Our class was so honored to host a real-live Snake Educator on February 1st for an in-house field trip. Mr. Eric Bitler is licensed in reptile and amphibian rehabilitation, as well as being a certified wildlife control agent, endangered species holder, and venomous species handler. He was absolutely FANTASTIC with the children AND the snakes. We learned all about how beneficial snakes are to the environment (including humans), and he addressed all kinds of myths (there are so many) relating to snakes and snake identification. Above all, the children were allowed to be in the presence of, and if they chose to, touch and hold several different kinds of snakes. They also got to observe a venomous copperhead in a safe manner. The biggest benefit to all of this was the realization that snakes (even the venomous ones) really are very non-aggressive to humans, and shouldn't be feared, but rather respected and understood. It's generally unnecessary to kill a snake (it's illegal to kill many). They can usually be safely encouraged to move by an adult with a water hose, and in the event that a venomous snake is in a place it shouldn't be and is not interested in moving along on its own, there are many local handlers who will come and relocate the snake for free! Snakes are the best and safest rodent control around, no poison required! We also learned that rodents are a BIG cause of house fires, so this is definitely a direct way that snakes' presence is a benefit to humans. Mr. Bitler and his reptile friends absolutely helped to create some new "snake ambassadors" here that day.
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