By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Beginning Thursday, July 5, the Oklahoma City Rattlesnake Museum will be open daily at 1501 S. Agnew, in Oklahoma City’s Stockyards District.
With Oklahoma families spending more time at lakes and state parks this summer, the possibility of contact with one of Oklahoma’s many venomous snakes becomes a real possibility. The new exhibit offers the opportunity to see these creatures up close in a safe setting to help identify them in the wild.
The museum includes 26 exhibits featuring all of the rattlesnakes native to Oklahoma, as well as Oklahoma’s other dangerous snakes — copperheads and cottonmouths. Other rattlesnakes from around the U.S., and a Gila Monster (large venomous lizard) are also on exhibit.
Carl Sandefer, museum curator, is available for any questions visitors might have during their tour of the museum.
According to a report from the Oklahoma State University – Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, forty-six species of snakes are native to Oklahoma. Only seven species (15 percent) are potentially harmful to humans.
Venomous species include the copperhead, cottonmouth, western diamondback rattlesnake, timber rattlesnake, prairie rattlesnake, western massasauga, and western pigmy rattlesnake, the report said.
One of the rattlesnakes on display is an Eastern Diamondback named “Big Girl.” She is over five feet long and weighs 22 pounds. Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnakes are the largest of any rattlesnake species, as well as the heaviest venomous snakes in North America. This particular rattlesnake is found in the southeastern United States.
After visiting a rattlesnake museum in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Sandefer had an idea. “You know, we’ve kind of got all of these (snakes), why don’t we just do a little exhibit,” Sandefer told reporter Sierra Rains-Moad in an interview for The Oklahoman.
A snake well known for their distinct rattling noise, Sandefer added, “The sound of several rattlesnakes saying ‘Hey, I’m here, don’t come too close to me,’ immerses visitors in the experience as they walk into the little building.”
“People like having someone they can talk to; it’s kind of like going to the hardware store, you know,” Sandefer told Rains-Moad.
OKC Rattlesnake Museum is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.
For more information, go to the museum’s Facebook page, or call 405- 850-5905.