Why I Save Snakes (and turtles, and Opossums…)

8 Jan

In a recent article I read about two women who save rattlesnakes from being killed on roads.  These women are heroes to me and their journey has inspired me to put my thoughts down on “paper” and share them with all of you.


Photo by Tim Peacock from the article by W.R.Shaw 

Like these amazing women, I have been saving snakes – Rattlesnakes included – and all others as well as turtles, salamanders and Opossums for as long as I have been driving.

With most incidents I quickly move the animal to to the side of the road it is moving toward and then move on without incident.  Below are a few videos of some of my rescues when I was toting a video camera.

Box turtles (and all others) need our help across the road

And just last year I rescued one Timber rattlesnake from a garden and then another as I drove home from the first rescue – two in one night!

On another occasion several people worked together to get one small box turtle back to her home in the remote forest.

A copperhead rescue…

Most of the times when I am rescuing wildlife from the road the other drivers will slow down and wait for me to rescue the animal and sometimes even thank me out the window as they pass.  I believe most people are really good and helpful and may only hit small creatures crossing the roads on accident.

Other, thankfully more rare times, I have had drivers swerve their vehicles toward me and speed up in the attempt to hit the animal before I get to it.

Once this happened as a friend and I had just pulled over and were jogging toward an Eastern box turtle that was attempting to cross a curvy 2 lane road in the mountains near Boone, NC.  As we were approaching the turtle a huge jacked up “redneck” truck with nasty diesel smoke belching from over-sized “hey look at me” loud exhaust pipes swerved past us, accelerated and aimed for the animal.  We could only watch as the helpless reptile died in a cartwheel of blood and gore under the giant tires of the infantile driver’s weapon of death. As the truck hit the turtle with a very audible “pop” we could hear the hoots and catcalls from the driver and passenger as they celebrated their murder of an innocent and helpless creature. I am normally a calm, easy going person but at that moment I was so mad and disgusted with humanity that if that driver had turned around I do not know what I would have done but it would not have been nice.

Many years ago I witnessed the aftermath of a similar incident that I recorded in the below video.

In the following video a scientist conducts an experiment to explore the connections between the species of the animal and how many drivers target them.

In another incident, as I was driving home one warm summer night when I noticed a medium sized Copperhead warming its belly on a remote road.  I saw the snake in the last instant and was forced to straddle it with my car to avoid hitting it and then I quickly pulled off the road and jumped out to move it before the approaching vehicle could hit it.  Unfortunately the driver was only a few car lengths behind and probably did not see it as they came into the dark curve and hit the snake which quickly died…and so did the 9 babies gestating in its belly.

Yet another time I watched as a driver on a cellphone driving on a busy Florida highway mowed down an adult Gopher tortoise as it tried to cross the road – yet another cartwheel of blood and gore from a protected keystone species. The driver never even tapped her brakes but from my vantage point I have no idea how she did not see the animal.

Other times I have stopped to move road-killed animals off the road in order to not cause the deaths of the scavengers that come to feed on them. When I have moved rattlesnakes they almost always have a missing rattle (see the video below in which I find just that).  – This is evidence that the murderer took the snake’s rattle as a trophy of their conquest of the “fearsome deadly beast” they now probably brag about to their friends to boost their childish machismo at the expense of another creatures life – now you see how I feel about trophy hunting.

In the third installment in the Sad Snake series I encounter a cold blooded murder scene and I get a bit heated at the insanity and ignorance of the Human species.


Then there’s the type of people that swerve in the attempt to maybe intimidate me into;

A. Dropping the animal and running so they can kill it with their rolling death machine.

B. Assisting with their deadly plans by throwing it under their wheels so they can kill it with their rolling death machine.

C. Possibly kill us both with their rolling death machine because they are holding onto some misplaced ancient dogma that insists that snakes are “evil” and anyone who associates with them must also be “evil” so it would be appropriate to kill both of the “evil” creatures at the same time. Really? Yes, there are misguided people like that still out there walking and driving the earth – some of them are even toting guns – yikes!

It is truly sad that in this day of scientific breakthroughs leading to technological achievements that allow us to drive great distances in machines of science (cars, planes, trains, ships, rockets etc..), connect with others at the speed of light using devices of science (smartphones, internet, satellites, computers,…), and the fact that many of us owe our very lives to the findings of science by way of medications derived from snake venom such as snake bite antivenin and some cancer and pain treatments and more and even more). Watch the video below for more on this.

Crofab antivenin is used in treating the bite of pitvipers.  The video below shows how venom is extracted from Rattlesnakes before used to produce lifesaving antivenin.

Here is a another good, but a bit over dramatized, video of how Crofab is used to treat the bite of Pitvipers.

Then there is the simple fact that through thousands of years of direct observation and the findings of science, that we now know for absolute fact that snakes eat lots of rodents (mice, rats, voles etc…) and that these rodents, if not kept in check by snakes and other predators, would overpopulate destroying our crops and spreading deadly disease–watch an example in the following video.

Rodents directly and indirectly carry or play a part in the vectoring diseases that sicken and kill humans the world over in huge numbers (Bubonic plague, Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted FeverHantavirus and Hantavirus Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome, Lassa Fever,  Leptospirosis, Lymphocytic Chorio-meningitis, Rat Bite Fever, Salmonella, Arenaviridae, Tularemia need I go on…), so logic and reason would dictate that we should never ever choose to willingly harm a snake and we should in fact honor and protect them if only for the rodent removal service they provide our homes, farms, forests and fields thereby keeping us fed and healthy.

Many, like the women in the article I noted at the start of this posting, and others like John Sealy, Alan Cameron, William H. Martin,  Bruce Means, and organizations like The Orianne Society, The Center for Snake Conservation, The Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, Davidson River Herpetology Lab, and many bloggers like the Wandering HerpetologistLiving Alongside Wildlife, the Scaly Adventures crew and myself are all working to share the facts, truths, and benefits of snakes and other reptiles with you, our readers.

Sadly it seems that there remain many good and bad people, or should I say “Sheeple,” who choose to live their lives blindly following ancient or ignorant beliefs rather than truth, reason, logic, knowledge, and the findings of science.


I feel sorry for these people.

I feel sorry for them because they are so closed to the facts that their actions of killing snakes and other wildlife end up make this thing called life harder for us all – from the snake crossing the road to the rest of us just trying to make a living.

Yes, I rescue snakes and other wildlife from roads, homes, and wherever else they are in need. I rescue them because they need rescuing from the bullying humans who are BY FAR more dangerous and deadly than the snakes they target with their cars, hoes, guns, shovels, and fear driven ancient beliefs and venom spitting narrow-minded hatreds.  I also choose to make a difference by teaching the scientific truths — based on reason, knowledge, and experimentation as well as thousands of years of collective observation by countless scientists, naturalists, animal lovers and farmers all over the planet — to anyone and everyone who will listen.  I do this through my science classes, my small nonprofit education and outreach organization Earthshine Nature Programs, my YouTube Channel and this blog.

Please, do not be a sheeple. Before you choose to harm or kill a snake, do some simple research and learn more about the creature who’s life you are preparing to end.

BTW, yes I have been bitten by a Rattlesnake and no, I did not kill it in vengeance – in fact, I let it go so it could eat more rodents. Oh and thank you science for saving the finger that I am using to type these words with antivenin derived from snake venom and the findings of science.

 I leave you with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi – “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way it’s animals are treated. “


4 Responses to “Why I Save Snakes (and turtles, and Opossums…)”

  1. Wendy S 01/10/2017 at 10:23 am #

    Hi Steve

    I LOVE that you enjoyed my article and it’s always cool to meet a fellow animal lover.

    Could you do me a favor? The image you posted from my article is not my work, but the work of talented NY artist Tim Peacock, who was commissioned to do the banner for my article. I’m not in a position to give anyone permission to use it. Could you credit him on the image, and maybe check in with him to make sure he’s okay with it being used?


    • snakesteve 01/13/2017 at 9:41 am #

      Thank you as well!! Yes, I will cite Tim on the image and contact him for approval of use. Thanks for the heads up on my mistake of not citing the picture.

      • Wendy S 01/13/2017 at 11:05 am #

        Thanks Steve! I did a little of the leg work for you. Tim says he’s okay with the use as long as he and Narratively are both credited, which you’ve done, so thanks for taking care of that.

        While I was here I reread your post. We need more people who take our conservation minded view. I just commented on a horrific youtube video where the guy harrasses and torments a gopher snake and grabs her up and swings her by her tail, all the while talking about how “awesome” the snake was. He replied to my comment by saying he only goaded her because of her “unprovoked” posturing and that no one wants to watch “boring” video that shows snakes’ natural behavior, so he wouldn’t get as many views if he didn’t torment the snake! How sick is that, right? He said people have been doing it for years and a couple of youtubers leaving comments isn’t going to stop them. Sometimes I don’t like humans so much.


  1. Finding Odyssa | earthshinenature - 09/11/2017

    […] Read my recent story on why I save snakes and turtles and Opossums. […]

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