As part of Citizens for Conservation's youth education programs and local Leave No Child Inside efforts, a class on native and nonnative reptiles and amphibians was held at the Barrington Hills Riding Center. Volunteers from Friends of Spring Creek and Citizens for Conservation, in addition to Rob Carmichael of the Wildlife Discovery Center in Lake Forest, held the attention of both parents and children.
Class participants first viewed the giant South American Suriname marine toad. Uninflated, the toad looks like a leaf, but once inflated with air, an adult toad can become the size of a dinner plate. Next to make an appearance were an alligator snapping turtle and an infant American alligator. Everyone was surprised when they felt the extremely soft underbelly of the alligator.
The Sumatran water monitor was next, and one could hear an audible sigh while audience members leaned back in the safety of their chairs. This lizard was easily 5 to 6 feet long, with a long, red tongue that eagerly flicked from its mouth to smell its surroundings. Monitors are excellent swimmers and are carnivores.
Carmichael introduced two newly hatched bull snakes, one an albino. He passed around two eggs so everyone could feel the sturdiness of a reptilian egg. This is an egg that will bounce rather than easily crack when dropped. In addition, he showed a Western fox snake and a Sinaloan milk snake, a species of king snake that resembles a coral snake and has very smooth and shiny, wet-looking scales.
The audience viewed, discussed and held a ball python and Indian python, touching the bumpy and reticulated scales. Everyone learned that all snakes are important since they eat rodents, andscientists are starting to unlock the secrets of how their venom can be used to cure diseases like cancer, Alzheimer's, diabetes, stroke, and much more. …