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By RUSSELL HUFFMAN
The Flash Today
The noise almost whites out a person’s hearing in the Walnut Springs snake pit as hundreds of the serpents slither across the floor their rattling tails moving at a blur as handlers Mike Sheridan and Michael Lynch keep the crowd wide-eyed.
“Don’t try this at home,” warns master of ceremonies David Estep. “These guys are highly trained and have been doing this for years.”
It’s probably a mute warning as most folks are mainly content to peer from behind or over gawk the plexiglass barrier and many are hesitant to reach out and touch one of the snakes as it’s presented to them. Considering Sheridan had a few moments before walked by and shown photos of a snake bite victim it was understandable the kids weren’t over anxious.
Lynch enthralled watchers as he sat a reptile on a bar stool and encouraged it to strike to display its speed all while carefully measuring up the snake’s abilities. Then placing a balloon in his mouth Lynch got down to the animal’s level and had the snake pop the balloon with its fangs.
Sheridan was just as nervy as he crawled into a sleeping bag that was then loaded with snakes before he started crawling out. To give the crowd more bang for their buck, he pretended to get stuck in the bag, and Estep came in and pulled it off him — dumping the snakes all over his legs in the process. Yes, it was cringe worthy moment.
While there is some showmanship, that goes with a snake show in Walnut Springs the biggest reason for the display is to teach people a healthy understanding of the animal. Snakes they are rounded up are later sold to a buyer by the pound with all proceeds benefiting the sponsor the Walnut Springs Business for Youth in Agriculture.