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Snake Man of La Perouse facts for kids

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Snake Man of La Perouse
Family watching snake man.jpg
Snake Man performance, January 2007
Formation Early 1900s
Type Theatre group
Purpose Reptile show
Notable members
"Professor" Fred Fox
George Cann Sr.
George Cann Jr.
John Cann

The Snake Man is the common name for a reptile show at La Perouse, a suburb of Sydney, Australia. Also known as 'the snake pit', an occasional Sunday afternoon visit to the Snake Man was a tradition for generations of Sydney families.


The show was held on the same site in La Perouse since the early 20th century.

"Professor" Frederick Fox

The original Snake Man was "Professor" Frederick Fox, also known as the "Snake King", who was proud of the immunity to snake venom that he had developed. However, like other such showmen, he did have his own special antidote.

In 1913, Fox travelled to India to sell his antidote.

Herbert See

Another local, Herbert See, took over the La Perouse show but he was bitten by an Eastern Brown Snake and died in hospital.

While demonstrating his antidote in Calcutta in 1914, Fox was bitten several times by a krait. He treated himself but overlooked one bite and died after a few hours.

George Cann

George Cann took on the show in the 1919 and the Cann family ran the show thereafter. Snake bites were an ongoing hazard.

John Cann was awarded an OAM in 1992 for service to the community, conservation and the environment. The area surrounding the snake pit has been named Cann Park. The last snake man, John Cann, indicated in 2010 that he was soon to retire. His last show was held on 18 April 2010. The 7.30 Report broadcast a story on Cann on 13 April 2010.

Hawkesbury Herpetological Society

Since John Cann's retirement in 2010, the Hawkesbury Herpetological Society has been conducting the shows every weekend. John Cann is still an active member of the Hawkesbury Herpetological Society, of which he is the patron.

In November 2012 it was announced that the La Perouse Museum would include a permanent exhibition to recognise the Cann family.

In 2014, the snake pit was damaged by vandals,


The Snake Man performed in a 13 m x 7 m area of grass defined by a metre-high corrugated steel fence. He stood in the 'pit' and removed reptiles one by one from canvas bags to show them to people lining the fence. He held a snake by the tail as he talked about it, or he may have walked around the perimeter of the pit with the reptile just centimetres from the onlookers.

Often he allowed a harmless reptile, such as an Australian water dragon, to roam the pit for the duration of the show.

At the conclusion of each half-hour show 'the hat' was passed around for a small donation. The show was usually at 1.30 pm on Sundays.


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