April 18, 2021 by lancasterherp
The Lancaster Herpetological Society (LHS) wants to thank everyone that attended the digital meeting on Friday evening. We were fortunate to have Jason Clark of Southeastern Reptile Rescue talk about turning his passion for reptiles into a career.
Jason started the night by dazzling us with a few clips from his YouTube Channel, including a video of him rescuing a pair of Timber Rattlesnakes entangled in netting and another of him feeding some large alligators, demonstrating the variety of work that he does for Southeastern Reptile Rescue in Georgia. Early on, Jason realized that diversifying his business was a way to help bring in funds, as many people have an aversion to snakes and no desire to donate money to save them. The rescue aspect of the business is not what brings in any money; in fact, it just costs a lot of money. People started asking him to give educational programs at nature centers, and after overcoming a fear of public speaking, he found that such programs were a great way to earn income, and also dispel people’s misconception about snakes. Jason does animal wrangling for films and TV shows, as well. He got his foot in the door with a show on Animal Planet, and pretty soon after he was being contacted to provide animals for all sorts of films. He told us a humorous story of getting to punch Owen Wilson for the film Hall Pass (2011), and how Anthony Hopkins temporarily halted the production of the film Solace (2015) so he could see some of his scaly companions.
Jason stressed the importance of working hard and cast some shade on the adage “if you find something you love to do, you will never work a day in your life.” He loves what he does, but has worked harder at it than any other job he has had in his life. With any job in the entertainment business, if you are not putting your all into each show, you will eventually be replaced by someone who is doing it better. He added that the diversity of what he does helps keep everything fresh. If he was just wrangling animals for movies all the time, he would tire of it. Aside from the educational programs and the animal wrangling for films, he also trains dogs to recognize and avoid venomous snakes. He is an alligator agent for Georgia to remove alligators from peoples’ properties, as well.
In Jason’s long career working with snakes, he has never been bitten by a venomous snake. He attributes this to making sure to never let himself within striking distance of a venomous snake, and to taking his time with every encounter. In any snake removal or rescue, it is important to approach the situation with the proper tools (a snake hook) and to plan out your approach. There is nothing cool about handling a venomous snake with your bare hands. It is foolhardy and could easily send you to the hospital or worse.
Once again, thanks Jason for giving us some of your time, and thanks everyone who attended. Our next meeting is Friday, May 21st, where we will be joined by our old LHS president, David McNaughton. He has been living in San Diego since 2019 and will talk to us about herpetology in the Southwestern United States.
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