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When Todd Cornwell attends a birthday party, he doesn’t show up empty handed. Except, it’s not gifts he’s bringing…it’s friends. There’s Annie Oakley, the green anaconda; Ambrose, the lemon pastel orange dream ball python; Michelle, the albino carpet python; and, of course, Popeye and Olive Oyl, the olive pythons. But, Cornwell’s scaly friends are no party crashers. In fact, they’re the guests of honor…second only to the birthday boy or girl.
Cornwell, or “The Snake Man” as he’s known, has been seeking out reptilian friends since he was a boy growing up in Northern California. Now he makes a living forging new, positive reptile/human relationships one birthday party at a time. In 2008, Cornwell became a certified animal rescue, taking in snakes and reptiles from around the Central Valley. It was also at that time that he started doing birthday parties, hoping to educate and entertain kids, all the while trying to change the bad rap reptiles often get.
Along the way, he’s become a self-taught reptile expert. And his reputation as “The Snake Man” has spread far beyond the Central Valley. Cornwall says people from as far away as Ohio have reached out to him for advice on snakes. And a woman in Australia once asked him to do a birthday party, not realizing he was located halfway across the world. Here, Cornwell talks about what prompted him to start a combination rescue/birthday party business, what he’d like everyone to know about snakes and reptiles, and just how many snakes he currently has under his care.