Rattlesnakes take over the outside rotunda at the Capitol


by QUITA CULPEPPER / KVUE News and photojournalist DAVID GARDNER


Posted on February 4, 2013 at 7:29 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 4 at 7:54 PM

AUSTIN -- It's not exactly the place you'd expect to find a rattlesnake, although some political observers might disagree.

On Monday there were about a dozen of those reptiles slithering around the State Capitol.

Rattlesnakes took over the outdoor rotunda. Members of the Sweetwater Jaycees brought the reptiles to Austin to publicize what they call the “World's Largest Rattlesnake Round-Up” in March.

“Those snakes are probably more scared of us than we are of them,” said science teacher Karen Hart, as she allowed one of the cold blooded creatures to be draped around her neck.

Hart was just one of the many curious and terrified visitors who couldn't resist a closer look.

“They're snakes and they're gross,” said onlooker Katlyn Kimbrel.

“I do not like snakes, but I just had to get a picture,” said Amanda Bachicha.

“It'll be a memory to, I can't say cherish but it's definitely something unique,” said Humberto Espinoza.

Riley Sawyer is star of the Animal Planet show, Rattlesnake Republic. Sawyer has been wrangling these critters for years.

“Probably the most difficult thing really is keeping your mind on the snake and knowing where it's head is at all times,” Sawyer said. “Just like people, every snake is different, some have a worse personality, some would just rather lay back and do nothing.”

Sawyer said this is also a chance to teach the public about rattlesnake safety, and what to do if you run into one.

“Freeze, stay calm, snakes know people are too big to eat,” Sawyer said. “Yell and scream, they don't have no ears, maybe somebody will come help you.”

The Sweetwater Jaycees will have the rattlesnakes at the State Capitol through Wednesday afternoon.