We are fast approaching 5 years since the inception of SnakeBuddies. We have come a long way, since having the vision of creating a site to highlight our passion for snakes and other reptiles, while educating others about these amazing animals. Although our fan-base and audience is larger than ever, we recently realized that we have perhaps done too good a job of hiding our true identities. Lots of snake fans are now familiar with the name “SnakeBuddies”, but very few people could pick any one of us out of a line-up.
At the risk of losing followers when they realize we are not the “underwear models” they were imagining, we want to finally “unveil” the men behind the scenes. We are not seeking recognition or notoriety (it has never been about that), but want to allow our audience to better connect with us, and to help illustrate that you don’t have to have an internationally syndicated television show, to have a positive impact on the reptile community. We are just 3 surpisingly normal guys with very busy and fulfilling family lives, who work full-time, while trying hard to find a spare moment to participate in, and document our hobby.
The official SnakeBuddies crew, is made up of Jamison Hensley, Gavin Beck and Shaun Vought. All of us live in Utah, located in the Western United States, and have a deep appreciation for all wildlife. We each bring a unique set of talents and experience to the table, and our cooperative efforts, enable us to create original content that is both interesting and educational. We hope you enjoy the following biographies and photos, and that you will now have a better idea of who those crazy SnakeBuddies really are.
Jamison is “The Bookworm” and founder of SnakeBuddies. To the librarian’s horror (she even called his parents), he started reading almost exclusively about snakes – usually venomous ones, as soon as he could check out library books. When he wasn’t outside catching critters, he was busy ignoring his homework, and reading everything snake-related he could find in books and on-line. Studying the snakes of the world for 35 years helped Jamison develop a passion for educating others. 5 years ago, with a desire to share his appreciation for snakes, he bought the SnakeBuddies domain name, and with virtually no technological skill, he clumsily created our blog and Facebook page. Jamison is primarily responsible for coming up with and writing our articles, creating copy for our custom graphics, and publishing content to our blog and various social media sites.
Shaun Vought is “The Expert”, and co-founder of SnakeBuddies. He is inhumanly skilled at just about everything, and is a legendary (though he’ll never admit it) field-herpetologist. Shaun has spent many years in the field, finding, photographing, and learning about snakes in their natural habitat – and sometimes taking them to church in his pocket. He possesses a sixth sense for finding snakes in the wild, and his knack for always finding more snakes than anyone else, is a constant source of frustration for all who accompany him on his excursions. Shaun is a very experienced reptile keeper and breeder, and helped pioneer the husbandry of several difficult species. Shaun is SnakeBuddies’ official field guide, consistently putting us in touch with the animals we wish to find in the wild. His photography is top-notch, and is the source for much of our image-based content.
Gavin Beck is “The Guru”. He is our most recent addition to the SnakeBuddies team, but has actually helped us behind the scenes since our inception. Gavin’s talent, artistic eye and creativity are limitless. He is an amazing videographer (his profession), photographer and graphic artist – and his work is involved in virtually everything we now produce. Although he is newer to field-herpetology, he shares our passion for reptiles and wildlife in general, and has proven to be a very quick study in the field. He has also become our invertebrate expert, teaching us as much about arachnids, insects and other bugs, as we teach him about snakes. Gavin creates all of our custom graphics and videos, as well as providing us with lots of fanstastic photography.
In a nutshell, the three of us love snakes, and this mutual fascination is what originally fueled our ambition to work together in the creation of all things “SnakeBuddies”. However, we also share many other common interests that have ultimately led to our long-lasting friendship, and turned SnakeBuddies into what it has become. As much as we love finding and photographing snakes, there is nothing better than doing so with great friends that you admire and trust. Our excursions are as gut-bustingly hilarious as they are exciting, and our many shared memories of herping and hi-jinks will last a lifetime. As amazing as the last five years have been, we look forward to seeing what the next five will bring, and sharing all of the highlights with you.
Lastly, we must acknowledge that although we have an official membership of just three guys, we feel honored and privileged to say that we now have thousands of honorary SnakeBuddies all over the world. Our sincere appreciation and gratitude go out to the many people who have hosted us, befriended us, shared their expertise with us, and supported us in our endeavors. There is a long list of people who have been integral in our success, and we thank them all. We are painfully aware that without our families, friends, and fans, we would still just be three guys playing with snakes.
For more great SnakeBuddies content, please follow us at the following links:
Thanks for helping us… Educate. Inspire. Conserve.
Shaun, Gavin and Jamison
Thanks for doing what you guys do!
As someone who grew up begging to go see the snakes at every zoo visit, I appreciate all the work you guys do to educate others about them! I think they are beautiful creatures and I found myself gushing over the articles and photographs posted on this blog.
Can someone help answer the question?
I was curious about a large snake that lives here in utah. The web site said the largest snakes in utah do not exceed 6 feet “72 inches”
( 1.8 meters )
I have seen snakes that exceed 10 feet.
My dad called the blow snakes and pointed out they are not golfer’s or bullies. And if approched they did not coil up. Or shake the tail imitating a ratteler.
A known trait of the bullies. If they spooked, they walked away much like a grass snake.
Meaning they did not back up or go sideways
As stated on several occasions I have seen these snakes lay out across the road from late June into August. They often can exceed one full lane. And a mid section diameter of at least 3 to 4 inches.
Back to the question ?
Exactly what snake would this truly be.
Oh One last clue. When seen sun bathing on the blacktop they were a lighter yellow, when seen in the sage brush they are darker.
Seen in Kenilworth carbon county utah,
and in sunnyside / Colombia, east carbon county.
Thanks for your help and time.
Hi John –
Thanks for your comment and for sharing your detailed observations. Your experiences remind me of my memories of seeing giant Eastern Black Rat snakes in Arkansas as a kid almost 40 years ago. My dad and I still remember driving down our long dirt driveway, and coming up on a monster of a Black Rat snake laying across the road. Its head and tail were obscured by the weeds growing on opposite sides of the road. My dad got out, and grabbed the snake by the tail, motivating it to crawl off the road, so we wouldn’t run over such an impressive animal. We estimated the snake to be at least 10 feet long. I can’t tell you how often I’ve wished we had a tape measurer or at least a camera on hand.
All of us Snake Buddies happen to live in Utah as well, and I am confident from your description that the snakes you are seeing are Great Basin Gopher snakes. They are definitely Utah’s largest snakes. We have collectively found and/or caught well over a thousand Gopher snakes all over Utah, and some of them have indeed been impressively large. That said, our trusty tape measurer has proven to be a lot more accurate (and usually less exaggerated) than our eyes. None of them, including specimens preserved in labs, have exceeded 6 feet. Personally, I wouldn’t be super shocked if there was a Great Basin Gopher out there somewhere that exceeds 6 feet, but anything longer than 7 feet seems extremely unlikely. I would LOVE to be proven wrong though!
Locals around these parts often refer to them as blow snakes or Bull snakes. The name blow snake was derived from the loud and persistent hissing noise they sometimes make when they feel threatened. Bull snakes do exist, and are in the same genus as Gopher snakes. They look very similar, but bulls can get even larger than gophers. Bull snakes are abundant in several surrounding states like Wyoming and Colorado, but unfortunately (for me anyway) they are not native to Utah.
Eastern Indigo snakes (now only existing in Florida and southern Georgia) hold the title for the longest native snake in the United States. Giant specimens of this species have been reported, but the longest one ever officially recorded, topped out at just over 9 feet long.
I’ve spent nearly 4 decades studying snakes since my “amazing” observation in Arkansas. I hate to admit it, but can’t help thinking that perhaps that snake my dad and I saw might have been a lot larger in my memory than it was in reality. Since I have no proof, I can only say that it was really big.
Thanks again for reaching out, and feel free to let us know if you have any other questions. With the popularity of cameras on cell phones these days, I hope you’ll be able to share some photos with us, if you ever venture across another massive Gopher snake.
Snake Buddies (Jamison)