Apparently tree huggers don't like snakes.
I was totally stoked to go on this "snake walk." Sure, meeting conservation leaders from across the region, staying in a fancy hotel, and eating at TGI Friday's is exciting...but not compared to catching Brown tree snakes!
I wouldn't miss this night for the world.
John and Larry: Our guides from USDA.Our guides from USDA, John and Larry, met us in the Marriott lobby as night fell and we piled into the USDA snake trucks.
This wasn't so much a "snake walk" as it was an "air-conditioned, snake ride." It really felt like we were on some reality show adventure tour.
The trucks are equipped with a movable flood light that the USDA guys use to spot snakes crawling along fences. We didn't find anything on our first drive by, but at the power sub station off of Marine Drive, I spotted something moving in one of the traps.
Can you see me?: Steve Why, Executive Director of Marshall Islands Conservation Society, takes a peek at a Brown tree snake in a cage.It was a snake!
I was ready to climb the fence to get to the other side, but John informed me that the sub station employees checked the cages every other day for snakes. They'd get this guy in the morning.
There were about five more snakes in the cages ringing the substation, but we just left them there for someone else to collect.
After the sub station we drove to one of the military housing developments, I forget the name.
Our truck turned right and went through the complex counterclockwise, while the other truck, carrying Steve Why from the Marshalls and Kathleen Herman from Saipan, turned left.
Highway 1: Fences are the best place to find Brown tree snakes. Snakes are attracted to the large number of lizards and insects on the fence.This place was Brown tree snake central. We saw several snakes already trapped in cages, then after about 15 minutes of spotting along the fence, we found one.
Caught: We only found one Brown tree snake along the fence, although we saw about 20 already trapped in cages.This guy wasn't too big, probably only 2-3 feet. He was just slithering across the top of the fence looking for a scooby snack.
Come here, buddy: John used thick gloves and a pole to take the snake off the fence.Our guide, John, was great. He let us take several pictures before finally trapping the little bird killer.
He broke out some thick gloves and a snake pole and caught him. He made it look so easy.
What's that smell?: As soon as you catch the snakes they start pissing all over you. The are nasty little creatures.After catching the snake, John let Alyssa and me handle the snake.
They are nasty, smelly little creatures. I can't imagine anyone wanting to eat one of these. No wonder they are at the top of the food chain.
Smile!: Alyssa shows off the biggest snake of the night. Who cares if she's hurting it? It's destined for destruction.After catching that first snake, we circled around until we met up with the other truck.
They had four snakes to our one!
A Good Night's Work: Steve and Kathleen's team caught four snakes, while Allysa and I only caught one.John and Larry took the biggest snake, which was about 4-5 feel long, out of the bag and let us examine it.
The snakes are really amazing.
I hope they all die.
Snake Killers: Angelo and Alyssa with a bag of snakes.Up until last night I had never seen a Brown tree snake in the wild. Now I've seen over 20 and handled several.
It was a great experience and I recommend you experience a "snake walk" if you get the chance, but I don't think I ever need to do this again.