If you needed someone to help you clean the gutters of your house, Cammi Rose would not be the one to call.
“I’m afraid of ladders,” Rose said. “Not heights. I’ve stood on the side of mountains and been fine but I hate ladders.”
If you found yourself trapped in a cabin infested with centipedes, Rose would not be the one to call.
“I hate centipedes,” Rose said. “That feeling that most people associate with snakes and spiders and stuff—they give me that feeling. They give me that ‘shivers up the spine’ kind of feeling.”
Ironically, however, if a large snake crept it’s way into your backyard, Rose would be one of the first people you would want to call.
Rose has teamed up with Dr. Adam Safer and the Orianne Society to help preserve the dwindling eastern indigo snake population in South Georgia. Rose, who grew up with a love of reptiles, now spends much of her time perusing the rugged terrain of the Broxton Rocks in search of one of the largest snakes in the Southeast.
“It’s a lot simpler than most people think,” Rose said. “Most people watch ‘the Jeff Corwin Experience’ and ‘the Crocodile Hunter’ and they think it’s going to be a lot crazier but we’re just running after them and grabbing them.”
Once they manage to spot an indigo snake, Rose and her team record data and implant the snake with a small chip. This allows them to keep track of which snakes they have came across already and helps them to gauge the strength of the population in the area.
Instead of spending her weekends relaxing like most of her peers, Rose pulls five to six hour days searching for the endangered snakes. Although the expeditions can be tough, she said the work is quite fulfilling.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Rose said. “It’s very rewarding when we find one. You don’t find a lot so it’s very exciting when you do find one.”
“Recently we found the first new snake of the year,” she said. “It hadn’t been tagged yet, so they named it Cammi.”
Doing hands on research and having snakes named in her honor is a dream come true for Rose, who knew since elementary school that she wanted to work with reptiles.
“Honestly, I can’t remember wanting to do much else,” she said. “When I was really, really young I had weird dreams of being an Egyptologist, but I have stuck with herpetology for a really long time.”
Unfortunately for Cammi, not everyone shares her passion. She got her first pet snake when she was eleven but was recently forced to give him up due to campus regulations.
“You can’t keep snakes in the dorms,” Rose said with a laugh.
Rose’s life is not short on adventure and the Georgia State Honors College has offered her the opportunity to chase her passion—quite literally. She is embracing the experience and isn’t afraid to make the most of it.
“Looking for snakes, jumping across two-foot gorges. It’s whatever,” she said. “I’m just not getting up on any ladders.”