Young readers learn about reptiles at library
By PAMELA GRANT
A giant 7-foot boa made its way across his shoulders, around his neck, and happily rested atop the head of Michael Foux.
Chips, the boa constrictor, was one of many reptiles featured at the Copperas Cove Public Library’s Summer Reading Program presentation by the Austin Reptile Shows on Thursday. During the educational and entertaining shows, Foux took the opportunity to show off a variety of his scaly friends including several snakes, lizards, and turtles.
“Reptiles have a lot of negative connotations sometimes. We want to show kids that they are not some scary, dangerous animals,” said Foux. “They’re just part of nature, and I hope they can appreciate them and realize that they’re an important part of our environment.”
During his show, Foux showed off Smeagol the ball python, Sir Francis Drake the gopher snake, Ginger the snapping turtle, Pogo the bearded dragon, and more. Foux said that he typically shows off between 12 and 16 reptiles per show.
Foux taught the young audience about the different ways that various reptiles are able to protect themselves. Some are obvious like the spurs on the African spurred tortoise, and the plated scales on the Sudan plated lizard, but others are a bit more unique. For example, the milk snake practices something called mimicry in which its coloration is very similar to the highly venomous coral snake.
The hognose snake’s defense mechanism is also very unusual. The hognose snake plays dead. The snake will roll onto its back, and sometimes it will emit a foul smell or even poop to convince predators that they don’t really want to eat the snake. The funny thing is that if one flips the snake back onto its stomach, it will roll back over onto its back as if to say, ‘No really, I’m dead.’
“I learned that the hog-nosed snake might poop on you,” laughed Kameren Jones (10). “I thought today’s show was really awesome!”
“It was scary and fun,” said Kamrynn Powell (9). “He put the snakes near our faces.”
Foux also taught the children about the definition of a reptile, and what it means to be cold blooded. The learned the difference between nocturnal and diurnal as well as which reptiles were herbivores, omnivores, or carnivores.
For example, Foux said that the corn snake was named that because they were found in corn fields. However, they actually eat lizards, rodents, and even birds. They are carnivores, not corn-ivores, joked Foux.
“It was awesome!” said Ashley Devine (6). “My favorite part was the bearded lizard because I have one at home…I liked the little turtles. They’re so funny.”
“It was good. I love reptiles,” said Richard Devine, Ashley Devine’s father. “I think it’s more of a wow factor for her…People are all scared of snakes. It’s kind of like pit bulls. Once you learn about the animal, you find out that there ain’t much to be scared about.”
The Summer Reading Program will continue next Wednesday with a class on math and science fun at 2 p.m. On Thursday, Wild Things Zoofari will have performances at 2 p.m., 4 p.m., and 6 p.m.
All the Summer Reading Program events and activities are free and open to the public.