One of the duties of my job is to train staff and volunteers at the Museum to handle various animals for public programs. I also have to train the animals to tolerate it but that is a far easier process :) When it comes to training people to handle snakes it can be a slow process but generally people surprise themselves by doing a good job and then feeling a great sense of satisfaction at having overcome a new challenge.
One topic I do tend to emphasize heavily when I train is the snakes propensity to wind themselves in, around and through things. I often get an old fashioned look when I start on this particular topic, kind of 'oh come on how bad can it be?' Well on Thursday I managed to get some rather specific proof of 'how bad it can be!'
One of our volunteers came back into the lab looking a little shame-faced and said that Connie (one of our Corn Snakes) had manged to get through the label on the back of the neck of her shirt!
Well she wasn't kidding! Connie has wriggled her way in and was now firmly stuck. Unable to go forward because she was getting to the wider part of her body but unable to go back either because the label was so tight that her scales couldn't slide back out! In fact she was so tightly wedged that her eyes had started to bulge rather alarmingly!
You wouldn't normally see any of that white around her eyes! I roped Doug in to click away with his I-phone whilst we worked on her release. It was an extremely delicate process as there was no room for error between the label and the snake without cutting the snake.
Slowly and carefully Connie was released from her noose and no blood was shed.
She seems to be none the worse for her little misadventure and next time someone gets that glazed expression when I start telling them about being careful about letting the snakes get tangled around things I will have plenty of photographic evidence to make my point! Connie's eyes have returned to normal and so has my blood pressure! :)
Photo Credits - Doug
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