Meet The Reptilian Residents Of Liberty’s Zoology Lab

The snakes have been Liberty residents for over five years now, owned by professors, students or the biology department. 

Several students work together to take care of the biology department’s snakes. These students are the Snake Care Team, which offers the opportunity to earn CSER credit. The team members feed the snakes every week and take care of all their other needs, such as changing their water or cleaning their enclosures. 

Hannah Gaydos, a senior zoo and wildlife biology major, is in her second semester as a member of the Snake Care Team. Like many other members, Gaydos has always been fascinated by animals.

“I used to say sloths,” Gaydos said when asked what her favorite animal is. “But now I’ve grown a love for snakes.”

The snakes in the lab are constrictors, meaning they are not venomous but hunt their prey by coiling around them and cutting off blood circulation. These snakes do not attack humans. Although snakes in general have a bad reputation, these pose no threat to the students and staff. In fact, they are frequently held and petted by the members of the Snake Care Team. 

Each snake has its own unique personality. Bamboo is the resident Florida kingsnake. His temperament as described on his information sheet is “usually docile.” 

Unlike most snake species, Bamboo eats other snakes on top of the usual snake diet of rodents and birds.

Caroline is a red-bellied water snake. She is the only student-owned snake held in the zoology lab.

Sasha and Frank are ball pythons. They tend to be more timid than the other snakes, particularly Frank. Frank likes to spend his time curled up under the log inside his enclosure. The name “ball python” comes from the fact that they tend to curl into balls when they are scared.

Maize is a corn snake, his scales a zesty red color. He is friendly and active throughout the day, constantly climbing and moving around his enclosure. He won’t hesitate to wrap around your shoulders or slink into your hoodie when you’re holding him.

Both ball pythons and corn snakes are recommended for prospective snake owners.

The zoology lab also houses a different kind of reptile: Monty the water monitor. Water monitors are a large type of lizard. Monty is currently over a foot in length. He has his own care team that regularly feeds 

and takes care of him. Professor Dr. Harris is the head of the team who cares for him. 

“He’s basically a big ham,” Sydney Goodsell, one of the students who takes care of Monty, said. 

She also said that Monty tends to be quite lazy, but that he sometimes gets bursts of energy where he is active and moves as fast as a racecar.    

To stay updated on the snakes, follow them on Instagram @liberty.snakes. If you would like to see these animals up close, keep an eye out for the next reptile open house.

Bear is a feature reporter.

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