Snake Wrangler

My older sister has always had a job. Always!

Collecting pop and beer bottles, shining our Dad’s shoes, picking blackberries, …

The most unique was catching and selling snakes at 10 years old.

Someone advertised for snakes in the local newspaper: 10 cents for small ones, 15 cents for big ones.

My sister enlisted her friends and myself; we looked in fields, flipped over plywood sheets in empty lots, and scoured the bushes. We found a few and deposited them in our plastic bucket. My sister had the great idea of looking in people’s backyards: compost piles were here goal. She knocked on neighbour’s doors, told them of our mission, and was never turned away.

We collected about 90 garter snakes over a weekend.

The people buying the snakes wanted them for a university lab. We were their only suppliers.

They were surprised to be doing business with a 10 and 7 year old.

We got about $11 for the snakes; pretty good money back in 1972

My sister put her share in the bank; I blew mine on candy.

8 responses to “Snake Wrangler

  1. I’ve never actually held a snake… I’ve seen those giant ones at zoos, though.

  2. That’s a job I wouldn’t be doing if I lived in Australia! 90% of their snakes are poisonous. You’d hope to get more money for them!

  3. Where I grew up in New Hampshire, we were warned about timber rattlers in the woods. They’re uncommon, but out there. Anyone who remembers childhood at all will not be surprised to hear that we LIVED to find one of these illusive rattle snakes.

    With the thousands upon thousands of hours I spent playing in the woods, I never saw one.

    Then, years later and returning as an adult for family visits I saw 5 over a two year span. Some juvenile, one was just a baby but one was mom or dad, big and not happy to see me. We gave each other space and parted on even terms.

    Really fun to find some after all that looking! I’m just glad I didn’t step too close.

    Had I been around when you were snake hunting, I would have been right there with you with a double hand full!

  4. Now that is definitely a cool job!

  5. What sort of snake is the one you’re holding?

  6. S. Le: it’s a small anaconda our guide found on the side of the road in the Pantanal, Brazil. The Amazon is amazing, but the Pantanal is a better place to see animals, reptiles, and birds.

    Turkish Prawn: at 7 years old, I was the official bucket holder. My sister did most of the catching.

    jimsmuse: I agree.

    Finicky Penguin: I’m not much of a snake holder now, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. (and peer pressure is involved).

    Kelly Pettit: I agree. I saw a lot of poisonous snakes and spiders in Oz. I always zipped up the tent each night.

  7. Wait wait, you’re saying that as a child, you engaged in snake-trafficking, selling them into institutional bondage?

    I’m disappointed in you, mister. Only 2 marshmallows in your cocoa today!

  8. birdflew: it was a low point in my life, I’m not proud out about it. I was young and hungry. 🙂

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