From Xplor for Kids
October 2010 Issue

Wild Jobs: Snake Charmer Jeff Briggler

Publish Date

Oct 01, 2010

Jeff dives headfirst into nearly everything. He overflows with curiosity about nature, especially animals that give some folks the creeps.

Jeff Briggler waded through the swamp. Out of the corner of his eye he spied a snake gliding across the water. The serpent was slithering away fast, so Jeff did what any self-respecting herpetologist would do—he dived headfirst into the murky water. When he surfaced, spitting and sputtering, he held a rare western mud snake.

“As a boy, I was scared of snakes,” Jeff says. When he finally found the nerve to pick one up, he was startled by how silky smooth it felt. In college, Jeff learned that scientists still had many unanswered questions about reptiles and amphibians. He’s been working to answer Jeff Briggler wrangles creepy-crawlies.

Why? As a herpetologist it’s hiss job to study reptiles and amphibians. those questions ever since.

Jeff once counted 333 spring peeper eggs as they were laid in a bucket, just to see how many the frog could lay. He’s discovered that collared lizards are curious, mud snakes are gentle and spiny softshell turtles like to bite. Jeff was the first ever to find Ozark zigzag salamander eggs in the wild, and he’s become a world expert on the hellbender, a 2-foot salamander that lives in clear Ozark streams.

“The more we learn and the more I can teach people about these creatures, the better off they’ll be,” Jeff says.

“There are 112 species of reptiles and amphibians in Missouri. It’s my job to make sure 112 stay here.”

Also in this issue

Photos With Nop & Dave: Fall Color at Hickory Canyons

Dave Stonner shot this photo of colorful fall trees at Hickory Canyons Natural Area near Farmington.

You Discover

With birds migrating south, leaves changing color and hunting seasons gearing up, there’s plenty for you to discover in October and November. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

My Outdoor Adventure

For weeks, twins Ashton and Nina Smith had gone to the shooting range to practice firing their dad’s deer rifle. When deer season came around, they could hit the center of the target every time.

Missouri's Creepiest Creatures

Some creatures make folks shriek “Eeek!” Maybe it’s their hairraising appearance or the way they scurry, skitter or slither.


Got snot? Of course you do. Your nose makes enough every day to fill a soda bottle. And, that’s a good thing.

Foggy Forest

A foggy fall forest might seem spooky, but there's nothing to fear. Sit quietly against a tree, and you'll be surprised by what you'll see.

Xplor More: Make a Milkweed Bracelet

Not long ago, nature was a grocery store, pharmacy and hardware shop all rolled into one.

This Issue's Staff:

David Besenger
Bonnie Chasteen
Chris Cloyd
Peg Craft
Les Fortenberry
Chris Haefke
Karen Hudson
Regina Knauer
Kevin Lanahan
Kevin Muenks
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
Tim Smith
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Alicia Weaver
Cliff White
Kipp Woods

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Xplor: Oct/Nov 2010

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