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Folks, don't crucify this guy.....advice....

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Posted by: Carmichael at Fri Oct 21 07:02:16 2005  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by Carmichael ]  

Randall had some great advice. You definitely are pushing a button of a very hotly depated topic. As you will see, you won't get much support for having or using a venomoid for education.

I am curator of a very successful wildlife conservation facility that focuses on education, field research, rescues/rehab and public exhibits.....herps being our primary target of interest (with raptors a distant second). We implemented a rattlesnake conservation education program that has been met with rave reviews from teachers, students and superintendents. Yes, we do incorporate REAL venomous rattlesnakes into our program (which also includes giving students an opportunity to touch our resident Gila Monster and, in some cases, a safely tubed eastern massasauga). Most schools, whether these animals are venomoid or not, will not allow venomous into their schools. I have been able to carve a niche because they know that we are professionals and they know that their students will be safe when we visit.

It sounds like your intentions are very good but if you cannot keep a fully venomous snake, along with the required antivenin (which could run from the hundreds to thousands of dollars), then you shouldn't keep a venomous for now. Instead, see if the university you are at is willing to keep a venomous snake in the lab for you to work with. You can certainly show this snake in a locked container but only after you have met the other criteria. You can show a variety of live, harmless snakes to a group of students and then show them some high quality pictures of the native venomous herps of that area....believe me, that will make just as nice of an impact on them. We constructed some double pane, shatterproof glass front, heavy wood portable exhibit cages that we use when putting on special displays at schools, nature centers, zoos, museums, etc. If you are interested in doing something like this, that would be possible but only with a fully hot snake....venomoids can give the wrong message even if done with the best of intentions (and I am not necessarily against venomoids just to set the record straight.......MOST people keeping venomous snakes SHOULDN'T and in my opinion they would be better off keeping a venomoid just for the sheer sake of public safety....but that's a TERRIBLE reason to butcher a snake so that's why I am against it). School kids LOVE reptiles and they will get just as much of a kick at seeing a beautiful green snake as they would if it were a 16' king cobra. Focus on conservation of herps utilizing nice, healthy harmless specimens that provide hands on opportunities and you'll do more for herp conservation than any live venomous snake....yes, we incorporate both but I have been teaching kids for decades and having done many programs w/out venomous, they get just as much out of it as when I incorporate a venomous herp or two. Your time will come.

Hope this helps a little,

Rob Carmichael, Curator
The Wildlife Discovery Center
Lake Forest, IL

>>Okay. First off I am a freshman in the DF/W area in Texas planning to major in Herpetology and go into zoological husbandry of venomous snakes or private milking of venom for use in making antivenom.
>>Lately I have been tossing around the idea of doing educational programs on the native wildlife/herps and safety for my Elementary school. I have especially noticed a hatred for all snakes. Even harmless garter snakes and green snakes (called "Garden" snakes here) are slaughtered in the thinking they may be venomous. I hope to kill this habit at least in my neighborhood. I can easily come by most harmless herps from the area and easily keep them. My last real yearn is to show them what to look for in a venomous snake, and to respect them for the awesome creatures they are. This is where it starts to get interesting, in a way.
>>I have been thinking of buying a native species of venomoid. In my thinking (tell me I'm thinking wrong) keeping a venomoid snake could help improve the public's thinking on reptiles to thinking of what awesome animals they are and that they should always be treated with the upmost respect. I would really like to see a future generation of conservationists in my town of people who disregard wildlife completely. It would really be a life saver for not only the wildlife, but maybe in a rare case a child (though I somewhat doubt this). Anyway, down to my question. What kind of native snake do you think would be an appropriate venomoid for this endevour? Or even if this would be feasible? I have the appropriate skill for safely handling most snakes and have practiced for the past three years on water snakes and the occasional copperhead. I have been thinking the best candidate for this would be a medium WDB or a Agkistrodon c. c. Thanks for any input
>>P.S. This post isn't very detailed because I was three-quarters of the way through and I accidently pushed tab then backspace and I lost my whole post, so if there are any questionable points please ask before you flame because I'm tired and most likely forgot something. And thanks for not freaking at first by seeing venomous and elementary school near each other
Rob Carmichael, Curator
The Wildlife Discovery Center at Elawa Farm
Lake Forest, IL


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