"Snakes Alive" during Moss Point school demonstration

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

MOSS POINT, MS  (WLOX) -  Students at Escatawpa Elementary school in Moss Point got up close and personal with snakes Tuesday morning. Mississippi's "snake man" entertained and educated the kids with the help of his reptile friends.

It's a message that combines science and safety.

"What we're going to do today is, we're going to find out what those good things are about snakes. So are you ready?" Terry Vandeventer asked his young crowd of students.

Wide eyed youngsters love the "snake man."

"Look out!  Here he comes!"  said the snake man, as he pulled another reptile from the big, blue box.

Terry Vandeventer wants everyone to better understand snakes.

"Wow! Orange, orange! Look at that," he said, while walking across the gym with a corn snake in hand.

His reptiles capture their attention like no speaker could ever dream of doing.  And once they're paying attention, the teaching begins.

"It's a safety message. It's that snakes are good. Snakes are intrinsically good things. They're not evil. They're not bad things. But some snakes can hurt you. and so they need to know what to do when they see a snake," said Vandeventer.

"The indigo snake is the biggest snake in America," he said, clutching yet another big snake, "I have to have a special license just to bring the indigo snake to show you. There are no more indigo snakes in Mississippi."

The snake man tells the children, despite what they might have heard, trying to kill a snake is actually the number one way most people in Mississippi are bitten by snakes.

"And this is the famous king snake. He eats rats and mice," said the snake man.

Controlling rodents isn't the only contribution.

"Even venomous snakes, we use their venom in pharmaceuticals. The local Mississippi copperhead, his venom is used to treat breast cancer," he said.

"People like snakes. They're afraid of 'em.. but they're drawn to 'em," said Vandeventer.

His mission is to educate people about snakes, and erase the common misconceptions.

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