Educating for advocating: Nebraska snakes in Gretna
26 out of the 29 Nebraska species of snake were in Gretna this weekend at the Schramm Education Center.
It was designed to highlight that snakes are an integral part of our ecosystem, and to denounce any misconceptions the public may have of them.
The display helped provide visitors a first–hand opportunity to gain knowledge, and most importantly, have fun doing so.
"A lot of people with fear of snakes come in. They get exposed, get educated, and they leave with a totally different mindset and it's really great to see," UNL Fisheries and Wildlife Laura Carper said.
UNL Herpetologist Dennis Ferraro says he is happy to share his friends and knowledge with the public.
"I'm surrounded by 26 of the 29 snakes in the state of Nebraska, how can I not feel great," Ferraro said.
Educators walked around the floors with snakes in their arms so that the public could touch them.
"This is our common water snake, one of the snakes native found in Nebraska."
The common water snake eats only fish, so have no fear. The sole mission in partnership with the Schramm Education Center is to educate.
"We really try to connect people to nature and we really try to highlight how amazing the resources here in Nebraska– snakes, birds, bugs, everything, and so we really like to promote what's in your own back yard," Schramm Education Center Amber Schiltz said.
"I want the people of Nebraska to be conservation minded toward all our snakes and know that they're not a harmful creature, or economically disastrous creature, they are a beneficial creature in any way or form," Ferraro said.
However, if you encounter one in the wild, they say to just walk away and leave it alone.
"Snakes are not aggressive and they're not mean, they're defensive, so they'll respond if they're scared, but they're not out to get ya," Carper said.
In the rare occurrence that you get a little more than a meet and greet, "If you think you got bit by something and you're not sure if it's venomous, get to the nearest hospital as soon as you can. Do not cut yourself, do not put ice on it, don't drink alcohol," Ferraro said.
They say around 1,000 visitors came to learn about snakes this weekend and they hope the word spreads, that, snakes are just our friendly outdoor neighbors.
Only 4 snakes in Nebraska are venomous.
If you have any other interests in these animals, you can visit the School of Natural Resources at UNL.