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Sherborn Library welcomes reptiles

Animal Handler Joy Marzolf introduces her audience to Desert, the king snake.

By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff

There is always a time for cute critters, most especially these days, since people are spending the majority of their time in their homes. The Sherborn Public Library was happy to rise to the occasion, inviting patrons to attend a Zoom program with Joy Marzolf, whose Joys of Nature program provided the perfect balance of education and fun - with a few of the aforementioned critters thrown in for good measure.

Marzolf began her program with a quick presentation on some of her animal friends. During this time, Marzolf introduced her young audience to different types of turtles, frogs, tortoises, and some other reptiles. She shared their habitats, their diets, and even how they handle the cold. Though Marzolf did not have all of these species with her during the program, she did provide kids with some interesting introductions to animals they may not know about. 

The next portion of the program featured a number of live animals. Marzolf began with a baby painted turtle, a common sighting in New England's wetlands. Marzolf took the time to explain how they live in the water and survive in the winter. “They have to come up for air just like we have to come up for air,“ Marzolf explained. But what do they do in the winter when there’s ice over the water? One kid suggested that turtles take a nap. While it could be considered a sort of nap, these turtles actually hibernate and stay safely below the ice’s surface during the colder months. “But what do they do if they can’t get air?” Marzolf asked. The kids in the audience were silent. “It’s a cool trick. They slow down so much and sure enough, they’re so good at napping, they can breathe so slow that they breathe through their skin,” Marzolf explained.

The next animal was one with a slithery reputation. “Be sure to give all the animals a chance, just like you’d give a potential friend a chance. Because you never know if you’ll find out there a pretty cool animal,” Marzolf said before bringing out a black and white king snake named Desert. “He has a really cool superpower!” said Marzolf. King snakes are immune to all rattlesnakes’ venom. Desert took the opportunity to move around his handler’s arm as Marzolf told her audience about the snake.

Irwin, the bearded dragon, was the last animal to join the fun. Named after famous naturalist Steve Irwin, this little reptile’s species has its roots in Australia. Irwin, too, had his own superpower, just like the other animals shown during the presentation. Marzolf pointed to a dot on his head. “He’s got a third eye!” she exclaimed. “He can see light and dark, meaning that if he’s sleeping and predator flies over, he can sense it,” Marzolf explained. It gives him the perfect opportunity to escape without the predator expecting it. Irwin can also change color to regulate his temperature. “He doesn’t have to put on a sweater to do that,” joked Marzolf. 

During the program, the young audience was able to learn about animals that they may have never had the chance to interact with before, all from the safe distance of their computer screens. It served as a great chance to meet some of their scaly friends from outside, and across the world - and to remind them of the curious treasures that await them once the world is through with COVID-19.

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