Snakes Alive at Halton EcoFest 2013

Getting close to a snake held by Ross Blackwood
Getting close to a snake held by Ross Blackwood

All photos by Mike Davis who can handle anything alive.

The 13th annual Halton EcoFest on April 6 in Oakville had a focus on biodiversity, a theme which fits well with the Niagara Escarpment. Above, a photo of me with the snake whisperer (not his real title) Ross Blackwood of Sciensational Sssnakes!! holding a Black Rat Snake, whose habitat is actually near Kingston, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, not so much the Escarpment. But this isn’t the case either, with the baby kangaroo, lion cub and lemur that were also available, from Ron Woolley of Exotic Critter Tales.

People making contacts at the Halton EcoFest in Oakville
People making contacts at the Halton EcoFest in Oakville

The Halton Eco Festival has been organized by the Oakville Community Centre for Peace, Ecology and Human Rights for 13 years. This group relies on donations to do its work.

Talking to a visitor at the Niagara Escarpment Views booth.
Talking to a visitor at the Niagara Escarpment Views booth.

We had a corner spot which gave us good visibility. Can you tell that we were giving away free back issues? Next to us was Brenda Dolling, a subscriber, of Whole Village EcoVillage, an advertiser. I think she’s at every show we go to. She is one hard-working retired teacher!

POWER and Halton Peel Biodiversity Network were in full force.
POWER and Halton Peel Biodiversity Network were in full force.

Halton Peel Biodiversity Network, an advertiser, was a main sponsor of the EcoFest, and shared space with Protect Our Water and Environmental Resources.

Small & large birds of prey rescued by Wild Ontario
Small & large birds of prey rescued by Wild Ontario

The birds of prey are always hugely popular. Mountsberg Raptor Centre of Conservation Halton, an advertiser, displayed some of their birds, as did Wild Ontario. The saved, non-releasable birds of Wild Ontario, pictured above, are an American Kestrel and a Red-Tailed Hawk.

Jenny Pearce and a very male Snapping Turtle
Jenny Pearce and a very male Snapping Turtle

Jenny Pearce of Sciensational Sssnakes!! also educated people about this male Snapping Turtle. She was careful to keep everyone away from him. His huge mouth means business.

Warning: from here, this post contains photos of a snake and may be alarming to some people. Viewer discretion advised.

Not wanting to let the snake's head get close.
Not wanting to let the snake’s head get close.

I also tried to get close to a snake. I’m not petrified by snakes, but they definitely give me the creeps. But I was willing to try to touch one. As long as the snake’s head could be kept away from me. A snake’s head is a frightening thing.

This Black Rat Snake is about 3 feet long!
This Black Rat Snake is about 3 feet long!

So I was hesitant, but I agreed to feel the back half of the Black Rat Snake. Man, that’s a long snake, about three feet. It wasn’t slimy or cold, but felt like snakeskin shoes or purses in expensive shops.

Hands full of snake. A first for me.
Hands full of snake. A first for me.

Then Ross put the snake onto my left hand. I’m keeping an eagle eye on the snake’s head.

Breathing deeply.
Breathing deeply.

My stress level is going up as the snake moves through my hands. Note its tail wrapping around my arm! I wasn’t aware of this at the time.

I can't believe I'm doing this.
I can’t believe I’m doing this.

This photo doesn’t have me in sharp focus but it shows how I was feeling: a little green. I’m starting to hand back the snake.

The photos of holding this snake look much creepier than it felt.
The photos of holding this snake look much creepier than it felt.

I really am holding the snake with all the fingers of my right hand. Hard for me to believe. Ross was really great about letting me do all that I felt I could handle – which turned out to be a lot more than I had expected. After I had given back the snake, I felt very dizzy and light-headed. I think I had been hyperventilating while holding it.

How about you? Are you squeamish about any animal? Are you okay with snakes?

 

 

5 Comments

  • Hi Gloria,
    Congratulations on overcoming your ophidiophobian encounter. Particularly brave in front of a cameraman. Your newly designed website’s also looking great. Good to see you’re surviving in a tough magazine environment. That speaks volumes to your assiduity and your fans.
    Chris

  • “Ophidiophobian?” Wow, impressive word, Chris! I had to look it up – it’s not even in my dictionary, not the whole word. Thanks for my new word for the day, & for your kind comments.

  • Another subscriber, who emailed me directly & not through this comment field, wrote “I once almost stepped on a huge milk snake that was sunbathing in our garden. At the time, I didn’t know what it was and whether or not it was poisonous (it’s not).”
    I too, once almost stepped on a milk snake on my lawn – twice. I was barefoot, in sandals. Can you imagine? Shudder!

  • Yet another anonymous comment – I swear I’m not making these up! Some people seem to be shy about leaving comments on the site, so they email me directly, but they’re too good not to add, so I have to quote them anonymously. This friend wrote to me “Way to go Gloria! Is this the warm up for a close encounter with a frog?” To which I reply that I don’t think I’m ready yet to touch frogs. I have a strange phobia that is greater about frogs & toads than about snakes. No idea why.

  • The Southern Copperhead grows to a length of about 36 inches. It’s color is a pinkish tan background with darker hourglass blotches across it’s back. It is nocturnal in the heat of summer but becomes more active in the daytime as the temperatures cool during the autumn months. This snake is one of the most abundant poisonous snakes in my area of North Texas. There have been few deaths reported from the bite of a Southern Copperhead but it is important to seek medical care immediately. The bite will have two punctures from the fangs, and in this way can be identified as being a venomous bite.

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