Image courtesy of MAR COM This is the snake, Ferdinand, that has been residing in the Center for Sciences on campus for over a decade.

Ferdinand the science snake

Center for Sciences has a pet that is slithering its way into the hearts of students.

December 2, 2018

Many students may have noticed a snake that resides in the Center for Sciences building at TAMU-CC, but have never looked any further into the purpose of the reptile.

“I knew there was a snake,” Elena Erhardt, Nursing major, “but I really don’t know anything about him.”

Well, his name is Ferdinand, and he has been part of the university for over a decade.

According to a sign posted on his habitat, Ferdinand is a pituophis catenifer sayi, commonly known as a bullsnake. They usually eat small rodents or reptiles and can live up to 25 years. bullsnakes grow to be an average of four to five feet but can grow up to nine feet. They are non-venomous and are ranked by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as species of Least Concern.

“Ferdinand was actually found on campus during construction of a new building,” said Michael Garcia, lab coordinator.

Ferdinand was then placed under the care of Brooke Stanford, the biology lab coordinator at the time.

Image courtesy of MAR COM
This is the snake, Ferdinand, that has been residing in the Center for Sciences on campus for over a decade.

Ferdinand is now under the care of Phil Jose, the current Biology lab coordinator.

“He’s pretty low maintenance,” said Garcia, “and we only have to feed him a couple times a year. It just depends on what time of year it is.”

Aside from the usual maintenance, such as feeding, watering and cleaning his enclosure, Ferdinand occasionally requires medical treatment.

“We had to give him medicated lotion not too long ago,” said Garcia. “Just like any other animal, a dog or a cat or whatever, they develop rashes, and after he started to develop some scales on his skin, they had to treat him.”

Ferdinand is around 14-years-old. “He’s probably a little bit over halfway through his lifespan,” said Garcia, “so he will be around for another six to ten years. As long as he’s well treated, he will stick around for a while.”

Ferdinand is not just something to stare at, he is also an educational representative for other snakes.

“We utilize him as a teaching tool,” said Garcia. “They (professors) talk about the habitats they like, their digestive systems and that sort of stuff. He plays his part. He’s not just decorative.”

Some students even get the chance to interact with Ferdinand.

“He is domesticated and he’s not harmful to students” said Garcia. “They (students) are allowed to care for him under Phil’s supervision. They help change out his water or the bedding in his cage.”

Most of Ferdinand’s time is spent in his habitat located in the front of the CS building.

“Especially around the beginning of the semester,” said Garcia, “he spends most of his time down here, unless he needs care. For the most part, he spends about two-thirds of his time down here, and the other one-third upstairs in the biology lab.”

Ferdinand is not the only resident animal of the CS building.

“There’s also a skink, which is a type of reptile, and a squirrel that’s suffered head trauma” said Garcia. “So we were able to get a permit to be able to host him here.”

In addition to the skink and squirrel, the Biology lab also houses a small ground hog. “There’s a few animals here, but Ferdinand is the most prominent,” said Garcia.

So next time you walk by, say hello to Ferdinand and rest assured that you live on a animal friendly campus.

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