Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Boy Scouts and California Snakes

Long ago in the days of my youth, I was once a wee Girl Scout. I enjoyed the camping trips and cross-stitching, but most of all I enjoyed learning about awesome animals (much like I do today). In order to give back to the community that inspired me, last month I gave a presentation to my little brother's Boy Scout troop. The boys in this troop live near undeveloped California foothills on which they hike often. More likely than not, they will at some point encounter a California snake. The goal of my presentation was to inform them how to identify California snakes (venomous vs. non-venomous), what to do when there is an encounter, and how to avoid/handle getting bit.

The fifth-grade boys in this troop were such a pleasure to talk to (much more fun than the undergrads I teach). They were very excited to ask and answer questions, participate in the group activities I developed, and they were all very respectful. As a treat, I brought in live snakes for them to look at (Rosy Boa, California Kingsnake, Long-nosed Snake, and Northern Pacific Rattlesnake), and I "tubed" the rattlesnake so that they could safely view and touch the rattle. Although the parents were initially uneasy about the tubing process, their fear subsided after they saw how docile the snake can be. To my delight, the children thought my presentation was the coolest thing in the world. Hopefully, I instilled in them a respect for these beautiful creatures that live in their backyards.

Looking at the Rosa Boa, Kingsnake, and Long-nose

Answering some of the boys' questions

Letting the boys touch the tail and rattle of "Mr. Cuddles"

Even the fathers got into it (too bad none of the moms were interested)

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