Growing up in Stuart, my parents taught me to respect nature and not to fear it; this included snakes. I remember coming home from school and my mother having a captured or rescued non venomous snakes, opossums, raccoons, birds, turtles, squirrels, and other wildlife for my brother, sister and I to look at, learn about, and sometimes nurse, before releasing the animal. We got out our pocket sized, $1.00, Golden Nature Guides and pretend we were Jr. Scientist. It was fun and in fact these experiences remain some of my favorite memories of growing up along the Treasure Coast. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Guide)
My brother, sister and I were taught that snakes were God’s creatures, as all animals were, however frightening, dangerous or strange; that all animals held a miraculous and important place in the web of life and food chain that made the world work.
Truly, I don’t remember seeing many venomous snakes growing up in the 60s, 70s and 80s, just indigo, black racers, and orange and black rat snakes. Although there was one incident on Arbor Day in fifth grade at Jensen Beach Elementary School, when we were planting a class tree and a diamond back rattlesnake was warning us of its presence in nearby palmettos. The teacher fearfully huddled all the kids, and a maintenance man was called to behead the reptile. No explanation. No thought. Typical.
Now for the picture…
The above photo is one that my parents acquired in the early 2000s when looking at a piece of property on Indian River Drive in the 12,000 section. Properties in this area were once known as the historic Indian River Lagoon town of “Eden.”
My mother, a historian, often talks about how Eden could never fully develop, as Jensen did, as Eden backed up to the easterly savannas which are underwater a good portion of the year.
The gentleman who gave my parents the above photo, saw them walking around in the savannas behind the house, shared the photo, and warned them “to be careful.”
When I recently asked my mother to share this photo, she said “although she usually I likes to have more than one person’s story in regard to such matters, she did not think the photo was a hoax.” She also mentioned, she believes there is a photograph of a large rattlesnake killed by John Miller, who owned the property where the photo came from, at the St. Lucie County Historical Museum.
True or untrue, with all the development, and mankind’s propensity to kill snakes, there are probably very few of these giant rattlesnakes remaining anywhere in Florida. So a photo like this one is worth “remembering.”
One thing no one would question is that both the savannas and the Indian River Lagoon, are just shadows of what they used to be!
Venomous snakes of Florida: (http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/herpetology/fl-guide/venomsnk.htm)
Savannas State Park: (http://www.floridastateparks.org/resources/doc/individualparks/brochures/sav-brochure.pdf)