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.