Ever pass by one of those street corner reptile shows that's headquartered in a trailer? You probably have, and you probably *did* pass by. Maybe I should have, but I didn't.
Was it because the thing was on Route 66?
Was it because the concept of a reptile show brought back memories of falling for the ubiquitous "See the Baby Rattlers" lure on childhood family vacations? (they were always baby *rattles*, by the way)
Was it because testosterone of any age demands the occasional presence of a snake?
Was it because I don't know the value of $4?
Well, anyway, I shot pictures of some of the neater-looking and more cooperative reptiles. The travelling show is owned by Danny England of Cassville, MO, and was at 7th and Maiden Lane in Joplin, MO for a few days last month. This was well before the current heat wave, I would like to stress.
The Nile Monitor Lizard is native to Africa and grows to about 6 feet in length. It eats rodents, birds and your time while you try to second-guess the delay in your digital camera and get a picture while its tongue is flickering.
Waglers's Pit Viper is a tree dweller native to Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. It eats birds, small rodents and looks very spiffy while doing so.
The Cottonmouth is one of the greatest concerns of people living in watery areas of the South and parts of the Midwest. It can grow to an intimidatingly large 6 feet in length. When ticked off, it vibrates its tale and opens its mouth to display its trademark "cotton mouth" interior. This one kept looking for a way out, not that I blame it. I actually caught one of these back in the early 1980s in a stream where people waded a lot. I released it in a lake at Riverton, KS, so...uh, watch yourself there, ya know.
The Desert Horned Viper tends to bury itself in the sand with only the eyes and "horns" showing. The horns help keep sand out of its eyes while it lies in wait for lizards and rodents in its native countries of Egypt, Iraq and Kuwait.
This is an African Crocodile; I think it's name was Thunder.
Maybe I'm just a sucker for side show artwork.
Actually, I do think I was just chasing an echo of the old reptile shows I saw when I was a kid. This sign along route 66 is a remnant of the long-defunct Regal Reptile Ranch at Alanreed, Texas - the very sort of place my brother and I might have talked the parents into stopping all those years ago.
I can almost hear the Mexican jumping beans clicking away in the gift shop. May your memories be just as pleasant and tinged with delicious thrills.