Protect Endangered Snakes
From the Deserts Dome to the Field

Keeper Amber Smith works to protect endangered snakes


Here at the Zoo, visitors have the opportunity to meet some pretty extreme snakes — from the black mamba to Indiana’s own venomous species — as part of our newest exhibit, Size, Speed & Venom: Extreme Snakes. Whether you’re in Africa or Indiana, snakes are important players in the ecological processes of our planet.

That’s why Deserts Keeper Amber Smith recently took part in a census for the eastern massasauga rattlesnake, listed as an endangered species in the state.

“It is important to conduct surveys to determine the presence or absence of the animals,” she said. “This can help decide if an area should be managed for other purposes or if it should continue to be maintained for current and future eastern massasauga populations.”

During the census several groups of surveyors looked for snakes, took note of weather, location, and individual data like PIT tags and posture — all things key to further conservation planning.

Back inside the Deserts Dome, the Zoo’s new exhibit provides Amber and other team members the chance to help guests understand and appreciate animals that are often misunderstood.

“There are countless myths and misconceptions that people have about snakes,” Amber said. “Debunking these myths and learning more about snakes is a good place to begin.”

Amber Smith
rattlesnake in grass
massasauga rattlesnake coiled
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