February 6, 2009
In 2009, On Campus News will devote the back page to photos and stories about the weird and wonderful things that have, over the years, found their way to the University of Saskatchewan. A search of storage closets, display cases and back rooms has already turned up a number of note-worthy treasures. If you know of something that has a great story, would make a great photo or is just plain weird and wonderful, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 966-6610.
Photo by Mark Ferguson
When Sammy stowed away in a shipment of baskets from Kansas, little did he know he would find a new home at the University of Saskatchewan.
In the fall of 2005, the small black snake was found hiding among baskets shipped to a local business. An employee discovered the snake in the back of a truck. He became quite fond of the little guy and brought him to the university for identification.
Specialists in the Department of Biology identified the reptile as a black rat snake, most likely from Kansas or the southern US. Black rat snakes are not a native species in Canada (except for a small pocket in Southern Ontario), so the man who made the discovery was unable to keep him as a pet, and the university acquired the necessary permits to house him in the Natural Sciences Museum.
Biology staff affectionately named him “Sammy” after the Sesame Street character that loves to teach children about the letter S.
Unfortunately, Sammy is not as entertaining as the puppet and after one month on display in the museum, the shy little reptile had to be moved into an office where Sue Johnson, museum technician, could keep an eye on him.
“He was always hiding and stressed on display,” said Johnson. “He's just not a good performing animal. Plus he's nocturnal, so that kind of defeats the purpose of the display.”
According to Johnson, Sammy was nearly crushed under a rock in his cage and almost snuck out through a lighting hole before anyone noticed.
“If he'd made it out, we never would have found him,” said Johnson, a testament to the snake's lightning speed.
Johnson says Sammy is quite happy in his renovated fish tank home in her office and he even has some fans, including the man who discovered him in the back of a truck—he makes frequent visits to campus just to say hello.
Photo by Mark Ferguson