Summer Guide 2012
Daytrippin': The Snake Farm
Published: June 20, 2012
Thanks to the magical combination of severe insomnia and Animal Planet programming, I finally discovered the greatness of Steve Irwin. For years, I dismissed him as the parody comedians and sketch shows portrayed him to be. Now, way after his demise, I watch his show with absolute awe. It's incredibly poetic knowing how he eventually "bites it" by stingray. Every episode becomes a massive foreshadowing of what's to come later. Kind of like the Titanic, but the large carnivorous beast isn't actually Kate Winslet.
Watching The Crocodile Hunter genuinely makes me want to better my understanding of nature, but what can I do? I don't live in Australia, I hate hiking, and my legs are far too pale to wear such revealing shorts. The Animal World and Snake Farm in New Braunfels may just be the answer. If you've ever made a drunken adventure to Austin, you know this place. It's that weird-looking whitewashed building between exit 182 and 183 that, by urban legend accounts, may or may not have once been a front for hookers.
The first thing that hits you is the pungent smell. Yes, nature smells terrible. (This may help explain hippies as well.) Just deal with it. Here are hundreds of snakes from all over the world filling cages with their slithering and general snakedom. It's especially good if you bring a squeamish friend. The staff there are engaging and sure to encourage much interaction.
Aside from the snakes, there is a wide variety of life in all shapes and sizes: tarantulas, scorpions, geckos, a petting zoo filled with goats, pigs, and pellet-sized feces. There are monkeys, alligators, even mountain lion cubs. It's like Noah's ark, but with a gift shop.The employees are friendly and informative and, depending on your tolerance of terrible smells, you can get through the place within anywhere from 20 minutes to a couple of hours. Personally, I'd make it a point to see the alligators fed 20 pounds of chicken.
A special note to the PETA crowd — don't. You will be overwhelmed with sadness and inevitably insist on shutting the place down, which may be warranted. Is it animal cruelty? I don't know. Do tarantulas have a sense of smell?
Price of Trip
$9.75 Adult admission (Children 3-12 $6.75, 2 and under free)
(Bring a friend and her kid)
What to pack
Snake bite kit
Miles round trip: 50
Threat Level: 5
Handling a giant boa can't be the safest way to spend a Saturday, unless you are a Parseltongue in the Harry Potter universe.