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A Little Less Rattled

Students with a rattlesnake

By Larry Peña. Photos by Joe Johnson.

Even during summer down time, learning never stops at Cal Poly. Over Independence Day weekend, biology professor and reptile expert Emily Taylor invited a group of students who were on campus for summer research on a hike at nearby Montaña de Oro State Park to meet some local rattlesnakes. Taylor, who runs a side business catching and relocating rattlesnakes away from human – populated areas, managed to briefly detain a few snakes and safely brought them to the students for a closer look — and even a touch.

“Honestly, the objective was just to get the students out of the lab and have fun,” said Taylor. “But my broader, sneaky objective is to try to change people’s minds about rattlesnakes. By showing them snakes in the wild, I like to teach people that they’re these incredibly beautiful animals and not the horrible creatures you see on TV.”