Hoop snakes do not grab the end of their tails in their jaws and roll like wheels at lightning speed to chase after people or their prey.
This was one of many myths exposed during the Snakes Alive program held at Ernie Miller Nature Center in Olathe on June 23. More than 100 enthusiastic snake fans — and potential snake-fans — attended the event presented by Officer Torey Rowlett of the Johnson County Park Police Department.
A mix of curious, enthralled, and/or nervous audience members took several up-close opportunities to check out three species of non-venomous snakes, investigate snake skins and rattles, and participate with Rowlett in several on-stage learning demonstrations.
While snakes slithered in, out, and through Rowlett’s hands during the evening, he set the record straight about some false beliefs people hold regarding snakes, such as the legend that milk snakes drink milk from a cow.
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“Milk snakes are often found in dairy barns because they eat mice — and mice populate dairy barns,” Rowlett said. “They don’t drink milk from cows.”
Rowlett also shared information about habitats and behaviors of numerous snakes native to Kansas, along with the appropriate response to a snake bite.
“Our goal with this program is to give correct information about snakes and to demystify them,” said Rowlett, whose favorite snake is the nature center’s gopher snake. “I like him for how big he is and because he likes to run a lot. But, I also grew up with the myths about snakes. I have to admit, I feel a little anxiety when I reach into those pillow cases to take one out.”
Along with the gopher snake, a rough green snake and a Great Plains rat snake also made stage appearances.
However, 8-year-old Malkolm Williamson’s favorite snake, the king cobra, didn’t make the cast list. “I like king cobras because it looks like they have wings coming out of their face,” he said.
Snakes Alive was just one of this summer’s series of educational programs held at the Nature Center. Upcoming events include wildlife, animal and Kansas symbols programs.
Free Friday evening events will be held through July 21 and run from 7 p.m.-7:45 p.m.
All events are held at the Ernie Miller Nature Center at 909 North Highway 7 in Olathe.
For more information, call 913-764-7759.