through the “crooked and steep” roads of the Ozarks
near Berryville, Arkansas, it would have been easy to miss
the intriguing and very colorful hand painted sign on the
side of the road, but Veronica caught a glimpse of it. “Did
that sign say Snake World?” We hit the brakes and
HAD to turn around.
for us, Dale Ertel was standing in the front yard of the dilapidated
dwelling that houses the exhibition. Dale
and his family originally cohabitated with the snakes and he bragged that
his fifteen year old son used to sleep with two cobras on
his headboard. But as the menagerie expanded, new human living
had to be rolled in. He now shares the lot in an adjacent
its favor, the exhibits are intriguing and Dale is so enthusiastic
in his presentation that it was hard not to be taken in. He
sped from one exhibit to the next with a very informative,
yet downhome spiel about each reptile. We had to wonder how
much of it was fact and how much mere folklore.
a 15 foot python that weighs 130 pounds, they get big enough
to eat a donkey, here, look at this picture, this is a local
pygmy rattler, just 15 inches, now hell put you in the
hospital for a few days, but you wont die.” Helpful
hill country rhymes like “Red touch yellow – Kill a fellow
– Red touch black – Venom lack” to distinguish the venomous
coral snake from the bite-friendly milk snake are included
at no extra charge.
process them. He then “sells them for dirt cheap,” telling
the buyers “dont feed them too much or youll
have a too big snake on your hands.”
call? Snake Busters!). When asked where he gets his non Arkansas
snakes he informed us that he “horse trades with reptile
people all over the states.”
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