Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Quinte Conservation, Nature Day

Warning; this blog contains many graphic images of children
 and adults holding snakes; 
Viewer discretion is advised
Ophidiophobics (people who don't like snakes) may not want to read this blog

"Please can I have a snake?  P - L - E - A - S- E!  I will take such good care of it."  This is pretty much the loop track that we have been hearing since last week-end.  Riley has fallen in love with snakes, corn  snakes to be exact.  Why this love affair with snakes?  We have Quinte Conservation to thank for that one.

    I don't want to sound like a broken record or anything, but you may recall me sharing that this was the summer of "Free / Low Fee Fun" (a few hundred times or so).  I have made it my goal to fill my children's summer with really fun activities that will enrich their summer and just be good plain fun, but all of this without breaking, or for that matter even gently denting the bank.  Back at the beginning of summer Gracie read about "Monarch Madness".  This was an event sponsored by Quinte Conservation that allowed children to learn more about Monarch Butterflies and help with their preservation.  The event was "free".  Unfortunately it was on a day that we had other plans, so we were unable to go.  Then I was invited by a friend on facebook to attend Monarch Madness in Madoc.  I was all in.

    The bonus for the event was that my niece and nephew were down visiting my parents for the week, so that meant that they were able to come too.  It made it all the more fun for the kids to be able to share this activity together.  Everyone knows that cousins make the world a better place!

    When we arrived at the Madoc Skate Park, a talk about snakes was well under way.  We quietly found a seat and listened to what remained of the informative talk.  The two representatives from The Quinte Conservation were talking about what a bad idea it is to have a snake as a pet.  You should never take an animal from the wild to make it a pet!  Corn snakes were alright pets because they have bred for captivity.  They originally come from a temperate climate, as opposed to a tropical climate, so they do not require any special heating lamps or areas.  The whole idea was if you have done all your homework, and are prepared to properly look after it, then "corn snakes", and pretty much only "corn snakes" make great pets (I should qualify this statement when I say corn snakes only make good pets. This is in relation to wild snakes, and turtles and the like.  The wild should remain wild).

    After the talk the children (and adults) were invited to come up and touch or hold one of the corn snakes or the Burmese python (python's do not make good pets).  My guys were all a little tentative at first, not my dare devil nephew.  Nate waited patiently for his turn, but he was quite keen to hold a snake.  Riley, our next dare devil was next.  This was how she fell in love.

    We had an amazing afternoon.  I have to admit I was a little taken with the snakes myself, brave me, even held one.  I didn't hold it long because although the nice young man said they didn't bite, I was a little uncomfortable when he started sniffing at me with his tongue (just to clarify it was the snake who was sniffing me, not the helpful young man).

    This was a really nice opportunity that was provided for us by a great group, Quinte Conservation.  The people they had there were friendly and outgoing and knowledgeable.  They have that rare gift that is so important when working most especially with children, they were passionate, and excited and therefore passed that excitement along.  By exciting and interesting children at a young age, they can capture them before the rest of the world does.  By creating nature lovers they help to mold people who respect nature and want to preserve it.  To me anyone who could hurt an animal, would easily think nothing of doing the same to a person.  People who respect and help animals carry that same respect to their fellow humans.  By introducing the children to snakes, one of the most reviled creatures, they dispel misinformation.  We fear what we do not know, and knowledge is the ultimate power.  Snakes are not slimy, they are not aggressive by nature unless provoked (and honestly who would not defend themselves if they felt that they were in danger).  The snakes felt like silk, they move in an almost hypnotic way, they are really quite lovely.

    There were a few different types of snakes and turtles and a toad on display in aquariums.  The people there were extremely knowledgeable and helpful.  The kids all left with big smiles on their faces, feeling more informed about the wildlife that they had seen.

    What a lovely day we had in the glorious warm weather.  See, fun does not have to cost a lot of money, it just takes thought!

Stay tuned tomorrow for the rest, the Monarch Madness portion.

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