This is sad and infuriating. A Memphis family driving on an interstate was shocked when a snake popped out from their hood and slithered across their windshield. Because everyone everywhere has a camera now, they filmed the incident and posted it on YouTube.

This is now a badly-reported story on CNN:

So, my problem: they didn’t pull over to let the poor animal off and it eventually dropped onto the road where it’s guaranteed to have been squished.¬†Now, an argument could be made that pulling over might’ve been unsafe. Fair enough. But the husband’s malice for the snake (in the original video, he says “get it! kill it!” after it drops from the car) is just horrible.

Dude calls the snake a “huge water moccasin”. It’s not. It’s a rat snake, a non-venomous, rodent-eating machine. Rat snakes are kept as pets and can thrive in captivity. They’re often ridiculously tame and they can live 15 years or more. I think they’re beautiful and amazing. Of course you wouldn’t know any of that from CNN’s lazy report, which doesn’t identify the species.

I’m not going to judge a driver too harshly for being freaked out by a surprise snake or for not being able to tell the difference between a venomous and non-venomous snake (not that a venomous snake shouldn’t have been given the chance to slither off the car in safety), but part of being a decent person is learning about and respecting the other creatures that live on this beautiful planet. This couple failed at that. Which is sad, because¬†part of being a decent parent is nurturing wonder and curiosity in your children.

It’s tragic that the kids in the back seat who just wanted to see an interesting animal have a dad who hates nature.

CNN should send a reptile biologist armed with a tame rat snake to give this family a show-and-tell about these spectacular animals. What a great teachable moment-style follow-up report that could be.

I’m going to find CNN’s e-mail and suggest it.

(Thanks to Dog Blog tipper and all-around excellent sister Nancy W. for the link!)