Summer reading program wraps up with reptiles
by Hawkins Teague
Aug 02, 2006 | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kids at the John L. Street test their courage as Shasha McCracken from Land Between the Lakes’ Nature Station offers them a prairie king snake. (From left) Amanda Batley, Justin Batley, Logan Ennis, Romaine Cunningham, Devanie Cunningham, Stillton Broadbent and Caleb McIntosh.
Kids at the John L. Street test their courage as Shasha McCracken from Land Between the Lakes’ Nature Station offers them a prairie king snake. (From left) Amanda Batley, Justin Batley, Logan Ennis, Romaine Cunningham, Devanie Cunningham, Stillton Broadbent and Caleb McIntosh.
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Touching snakes isn’t anything new for Devanie Cunningham. Just last week, he and a friend had an encounter with a chicken snake that was resting on top of a fence. They touched it, poked it with a stick and then promptly took off running.

The next day, Devanie was at the John L. Street Library in a more controlled environment for the afternoon session of the children’s summer reading program. The afternoon session was geared toward kids aged seven to 12, and it was final day of the month-long program known as “Paws, Claws, Scales and Tales.” Shasha McCracken of the Land Between the Lakes Nature Station brought a box turtle, an alligator snapping turtle, a tiger salamander, a Cope’s Gray tree frog and a prairie king snake to show the children.

As McCracken showed the children in the afternoon session the alligator snapping turtle, she told them it was eight years old.

“He’s almost older than me!” one boy exclaimed, possibly not realizing that some alligator snapping turtles live longer than 100 years.

The snapping turtle was too dangerous to touch, and the tree frog had to stay in its plastic container because of its sensitive skin, McCracken said. This wasn’t the case with the snake, however. Although some children were a bit reticent about getting close to the snake or touching it, many of them were delighted.

“What do you think they eat?” McCracken asked the children.

“Anything they can get their hands on!” laughed Claudia Jones, who was there with her granddaughter, Jordon.

McCracken told the kids that the prairie king snake usually eats mice and any eggs it can find. It can unhinge its jaw to swallow its prey whole.

After McCracken took the snake around the room for the children to lay their fingers on its scaly skin, it was time for children’s librarian Tammy Sholar to serve the kids cake and draw names for prizes. This had to wait, though, until after McCracken made sure they had all used hand sanitizer and washed their hands too.

For the rest of this story, read this week's Cadiz Record.
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