Clark teaches respect for reptiles during program at local library
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