Safety lesson on getting up close and personal with snakes

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - More than fifty people attended a seminar on snake safety at the Journey Museum hosted by the curator of reptiles Terry Phillip.

A rattlesnake on the ground.

"Everybody is unnecessarily afraid of them and so the best way to combat that fear is with knowledge. So you attend programs like this, come to the Reptile Gardens, take advantage of the local resources to educate ourselves," said Phillip.

And to help educate, live animals are brought in.

"I think it's incredibly important to utilize animals in our educative efforts about our environment. I don't consider the animals captive per say, they're our ambassadors for their wild counterparts and so without those ambassadors in captivity to be used in a program setting like this, you know I think we are really missing the boat on things and the best way to achieve that education is to entertain people and the best way to entertain them is with live animals, you just can't beat it," said Phillip.

The people attending got to see a python, a bull snake, a rattlesnake, and an alligator and afterward got to go up and pet them.

Though these animals are in a controlled environment, the ones in the wild aren't.

"The best way to interact with all dangerous wildlife in the state and throughout the entire world is when you encounter one you just leave it alone. You know these animals are just there, trying to do their thing the same as we are," said Phillip.

A point of the seminar is to show the audience these animals won't harm you unless they are trying to defend themselves.

To help demonstrate that, Phillp put a rattlesnake on the ground to show that it wouldn't harm him.