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specialist time

At the preschool we offer specialist programs for the children. Once a week they do gymnastics with Mr. J, and once a month we enjoy a program from MegaScience. This month, however, MegaScience had a conflict, so we enlisted the help of another science professional. Can you guess what's in these boxes?

Did you guess reptiles? If you did, you'd be correct.

This is a 7-year-old yellow-footed tortoise, native to the upper regions of South America. She was the first animal introduced to us by Hannah of Reptile Specialists, the only store in town specializing in reptiles. Through their store Hannah and her husband, Ian, provide a valuable resource to Tucson reptile enthusiasts. When they aren't running their store, they bring their reptiles to schools and birthday parties to educate children.

As you can see, our kids were enthusiastic.

Hannah brought us a hands-on experience second to none. Here the children pet a large lizard with spiney sides and a heavy, armored tail. I can't remember what this one was called. He was a slow-moving, lazy lizard. Some of the children were very eager to touch the animals...

And some of the children weren't. Sue preferred to look at this Australian lizard rather than touch it.

A certain teacher was easily persuaded to touch the animals. That's my hand holding up a leopard gecko for a serious face-to-face with one of my kids.

There were two leopard geckos. One of them was shedding, and we got to feel the difference between them, and see the difference in coloration.

This is a crested gecko, which faced extinction but is now prolific as breeders find them easy to manage. Hannah bred this one to be a pretty yellow color.

We learned that some lizards are diggers and some lizards are climbers, and you can tell by their feet which habitat they prefer. Digging lizards have long, sharp claws that cut and move dirt easily, while climbing lizards have rounded, ridged toe pads that help them cling to vertical surfaces.

I really liked the crested gecko, but some of the kids weren't so sure...

Finally, the snakes. My little buddy JJ was as excited as I was to meet this female cornsnake. Corn snakes come in all different colors, thanks to selective breeding.

Then Hannah pulled out the big snake, this 30-pound Argentinian boa named Amidala. This is Hannah's own pet.

Amidala wasn't the least bit shy about meeting the children.

I wasn't at all shy about meeting Amidala.

It's an amazing amount of weight, distributed unlike any weight I've carried before. Just a mass of muscles, rippling and moving and clinging, finding purchase. Snakes are fascinating.

I hope to meet one again.

Thanks, Hannah, for bringing your pets to school. And thanks, kids, for listening so well and showing them such respect.


Momma_Dee said…
Pretty incredible to see my "little girl" with a snake shawl around her shoulders!

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