Snakes in the state capitol building in Baton Rouge, Louisiana? It doesn’t sound too unusual — until you realize that the reports involve the slithering reptiles, not the politicians.
State Rep. Joe Harrison (R-Napoleonville) had a question: “Are we talking about snakes that slither or the kind of snakes with last names?”
Well, apparently the good representative needs to watch himself, because there have been multiple reports of baby water snakes being found all on the House side of the Baton Rouge state capitol building. They’ve turned up in closets, in committee rooms, and even in a bathroom corner.
The leading newspaper for Baton Rouge, The Advocate, published an extensive investigation on Tuesday into the reports. Can you blame them? Their reporters have to walk into that building.
Reporter Koran Addo said that the exact number of the snakes invading the capitol hasn’t been pinned down. The official word is that it might be only four or five snakes, and maybe the story just got bigger along the line.
However, multiple workers in the building, including State Rep. Karen St. Germain and director of the House Democratic Caucus Chris Frink, said that they’d seen the snakes themselves.
Rep. Katrina Jackson (D-Monroe) told Addo: “It’s definitely something I think about when I’m walking to my car at night.”
Water snakes are not poisonous. However, they are frequently confused by locals with the dangerous water moccasin and for a very good reason.
Many members of the water snake Nerodia genus have evolved to look like water moccasins in order to trick predators into leaving them alone. Most people can’t tell the difference at a glance, and I myself have seen a man wrongly kill a Nerodia that he was convinced was a cottonmouth — another name for the venomous water moccasin.
That photo I took? Please don’t try this at home. The man who picked up this harmless Nerodia water snake and posed him for me was a Louisiana state wildlife official, who later released the animal unharmed in a safer spot.
Would you freak out if you saw a snake in your state capitol building?
[adult water snake Nerodia species photographed in Louisiana by Elaine Radford]
[Baton Rouge state capitol photo by Richard Rutter via Flickr and Wikimedia Commons]