View Full Version : 15 minutes from my house, Rattlesnakes galore!

04-21-2010, 02:26 PM
<span style="color: #FF0000">This is 15 minutes (10 minutes on the "Busa") due south of me and we go each year. Tells you how much else there is to do in Southern Alabama.

If rattlesnakes are getting thinner herds around here, I certainly can't see it. What more could you ask fomr a town called Opp? /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif</span>

OPP, Ala. - Seventy-five Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes are menacing even locked inside a wooden cage, but the cringe factor is just part of the attraction at the Opp Rattlesnake Rodeo.

For 50 years, hunters have been tromping through piney woods and grassy fields in south Alabama looking for these snakes, which live underground in holes. The ones they find are yanked out and put on display at the two-day festival. Afterward, they're killed.

This year, the writhing, 8-pound snake in handler Scotty Short's grip is part of the rodeo show. Dozens of people gather around with cameras as he holds up the rattler, using a metal hook to expose its long, curved fangs.

Next year, the same reptile's scaly hide might be for sale as a wallet or belt at a souvenir booth. Its severed, dried head or rattles might be trinkets at another display table.

The rattlesnake rodeo has made this sleepy south Alabama town of 6,600 known all over the South the 50th anniversary event drew about 25,000 people in March. Similar snake roundups are held in more than two dozen communities from Texas to Pennsylvania.

Supporters say it's all in fun. The hunters get rid of a nuisance to many landowners; people pay to see their catch and learn about rattlers. And then there's the fried rattlesnake on white bread for $5, paper towel included.

Some species in decline
But environmentalists and reptile experts are pushing to end the roundups, particularly in the Southeast. There, they say, Eastern diamondback populations are declining to dangerously low levels, largely because of festivals like the annual hunt in Opp.

Longtime snake hunter Don Childre of Opp doesn't see the harm. Childre said hunters have refined their methods to avoid harming other species that live in the burrows favored by snakes, and he hasn't seen any decline in the number or size of snakes brought in each year.

"We've hunted the same places for 50 years and still are getting snakes out of them," said Childre. "We could probably get 500 or 600 snakes if we wanted to."

04-21-2010, 05:19 PM
Good eating.

Pack em up and send em my way.