Turtles and snakes visit the Mint Hill Library

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On Wednesday, July 12, Kristin from Reedy Creek Nature Center visited the Mint Hill Library to teach children about reptiles and amphibians.

Kristin’s interactive presentation focused on teaching her audience the identifying characteristics of reptiles. Children learned that reptiles are cold-blooded and have scales on their skin, which makes them different than amphibians, who tend to be more “slimy.”

The first reptile attendees learned about was turtles. Children had the opportunity to touch two turtle shells: an Asian box turtle and a yellow belly slider. As they passed the turtle shells around and inspected them, Kristin talked about how turtles’ backbones are in their shells and how turtles have large scales on their shells called scutes.

Next, children got to see and touch a real live box turtle named Peter whose beak and eye were injured crossing the road. The children learned that they may see turtles in the road some times because they often have to cross roads to get from their warm weather homes to their cold weather habitats. They also happen to like yellow! The children also learned all about what turtles like Peter eat.

One of the reptiles children met was Peter the Turtle, a yellow belly slider.

The second reptile the children learned about was snakes. Kristin talked to her audience about how they can tell if a snake is venomous, the types of venomous snakes we have in North Carolina and the reasons a snake may bite. They also talked about what snakes eat and how some snakes can unhinge their jaws to eat prey larger than themselves.

Next the children had the opportunity to meet Popcorn the corn snake. As Kristin moved around the circle with Popcorn, she told the children that snakes smell with their tongues and that because snakes are cold-blooded, they may only eat one or two times a month.

Kristin demonstrated the correct technique for petting a snake with two fingers as she introduced the children to Popcorn the corn snake.

Kristin concluded her presentation with questions from the audience. Many of the children in attendance asked intelligent questions like, “Do snakes use the bathroom?,” “How big can snakes get?,” and “Why are turtle shells so hard?”

Kristin’s presentation also touched on the importance of respecting our environment and the animals who live in nature, comparing swiping pizza off a friend’s plate to taking things they find in their natural environment. Educating people and raising their awareness is what Reedy Creek Nature Center’s free and low cost programming is all about. “For reptiles, especially, just educating the public on their role in different ecosystems and the importance of it,” says Kristin.

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