KSU environmental studies student Christian Cave charms and educates audiences

22-year-old naturalist Christian Cave is an environmental studies student at Kennesaw State University. (Daniel Ibasa)

22-year-old Christian Cave has been fascinated with wildlife since he was a kid. He’s now an environmental studies student at Kennesaw State University and is on a mission to help us love and care about wildlife rather than fear it. Take a peek at his social media pages where he has hundreds of thousands of followers, and you’ll see Christian consistently charm and educate his audience. Cave recently blew up the internet when he found a rare pine snake in South Georgia. His excitement was captured on camera, and the video has since gone viral. The young naturalist joined “City Lights” senior producer Kim Drobes via Zoom to share more about his discovery. 

Interview highlights:

Tracking down the rare pine snake:

“Pine snakes are some of the most fascinating snakes I’d say we have in the Southeast United States in that they spend a large percentage of their life underground. They’re highly fossorial. They even have a modified scale at the front of their snout called a rostral scale that enables them to dig, so they spend a lot of time just underground,” said Cave. “In the fall time when it’s not too hot but not too cold, you start to see a lot more activity of these snakes, as well as, I believe the babies hatch and so you have a good chance of seeing babies on the surface as well as the adults.”

Why Cave was so blown away to see his long-sought snake:

“I woke up at 4 a.m. and I dragged a good friend of mine, Bobby Harton Jr., down to South Georgia with me and we had been doing that for the past three weeks in a row trying to find these snakes with no luck,” recounted Cave. “We get down there right around sunrise … and we’re not seeing anything and then sure enough, the sun disappears. Cloud coverage comes in and it gets windy — and wind, for anybody who’s interested out there, if you’re interested in looking for snakes, wind is usually not your friend. They don’t like it very much.”

“Sure enough, just as I’m looking over my shoulder to tell him, ‘Hey man, thanks for getting up and following me down here,’ I just see an elongated body through his window flash by really quickly, and I swerved the car over on this dirt road. He’s like, ‘What, what?’ I’m like, ‘Start filming, start filming!’ Because I thought I knew what it was, because there’s not many snakes down there that get that thick-bodied and that large. But it was just, I’d never seen one of those snakes. It was a snake that I’d been looking for since I was eight years old.”


My encounter with the ghost of the sandhills…👻🐍 *IM A SEMIPROFESSIONAL TIK TOK! HARMLESS SNAKE*

♬ World’s Smallest Violin – AJR

Don’t try this at home, kids:

“Snakes are, of course, ectotherms, so they can’t control their internal temperature. They have to rely on the environment, like the sun and warm rocks and different things like that. So this snake felt my body heat and while it was a little defensive, but kind of trying to get away as a snake should, after a while it actually started to calm down quite nicely and it went down my shirt and rubbed around my neck for like 10 minutes,” said Cave. “It was just sitting around my neck, absorbing my body heat until the sun came back out, and then we released it. But yeah, it didn’t bite. Pine snakes, especially, are known for having a very loud hiss that they’ll use to scare away predators, and it didn’t hiss once.”

On earning comparisons to Steve Irwin, the “Crocodile Hunter”:

“Where do I even begin? Steve Irwin was my inspiration, and still is my inspiration and he was just my hero growing up. I mean, I directly got involved in just studying wildlife. The reason why I’m an environmental science student, all of these things growing up, it was directly from Steve Irwin,” said Cave. “He just had a way of capturing an audience and bringing you along with him to the most remote parts of the entire world to learn about some of the most dangerous and wild animals you could ever dream of. And so to see people online comparing me to my hero, it just seems like an incredible honor that I do not deserve, but I just look at it as a big responsibility; and if I can even touch 100th of the people that he’s touched and the way that he touched me with wildlife, then I’d consider myself pretty successful.”

Christian Cave’s adventures can be followed on his TikTok account, where he posts as Caveman Wildlife.