homepage logo

Snakes perform valuable benefit for Sanibel Historical Museum & Village

By Staff | Jul 13, 2011

Docent and SHMV board member Gayle Pence shows off the museum’s latest acquisition, a yellow rat snake skin, found by a tourist on the grounds of the Historical Village.

Unlike the Emerald Isle, Sanibel Island is home to a variety of snakes, many of which have been observed on the grounds of the Sanibel Historical Museum & Village.

Yellow rat snakes and black racers predominate at the Historical Village’s three-acre property, which is surrounded on three sides by city-owned wetlands property. Fortunately, neither of these species are poisonous — they actually perform a much needed function, helping to keep rodents and anoles in check.

It is not unusual to find snake skins on the Historical Village grounds. Just this past week, a visitor found a beautiful specimen and presented it to the museum to become a temporary exhibit in the Rutland House science room. It is a four-foot yellow rat snake skin — intact in one piece — and offers young people an interesting lesson in herpetology. The snake, which lives in an undergrowth of heavy vegetation behind a replica outhouse, is developing a new skin to fit its growing body.

While the main mission of the Historical Museum & Village is to preserve and share Sanibel history, every once in awhile, the museum is able to offer visitors something extra — an up-close environmental experience. There are nesting soft-shelled turtles, croaking tree frogs, lime green iguanas, black and white warblers shooting up and down live oak trees, pileated woodpeckers, gopher tortoises, armadillos, the ubiquitous raccoons and a variety of songbirds.

Cardinals flocked to the Heritage Garden sunflower patch in June and picked the giant flowers clean of seeds. The Village is also a habitat for native and specimen plants and trees, which are labeled and described on weatherproof signs.

Admission to the Historical Village is $5 for adults, 18 and older. Children and members are free. The Sanibel Historical Museum & Village is located at 950 Dunlop Road (next to BIG Arts) and will be open through Aug. 6 on Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Museum will then be closed until Wednesday, Nov. 2.

Seven historic buildings are centered around the Heritage Garden. Visitors learn about island history through exhibits and audio recordings which highlight pioneer families and agriculture, fishing and tourism. The Rutland House science room features artifacts from the earlier occupation of the Calusa and Spaniards.

Why not “step back in time” for a lesson in island history, and as an added bonus, enjoy an interesting encounter with nature?