The Texas Rattlesnake Festival, which just finished it's third year, is one of several rattlesnake focused events that have risen up in recent years, with the goal of replacing the extremely cruel and environmentally damaging rattlesnake roundups with educational events. In form, the Rattlesnake Festival seems a lot like any other reptile expo-vendors, talks, and lots of snakes to see.
Where it stands out, though, is that the Texas Rattlesnake festival is designed for families to learn together. Not only are there snakes and other animals look at, including many, many rattlesnakes and other venomous species, but there are many to hold, brought by groups and organizations like Austin Reptile Shows, Texas Snakes and More, and the East Texas Herpetological Society. There is no "light two fingered touch near the tail" here, but "sure, come hold him. His name is....", from people who obviously know and love their animals and consider them part of the family. Kids are invited to hold small snakes and lizards, feed tortoises, walk tegu and monitors on a leash, and help hold larger snakes.
There are many activity options for kids, from making necklaces from shed skins to decorating wooden snakes, making cards, practicing hooking techniques on toy snakes, and more. My Little Python will be featuring snakes drawn at the festival by kids next week on their blog and social media pages. There are talks for kids and adults, too, demonstrations with experts showing live rattlesnakes and how to handle them responsibly, and more.
All told, it's a wonderful event, and was a lot of fun to be involved in. If you have a young #HERper in your family, check it out!