Article From Delmarva NoW.com

Reptiles invade Pocomoke for day of fun

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POCOMOKE CITY — A prehensile tailed skink hanging from its tail like a monkey, a fat, black and white Tegu lizard with a flicking forked tongue, and an amazon river turtle named “Podocnemis” were among the reptiles that held kids rapt at the Delmarva Discovery Center’s Reptile Festival.

Caroline Seitz, director of the Reptiles Alive animal show, made lessons about habitat and adaptation interesting with stories of tarantula-chomping and rotten fruit-slurping lizards.

“I liked the turtle,” said 10-year-old cub scout Wilson Davis, who was accompanied by his brother and fellow scout, 7-year-old Noah Davis.

“She really brings things to life,” said their mother and cub scout leader, Sandy Davis, after watching Seitz’s show. “She really interacts with the audience and the kids.”

While the presentation was aimed at younger audience members, Davis and other adults clearly enjoyed the show, which featured a dynamic Seitz handling several exotic species.

“You can’t do this with other lizards,” Seitz announced, letting a prehensile tailed skink wrap its tail around one of her hands as she pulled her other hand from the leather glove it clung to with its sharp claws. “Some people call them monkey skinks for this ability.”

As the skink hung from its tail, gripping the empty glove, she went on to explain how the lizard adapted to the forest canopy with its sharp claws and strong tail for climbing.

While the tengu and other reptiles in Seitz’s show are naturally rainforest natives, Reptiles Alive literature explained most of the animals in its shows were rescued as abandoned or confiscated pets.

Reaching out to those looking for an experience closer to home, the Maryland Amphibian and Reptile Atlas group was in attendance, signing people up to volunteer with its efforts to document species in the area.

As part of its conservation efforts, the group will establish a baseline for monitoring changes in the distribution of reptiles and amphibians in Maryland.

MARA’s statewide coordinator, Heather Cunningham, said the group is looking for MARA observers to report day-to-day with animals, as well as MARA surveyors to conduct more formal surveys of nearby blocks or quadrants.

“It’s not just common species found,” Cunningham said. “We’ve had volunteers find a number of rare and uncommon species, like the mountain earth snake.”

Visit the MARA website at www.marylandnature.org/mara for the latest information. Visitwww.meetup.com/marylandnature to join the Natural History Society of Maryland Meetup Group and help plan searches in your area.

Inspiring Children to Love Learning – with Reptiles

Do you know a child who loves snakes? How about a child who loves exploring in the park and asks questions about every leaf, rock, and worm?  Or a child who wants to know how an airplane flies or what makes the trash truck so loud?  If so, you know a child who is interested in science.

While hiking in the cold winter woods the other day, I began thinking of all the family members, teachers, and other adults who encouraged my interest in snakes , reptiles, and the natural world when I was a child.

Although no one in my family loved (or even liked) snakes, my parents allowed me to explore the woods and swamps near my house,  bring home and even the keep garter snakes and frogs I found.  My grandparents brought me to reptile lectures at the zoo  and baked cakes in the shape of snakes and lizards for my birthdays.  When I was 9 years old, my grandma even snake-sat for me while I was on vacation – and my pet brown snake gave birth to over 20 live baby snakes while under her care!

Due to the encouragement of my family, I developed a life long love of and respect for nature and science.   My goal in creating Reptiles Alive over 16 years ago was to inspire the same interests for science in other people – especially children.

Watching television shows or looking at a computer screens are two dimensional experiences that have little impact on our senses .  Seeing a snake or lizard in a picture will not inspire the same excitement as seeing a real, living, breathing animal up close.

Imagine the difference between looking at a picture of an apple on a computer screen and holding a real apple in your hand.  Which experience will give you a better appreciation for what an apple really is?

A child who comes home from a Reptiles Alive show wanting to learn more about reptiles,  is a child who has been inspired to learn.  An interest in snakes and animals can lead to interests in other aspects of science.  A love of nature and animals can lead to compassion for all living creatures and our planet itself.

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