The Snake Man arrives today at the Bryan Public Library

Terry Vanderveter "The Snake Man" will have many interesting snakes today at the Summer Reading Program at the Bryan Public Library.
Staff Writer

Due to a scheduling conflict, Terry Vanderveter - "The Snake Man" - will be entertaining and informing children and adults about helpful snakes at 2 p.m. today at the Summer Reading Program at Bryan Public Library.

Vanderventer has a wealth of information about snakes and what to do if you see a snake and aren't sure if it is venomous. Vanderventer is the owner of The Living Reptile Museum Educational Productions, and is the Herpetology Field Associate with the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science.

"The Snake Man, Terry Vandeventer, will be at BPL at 2 p.m. today," Dawn Richardson, children's librarian at the Bryan Public Library said. "Terry is the owner of The Living Reptile Museum and was awarded the 2006 Conservation Educator of the year by the Mississippi Wildlife Federation. We are always thrilled to have Terry come to BPL. It wouldn’t be summer without his participation in our SRP. I think he has been coming here for over 25 years. Due to a scheduling conflict he is coming a week earlier this year."

Richardson said until this year, Vanderventer had been the closing entertainer during the SRP. That was not possible this year. But he will be at the library today.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation will the last entertainer for the summer, Tuesday, July 25. Water Fun with the West Point Fire Dept. and the Pilot Club of West Point will be at 2 p.m. Thursday, July 27. All children need to wear a bathing suit and bring a towel. That event will signal the end of the Summer Reading Program for 2017.

"Terry is an international expert on reptiles and is the foremost authority on the snakes of Mississippi," Richardson said. "We simply call him the Snake Man. People start calling us weeks in advance to find out when he will be here. The program is
a very fun and it's an educational way to teach children and adults the characteristics, benefits and safety of snakes. Terry places a special emphasis on the conservation of snakes and respect for all wildlife."

Vanderventer has had an interest in snakes since he was a little boy. He found a garter snake in his back yard and wanted to learn more. That interest has turned into a career of educating children and adults about these often misunderstood creatures.

“‘The only good snake is a dead snake.' How many of you have heard that before?” asked Vandeventer. “I want you to know that all snakes are good snakes and what to do if you see one. If you see a snake, always remember to take two steps back, turn and run, and go home and read about the snake you just saw. It was probably one of the 49 snakes in Mississippi that are harmless, or it could be one of the six that are venomous. Go home and read about it, look it up on a computer or come to the library, they have lots of great books about snakes.”

Hundreds of children have gone home and told their parents snakes are very useful creatures, in spite of preconceived notions.

Venderventer has told them that snakes eat rats and mice, and are beneficial to humans to keep the vermin population in check.

"If you have a snake in your house, you don't have a snake problem," Vanderventer said. "You have a vermin problem. Snakes only go where there is a food source. If a snake is in your house, it's there to eat mice and rats."

Snakes are solitary creatures who want to be left alone.

Vandeventer said Salt and Pepper King Snakes eat mice, rats and other snakes. He said the Salt and Pepper King Snake will grab a poisonous reptile behind its head, wrapitself around the other snake and squeeze.

When the snake ceases to move, the King Snake swallows it whole.

This is a prime example of a beneficial snake that not only eats rats and mice that carry diseases, but will eat venomous snakes as well.