Hometown Weekly Reporter
July 16 was “World Snake Day,” so when Curious Creatures brought its live animal program to the Mitchell Elementary School on Tuesday, you knew they would bring some of the oft-feared reptile with them.
Looking to make a big splash right off the bat, Nikolas Parent immediately brought out the snakes - in this case, a California king snake and a corn snake. Parent explained that the king snake is named as such because it eats other snakes, including venomous snakes, while the corn snake is so named because it is often found in corn fields eating the mice that live there.
While those snakes drew some ooh’a and aah’s, it was nothing compared to the gasps the crowd made when Parent and his helper brought out Caramel and Coco, the red-tailed boa constrictors. Parent walked around the room and let the kids touch the snake’s tail, while the animal’s head dangled behind his back. This provided some hilarious moments when a kid would find himself face to face with the snake (which can grow up to fifteen feet long) as Parent turned to let other children pet Coco’s tail.
On a couple occasions, the Curious Creatures representatives would try and quiet the children by explaining that for many of the animals that depend on their senses to avoid predators, loud noises sound really loud to them and would hurt their ears.
This was a tough ask, though, as so many kids became excited when the animals were brought out of their boxes and would squeal in anticipation.
While snakes were the scariest (and therefore most exciting) animals, Parent had others that the children were far more comfortable being around. He introduced the kids to a Himalayan mountain rabbit, which looks like it could be a basic pet, if not for its red eyes.
“Usually, the only animals that have red eyes are going to be albinos” he explained. “It’s kind of crazy because we know why they have them, but not how they got them. That’s still a mystery.”
When Parent brought out the bearded dragons, he explained that the ate insects - which drew a couple “ewws” from the kids sitting on the floor. When he later explained that they could also eat vegetables like carrots and kale, one of the camp counselors standing on the edge of the room said “eww,” which caused his friend to chuckle.
Other creatures included a pair of chinchillas which took dust bathes in diatomaceous earth balls before the kids touched them, and a lionhead rabbit with the suddenly-relevant name of Mufasa.
Snakes are one of the most feared animals in the world, but on World Snake Day, the kids of Needham got to go face to face with an animal many adults want no part of - and seemed more than happy to do so.