Visit the Edisto Island Serpentarium

By:Kerry Egan


Edisto Island Serpentarium in South Carolina
The Edisto Island Serpentarium gives visitors the chance to see a wide array of reptiles in open-air exhibits.

The green sign on the left side of the heavily shaded beach road can't help but make you curious. What, exactly, is a serpentarium?

"I'm pretty sure it's where they keep sea serpents,” my daughter offered. "You know, swimming dragons."

That would certainly be exciting. Edisto Island, home to the ​serpentarium, is a lush and sleepy island drenched in Spanish moss and drooping live oaks. It does seem like the kind of place where sea monsters would find refuge.

But the serpentarium might be even more interesting than the Loch Ness Monster and aquatic dragons.

In large, open-air exhibits, dozens of snakes slither and slide up trees and through the leaves and across the ground. They hang from the trees like moss. Turtles swim in ponds, and alligators bask in the sunshine.

This place is a celebration of all things reptile.

Many zoos have indoor snake exhibits, with small glassed-in terrariums featuring one or two snakes at a time. The serpentarium has hundreds of snakes in large snake pits filled with trees and ponds. The snakes take every advantage, and climb and swim and catch their prey, right in front of your eyes. It really gives you a wildly different view of how snakes live. Don't worry, though. They can't climb up out of the pits.

The serpentarium also features more than a dozen alligators and lizards as well as many types of turtles. They have indoor exhibits and animal shows where visitors can get up close with the creatures and learn about the various types of reptiles that live there.

But the snakes. Oh, the snakes. You've likely never seen anything quite like it. It's a remarkable way to spend the day, even without sea monsters.

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