, the museum's director of public relations, about the decision to save snakes for last. A smart move. According to Amy Horadam, assistant director of the museum's Wildlife Center, the snake, often an object of derision by those not in the know, is worthy of reverence: "When you compare them to turtles and lizards, snakes have more of a mystic, mysterious thing about them. They're fascinating animals that have been able to survive for so many years without limbs and have been able to adapt to so many different environments."

Museum and Wildlife Center personnel, a local herpetologist, and an officer from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are some of the limbed creatures who will deliver reptile-theme lectures covering topics such as rules and regulations regarding exotic and venomous animals, myths and misconceptions about them, captive husbandry, and the eastern diamondback rattlesnake, a subject of extensive study by the museum. A good dose of entertainment will accompany the education. A raffle will be held, plus snake owners can socialize with their peers and enter their pets in a quasi beauty contest. Critters will be judged in several categories, including largest, most exotic, and best of show. Among the prizes to be awarded: a one-year subscription to Reptile Hobbyist magazine and a gift certificate for a mail-order service known as "The Gourmet Rodent," which, according to Horadam, "ships mice and rats frozen, neatly packed in Ziploc bags."

Guaranteed to be a ball for reptile devotees, Snake Day just might instill in the wary an affinity for the slithery creatures. "I want people to leave with a certain amount of respect for the animal," Horadam says. "You don't have to like snakes, but understand that they serve such an important role in the environment. If you really think about their purpose, they really help humans control the mice and all those animals we don't like to have around." Charmed, we're sure!

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Nina Korman
Contact: Nina Korman