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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Farewell to 'Darling,' the nature center snake

Darling swallows a mouse.
An eastern rat snake that had lived at Hidden Oaks Nature Center in Annandale for 20 years has passed away. Naturalists don’t name exhibit animals—because they aren’t pets and shouldn’t be  humanized—but staff members referred to the snake as Darling.

He arrived in 1993, when a homeowner found some snake eggs in a mulch pile and gave them to Hidden Oaks, recalls Assistant Manager Suzanne Holland in a Fairfax County Park Authority blog post. Reptile eggs that are moved usually don’t survive, but this one did.

Young eastern rat snakes are aggressive, and Darling frequently bit caretakers. But these snakes are not venomous, and the bites were minor. As he matured, he got used to being handled and was often used in school programs. At the time of his death, he was nearly seven feet long.

1 comment:

  1. Amanda, the Annandale Anaconda4/10/13, 2:03 PM

    We will miss you, Darling. Rest in peace.