Clark teaches re­spect for rep­tiles dur­ing pro­gram at lo­cal li­brary

The Standard Journal - - Lifestyle - By AGNES HAGIN

The faces of young chil­dren changed from anx­i­ety to in­ter­est as they watched Ja­son Clark with South­ern Rep­tile Res­cue dur­ing a pro­gram at Cedar­town Li­brary.

He be­gan with safety in­struc­tions about rep­tiles and re­quested ac­com­pa­ny­ing adults keep the chil­dren a dis­tance from where he stood.

The rea­son he made the re­quest was quickly ev­i­dent as he be­gan talk­ing of his ex­pe­ri­ences as a seven-year-old boy.

“I caught my first snake and was bit­ten that same day,” he said.

He re­called how his mother did not love snakes but he did.

“I dis­cov­ered one in the yard and lifted it so I could place it in a bar­rel,” he said. “I was bit­ten by the harm­less garter,” he said.

Clark re­called how he wanted to show his mother his snake and took it to her. “She started scream­ing. I could not un­der­stand since I was so ex­cited,” he said.

This e x peri e nce was the be­gin­ning of a dream come true. Clark ex­plained that he was tak­ing 911 calls – to res­cue or re­move rep­tiles – when he was 14.

Quickly, he moved from mem­o­ries to to­day’s re­al­ity and his con­tin­ued pas­sion for all types of snakes.

As he talked, he fo­cused on how some are brought into Ge­or­gia il­le­gally. These are of­ten taken home as pets but the in­di­vid­ual usu­ally loses in­ter­est or does not know how to care for the cap­tive from an­other county.

He said these people of­ten let them es­cape into the coun­try­side, which cre­ates prob­lems for na­tive species.

Clark dis­cussed facts about poi­sonous and non­ven­omous va­ri­eties.

“The cop­per­head bites more people in Ge­or­gia than other snake,” he said.

How­ever, he pulled a large rat­tler from a locked container with the warn­ing that the bite from this snake can be fa­tal.

“A rat­tlesnake will warn you not to get too close,” he said. “Al­ways back away when you hear it. Never try to catch or hold it!”

Of the 41 na­tive snake species known in Ge­or­gia, only six are ven­omous: the East­ern Di­a­mond­back Rat­tlesnake, Tim­ber Rat­tlesnake (also known as the Cane­brake), Pigmy Rat­tlesnake; East­ern Co­ral Snake; Cot­ton­mouth (also known as the Wa­ter Moc­casin) and South­ern Cop­per­head.

Be­com­ing fa­mil­iar with the col­ors and pat­terns of ven­omous snakes will help even novices to de­ter­mine if a snake is dan­ger­ous, Clark said.

He in­ter­acted with the au­di­ence and asked sev­eral chil­dren to vol­un­teer.

Sherry Bryant was one of the youth he selected to help demon­strate how to deal with rep­tiles.

“Knowl­edge is im­por­tant when deal­ing with snakes,” Clark said. “Re­spect all rep­tiles since they are part of the en­vi­ron­ment where we live.”

He con­cluded his pre­sen­ta­tion by show­ing a small al­li­ga­tor and giv­ing facts about this species in Ge­or­gia.

The snake show and other events are part of a full sched­ule of ac­tiv­i­ties planned dur­ing July at the Cedar­town Li­brary.

Ja­son Clark holds a young al­li­ga­tor dur­ing an ed­u­ca­tional pro­gram about rep­tiles he pre­sented at the Cedar­town Li­brary.

Air­man Kyle New­man

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