Alex Robertson does something that would freak most men and women out—and generally, he does it shirtless. Robertson is a snake hunter—or herper—who looks for and catches snakes and reptiles in the wetlands of Central Florida. Even though Robertson has a degree in biology, he’s a comprehensive-time firefighter and doesn’t make a dwelling off of snakes. Rather, he snake hunts purely for fun—and he seems to have a lot of it based on the short video clips he posts on social media. In actuality, Robertson is quickly starting to be an online feeling for his snake searching escapades, which typically element his typical mullet hairstyle, quick swims in snake- and gator-infested waters, and uncommon grip-and-grins with a Busch Gentle in a single hand and a large, outdated snake in the other. We just lately spoke to Robertson about his passion for snakes, why they’re so often maligned, and more. Here’s what he experienced to say.
I favored bugs and things when I was very little. I was flipping more than rocks to glimpse for slugs and worms. Beneath a rock, there was a minimal ring-necked snake. I did not know what it was and ran within to get my mother. She hated snakes her whole life, but for some explanation, she was like ‘oh, this is a fantastic snake. Go in advance and get it.’ She knew it wasn’t venomous. I picked it up, and from that second, I was hooked. It was the coolest issue at any time.
I have often been variety of a freak. When I was increasing up, nobody preferred snakes all around me. I was the odd a single out. But when the net arrived close to with social media, I started having connected with other men and women. I was like, ‘oh, you do the same odd detail as me. Let’s dangle out and go come across some snakes together.’
Herpetology is the research of reptiles and amphibians. Herping is just kind of brief-hand for heading out and seeking for snakes, turtles, frogs, and lizards out in the wild. If you’re fascinated in finding into herping or snake hunting—I use the phrases interchangeably—do your investigate prior to heading out. Test to learn the snakes in your location so you’re not likely out and accidentally grabbing some thing venomous.
The the greater part of my snake things is just for entertaining. To equate it to fishing, from time to time you go out bass fishing, or look for redfish, snook, or tarpon. Very well, I can make a decision to seem for rattlesnakes, hognose snakes, h2o snakes, or no matter what. Different species stay in diverse habitats, so you have to target what you want to discover.
Snakes definitely acquired me into animals, biology, and ecology. The extra you find out about them, the a lot more queries you occur up with. Each and every time I go out herping, I see a thing new. I master a little something new. I went to the University of Central Florida for college and acquired a biology diploma. When I was there, I labored on a handful of distinctive assignments on snake species below in Florida, and I received to go down to Costa Rica for a month to do a job on palm pit vipers. They have 5 or 6 tree-dwelling pit vipers. We ended up able to obtain all of them.
I’ll take individuals out in the area to go snake hunting and they’ll be deathly fearful at very first. Then, they’ll catch a number of snakes and see, ‘oh, this snake’s not trying to bite my head off.’ They are not all harmful. Most of them really do not even check out to bite when you seize them. They’ve all got diverse personalities. It modifications a lot of peoples’ minds when they get to place their fingers on and see them in the wild, versus listening to old wives’ tales about them killing most people.
I’ve been bitten hundreds of periods. A non-venomous snake chunk is seriously absolutely nothing. It hardly hurts except it is like a 5-foot snake. They can attract a little little bit of blood, but it’s not actually a large offer at all. At times I’ll let them chew on me in my video clips simply because it is funny and the blood goes all over the place. But actually, most of our snakes are extremely mild-mannered and some of them never even chunk when you choose them up. If you really never want to get bit, you can normally seize snakes behind the head and restrain them like that. I never like to do that mainly because it places them in a compromising posture. The final issue I want to do is damage a person of the snakes. I’d fairly consider a pair of bites than tension the snake out way much too considerably by clamping down on them at the rear of the head. I despise it when persons do that.
I check out not to be too considerably of a dufus. I made use of to be quite negative about grabbing rattlesnakes and cottonmouths and just absolutely free handing them. But as I’ve gotten a minimal bit older, I don’t want to offer with healthcare facility expenses or probably losing my fingers or arms. With venomous snakes, I’m a good deal much more careful now. Generally, I’ll just permit them be. If not, I have a snake hook, which is like a golfing club besides with a very little u-formed hook on the end. That is a genuinely excellent software for manipulating a snake without the need of putting your arms on them. If I see a rattlesnake crossing the street, I don’t want to attain down and get little bit. I’ll just acquire my hook out of my motor vehicle and scoop them off of the road ahead of a thing terrible takes place.
I strictly do images with the snakes, then I release them again wherever they had been. Selecting up the snakes for a handful of minutes is not going to harm them. They really do not have any long lasting outcomes. Most of the snakes we uncover are crossing roadways, so we basically preserve them from having operate in excess of. Tons of snakes die just about every working day on roads. I’ll set limited films up on Instagram mainly because persons like to view them. At times I perform it up and act like a goofball, but I’m definitely just making an attempt to have fun with my pals and capture some snakes.
I like to crush some Busch Lights when I’m out snake searching. My intention is to become a Busch Light-sponsored athlete.
My preferred snake I at any time caught was a rattlesnake species that life in Costa Rica called the Central American Rattlesnake. It’s basically bought a stripe down the first third of its physique and then diamonds like a diamondback down the rest of it. That was this kind of an awesome snake to see and one of my significant targets when I was heading down there. It’s heading to be difficult to beat.
Pretty much all of my friends who go herping have been bit by venomous snakes, but I have not…yet. I hope to continue to keep it that way. There have been a few shut phone calls, which is not the snakes’ fault. If you mess with a venomous snake, they’re in all probability going to try to bite you. You have bought to hold that in the again of your brain.
Florida is just one of the top rated destinations for herping in the overall globe. Up right up until the past number of several years, we experienced thousands and thousands of folks relocating listed here and so much of our natural lands receiving bulldozed. Florida had so a great deal wildlife, and it nevertheless does in specific places. I have identified extra than 100 snakes in just one evening. We have all-around 50 unique species of snakes like japanese diamondbacks, the most significant rattlesnake species in the planet, and japanese indigos, which get up to 8 ft extended. Persons hardly ever see a whole lot of these snakes since they are so cryptic, remain hidden, and stay in distant areas. It is like a treasure hunt to go find them.
A large amount of our snakes and wildlife are currently underneath adequate stress as it is for the reason that of habitat destruction. The very last factor they need is for you to acquire all the snakes you come across to maintain at your aquarium or offer to the neighborhood pet keep. People poach snakes all the time. Which is entirely uncool.
In firefighter school, my friends and I started growing mullets. Well, they all slice theirs, but I didn’t reduce mine for the reason that I’m not a quitter. I adore it. I wish I’d grown a mullet given that I was a kid. I missed out on so a great deal mullet way of life.
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Snakes bought me into birds, mammals, fishing, trees, plants, and wildflowers. The much more matters you are interested in, the much more exciting you are going to have. I can go out and not see any snakes but deliver my fishing poles and capture a pair of fish. Or, if not, just check out out the birds. The far more stuff you are fascinated in, the fewer times you get skunked.