Interpreting Dead Snakes

“Murder is the case that they gave me” –Snoop Doggy Dog

I work at a zoo for non-releasable native wildlife. People regularly bring in animals to be identified. Some folks are curious; many are afraid. “Can it hurt me or my loved ones?” Then, often, “I killed it just in case.”

Who else has visitors that routinely degrade the resource and then ask to learn more about it?

Snakes are the most common victim and the vast majority of decapitated serpents we see are non-venomous. The old adage “the only good snake is a dead snake” is only true if you appreciate population explosions of rodents, insects, etc. And, ironically, killing non-venomous snakes opens up habitat and increases the likelihood of venomous snakes moving in.

While I identify the pest control specialist they just destroyed, people are often very receptive to the idea of leaving other snakes alone to do their ecological jobs so it is a happy ending (for future snakes anyway) but presents an interesting juxtaposition.

I am curious what instances like this other interpreters encounter and how you address these. Please share!

P.S. The Snoop Dogg quote is a bit of a stretch, I know, but I couldn’t resist!

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