There’s nothing like a Katy Perry reference to make you think, “Ah, I’ve stumbled upon a reputable science and conservation site…”

All jokes aside, this is a blog post about the tiger rat snake (Spilotes pullatus), and Andrea C., a biologist at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre, is very serious about them. She says, “I feel that people judge snakes unfairly.” So don’t try any “snakes are scary” stuff with her. Andrea, instead, says she wants to, “Educate visitors about how snakes are amazing animals and why we should care about them.

Andrea C. is the biologist responsible for the care of snakes at the Aquarium.

Andrea C. is the biologist responsible for the care of snakes at the Aquarium.

Nominating the tiger rat snake for March’s Staff Pick of the Month is a good start. There is lots of information Andrea can share with us: tiger rat snakes are diurnal (active during the day), arboreal (tree-dwelling) and fast eaters. Andrea remarked, “I was floored at how quickly it could eat a mouse and then go on to the next!”

The name “tiger rat snake” comes from a combination of its colouration and what it eats (rats, not tigers). Depending on the country (from Mexico to Argentina), it’s also called the “chicken snake” because of its appetite for chicks and the “thunder-and-lighting snake” because of how fast it can move.

While this particular species of snake is not considered under threat, many snakes are susceptible to changes in the environment due to agriculture and urban development.

See them in the Graham Amazon Gallery – and try not to get distracted by the marmosets opposite the snakes, okay…?

Written by Karen Horak, writer-editor, content and digital experience at the Vancouver Aquarium.

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