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Creepy crawleys thrill local kids at library

snake_show1.jpg

Photo by Jim Wallace
There were big bugs, long snakes and lots of ooooos and ahhhhhhs Friday as the Georgia Southern Raptor Center was front and center at the Thomson-McDuffie County Library.

As the center's Thomas Sheffield and Katherine Roche unveiled Madagascar cockroaches and snakes from an 11-foot python to a black racer, most of the 142 children were paying close attention and some even got to pet and hold some of the creatures. A Eurasian Owl and a Red Tail Hawk were also on hand to keep an eye on things.

"I wasn't scared at all, well maybe a little. Yeah, a little," said 10-year-old Kate Coleman after she got to hold a Madagascar cockroach.

Five-year-old Cameron Fountain noted the 11-foot python as his favorite. "It was smooth. I didn't think he would bite me because the man said he wouldn't. It was a big snake that got me."

Jacob Herndon, 9, agreed that the python, the biggest species in the world, was his favorite. "He was long and a little scary. But I liked him," he said.

While the event was a see and touch event, it was also the source for safety tips, encouraging those gathered to exercise caution with snakes.

"They are scared of you too," he told the youngsters. "Just assume they are dangerous and find an adult."

Mr. Sheffield also provided facts and dispelled some rumors associated with some of the featured animals.

snake_show2.jpg

Kate Coleman reacts to a large cockroach on her hand.
Photo by Jim Wallace
"The black racer will not chase you and whip you as many say," he said. "Only 10 people on average die in the U.S annually from snake bites. Horses kill over 500 people a year. Incidents surrounding dogs claim between 200 and 300, while ball point pen caps cause in the area of 100 deaths a year"

Mr. Sheffield spoke of another interesting fact surrounding venomous snakebites and men.

"Between 90 and 95 percent of all venomous snake bites happen to white males between the ages of 18 and 25 who have a blood alcohol content of 0.2 or higher," he said.

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Web posted on Friday, June 11, 2004


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