Fall Changes at Reptiles Alive

Fall is always an exciting time at Reptiles Alive.

We all feel a sense of relief and accomplishment that we have made it through another super busy summer.  We presented approximately 500 shows in June, July & August at libraries, festivals, and tons of summer camps.  Whew!  It is always nice to get the break in September to re-group and get ready for the school year.

The emails and phone calls from PTA representatives and teachers begin flooding into our office as the new school year gets started.  Assemblies, classroom visits, and family fun nights are all being scheduled now, so our office staff works hard to keep up with all the bookings.  If you are interested in booking a program for your school give us a call at 703 560-0257 or send us an email at reptilesalive@gmail.com.  You can find out all about our programs for schools on our Schools Page.

Although we may not be quite as busy doing weekday shows in September as in other months, our weekends are always booked solid for us with all the fall festivals and birthday party shows and we do a lot of scout programs in the evening. You can check out which festivals we will be at on our Public Events Calendar.

More fall changes at Reptiles Alive include a new school assembly show called “Wetlands Alive!”, a new Honduran milk snake that has not yet been named, and a new assistant Animal Keeper we just hired – Amaya Perez.  Look for more information about the new show, animal, and keeper in future blog posts.

Happy Fall Everybody!!

will-with-big-pumpkin-300x200

An Island tale…

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale,

A tale of a Reptiles Alive trip

That started from our headquarters

Aboard our reptile van – ship.

100_15941

Sycamore Island in the Potomac River

The mate was a mighty nature photography man,

The skipper brave with snakes.

2 passengers + 8 live animals set sail that day

To perform a 1 hour reptile show, a 1 hour show.

100_15911

Our Animals Aboard Ferry Boat to Sycamore Island

The weather started getting rough,

The pollen was really bad and wind knocked trees on the ground,

If not for the courage of the fearless RA crew

The show would not go on, the show would not go on.

100_15971

Caroline on Sycamore Island

The ship set ground on the shore of this charted Potomac River isle

With Caroline

Jon Kerr too

The Ferry boatman, his name is Joe

The animal show stars

The black rat snake and the rest

Here on Sycamore Isle.

100_16971

Ferry Boat Captain Joe

So this is the tale of the show we performed

It was on Saturday May 8

We had the best of times,

Even though loading was a truly uphill climb.

100_15901

One LONG, TOUGH Load In for a Show

The first mate and the Skipper too

Did their very best,

To perform a fantastic live animal show

In the Potomac River island nest.

100_16261

There were phones and lights, but no motor cars,

Lots of luxuries,

Not really like Robinson Crusoe,

Not exactly as primitive as can be.

100_16381

Caroline with Pink the Corn Snake

So join us here each week my freinds,

You’re sure to get a smile,

From all the people and animals,

Here at Reptiles Alive!

Lesson Session – Weave a Food Web

Weave a Food Web

Subject – Science, Art

Grade Level – 4-6

Skills Used:

Predicting; Collecting, Recording and Interpreting Data; Identifying and Controlling Variables; Defining Operationally

Key Vocabulary:

Food Chain, Food Web

Lesson Time:

30 minutes

Conceptual Objective:

Students will understand that food chains overlap to form a web of multiple energy paths.

foodchain.008

Process Objective:

Students will create a model of a food web.

Materials

* construction paper
* markers
* scissors
* bulletin boards
* pushpins
* tape
* string
food web handout – click to download

Procedure

1. Introduce and explain the terms ‘food chain’ and ‘food web’ to students.

2. View, explain, and answer questions about an example food web.

3. Pass out handouts and explain how the information is set up on the chart.

4. Put children into groups of five, giving each group the necessary supplies.

5. Instruct children to draw and label all of the different woodland organisms listed. Also draw a picture of the sun. Cut out drawings and attach them to bulletin boards with pushpins. Leave space between the drawings.

6. Students should tape one end of the piece of string to any one of the drawings. Using the table, connect the other end of the string to the proper organism.

7. Students should draw and cut out an arrow, taping it on the string to indicate in which direction the energy is flowing.

8. Students should repeat these steps to connect all of the organisms.

9. Announce clean-up time, and display finished food webs around the room.

Lecture

What is the food chain?

Energy flows through an ecosystem as one animal eats another animal or plant. A food chain shows “who eats who” in an ecosystem.

For example:

An owl – eats a mouse who – eats a beetle who – eats leaves.

Each part of the food chain has a name:

Plants make (produce) their own food using water, sunlight and carbon dioxide (photosynthesis). Plant start the food chain. There are more plants than any other living thing because they are the bottom of the food chain. They provide the energy for everything else. They are the PRODUCERS.

The animals (insects, mice, chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, deer) that mostly eat plants are called the herbivores. There are fewer herbivores than there are plants because each herbivore needs a lot of plant matter to live. Herbivores feed directly on the producers. They are the PRIMARY CONSUMERS.

Animals (spiders, birds, snakes) who eat the primary consumers (herbivores) are the SECONDARY CONSUMERS. There are fewer secondary consumers than there are primary consumers because each secondary consumers needs to eat a lot of primary consumers to live.

Animals (fox, coyotes, eagles, owls) who eat the 1st & 2nd consumers are carnivores (they eat meat). They are the TERTIARY CONSUMERS. There are fewer tertiary consumers than there are secondary consumers because each tertiary consumers needs to eat a lot of secondary consumers to live. Because there are fewer animals as you move up the food chain, it is really a food pyramid with the big carniores needing to eat the most and so being the rarest of the animal kingdom.

Because animals eat so many things, the food chain has many overlapping parts, so is really a FOOD WEB.

Last but not least, the DECOMPOSERS eat and so recycle dead animals and plants (mushrooms, fungi, insects, bacteria). They are then consumed themselves by other parts of the food web so nothing is wasted.

Something to think about:

In a food web, if an important animal is taken out, and there are no other animals to take its place, it can affect all the other animals in the food web. This animal is called a KEYSTONE SPECIES.

An example of this is the American alligator. Thirty years ago it was hunted so much in the everglades that it all but disappeared. What people didn’t realize was that the American alligator’s main food is the gar, a big everglade fish. The gar in turn eats a lot of the same fish people like (referred to as game fish).

When the American alligator disappeared, the gar (with no other predator) became very plentiful. All the extra gar ate all the game fish. Suddenly fisherman noticed that all the game fish had disappeared and there were gar everywhere.

The food web was out of balance. Once the American alligator was protected from hunting, its numbers rose quickly. In turn the number of gar decreased. Soon the game fish returned. The balance was restored.

Evaluation

1. Did students make and use a model that allowed them to make inferences about food chains? Assess the neatness and the accuracy of the food webs.

Troubleshooting

1. Students may argue about who will do what in the group. If this happens, the teacher should assign roles to students.

Hawksbill Turtle Project Offering Volunteer Positions!

The hawksbill is quite rare in the Hawaiian Islands. In 1998, only 38 nests were documented on the Big Island. They need volunteers for the 2009 nesting season, which runs from May to December. You will be monitoring hawksbill nests on remote beaches in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and adjacent lands. They prefer stays of 8-12 weeks, but will consider shorter periods.

turtle1-1

Volunteers camp 3-5 nights a week. Duties include monitoring nesting hawksbills and basking green turtles, rescuing stranded hatchlings, excavating nests, and trapping and euthanizing predators (mongooses, feral cats, and rats). Some nesting beaches can be reached only by hiking a 6.6 mile trail over recent lava flows, but others can be reached by 4-wheel drive truck. The weather is hot and very windy.

Shared dormitory-style housing is provided near Park Headquarters at the summit of Kilauea Volcano (4,000 ft. elevation). A small stipend is provided, so you will need some of your own money.

Contact Will Seitz:

Will_Seitz@contractor.nps.gov