Sharing a passion for cold-blooded creatures

  • August 11, 2013 | Carl Schloms – Senior herpetologist

Face-to-face with a bearded dragon

My passion for reptiles began as an eight-year-old schoolboy. On the way home from school, I would walk past a local park and lift the water meter covers to see my favourite snakes staring up at me.

Never could I have dreamed that my early fascination with snakes would one day become my profession.

The opportunity to share my passion for these animals – amphibian and reptile – is an opportunity I cannot resist.

Early in August, co-worker Lesley Labuschagne and I were asked to present some of the animals from our Dangerous Creatures exhibit to learners from Golden Hours School, an invitation that turned out to be one of my most memorable reptile interactions.

Herpetologist Lesley Labuschagne introduces a snake to the children

I decided to take two royal pythons, as they are the most placid of snakes and rarely bite. The snakes do not grow very large, which makes them perfect educational and interaction animals. Lesley took the bearded dragons.

Most of the group of approximately 30 learners instantly embraced the opportunity to meet these special animals, while only a few were apprehensive. It was not long before everyone in the group was interacting with, and learning more about, these fascinating reptiles.

Generally, within a group of primary school learners we find a few eager children who, although initially fearful, overcome their inner feelings and embrace a unique opportunity to interact one-on-one with a snake.

A group of Golden Hours learners share their reptile interaction

The Golden Hours children fed off each other's enthusiasm, which left Lesley and I able to focus on teaching them about the importance of reptiles.

A system was soon set up to afford each child the chance to experience the snakes and bearded dragons, as they clamoured around us.

Never before have I seen a group of learners so fascinated and intrigued by reptiles, and I recognised the potential of a few future herpetologists in the making. 

It was a thoroughly rewarding day all round.
 

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