Local girl has found love for snakes

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Ava Bailey has loved snakes since she was little. | Courtesy photo

Ava Bailey has loved snakes since she was little. | Courtesy photo

Most children are taught to steer far away from snakes, but not Wing’s Ava Bailey.

She learned from a young age which ones were venomous and which ones were non-venomous.

“We didn’t try to discourage her,” said local biologist Mark Bailey. “We have taught her what species she should watch out for, but nowadays she’s liable to bring home a corn snake or hognose snake or a king snake.”

Mark Bailey said they live out in the country not far from Open Pond.

“There are snakes out here,” he said. “We have pieces of roofing tin and we frequently lift those up to see what we can find under there.”

Bailey said they usually let snakes go after they hang onto them for a little while.

Ava is homeschooled, which gives her the opportunity to be more hands on with the snakes.

Ava credits her parents teaching her about snakes.

“I probably would be afraid of them if anyone else had raised me,” she said.

Ava said she catches them and looks at them.

“I look at their faces, so I can draw them better,” she said. “I like to draw them. I have never killed them.”

Ava said over the years she’s learned to tell non-venomous from venomous by their patterns on their tails.

“It’s something I’ve gotten more comfortable with over the years,” she said. “When I was younger, my parents would hand me the non-venomous snakes until I learned on my own.”

For the most part, Ava said she doesn’t just go looking for snakes most of the time, however; she usually walks up on them.

“Usually when I go out looking for them, I don’t find them,” she said.

Ava said she never remembers being uncomfortable around snakes.

“I’ve probably been bitten by every non-venomous snake around,” he said.

Mark said Ava is willing to hold them in such a way to look at them that it exposes her to the bites.

“It definitely hurts,” she said. “It’s like a needle prick, but not incredibly bad.”

Ava said she’s never been bitten by venomous snakes.

“I’ve never caught one with my hands,” she said. “I’ve picked up one with tongs.”

But she leaves the venomous snakes to her dad.

“I think they are cool,” she said. “I think they are so different from any other kind of animals. I have a real interest in reptiles and amphibians. There’s just something really cool about them.”

Ava, who is 12 and in the seventh grade, said biology is definitely something she’s thought about for her future.

“I have other paths that I would also like to explore,” she said. “Maybe I’d like to be an animator or a veterinarian, which isn’t that far from a biologist.”

She said her favorite snakes are corn snakes, hog nose snakes and king snakes, but she also likes rattlesnakes even though she’s never held one.

Some of her friends think she’s crazy.

“My best friends think it’s cool, but they are scared,” she said. “Others think I’m insane.”

Ava warns children who have no training against picking snakes up.

“Leave them alone, but don’t kill them,” she said.