Admit it: every time you drive by the Snake Farm on I-35, scary images run through your head, you then shudder and give thanks that you haven’t been there.
That was definitely me until my little started asking what that place was and if we could go. With great passion, every single time we drove by. Because if you’re a boy, a huge sign with a cobra on it is like a beacon calling you home.
So, as a proud, card-carrying Boy Mom who needed to do something to save her sanity as she was running out of excuses as to why we couldn’t go, I faced my fear, disgust, and nightmares and ventured to the Snake Farm, which is actually the Animal World and Snake Farm Zoo.
And I lived to tell the tale—or should that be “tail”? We’ve gone back more times than I’d like to admit, including a memorable Valentine’s Day visit last year because really, what says love more than a room full of snakes?
Honestly, it’s not that bad. And it’s more than just snakes. So to help you face your fears and earn cool points with the animal lovers in your life, here’s the scoop on the Snake Farm—er, I mean Animal World.
First, yes, it has snakes. Way more than I can count or ever want to be near. They feature snakes from around the world, with a scary emphasis on those who make the “most venomous” list. They also have a terrific number of Texas snakes, giving me the opportunity to explain “red touch yellow, kill a fellow” about our indigenous coral snake, as well rattlesnakes and more. My son definitely knows not to touch ANYTHING that slithers his way while playing.
There’s also caimans, a variety of turtles and lizards, tortoises, crocodiles, and alligators, giving you a lot of opportunity to see—and smell—the reptile world. But if fur is more your thing, step quickly through the building to Animal World’s exterior displays. You’ll be greeted by a family of otters who never fail to make my son laugh as they play ball with each other or push each other into the water.
You might also be greeted by the peacocks or the roosters and chickens that roam the grounds. My son loves to see them up close, and on our last visit, we were able to see baby chicks following their moms around.
The owner of Animal World and Snake Farm is in the midst of expanding and improving the zoo, upgrading the exhibits, and increasing the amount of educational information presented. Each time we visit, we see improvements and appreciate how the animals are being given more space. I realize it can’t happen overnight, and we look forward to the continue evolution of the “Snake Farm.”
There are more than 500 animals at Animal World, including a variety of monkeys, gray and white wolves, hyenas, bison, capybaras, a few varieties of lemurs (giving you the opportunity to sing “I like to move it move it” numerous times), and quite a few birds. There’s a camel that’s friendly enough to want to eat out of your hand, some warthogs (cue the Pumbaa/Lion King references), and quite a few other animals. To be honest, I’ve seen more animals/more activity at Animal World than I’ve seen at many zoos. The animals are active—especially in the morning and when it’s cooler (no one, including me, wants to move much in summer sun).
There’s also a petting zoo with goats, sheep, pigs, and llamas. Every visit includes at least one goat nibbling at our clothing, so our last visit included my son telling them, “I am not food,” as we walked around.
By the way, I know there are many people who are anti-zoo, -aquariums, and -animal exhibits of any kind. I don’t disagree, and there are places I won’t go. I’m picky about which programs we visit, as I realize my ticket purchase supports their efforts.
But I also appreciate the opportunity for my son to be exposed to these animals, understand how our behaviors impact our environment, and why we have to be good stewards of our planet. And I do support the conservation efforts behind many of these programs. For instance, Animal World features two white lions. They’re not albino, but have pale coloring, and due to overhunting, there may be less than less than 10 of these animals remaining in the wild. Let’s hope that zoos can help bring them back, or at least preserve them so they don’t disappear entirely.
Ready to face your fear and take the plunge into the land of snakes and more? It’s just a short drive up IH-35 to exit 183, then make a u-turn to the southbound access road. Yes, that huge cobra sign will help you know you’re in the right place. For details on pricing and hours, check here.
A few tips:
- There’s often a Living Social deal, so be sure to check before you go. Children under two are free.
- Wear shoes and clothes that can get dirty, or bring a change of clothing. I let my son have fun in the petting zoo, and the paths through the animal displays are dirt, so if it’s been raining, they can be muddy. I’d rather let him have fun vs. worry about his clothes, so we go comfortable.
- There are picnic tables, and you are welcome to bring snacks. But don’t feed the animals—only the animals in the petting zoo can be fed, and they should only be fed the feed provided. Feed is sold at the entrance, and the same goats who will try to nibble your clothes will grab the feed—bag and all—so keep an eye on the bag.
- Bring a camera—there are feedings and animal interactions each day, and you’ll want to get a picture with that big ol’ python!