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My passion for any and all snakes began when I saw my first Houston snake at the age of 5. My dad and I were at a local neighborhood park in Houston (back then, the outskirts of town) and I saw this snake next to the leg of a ladder to a stationary fire truck. I of course was excited and curious, but Dad came over to investigate and quickly said, "Clint, there are good snakes and bad snakes and this one is not only good, it plays possum." He proceeded to call it a puff adder, made it spread its neck, and we then watched it roll over and play dead. As we were walking home and talking about the snake, he told me that its real name was a hognose. From that point on I checked books out of the library and had my dad read the big words. By third grade I had read every reptile and amphibian book at our local library and elementary school.
At the age of 11, I met a local Science and Nature Scientist, Dr. Robert A, Vines, and he taught me how to catch and handle hot snakes and made sure I handled a Diamond Backed Water snake for six months without getting bit prior to pinning and catching my first hot one. This was 1970 and snake grabbers were not readily available as they are today, so I learned how to make my own grabbers, snares, hooks and pinning devices. When I was around the age of 12 or 13 my father bought me A Field Guide to Reptiles & Amphibians, by Conant (1959). You can purchase the newest version by clicking here.
I continue to study snakes and their benefits to the ecosystem and human beings through the most current reports, books and by working with other professionals in the field. My college degree is in communication, and I continually hone my public speaking skills by entertaining and educating audiences from preschoolers to retirees.
--Clint Pustejovsky (firstname.lastname@example.org)