Like many people, Bob Withey’s father considered the only good snake was a dead one.
Bob has spent his life debunking the myth by educating thousands of Australians, young and old, on understanding the behaviours of reptiles and their place in the environment.
Based at Niagara Park on the NSW central coast, Mr Withey is a hands-on herpetologist with almost 30 years experience in breeding and displaying reptiles.
His mobile display, Snake Tails, will be at this year’s Henty Machinery Field Days on September 18-20, with demonstrations on the hour from 9am to 3pm each day at a site near The Stump.
Passionate about reptiles, Mr Withey is on a mission to burst the myths surrounding them.
He encourages audience participation as a tool in the educational process, accompanied by a strong conservation and environmental theme.
Bob began keeping reptiles from the age of five and developed one of the largest private collections in Australia.
During his career, Mr Withey has taken part in extensive field research in northern and Western Australia, working with snakes, lizards and crocodiles.
He uses a 4.5 metre square pit to handle four of the world’s deadliest snakes (all found in Australia) during the performance.
Bush awareness and first aid are also included in the program.
Over more than 25 years, Snake Tails has kept over one million school children wide-eyed and fascinated by the array of snakes and lizards.
Mr Withey has worked hard to dispel the hatred and fear people have reptiles.
“I like to think most people leave my shows feeling more comfortable about snakes – as long as you leave them alone,’’ he said.
“When I first started doing shows, the majority of people felt (like my father) that the only good snake was a dead one.
“Times have changed for the better.’’