SNAKES ALIVE! Cast Away Club Kids Enjoy Reptilian Roundup

By Doug Painter - painter.doug@yahoo.com
Courtesy of CCA

As part of the Skidaway Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association’s (CCA) youth nature education initiative, Landings Association Community Programs Manager Kristin Peney, Ed. D., brought several of her slithering friends – a corn or red rat snake and a milk snake – for a hands-on lesson on the value and role that snakes play on our island home.

Peney’s presentation took place this past Saturday (August 24) at CCA’s Outdoor Education Center located at the Kids’ Fishing Lagoon adjacent to Log Landing Road and the Oakridge Fire Station. Following seminars on bees and bats in June and July, this was the third CCA Cast Away Club program this summer, and more than 25 youngsters and their families attended this far-from-“everyday” show-and-tell event.

Peney, who recently earned her doctorate degree in education, made the point that, “Snakes on our island provide a beneficial service in pest control (all snakes are carnivores) as they feed on mice, rats, and moles in our area. It’s natural for a snake to startle us, but it’s best to back away and let the snake escape so it can continue its pest control service for us.”

Youngsters enjoyed handling the snakes and learning more about them. Peney pointed out, for example, that snakes lay in the sun because they are ectothermic, needing an outside source to warm their bodies; and, most snakes are good at climbing trees and walls because the scales on their stomachs “catch” on the texture of what they’re climbing.

Ken Zike, a Skidaway Chapter CCA volunteer who has managed the program this summer, noted that parents seemed to enjoy Kristin’s presentation as much as their children. Youngsters and their parents had the opportunity to fish after the program with rods, reels, and bait provided by CCA.

Our next Cast Away Club nature seminar, a program on diamondback terrapins presented by Carolyn McInerney, will be on Saturday, September 21 from 9 to 11 a.m. at the CCA Outdoor Education Center at the Kids’ Fishing Lagoon.