Episode 79: How Do You Work With Snakes… Safely?

Meet the Expert: Travis Land, Herptology Curator

Travis Land

My name is Travis Land, and I am currently working as a Ranger Tech for the City of Newport News Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Department. I am committed to helping its mission of enhancing the quality of our community and its citizens by assisting its wildlife rehabilitation efforts, educational programming opportunities, and other services/resources provided by the city. Previously I had worked for 13 years in the Herpetology Department at the Virginia Living Museum, where I managed the health and well-being of our reptiles and amphibians. During that time I’ve had the great fortune of working with many fantastic and amazing animals – such as American alligators, softshell turtles, eastern hellbenders, greater sirens, and of course – snakes of all shapes and sizes! Which includes the three pitvipers we have in Virginia (Copperhead, Cottonmouth, and Timber Rattlesnake), as well as a few exotic species like the monocled cobra, gaboon viper, and eastern diamondback rattlesnake – the largest venomous snake in North America! I would also coordinate many of our reptile and amphibian-related public programs and conservation initiatives at the Museum, where we tried to foster a greater appreciation for these amazing animals throughout the local community. One such conservation program was a frog and toad study where I would train volunteers to go out into the field and be able to identify the calls of local species. That information would then get recorded into a database so we could keep track of the changes to the frog and toad populations nearby, including any threatened or vulnerable species. In much the same vein, myself and several of my colleagues at the Museum would conduct various species surveys of other types of animals to keep tabs on our local populations. Studies like these help us stay vigilant during a time when many species are dwindling and disappearing at record rates, and can help us catch any problems that arise earlier, hopefully in time to do something about it.


Travis Land

Herpetology Curator Travis Land, center, feeds the turtles collard greens and fruit during a tour at the Virginia Living Museum. The museum offers a handful of “behind the scenes” tours which includes meal prep, interactive feeding, animal care and maintenance. (Aileen Devlin/Daily Press / Daily Press)



Travis working at the Virginia Living Museum









To learn more about the Museum where Travis worked, click on the logo below

Logo Virginia Living Museum


Learn more about snakes by watching this cool video by National Geographic Kids



Learn about an animal that maybe you are nervous about. Look up information about how it moves, what it eats, how it behaves. Hopefully, if you learn more about it, you won’t be so nervous to be around it.

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Zoology book by Jennifer Swanson

Highlighted book for this episode! 

Zoology: Cool Women Who Work With Animals by Jennifer Swanson (Author), Lena Chandhok (Illustrator)







Book List: 

Everything You Need to Know About Snakes by DK and John Woodward

Snakes and Other Reptiles: A Nonfiction Companion to Magic Tree House Merlin Mission #17: A Crazy Day with Cobras
by Mary Pope Osborne (Author), Natalie Pope Boyce (Author), Sal Murdocca (Illustrator)

Awesome Snake Science!: 40 Activities for Learning About Snakes by Cindy Blobaum

Snakes for Kids: A Junior Scientist’s Guide to Venom, Scales, and Life in the Wild by Michael G. Starkey

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