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State Snake Sliding Through General Assembly


Virginia has a state bird… a state tree… but what about a state snake? Lawmakers this year have made a bit of a surprising pick -- the Eastern Garter Snake.  

The Virginia herpetological society has tried to convince lawmakers to adopt a state snake before -- something like the Timber Rattlesnake, or the King Snake -- but the idea never got much traction.

That’s why J.D. Kloepfer, the resident reptile-expert at Virginia’s Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, was surprised when he heard from his boss that Virginia’s General Assembly chose the Eastern Gartersnake.  

“It was surprising to see that it had gotten so far so quickly.”

That may be because the request this year came from Aiden Coleman, a 12-year-old in Williamsburg who met his state lawmaker, Republican Delegate Brenda Pogge, at a summer science camp. Coleman has since been lobbying lawmakers.

“It’s kind of hard to say no to an aspiring young man who’s trying to do the right thing and I commend him on his efforts on getting this far with it.”

Although Kloepfer says the Eastern Gartersnake wouldn’t be at the top of HIS list, he says he’ll stand by the choice should the Governor stamp off on the idea.

If the Governor approves, the Eastern Gartersnake will join a whole host of state symbols -- including the Virginia big-eared bat, the brook trout, and even the state beverage... which is milk.  

Mallory Noe-Payne is Radio IQ's Richmond reporter and bureau chief.