Roughly 400 area children gathered Wednesday at the Imperial Centre for the Arts and Sciences to learn more about members of the reptile family.
Braswell Memorial Library hosted the event, which was presented in two sessions Wednesday by the Kernersville-based CCSB Reptile Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. Cristina Griffin, who represented the group, brought more than a dozen varieties of turtles, lizards and snakes to amaze, educate and entertain youngsters.
Timaaz Kearney, 7, said he especially liked the snakes.
“I like snakes because they can crawl up walls,” Kearney said. “I am not afraid of them because they are my favorite animal.”
Griffin spent a good deal of her time on Wednesday educating her audience about which snakes should be feared and which should be welcomed.
“You should leave black rat snakes alone because they earn their rent by keeping down the rodent population,” Griffin said. “However, western diamondback snakes are responsible for more than 50 percent of the snake deaths in the United States. If you hear a rattle, you need to stop, identify the source of the rattle and slowly back away.”
Griffin, who is a herpetologist for the state of North Carolina, also taught the children a rhyme to help with snake identification: “Red touch black, friend of Jack; Red touch yellow, will kill a fellow.”
“This rhymes helps you tell the difference between the non-venomous milksnake and the venomous coral snake, which, drop for drop, is the most venomous snake in he United States,” Griffin said.
Griffin summed up her advice to the children succinctly.
“Basically, if the snake is really pretty and you want to play with it, it is probably venomous,” Griffin said.
Griffin also offered advice to adults about dealing with box turtles, which are North Carolina’s state reptile.
“Box turtles have an internal GPS that tells them how to get home,” Griffin said. “Most of the rescues of these animals are because they are injured by cars while they are crossing the road. If you see a turtle in the road and you can pull over safely, you should pick up the turtle and put it in the side of the road where it was headed. Otherwise, it will just try to cross the road again.”
Edgecombe County residents Kaye and Tom Bulluck attended the event with their two preschool grandchildren who are visiting from Maggie Valley. The Bullucks said they had never visited the Children’s Museum at the Imperial Centre before.
“We actually came here to see the bee exhibit,” Tom Bulluck said. “We did not know about the reptile event until we got here.”
However, Kaye Bulluck said she welcomed the opportunity for her grandchildren to be able to learn more about reptiles at the event.
“The more we educate children about everything, the more they learn because their brains absorb information so fast,” Bulluck said. “If we don’t bring kids to events like these, we are missing opportunities.”
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