By Gabby Alfveby
There are over 3,000 species of snakes and only 600 are venomous, according to the Viper Specialist Group. But over 51% of the population is still afraid of these creatures.
Jeremy Varnadore, the ‘Snake Man’ of Saint Augustine, wants to educate people so they are less afraid of snakes.
Varnadore fell in love with snakes as a young child and they were some of his first friends. He terrorized his mother around the house since she herself feared them.
“Pretty much my daddy moved us out in the country when we were little and we didn’t have any friends, but we had a bunch of snakes in the yard,” Varnadore said. “It became even more of a hobby of me and my brother controlling the house. We controlled mama with the snakes. We got whooped for it, but you know it didn’t stop us.”
Varnadore is from Effingham County, Georgia and started his business three years ago on the street but started six years ago at the Wolf’s Museum of Mystery to accomplish his mission of decreasing people’s fear of snakes.
“Snakes are pretty dumb animals,” said Varnadore, “but then you have humans that’ll grab a shovel and run across the yard and knock a corn snake’s head off because the devil’s coming after his family. So pretty much I’m trying to save one dumb animal from another dumb animal.”
Varnadore is usually located on Cuna Street on the side of the Flagler Legacy store and stations there Thursday through Sunday starting around 12 p.m.
Varnadore sets up his snake exhibit and allows the public to hold them for a low charge. Varnadore’s display consists of two snake species: carpet pythons and boas.
“They’re pretty docile snakes. As long as they’re about the same size they’re not afraid of each other and they don’t bite,” he said.
Varnadore loves snakes so much that he even has a snake tattoo. He got his tattoo about a year and a half ago with a specific meaning in mind.
“This symbol here is an ancient symbol. It’s found in ancient Africa and ancient China, and they would put this on the House for the dwelling of someone who was sick because in ancient times the snake was a symbol of health.”
Varnadore loves what he does and is hoping to continue to inspire others and change the negative bias around snakes.
“Even a venomous snake will run first. Biting is the last resort saying ‘I’m scared for my life, I’m going to die, I’m going to bite.’ Most even venomous snakes will save their venom for their food. They don’t want to waste it … they’d rather strike and save their venom.”