|What do snakes know? They know food, water,
| By MINDY POEHL | Central
|The Snake Man, John Hunter of Irving, helps children from Cub
Scout Pack 18 in Plano hold up his heavy, 14-foot-long adult Burmese
python, named Squash. Hunter presented Snake Talk to the cub scouts,
in which he taught them all about snakes, in the wild and as pets,
and showed them four different snakes. After his discussion, he
let each child get their picture taken while holding part of Squash.
Sept. 28, 2006 - Cub Scouts from Pack 18 squirmed around in their seats after
their weekly meeting at Saigling Elementary School in Plano. They were waiting
for John Hunter, a.k.a. The Snake Man, to begin Snake Talk, a demonstration
in which he shows off some of his snakes while educating the pack about them.
For the past 15 years Hunter has taken his passion and knowledge about snakes
and turned it into a business called Snake Talk. With Snake Talk, Hunter educates
and entertains youth about the life of snakes, while dispelling myths about
snakes and usually having a “hands on” presentation in which he uses no venomous
“Snake Talk allows me to contribute toward the future of wildlife (snakes)
and the future of our children,” Hunter explained. “I enjoy being able to reach
out to the children and engage them in something that many of them are not
Hunter grew up in Irving and his knowledge is mostly self-learned.
“I’ve always enjoyed wildlife since I was a kid, so I just picked up different
books and learned about what I could have as pets,” Hunter said.
|While The Snake Man, John Hunter, lets Squash,
the Burmese python, languish around his neck, one of the kid’s
mother volunteers to hold a large boa constrictor.
At his presentation to the Cub Scout Pack 18 on Monday, Sept. 18, Hunter
first brought out Stripe, who is a four-year-old boa constrictor.
“Boa constrictors are from South America all the way up to Mexico. They are
non-venomous,” Hunter stated. “Stripe is one of 37 babies that was born in
Boa constrictors feed on rodents, such as rats and mice and can eat an animal
that is three times as big around as they are.
“The snake grabs the animal and every time the animal
inhales exhales, the snake
grabs him tighter,” Hunter explained. “They have teeth that are curved backwards,
but they swallow the animal whole.”
Snakes flick their tongue back and forth to help them analyze particles that
are in front of them.
“Snakes don’t have a personality,” said Hunter. “Some people say, ‘Oh, my
snake loves to be held,’ or ‘My snake is sweet and really likes me.’ Well,
they have the intelligence of a styrofoam cup. All they know is food, water
If the snakes are raised in captivity, like Hunter’s are, they don’t know
Hunter brought out a Burmese python that is from Asia or India and will grow
to be 15 to 18 feet long.
“Whenever you hear about snakes eating people, it’s very rare,” Hunter said.
“When a [venomous] snake bites a human, [often] the bite will be a dry bite (not inserting all
of their venom into the human) because they know they can’t eat you. They just
want to give you a quick bite to scare you off.”
When the Cub Scouts asked about the difference between venomous and non-venomous
snakes, Hunter said it is easiest to learn about the difference between snakes
through reading books at the local library.
“The main difference between males and females is that the male has a thicker,
longer tail than the female,” explained Hunter.
And, when you see a snake in the wild, the best thing to do is leave it alone.
Step away from it and alert an adult. If bitten by a snake, get help as soon
Hunter then pretended to conclude his presentation by thanking the Cub Scouts
for listening. He walked away, leaving the scouts in silence. . . then he walked
back to the microphone and said, “Oh wait. I forgot. I bet y’all want to see
some big snakes.”
The kids became excited, and as Hunter brought out an adult boa named Sampson
and an adult python named Squash, the children put their hands over their mouths
in amazement. Hunter handled the snakes for a few moments and then turned it
over to the Cub Scouts as they each got their picture taken with Squash.