INTERVIEW — Texas Snake Man Jackie Bibby Talks Rattlesnakes & Having One of the Craziest Jobs Ever
Professional snake stuntman and handler Jackie Bibby is no stranger to danger. The Texas Snake Man and star of the Animal Planet TV show Rattlesnake Republic will be in Shreveport this weekend for Sportsman's Expo at the Shreveport Convention Center.
In an interview with the snake man on the Gary and Julie morning show, we asked about his experiences being a professional snake handler, how he got into wrestling rattlesnakes and what to expect from him at our big outdoor show.
How he got into the snake handling business
Gary and Julie jokingly asked if Bibby had became a professional snake handler because it was offered during a high school career day. The truth was a little more interesting...and crazy.
"I went to a rattlesnake roundup near my hometown when I was 18 years old and they were having a rattlesnake sacking championship and I had never touched a rattlesnake in my life. But I thought, 'well, that kind of looks like fun,'" he explained.
Bibby said that he got into the pit with a group of professionals and despite his inexperience, beat many of them, winning two trophies, a $30 cash prize and got his name in the paper.
Becoming a TV star
"I had managed to gain a little bit of celebrity down through the years because I had been in the Guinness Book of World Records nine times and had been on television about 60 times before I ever got [Rattlesnake Republic]," Bibby said.
But after the show took off, Bibby admitted way more people recognize him on the street and ask for autographs.
Bibby talks about losing his leg after being bitten by a rattlesnake
"I was bitten on my leg above my boot by a huge, six-foot rattlesnake and was rushed immediately to a hospital. Three days later, they had to amputate my leg," Bibby said.
Following the incident, Bibby stayed in the hospital for 30 days and had 10 operations performed on him. Prayer helped him through it all.
"There was a lot of people praying for an old, bald-headed man from Rising Star, Texas, let me tell you," he said.
Surprisingly, Bibby holds no ill will toward the snake that took his leg, saying: "He was just being a rattlesnake, so I wasn't mad at him."
On the common question: 'What is wrong with you?!'
How does Bibby react when people ask if there's anything wrong with him that motivates his interest in snakes?
"It's a frequently asked question. Goodness only knows," Bibby laughed. "It's definitely been an exciting and fun journey doing what we do, going the places we go. We got to go to Europe 14 times and go all over the US numerous times and get to come to Louisiana and meet people out there, so it's fabulous."
'Have you ever eaten rattlesnake?'
Julie related her love of rattlesnake quesadillas to Mr. Bibby, to which he replied with a definite 'meh.'
"I have eaten it, it's certainly not my favorite food," Bibby said. "I like chicken-fried steak a lot better."
What to expect from his appearance at Sportsman's Expo
"We try to educate, we try to teach people some things, but we also like to do the thrilling elements," he said. "A lot of people like to come see the stunts, like some of my world records."
Bibby's 30-45 minute show begins with helpful information on what to do if you're bitten by a rattlesnake, what to do if you encounter a rattlesnake and general first aid tips for snake attacks.
Once Bibby gets through the "boring stuff," the real draw begins -- such as putting snakes on his face and crawling into a sleeping bag with one. You couldn't pay us enough to do that!