Snake encounter show slithers into Gulf Coast Exploreum

By Brett Berg
Posted 7/10/07

“Snake Encounters,” featuring 14 live snakes, slithers into the Gulf Coast Exploreum in Mobile for a dynamic experience of magic, comedy, excitement and story-telling.

Audience members will have the opportunity to meet and interact with the …

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Snake encounter show slithers into Gulf Coast Exploreum


“Snake Encounters,” featuring 14 live snakes, slithers into the Gulf Coast Exploreum in Mobile for a dynamic experience of magic, comedy, excitement and story-telling.

Audience members will have the opportunity to meet and interact with the stars of the show — herpetologist Daryl Sprout and his scaly friends.

In conjunction with the interactive exhibit “Reptiles: The Beautiful and the Deadly,” “Snake Encounters” will take place Saturday, July 14, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., and Sunday, July 15, at 2 p.m.

“Snakes, why does it have to be snakes?” laments movie character Indiana Jones whenever he confronts the scaly, slithering creatures. This negative reaction is not unique — many people have been conditioned to be afraid of snakes, a reputation that herpetological humorist Daryl Sprout says these animals just don’t deserve.

“There is no subject that humans are more misinformed about than snakes,” claims Sprout, a native of Texas who has helped thousands of people overcome ophidiophobia — the fear of snakes. “It’s only the tip of the iceberg that many people think the only good snake is a dead snake — a completely learned response. Normally, there’s no reason to be afraid of them. Usually people who are bitten by a snake are trying to provoke it — or kill it. Eight out of 10 snakebite victims were trying to kill the snake at the time.

“These days, fewer and fewer kids are burdened with this phobia because they rarely see snakes in the wild so they squeeze in front at the show, while some of the grownups sit in the back, fascinated but grimacing. People have become more aware of the vital niche they fill in the environment.”

During this humorous and informative 45-minute presentation, Sprout will highlight the beauty and unique personalities of many of his own animals — including a 12-foot Burmese Python — and offer interesting anecdotes and little-known facts on the habits and habitats of snakes.

He will even allow audience members to touch some of his animals. He encourages people to overcome their learned fear of these often-misunderstood creatures.

Sprout’s show is highly educational (he’s a stickler for accurate detail) but the audience always seems to be having too much fun to notice. His style has been called a cross between Steve Irwin and Steve Martin.

In Southern California, he was dubbed “The George Carlin of Herpetology.” The “Las Vegas Sun” said, “Sprout may be the only standup comic snake handler in the world. Not only was his show educational, it was humorous.”

“During my show I’ll take questions, explain the difference between poisonous and venomous, and address the many enduring myths about snakes that most people take for common knowledge,” says Sprout. “In the process I bring out all different types and sizes from all over the world – and poke a little fun at all the misinformation we tend to carry around on this topic. I specialize in the truly petrified.”

On the other hand, there’s plenty of genuine suspense — with two of his boas (there are five different kinds of boas in the show) who not only look venomous, they actually act venomous to avoid predators — and apparently to avoid Sprout.

A casual observer might assume that they genuinely hate him.

“Then again, for some reason the audience always loves it when I get bit,” he says with a grin.

“Most animal shows keep trying to quiet the audience down to avoid upsetting the animals. Well, snakes have no ears, so the crowd can get as loud as it wants. I’ve always felt that if you can make knowledge about our natural world entertaining, then you’ll find a lot more of the educational content you hoped to impart is actually being absorbed.”

There’s even a magical surprise or two — just when the crowd least expects it. Simply put, this is not your average animal show.

Sprout has worked for Animal Planet, Discovery Networks, Time-Warner and CableOne.

Science museums have featured Snake Encounters in Los Angeles, Dallas, Lubbock, McAllen, Texas and Huntsville, Ala.

He was even a hit at the Riviera on the famous Strip in Las Vegas.

There will be three shows only. Admission to “Snake Encounters” is included in the cost of a ticket to the Exploreum.

Seating is limited and available on first-come, first-served basis. The Exploreum will have a special 10 percent off deal on new annual memberships and reptile-themed gifts shop specials this weekend only.

For more information on “Reptiles: The Beautiful and the Deadly” or “Snake Encounters,” visit or call (251) 208-6873.