BY ALICIA FEYERHERM
Over 250 children and parents attended Hays Public Library’s Snake Day on Saturday.
“Snakes are great and fantastic,” HPL Youth Public Services Coordinator Amie Tabora said. “The sheer number of people who are terrified of them, just because they don’t know anything about them is a little sad.”
The library partnered with the Sternberg Museum to bring in different snakes for this event. The snake handlers brought in Pretzel (a great plains rat snake), Beans (a hognose snake), Oreo (a California king snake) and Stormy (a Baird’s rat snake).
According to Museum Director Reese Barrick, the great plains rat snakes and hognose snakes are native to Kansas. The California king snake is not native to Kansas, but other varieties of kingsnakes like the speckled kingsnake can be found in the area. The Baird’s rat snake is native to Texas.
The color of the snakes can vary greatly, so in order to identify a snake, one must examine the scale pattern on the snake’s skull or underneath its tail. However, Barrick hopes this event helped children understand the friendly nature of snakes in addition to learning fun facts about snakes and their native lands.
“The big thing is we want them (participants) to have an appreciation of snakes and to know they’re not to be afraid of,” Barrick said. “They take care of rodents and mice and things we don’t want running around our yards or houses, so they’re really useful for the environment.”
Barrick said in general, snakes are very nice and harmless to people and pets. Rattlesnakes are one exception, but he said that even with Rattlesnakes, the goal isn’t to have people hate them or be afraid of them, but just leave them alone.
“The more you know about something, the more you understand something, the harder it is to hate them,” Barrick said.
Tabora agreed that snakes tend to have a bad reputation and that education is important in changing that perception.
“People deserve to see snakes that aren’t in terrifying movies or situations,” Tabora said. “Snakes are awesome.”
“We appreciate the library because at the museum, we do get lots of people that come in, but with events like these we get the chance to see a lot more people and get out into the community,” Barrick said.