This is Sam, our newest snake. It is a baby black rat snake. S/he only weighs 11 grams. (Put two nickles in your hand and that’s about how much this snake weighs). Black rat snakes start life with this blotched pattern seen, but once they reach 18 inches or so they exhibit the more typical black-on-top, white-on-bottom pattern that people recognize for this species of snake.
This snake is named after a former volunteer of ours who passed away right before Thanksgiving. Volunteer Sam worked just about every Thursday morning for 15 years. He spent most of the first half of his time with us in the Farmyard, but by the last few years he was hanging out with the Education animals. The amount of bending and squatting and scrubbing and raking and wiping he did for us is more than I can even count. There was a large black rat snake we used for education programs that Sam would take care of so we thought it would be fitting to name our newest arrival after him.
I love the photo below because it not only has Sam in it all dressed up for an awards luncheon, but also former “family” members: Thea was a keeper at the time of this photo, but you know here as one of the veterinarians we’ve worked with. Cassidy was a youth volunteer and then worked for us for a few years as a Keeper.
Sam Wheeler will be missed and remembered by me and many others.