Tripping on the scales: Elachee’s 25th annual Snake Day a slithery success
Kids and their parents get close-up views of snakes, tortoises and other reptiles
Dusty Adams, 3, looks on at a bull snake on Saturday during Snake Day at Elachee Nature Science Center in Gainesville. - photo by David Barnes

Critters scaly or slimy and slithered into the hearts of many at Elachee Nature Science Center’s 25th annual Snake Day on Saturday.

“We have a record number of exhibitors this year, and we continue to grow every year,” said Kim Marks, Elachee’s director of communications.

This year’s exhibitors included the Georgia Herpetological Society, Georgia Reptile Society, University of Georgia Herpetological Society and many other local enthusiasts.

At the festival, guests could get up close and personal with many snake species, visit Elachee’s live animal exhibits, participate in live animal demonstrations and take guided hikes in the Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve. Kids could even enjoy reptile related crafts and face painting.

Every year, the event is a favorite among guests, exhibitors and Elachee staff according to Peter Gordon, Elachee’s director of education.

“Throughout history, whether in mythology, religion or anything, snakes are generally portrayed as bad or evil,” he said. “Because of this, people tend to have an innate fear of snakes; they’re afraid, but they don’t know why. Then, when they see one, their first reaction is typically to get rid of it or even kill it, but that’s not always necessary. We have this event to show people that snakes really aren’t as bad as they think, and that they should be preserved.”

He explained that there are nearly 3,000 species of snakes in the world, about 46 in Georgia. Thankfully, only five or six of those in Georgia are venomous. Snakes are a vital part to the environment, especially in the way that they keep down pests like rodents and insects.

“While people may be afraid of snakes, they can overcome their fear by just seeing them. By keeping a safe distance, they can see how great and beautiful they really are,” said Gordon.

Although the event is named for snakes, other reptiles and amphibians were on hand too, such as lizards, alligators, turtles, tortoises, toads and frogs.

Georgia Abercrombie, age 4, has attended camp at Elachee before, but Saturday was her first time going to Snake Day. Like many of the children at the festival, her favorite part of the event was getting to touch and interact with the animals themselves.

“My favorite animal was the giant tortoise,” she said. “It’s like a turtle, but a whole lot bigger! I also liked the lizards. I’m having a lot of fun today.”

“With the success we have had with this event in the past 25 years, we hope to continue holding it for another 25 years,” Gordon said. “The community loves it.”

“While people may be afraid of snakes, they can overcome their fear by just seeing them. By keeping a safe distance, they can see how great and beautiful they really are.”
Peter Gordon, Elachee's Director of Education
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