Steve Amos has a passion for the wild life. And by wild life, we don't mean drinking parties or tailgate slumming at sporting events. By wild life we mean wildlife.
Amos, a Vermont psychobiologist, became interested in all things wild, especially the behavior of birds and reptiles, while an exceptional student at Hiram College in Ohio. He convinced his department chairman to create his own unique academic major-a field he calls psychobiology.
Now Amos travels around the state with his carefully tended animal companions, including Jake the Snake, a nine-foot long, red-tailed boa constrictor from South America.
"Kids love him," Amos said.
The biologist is very mindful as his role as the wild animal's guardian, not master. So, he treats Jake with humane respect and care while handling.
The wildlife expert appeared at the Mt. Holly Public Library in Belmont last week for a fascinating family program about reptiles. However, the star of the library show wasn't Amos-it was Jake.
"Jake the Snake loves company," he told attendees when he and Jake greeted them at the library. "He's just waiting for the chance to visit with you."
Amos formed his own Vermont-based natural science project a few years ago. Called Amos Natural Science Education Service, Amos uses digital slides, various bio specimens, and some readings to introduce audiences to the wonderful world biology and and animal behavior.
Amos said he receives similar questions about Jake the boa constrictor wherever he lectures-"How long can they live? What is Jake's primary sense? Where does Jake's tail actually begin and end? What kinds of snakes are found in Vermont?"
After a brief introduction, Amos removed Jake the Snake from his mobile lair for all to examination-up close.
"You can hold Jake, if you wish," he told several children. And as if on cue, several fearless children took him up on the offer. And by the looks of it, Jake definitely enjoyed the attention.