Austin Reptile Show thrills summer readers
By PAMELA GRANT
Turtles and lizards and snakes, oh my! Children cried out in awe and glee as Michael Foux showed off reptiles of various shapes and sizes from a Russian tortoise that fit in the palm of his hand to an enormous boa constrictor, bigger than some of the kids in attendance at seven feet long and 35 pounds.
Michael Foux performed three separate presentations of his Austin Reptile Show on Thursday as part of the Copperas Cove Public Library’s ongoing Summer Reading Program. He performed at 2 p.m., 4 p.m., and again at 6 p.m.
Foux got his start in 2008 after he brought his reptiles to his wife’s 2nd grade class and from there it just continued to grow.
Foux hopes to give the children an appreciation of nature, specifically reptiles. He hopes to teach them not to be afraid of reptiles and to see that they are just like other animals.
“I was fascinated as a kid because other people were so scared of them,” said Foux. “They are so misunderstood.”
Foux got his very first snake when he was only four or five years old. He had his father stop his vehicle to catch a little Eastern Ribbon Snake, a type of garter snake.
“I remember that little garter snake was biting me the whole way home,” reminisced Foux with a fond smile. “But I never let go because I was so fascinated by it.”
Throughout his lesson, Foux taught the kids about what a reptile is, what it means to be cold-blooded, and more. For each reptile he showed, Foux offered a variety of interesting facts about the animal.
For example, in 1968, two Russian tortoises became one of the first animals to orbit the moon. They were sent to space by the Soviet Union alongside some insects, mealworms, seeds, plants, and bacteria. Some lizards can lose their tails and grow them back while others, like the crested gecko can lose their tails, but they won’t grow back. The blue-tongued skink gives birth to live babies and its bright blue tongue is used as a bluff to potential enemies. The bull snake, already similar in color to a rattlesnake, will mimic said snake to scare predators away. They flatten their heads to make them look triangular, hiss loudly, and shake their tails vigorously against leaves or debris to mimic the iconic rattling sound.
Foux warned the audience about relying on rhymes and hints taught to people to identify dangerous reptiles because there are mutations and exceptions to the rules.
Instead, Foux offered a new bit of advice,” If you see a snake outside, just leave it alone. If you don’t know what it is, don’t mess with it.”
Ashlyn Norris brought her grandson, Colt Norris (5) to watch the show. Colt’s favorite was the snakes, especially “the big snake”.
“I think it was pretty engaging for the kids,” said Ashlyn Norris. “I think it’s a really good way to get the kids to read over the summer…We are very grateful.”
“I loved it!” said Steven Bowles (7). “I learned that corn snakes are the easiest [reptile] to take care of.”
Bowles said that he loves reading, and especially learning about animals. So far Bowles has filled in 25 bubbles in his reading log.
Bowles’ mother, Erin Bowles, said that the reptile show has always been one of their favorite parts of the Summer Reading Program and that they have attended it and gotten a picture with Foux every year since Steven Bowles was two years old.
“He and Lucas Mille are the ones we see every year,” said Erin Bowles. “We absolutely love all the shows and the prizes. They’ll do anything for prizes. It’s always an extra, fun motivation.”
The Summer Reading Program continues today with the adult program starting at 6 p.m. The library will be closed Tuesday for the 4th of July, but the program will continue Wednesday with the teen group at 2 p.m. learning how to train their dog with Shy LeBlanc. Story time will be Thursday at 10 a.m. and Wild Things Zoofari will have Thursday shows at 2 p.m., 4 p.m., and 6 p.m.