The text message said "The kids would like to invite you to this event this afternoon." There was a link that took me to the BNP Family Fun Fest page. The event for the day was called In Cold Blood and featured lizards and turtles and snakes--oh my! I could just hear the grandkids giggling as they told their dad to invite us. They know my feelings about snakes.
Bravely I said we would meet them there. We had about a forty minute drive to get there and an errand to run along the way but we still got there first. It was good we did because I got to watch the program with the live critters first. I could stand in the back of the crowd and not be anywhere near the two snakes the herpetologist presented.
The show was very informative and when we saw it a second time with the kids we learned even more tidbits of information. The most interesting was telling the difference between an alligator and a crocodile. Both inhabit the Florida waters. Basically the crocodile has a pointier snout and when it closes its mouth you can still see its teeth. Of course that presupposes you stick around long enough to observe closely when the animal closes its mouth.
The turtle was cute actually and when the herpetologist talked about how this species' numbers had been reduced because people made turtle soup of it before it was protected, the kids all made sympathetic noises that expressed their disgust at the thought of hot turtle soup.
And then there were the snakes. In the first show the herpetologist lost a couple kids in the first row when he pulled out the first one, a blue indigo snake that was actually from Texas. The Florida population was decreasing. It was non poisonous and actually eats other snakes. The snake went up a notch in my admiration of him at that little fact.
The next snake was all but booed as he was pulled from his box. It was a Burmese python about 12 feet long. The pythons are a big problem in Florida. The herpetologist emphasized that if anyone was considering buying a small one as a pet they should understand that it will grow quite quickly and there is no where to take it when it outgrows the home. And therein lies the problem. Zoos have more than they can handle so many people have just taken their pets and let them go in the Everglades. The environment is such that they can actually thrive and therefore reproduce. Each year there are python hunts but it doesn't seem to be making a very big dent. What truly suffers is the natural small animals of the area, the rabbits, small birds and even some larger ones as well as small deer.
The park had several stations set up where the kids could learn more about the reptiles. We learned about natural camouflage, made origami turtles, and learned several new facts about turtles. When the kids had been to each station they took their punched tickets to the gift shop and received a button pin they could wear.
It was a great afternoon and it was FREE! If you are near a National Park, check out their events. You might be missing some great opportunities.