Remembering Rod Patterson
21 April 2022.
It is with great sadness that I have learnt of the passing of Rod Patterson, former owner of Transvaal Snake Park in Halfway House.
I met Rod back in 1979 while working for Fritz Muller at Fitzsimons Snake Park in Durban. We took some snakes up to Rod in exchange for some of his snakes. We had a pleasant weekend staying over with Rod and Colleen Patterson and upon our return to Durban Rod contacted me and offered me a job. I started work at Transvaal Snake Park a month later.
While the old section of the snake park was well maintained it was on par with any other snake park, but the terraquarium, which was completed about a year back with help from the late Karl Switak, was world class and still the best snake display I have ever seen in any snake park. There were 43 enclosures visible to the public and a large behind the scenes section. The collection was impressive – Gila Monsters, Beaded Lizards, Mata-mata terrapins, Taipans, Red-bellied Black snakes, various rattlesnakes, king snakes, anacondas, ball pythons, corn snakes, cantils, Cascabels, and the list goes on. And, of course, a good selection of African reptiles.
Not just was Rod a world leader in enclosure design, he was also excellent when it came to the safe handling of venomous snakes and I owe him a great deal of gratitude for sharing this knowledge with me. He was also excellent at reptile husbandry and the park had a great track record for captive breeding.
Many of our current herpetologists had a stint at Transvaal Snake Park, either as an employee or a casual and happily share good memories.
Transvaal Snake Park was the beginning of my herpetological career and very quickly changed my herpetological interest into something far more serious. Rod made a difference.
Our condolences go out to the family.
The photograph was taken in the early 80s.