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Community : Service Organizations Last Updated: Jun 17, 2017 - 1:01:10 AM


BNT Holds Snake Handling Workshop
By Media Enterprises Ltd
Jun 16, 2017 - 1:54:54 PM

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Of the 12 snakes that are found in The Bahamas, all are harmless to humans and under serious threat from habitat loss and indiscriminate killing.

Photos and videos abound on social media showing Bahamians killing snakes, often with a sense a pride as if that is the best way to deal with them.

In addition to the threat from humans, snakes like the Bahamian Boa, Pygmy Boa, Bahamian Racer and Blindsnake must also face the constant attacks of non-native animals like dogs and cats.

The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) recently held a well-attended snake-handling workshop at the Retreat Garden to show people how to deal safely with snakes found on their property.

About 50 participants were able to interact with 12 snakes, including the non-native corn snake that was introduced to The Bahamas in the 1990’s.

According to Scott Johnson, the BNT Science Officer who led the workshop, Bahamian snakes are not venomous demons out to strangle people and eat babies.

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“Snakes have such a bad reputation here, but I love it when people interact with them and come to realize they are amazing creatures that play a very important role as vermin consumers."

Most local snakes are found only in The Bahamas, where they help to maintain ecosystem balance. They are especially useful in controlling rodent populations.

If allowed to live a full life, a Bahamian boa can consume thousands of rats. Like all boas, this snake is non-venomous and uses constriction to suffocate its prey.

In an effort to reduce snake killings, the BNT recently created a Facebook page (Nassau’s Snake Rescue Team) which publishes facts on Bahamian snakes and videos on how to handle them. Members of the group will also respond to calls for the removal of snakes that are in danger of being killed.

"Snakes are attracted to areas with a lot of rats. And rats are attracted by lots of garbage. So if you don’t like living with snakes it is important to clean up around your home or business,”  BNT Director of Science and Policy Shelley Cant-Woodside explained.

“While we do not expect everyone to love snakes, we do want people to appreciate that they are harmless and important to the environment,” she said. “For those who are uncomfortable with snakes being in their home or business, we are working on creating a network, to remove them safely on request."

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The BNT hopes that persons trained through these workshops will become part of the network known as Nassau's Snake Rescue Team.

Following the creation of the snake rescue Facebook page, the BNT organised the recent workshop in response to many requests from the public for more information on how to safely remove snakes from their homes.

The BNT is a non-governmental, non-profit, membership organisation working to protect Bahamian natural resources by building a network of national parks and promoting environmental stewardship.

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