HANDFUL: Attendees come up and personal with Mustard, an albino Burmese python who is no stranger to the cameras.
—Photos courtesy Asa Wright Nature Centre
Don't fear the snake
...Zoo staff help residents understand reptiles
ASIDE from snake lovers who relish the opportunity to chance upon a snake, the very thought of a close encounter with these stealthy creatures is the stuff of nightmares for some and can even send others running in fright.
What if you were taking a walk or at home and happened to come across an uninvited guest in the form of a snake, what would your instincts tell you to do?
“If you come across a snake, do not kill it, do not attempt to hold it. Call the forestry division or the zoo, someone will come to pick it up,” Winston Rojas advises.
Rojas has been working with snakes since 1995, and in 1997, he held his first poisonous snake while on the job at the Asa Wright Nature Centre (AWNC)- it took him three years to master the precise skill of holding a snake.
Whenever he is called upon by the AWNC to ‘hold’ a poisonous snake found on the grounds or pathways at the centre, Rojas goes unaccompanied. To this date, he has never gotten a snake bite.
Three years ago, Rojas was asked to rescue an anaconda close to Caroni that was about 25 feet in length, nine men helped him hold that snake. Rojas remembers becoming overwhelmed with emotion when coming face to face with the big snake.
“The first thing people might have looked to do was to kill the snake but tears came to my eyes when I saw this anaconda which was a female and we were there to rescue it,”said Rojas.
He prefers to be called a snake handler and not a ‘snake man’, which is one term some people have used to refer to him.
First thing to keep in mind is snakes do not go out of their way to attack and will try to avoid biting people, they would only ‘attack’ once interfered with or stepped