Safe Snake Handling

Safe Snake Handling
By:  Wes Wallace
Cape Girardeau, MO - You've seen Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, get up close and personal with a lot of dangerous situations.   So how do animal experts learn to deal with venomous snakes or other creatures?
Jeremy Soucy, an Education Specialist with the Nature Center in Cape Girardeau says it takes quite a bit of training.   "We actually went through an extensive course with an expert from Illinois, and I also did a training session with the State of Missouri folks,"  says Soucy, "Probably 10 to 12 hours, some of that was learning about the snakes themselves, the other was spent actually handling them too."
Soucy tells Heartland News he's been bitten more than a hundred times, but never by a venomous snake.
Last month the snake specialist brought several 'friends' for a segment on Heartland News at Five, including a couple of copperheads.   Transporting them is pretty rare, but Soucy and his coworkers do have to move them and clean their cages from time to time.
"We have five venomous snakes, so we always have two (trained) people in a locked room, where we use a hands off policy, meaning we don't touch them, we use hooks to move them,"  explains Soucy.
For those of you who do want to see snakes up close or handle them, Soucy urges people to learn the patterns of venomous snakes, and keep your distance from any wild reptile or animal, because they'll probably bite.