Best Place to See a Snake (2012)

Living Collection

Phoenix might not have a lot of things, like cool ocean breezes or soaring forests, but one thing we do have? Snakes and other reptiles. We're like a herpetological all-you-can-eat buffet.

To commemorate this, someone at ASU (nobody is exactly clear on who) started a massive collection of snakes, lizards, and other cold-blooded denizens of the Arizona desert. Since the 1960s, the collection has grown to contain nearly 45,000 specimens, all lovingly preserved and on display in the A Wing of the Life Science Center on ASU's Tempe campus. Whether you fancy a look at an albino western diamondback or a pickled Gila monster, this is the place to come. Though most specimens are preserved in tanks and glass jars, but some are, theoretically, open for handling by the public. If the hands-on exploration of herpetology isn't for you, there always is the electronic database, which lists most of the specimens in the collection, as well as where they were collected. Thomas Dowling is the man to speak to about seeing all the snakes. He's the interim curator and can be contacted via e-mail at thomas.dowling@asu.edu.

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