“Snake Man” makes his annual visit
December 17, 2008
Filed under News Archives
Look in the library: it’s Mary Jo Richmond; no its Jay Berno; no it’s… Snake Man?
Russell Hanson (alias “Snake Man”) came to Middletown High School’s media center on Dec. 16 to talk to biology students about snakes, specifically the corn snake, also called Elaphe guttatta guttata by its scientific name.
Hanson has been curious about snakes for the majority of his life, and he finally got his dream of raising snakes when he bought two female snakes for his kids. He soon found out that one of the snakes had laid eggs. Unfortunately, the eggs were sterile and did not hatch, however this event sparked something for Hanson: he wanted to breed snakes.
That is how MHS students found him standing before them.
Hanson’s first topic was simply genetics. He showed the students the purpose for Punnett squares as he went through step-by-step instructions on how to get the outcome of the color of the skin of two corn snakes. There are four types of corn snakes: the wild corn snake has red and black skin; amelanistic corn snakes cannot make a black pigment; anerythristic corn snakes cannot make a red pigment; and albino snakes which cannot make either pigment, and are completely white.
Of course Hanson came prepared. He had each of these types of corn snakes and showed them to the students.
Next were stories of disasters with snakes. One was about a friend who kept a copperhead and was bitten by it. Hanson went into detail on how his friend’s hands where swollen to the size of sausages; his friend then called the hospital, and luckily the doctor told him he would be all right unless the swelling moved up his arm, which it did not.
This story and many others, some in which people died, thoroughly convinced the students not to own large or poisonous snakes.
Lastly, he let the students come and hold the snakes; nine in all. Most were corn snakes, but he also had a ball snake. When it was time to leave, the snakes and the man himself behind everyone left with just a little more knowledge than when they entered.
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