Slithery friends: IHS students enjoy holding reptiles
Published 12:50 pm Friday, April 5, 2019
By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer
The scaly friends of Yarbrough’s Educational Reptiles were welcome visitors at Isabella High School on April 4.
Students in middle and high school were given the opportunity to handle a variety of nonvenomous snakes and a few lizards.
The animals ranged in size from a small hognose snake to a mammoth yellow python named Banana Pudding.
Several of the students had been to shows in the past and said there were more animals this year than some previous years.
Before any students held a snake, Rebecca Tucker of Yarbrough’s Educational Reptiles went over guidelines of how to correctly hold the snakes — always with two hands for proper support.
When talking about venomous and nonvenomous water snakes, Tucker cautioned students not to pick any of them up.
“Treat them all like they are dangerous, leave them alone,” Tucker said. “Don’t reach down and pick up that banded water snake because it might wind up being a copperhead.”
This year Tucker’s assistant was Nicholas Dyson, a student from Georgia who had asked if he could spend his spring break assisting with the reptile shows.
IHS junior Anali Bautista seemed very comfortable holding a hognose snake and passing it to the next student.
She said she has enjoyed the show each year it came to school since her freshman year.
“I find it really cool to see because reptiles are really interesting to me,” Bautista said.
She said she is used to being around animals and is not afraid of them.
The hognose snake is her favorite snake. Bautista said it was “one of the cutest” snakes.
Camille Morrison, an eighth-grade student, said she was looking forward to the event.
“I’ve grown up around animals (but) I’ve not had a chance to interact with reptiles,” Morrison said.
This was her first time attending the show.
She said her favorite part was seeing the diamondback rattlesnake and how it strikes. Tenth-grade student Gracie Owens said this was her favorite snake also.
Since rattlesnakes are venomous, students were far away on the bleachers when this snake was being shown.
Tucker told students if they hear a rattlesnake, the most important thing is to stay very still, so that the snake does not feel threatened. She told the students to scream for help. She said snakes cannot hear, so this would not frighten them.
Rattlesnakes are found in Alabama and other southern states.
The diamondback rattlesnake lives in areas like Montgomery and further south. Tucker said these snakes often live in gopher holes.
She said putting gasoline in the hole to kill the snakes is not a good idea because it will kill other animals in the tunnel.
“This snake is about to be protected federally,” Tucker said. “We don’t have many of them around anymore.”
Tucker said the diamondback rattlesnake keeps the rodent population in check.
“They keep the ecosystem in balance,” Tucker said.
Seniors were allowed to hold the python.
Kaleb Minor, a senior, held the python along with five or six other students at one time. He said this was his favorite snake to hold.
Senior Rose Schneider said the python was really soft and heavy.
Minor said he enjoyed learning about snakes and “learning to identify which ones are going to kill me and which ones aren’t” during the presentation.
Tucker stressed that even if a student was bitten by a venomous snake they would likely survive as long as they stayed calm and got medical attention as quickly as possible.
“I love snakes so much,” Schneider said. “I have a snake of my own at home.”
Schneider said her favorite snake at the show was the albino California King Snake.
“I didn’t know that there were so many (types of snakes) that lived-in Alabama,” Morrison said.
Owens said she enjoyed that the presentation was hands on.
Additional photos available for download here.