When you have a snake website with a contact form, as I do, you inevitably get questions from readers asking you to identify a snake for them. I’m usually happy to oblige, because, inevitably, they’re worried about something harmless and I’d rather they not kill it. (I’d rather they not kill the dangerous snakes either, but you do what you can.)
Answering people’s questions as they come in is a passive approach. But biologist David Steen has gotten rather more proactive: he scours photos of snake encounters posted to Twitter, usually by people who think they’ve come across a copperhead or a cottonmouth, and — very gently — corrects them from his @AlongsideWild Twitter account.
In a similar vein, Pennsylvania reptile rescuer Jesse Rothacker has been offering a free snake identification service: send him a photo via text, e-mail or his Facebook page and he’ll identify it. (He created a meme image that went viral, and got buried with requests, so he’s since had to limit the offer to Pennsylvania snakes.)