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 Post subject: best reptiles for outreach and educational programs
PostPosted: December 7th, 2014, 7:36 pm 
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Anyone else do talks as well as allow various forms of contact?

My criteria

1. Trustworthy. Calm predictable. Ideal species do not bite in defense and have an easily tempered feeding response.

2. Educational. Natives have an edge over exotics. I dislike the use of morphs in ed. Programs...unless maybe you are talking of genetics

So far I have had great success with
Northern blue tongue lizards
Rubber boa
African eggeating snake,

And use the following but limited interaction
Gargoyle gecko

Anyone else? I've toyed obtaining a pyro, z, or rosy boa but cant be sure how well theyd do. Ive seen all used but do winder about those occasions where some just decide they want to eat a finger...not particularly educational. Ca kings are notorious for this. I guess w such sp. The individual animals personality is more impirtant


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PostPosted: December 7th, 2014, 10:49 pm 

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 Post subject: Re: best reptiles for outreach and educational programs
PostPosted: December 7th, 2014, 11:10 pm 
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Joseph hey when working with younger kids if a bite happens, a great way to transform the event is to be sure to say, in very confident cheery tone with a dash of scholarly bass : This Means You are an Official Snake Keeper now! (or Naturalist etc)

If executed well those tears dry right up and a scary memory is replaced by pride. At one time I had even made some Official Reptile Keeper badges, that I kept in my grey kit with empty eggshells and intact sheds. It helped. It was good.


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 Post subject: Re: best reptiles for outreach and educational programs
PostPosted: December 8th, 2014, 1:02 am 
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Oh - and remember that anything an animal does, is educational. If you're relaxed and in control of the situation, and not stuck on a script.

Its real important when an animal does something that comes natural, be it release some urates n' juice or bite a little finger, to frame it calmly and make sure kids relize that snakes can get frightened by bigger forms, that they are indeed prey items themselves in the wild, and in terms the age group can grasp, what defensive behavior is. You really have to help a kid know that an animal isnt being mean or 'not liking' him. Its important. The way they understand it is more important than if it happens.

It doesnt occur very often in talks (more often it happens at home, with new or unsupervised handling of pets) But it can - with any species that has a mouth.

A spritz of ethyl alcohol on the side of the mouth, makes bites let go instantly with no harm, and keeps the mishap brief.

*Add Edit - Important The above intended really just to have provisionally in the case of a real holder, it may make you less personally worried about it if you know you can take care of one of those bundly grippy bites fast and seamlessly.

A well rounded person often includes animal bites as normal real life experiances. It is not the worse thing that could happen to a kid.

I appreciate being able to share on this topic. Thanks. :)


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 Post subject: Re: best reptiles for outreach and educational programs
PostPosted: December 8th, 2014, 6:53 am 
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First, good on ya’, if you do public presentations today. It’s very important, though take personal liability seriously.

craigb
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Let me see, Joseph I have used these at nature centers, boys scout meetings, college, trade school, high school, elementary school classes,
Throughout late 60's, 70's, 80's, and 90's I hit the pretty much the same audiences, including hunt clubs and fishing organizations; basically anyone who would listen. I figured, if I could just reach one shovel wielder, it was worth my time.


I used different animals for different audiences, especially homogeneous groups, for example:
. Outdoor groups (boy and girl scouts, sports person groups, etc.), I used native herps.
. High school and college biology groups, I brought an animal that I knew would eat in front of a group.
. Elementary schools, species had to be relatively “trustworthy” (as much as you can), and I increased the size as we talked. A few “trustworthy” animals for classroom size were Green snakes, Hog-nosed, animals that don’t thrash around much such as adult Mexican Milks, hand raised, manned Pythons and Boas, etc.

No Matter how “trustworthy”, a large snake was, I generally kept my hand on the head or neck, when kids held it.


Starting in the ‘70s, I always finished with hand washing, with warning of Salmonella, and keeping it in perspective.



Anecdotally, when I started, it seemed grades K – 3, quickly lost any fear; 4-6 were tougher sells, but often came around; middle school – well, it just wasn’t cool to seem to like anything; high school – fears were much instilled.
Good news, by the time I quit lecturing in the 2000’s, probably due to great nature shows, more reptile books available to the public, and some good science teachers, more kids all the way up the chain seemed more open to learning and showing their fascination; maybe kids were not hearing quite so many “Grandpa Bullshit Stories”, though they still persist.


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 Post subject: Re: best reptiles for outreach and educational programs
PostPosted: December 8th, 2014, 7:15 am 

Joined: June 8th, 2010, 7:12 am
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Location: Hesperia, California.
In my 15 years of doing the Grassy Hollow reptile talks, I geneally have the majoriety of all herps native to So Cal. I put smaller specimens in clear plastic containers, that after talking about each, gets passed through the audience. I'd post pics but gotta go to work... search "Grassy Hollow'... :beer:


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 Post subject: Re: best reptiles for outreach and educational programs
PostPosted: December 8th, 2014, 7:45 am 

Joined: March 30th, 2014, 12:16 pm
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Location: Okaloosa ca, Fla.
While interning at a biology education center for grades 4 and 7, and the entire public once a month, I have used all natives, at least historically, to Walton county Florida - where the center is, except for one snake:
Snakes: Red Rat Snake, Grey Rat Snake, Eastern Hognose Snake, Western Hognose Snake (the non-native), Eastern Ribbon Snake, Eastern Garter Snake, Southern Ringneck Snake, Scarlet Kingsnake, Scarlet Snake, Rough Green Snake, A freakishly docile Banded Water Snake, Eastern Indigo Snake
Amphibians:
Southern Toad, Barking Tree Frog, Eastern Tiger Salamander, Southeastern Slimy Salamander (not hands on), Red Salamander (not hands on), Florida/Alabama Waterdog (not hands on)
Turtles/Tortoises:
Gopher Tortoise, Barbour's Map Turtle, Ornate Diamondback Terrapin, RES, Florida River Cooter, Alligator Snapping Turtle (no touching), Common Snapping Turtle (no touching), Loggerhead Musk Turtle, Mud Turtle, Florida Soft-shell Turtle.

These are just ones I have used for native education, which is what I focus on. The Eastern Hognose and Western Hognose will both feed in public as well - without going into an insane, shark-like, feeding frenzy like the Indigo haha. Not once have I ever had a problem with any of these animals biting someone, obviously - I would think - people are not allowed to touch the snapping turtles.

Occasionally when there are guided hikes I will find and catch a Southern Black Racer. I allow people to touch them but I still maintain control of the head to avoid it biting anyone that may be afraid of snakes. I will however get myself deliberately bitten by the racers to show that there is in fact no harm from a snakebite. Many people that have visited this center are under the impression that any snakebite is a death sentence or at least very bloody and damaging. I try to re-educate them on what fear and superstition have taught them about snakes.


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 Post subject: Re: best reptiles for outreach and educational programs
PostPosted: December 8th, 2014, 9:01 am 
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I didnt mean to sound cavalier, liability wise. Its just that the world is filled with teeth and claws and urts and things, as well as animals that would rather not be handled.

I have presented Animals That Would Rather Not Be Handled - and not had them handled, engaged in the wonders of said animals, and watched eyes light up with a new realization of courtesy towards the living that was remembered years later, with a tap on my shoulder and a turn to look up into faces of towering young adults that have given me hope.


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 Post subject: Re: best reptiles for outreach and educational programs
PostPosted: December 8th, 2014, 9:40 am 
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I have presented Animals That Would Rather Not Be Handled
Yeah, Kelly, We've probably all done this, but just bringing herps to an elementary school is an adventure in law in some parts of the country.

Some schools just prohibit them, some require you show proof of insurance, home owners or NEA teacher's insurance often cover this, but, as one principal confided, one kid gets bitten or even coincidentally comes down with salmonella right afterwards, things get dicey.
I once talked to a 4th grade science class on invitation from the teacher. The principle apparently wasn't informed and later in the day, it hit the fan. The teacher almost got fired.

In this litigious society, the parents can sue in civil court, the school and you personally. Most places teachers are required to have personal liability insurance. Parent pressure can bring criminal attention to you if you used an illegal animal (like a turtle in TN), and though the local game warden may support you, parental pressure with press can force them to charge you.

It just pays to check that you've got your bases covered.


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 Post subject: Re: best reptiles for outreach and educational programs
PostPosted: December 8th, 2014, 10:09 am 
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Bill - I hear you.

And I have been privy to some discouraging situations, and unbelievable classroom situations with teachers who had animals in the classroom.

I recieved a call once from an educational funding representative who wanted to 'Rent a Turtle' for a photo as a logo of sorts and the turtle was to be held by a small child.

I told them I dont rent turtles and that she should probably do some research on why the photo would be an oxymoron.

Another teacher who teaches high school has boids in a district where their ownership is illegal. He has the kids help him with the snakes - some quite large, he feeds them live and is a complete idiot from every angle we are able to see, advice falls on haughty responses and deaf ears, even though his "Babies" are always having one problem or another. Reoccurring mites, and scud.

luckily because we no longer sell live rats he doesnt come in any more. Whenever he did I would always spray the floor and counter with zodiac after he left. Such a pain and its unbelevable he has influence on kids in a classroom.


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 Post subject: Re: best reptiles for outreach and educational programs
PostPosted: December 8th, 2014, 12:14 pm 
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I do education nearly every day, and have for almost 25 years. It can be challenging, but totally worth it.

Joseph S. wrote:
Anyone else do talks as well as allow various forms of contact?

2. Educational. Natives have an edge over exotics. I dislike the use of morphs in ed. Programs...unless maybe you are talking of genetics


Don't discount something just because it is not native. In general, I agree, natives are great. That is what people see in their yards and parks, and the natives are often overlooked for the flashy, colorful species found deep in the jungles. Here in GA though, we don't have any big native lizards, so a bearded dragon or a bluetongue gets the characteristics of lizards across nicely because those characteristics can be seen. Likewise, a Russian tortoise or a leopard tortoise can easily demonstrate the characteristics of turtles, just as much as the much-maligned redear can (that in itself can be a valuable lesson to talk about- why not to release pets, invasives, ecological damage)

Pine snakes, Dumeril's boas and ball pythons are all good choices for snakes because they are sizeable (impressive, and easily seen), but they are also calm, easy to handle and reluctant to bite. As Kelly mentioned though, anything can be turned into a lesson. I do it all the time when the critters poop- I tell them they do it because that is a defensive reaction, blah blah blah. Or if the kids had been quiet and calm and the animal wasn't freaked out, then I gather them around it and we look at it- see how different it looks from our poop/dog poop/etc...why?

Just some of my quick thoughts. I hope that helps, Joseph! Keep up the good work!

--berkeley


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 Post subject: Re: best reptiles for outreach and educational programs
PostPosted: December 8th, 2014, 12:35 pm 
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Kelly
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Another teacher who teaches high school has boids in a district where their ownership is illegal. He has the kids help him with the snakes - some quite large, he feeds them live and is a complete idiot from every angle we are able to see, advice falls on haughty responses and deaf ears, even though his "Babies" are always having one problem or another. Reoccurring mites, and scud.
Wow, there's not much more you can say about that. :roll:


BB
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so a bearded dragon or a bluetongue gets the characteristics of lizards across nicely because those characteristics can be seen.
These are great, and the size of the group plays into it also. Larger animals often let more folks see what you're talking about.



BB
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I do it all the time when the critters poop- I tell them they do it because that is a defensive reaction, blah blah blah.
:lol: :lol: :lol: I tried this with this wild, 13' Burmese, when, just after the picture snapped, a volunteer came out of the audience to help me corral the animal back into the box.
I gave him the tail end and the python responded by voiding all over his leg. :oops: :oops:


Image


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 Post subject: Re: best reptiles for outreach and educational programs
PostPosted: December 8th, 2014, 12:43 pm 

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Just to put my 2cents in , I think that a gopher snake would be great for your purposes. Calm, but large enough to not get hurt easily. Plus there is the added benefit of teaching kids (and parents) that not all blotched snakes are rattlesnakes, and they don't all "need" to be killed, "just in case". The few gopher snakes I have kept were very willing to be handled, and not flighty or bitey.

Native wise, my guess is that the rubber boa is the least likely to bite, and just super cool any ways.

While not very handleable, you could try bringing in some sharp tail snakes, they are a common species that many people find in their gardens, but know very little about. Tell them not to kill them, as they eat slugs, probably exclusively.


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PostPosted: December 8th, 2014, 2:19 pm 

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 Post subject: Re: best reptiles for outreach and educational programs
PostPosted: December 8th, 2014, 3:25 pm 

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i had a 5 ft red Coach latch onto my nose, in front of a packed house once,,, took a while to get him off... :oops: :lol: :lol: jim


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 Post subject: Re: best reptiles for outreach and educational programs
PostPosted: December 8th, 2014, 6:40 pm 
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My tuatara did a gang sign once and I had to freestyle my way out of detention hall.


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 Post subject: Re: best reptiles for outreach and educational programs
PostPosted: January 7th, 2015, 8:04 pm 
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Thanks all for the suggestions so far! I don't know if I will be taking on any additional animals in the near future but definitely worth thinking about.


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 Post subject: Re: best reptiles for outreach and educational programs
PostPosted: August 23rd, 2017, 12:34 pm 
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I held a companion esa animal care clinic in an institutional setting, the focus was dental and nails care and I clipped alot of chubby chihuahua nails. But the clients had been asking me about the animals I have and I have promised to bring and I brought Cachao and my cali king - all of the clients involved with the electively attended group knew they were coming, regularly ask about them and to see photos I keep on my phone. Still I made a series of announcements to leave the room at any time before I take out the snake.

They all wanted to see the snake.

She is female cali king and handled infrequently, she musked my hands, I knew she would, but the clients thought it was amusing and made some er 'funny' remarks, but listened intently and were fully engaged with 'why', and a couple people ran their fingertips over her back nonetheless, and most touchingly - related to the snake feeling nervous, which being trauma impacted in history of many, kind of got to me, makes me choke up a little more as I think of it now as I write this than at the time. "Put her back.." they said. Not because she was scaring them - but because they didn't want to scare her.

Empathy. It's where it's at. Without some in the outreach paradigm, most facts are forgettable.


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 Post subject: Re: best reptiles for outreach and educational programs
PostPosted: August 23rd, 2017, 1:13 pm 

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I keep a 17 yr old Texas ratsnake and a ball python (both rescues) in my elementary classroom. I am blessed to have a principal who is very supportive and enthusiastic about the natural world. The kids and I take the snakes outside periodically, for UVB, to stretch, and so the kids can see the snakes poop. None of them had ever seen a snake poop before, and elementary kids are WAY interested in all things poop-related.
Inside the classroom, I let them handle the ball python pretty frequently, as he is not very active. The ratsnake, not so much. He's very wiggly and active. We mainly just watch him.
I don't do live feedings. First, because it bothers me personally, and second, because I think sensitive kids might be really traumatized. I know that when I was a nerdy, hypersensitive geeky kid, I would have totally lost my mind over seeing a live feeding.
I have had the ball bite me, once, when he was in feeding mode. I used it as education. I have also had native snakes (that I get called to remove) bite me while kids are watching...I always make sure the kids understand that it's no big deal, it just means the snake is very, very frightened. And then they chant the mantra I taught them: Anything with a mouth will bite if you frighten it.
At my previous school, we had a great impromptu lesson with a garter snake found on the playground which was very defensively snappy. Also a banded watersnake.
To echo an earlier post, I think it's important for kids to see a person get bit and not immediately die. To see that it's really no big deal. Fire ant bites are way worse, in my opinion, which is what I tell the kids.
Still and all...it is SUCH a litigious society...we gotta be way careful. I hope a kid never gets tagged in my classroom...not because of the actual incident, but because of the fallout which could occur.
It is SO HARD to not share the tactile delight of reptiles with kids.
I am very blessed to be at the school I am at.
edited to add: I do bring in wild native snakes from time to time, but I am exceedingly careful, for the parents' peace of mind.


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 Post subject: Re: best reptiles for outreach and educational programs
PostPosted: August 23rd, 2017, 4:18 pm 
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Besides the the trauma-impacted adults I presented with Sooner, Cachao, and Buttercup, I had groups from same org. field trip to my prior place of employ; developmentally disabled adults from a different facility whom I got to know well, Ive shared an experience I think somewhere on the forum that was kind of beautiful to witness, as that was all I did - the chameleon and the two persons looking at her actually made the moment.

But kids were the daily for educational opportunity and curiousity and affection vastly outweighed frightened responses.

Adults of both mainstream or marginalized demographic relate well to the mutual dynamic of fear. When I have talked with people who are afraid of snakes it always comes as a shock that a snake is defensively oriented, that it is prey for many other animals, that a snake can be fearful. Its a very good place to begin.

The ease in tension is palpable when this realization happens. Holding is not enough - it is often I think, interiorly framed as taking on a dare or triumphing through a controlled moment of bravery. It doesn't last without a comprehension of that ethological detail.

Another useful tool is to position oneself below the eye level of the person you are working with. When people are sitting down this can mean kneeling on one knee at their side not directly in front of. I had done this instinctively but found out it was actually researched as therapeutically tactical. When people are standing I invited them to sit down on another seat with me. For me it was an empty bucket flipped over with the other person in a fold chair. Sitting down has simple effect of relaxing the spine, body. The person in the chair was always a little higher than me on the bucket. Again, an ease of composure was immediately apparent.

I also made sure I controlled the event. No excited multiple hands, no eager flurry of taking fair turns, what was "fair" for the animal was asserted as the first concern.

I never received critical feedback for this - though the "turn taking" is canonized as an imperative in presentations. I evened things out in other ways - like letting a kid help me feed another animal, use the pressure sprayer to spray an environment, or doing something really special, like petting my Tegu. So it was learned that patience pays off.


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 Post subject: Re: best reptiles for outreach and educational programs
PostPosted: August 23rd, 2017, 5:05 pm 
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Tamara D. McConnell wrote:

I am very blessed to be at the school I am at.


They could not have a finer Teacher.


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 Post subject: Re: best reptiles for outreach and educational programs
PostPosted: August 24th, 2017, 2:28 am 

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I also made sure I controlled the event. No excited multiple hands, no eager flurry of taking fair turns, what was "fair" for the animal was asserted as the first concern.


Oooooh, I like this very much!


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