RUMFORD — It isn’t always easy being The Snake Man. Sometimes, nervous snakes will poop on you.
Dealing with snake waste is all part of the job for Rob “The Snake Man” White, a Mexico snake enthusiast who has staged snake shows at River Valley schools and libraries for the past 14 years.
Just last week during a show at the Mexico Public Library, White's shirt was soiled by Thor, a russet-scaled corn snake. On Wednesday, White arrived for a show at the Rumford Public Library with a few extra precautions.
"Today I came prepared. I have my paper towels and I have some Windex over there. I even have a spare shirt,” White told a crowd of giggling children and their parents. “When I was at Mexico, I didn’t have a spare shirt, and I had to do most of my show without a shirt. And I have what they call a farmer’s tan.”
Wednesday’s show went well for White, who made it through the presentation without having to change shirts. Throughout the presentation, White wowed his audience with snake knowledge as a variety of snakes — ball pythons, corn snakes, boas — slithered around his neck, up his arms and around his torso.
Each of White’s six snakes came with a story about its origins or quirks. White told his audience that he found one snake, an active ball python named Zeus, at a local hotel. Since White is the River Valley’s resident snake wrangler, he often receives calls about wayward reptiles.
“We found Neptune in a lady’s bathroom, laid up against her toilet bowl,” White said. “She wasn’t happy, 11 o’clock at night, getting ready to go to work, when she found the snake.”
Another snake, a red tailed boa named Mustafa, received its name from White’s wife and daughter. White stumbled over the name, which comes from the Disney movie The Lion King.
“My wife and daughter named him. I said, ‘You’ve got to have an easier name,’” White said, laughing. “They said ‘Well, you’ll get used to it.’”
White also explained how he cares for his cold-blooded pets. Typically, White will feed mice or rats to his snakes every other week. White mostly raises his own rodents, since he has difficulty purchasing them at local pet stores.
“Don’t tell them you want to buy a feeder rat,” White said, referring to the pet stores. “They don’t like that.”
While hissing, striking snakes don't bother White, he said he does get squeamish around their furry food source.
“I have a very high respect for rats. Once a rat gets above the size of a mouse, I do not touch it,” White said. “When I go to feed Zeus and I reach in to grab a large rat, if I can’t catch it in a large peanut butter jar, I grab a pair of salad tongs.”