In this week's Last Days: The Week in Review, I write about the Kentucky pastor who took up snakes during a sermon and wound up fatally bitten by a snake. Unfortunately, the photo accompanying the item showed not a venomous rattlesnake but a ball python—"a very gentle, non-venomous, good-as-a-pet constrictor snake and the last species you want to be posting with a story about a death by snakebite," as Hot Tipper Darcy informed me in an email. "I humbly request that you write up a correction for this ASAP and help myself and other reptile enthusiasts and educators like me spread the GOOD word on these special animals and let others understand which are dangerous and which are not. Thank you!"

Dear Darcy: Your wish is my command.

To read the instigating item, see Last Days. And to read another letter I got about the improper snake photo—this one from the president of the Pacific Northwest Herpetological Society—continue after the jump.

Hello Dave,

I found it concerning that The Stranger printed a picture of a Ball Python with the caption, “Fatally Handled,” to accompany the story of the religious zealot who passed away from handling a rattlesnake during church services.

Ball Pythons are one of the most popular pet snakes around the world. They are recommended as a wonderful first pet snake due to their calm and docile demeanor. (I’m sure there may be exceptions to that generalization.) They are not venomous. On the contrary, they get their name from the fact that they roll up into a “ball” due to their shyness.

Unfortunately, due to their popularity in the pet trade, they have become one of the top species of snake that we get in our rescue. I hope that seeing a picture of one in The Stranger with the caption, “Fatally Handled” won’t cause our rescue to be overwhelmed.

The Pacific Northwest Herpetological Society is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to education, conservation and rescue of reptiles, amphibians and chelonians.

Thank you,

Brenda Huber
Pacific Northwest Herpetological Society