'Snake guy' shows off reptile collection

July 03, 2005|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS


Robert Peters is a self-proclaimed snake guy, but one of his big stars is Lucy, a Sumatran monitor lizard.

"Lucy is about three years old," Peters, 47, told a group of parents and children gathered in front of him Saturday in downtown Hagerstown. "She eats anything that doesn't get away from her."

Mice, birds, fish and canned dog food are included in Lucy's diet, Peters said as the big, scaly beast clambered up his shoulders.

The children's eyes widened with wonder as Peters opened boxes and displayed strange and exotic snakes and lizards, as well as some that people might find in their backyards.


Saturday's show was at Discovery Station, a newly opened education center on West Washington Street.

Susan Seiler of Hagerstown came with her two daughters, Emily and Serena.

"It was really cool! ... The snakes, they felt like really wet, but they weren't, but (it was) fun," said Emily Seiler, 10.

Her younger sister, Serena Seiler, 7, said she only liked a portion of the show.

"I liked it, but I didn't like the snakes," Serena said.

Susan Seiler said she was impressed with some of the things Peters said during the presentation, especially the ease with which people can get their hands on dangerous animals.

Peters said there are snake trade shows where some of the most venomous and dangerous snakes in the world can be bought for less than $100 apiece, and many dangerous animals are not regulated outside urban areas.

"I was surprised there are no regulations for those kinds of animals," Susan Seiler said.

She also said she liked Peters style: "To keep the interest of little girls with reptiles, that's a talent."

After the presentation, Peters said the most important thing he tries to impress upon children is safety. It is a topic he referenced frequently in the presentations he gave Saturday afternoon.

Anthony, an albino Burmese python - who weighs at least 100 pounds and is more than 12 feet long - was at the center of attention when Peters took time to make his point.

"He's huge!" one girl in the audience said after Peters strained to get the snake out of a box and onto a table.

Peters said that while Anthony is a quiet snake and looks like he moves slowly, like all snakes, you can't trust him. The snake could just as easily strike, and in Anthony's case, begin to wrap his powerful body around a human's and squeeze with immense pressure.

"He'll wait and wait and wait 'til somebody crosses his path," Peters said. "Would we put this one around our neck? You'd have to be a fool. ... This guy right here is perfectly capable of killing someone."

The Herald-Mail Articles