Scott Shupe, a naturalist from the Kentucky Reptile Zoo, visited with the students on October 23rd.
By Jenna Paul
Scott Shupe, a naturalist from the Kentucky Reptile Zoo, visited with the students on October 23rd. Mr. Shupe had always known that he wanted to work with reptiles; he just was not sure how he was going to do it. After going to a local college, he went to Florida and obtained a job at a venom lab. Scott showed the students many different kinds of reptiles such as a Boa Constrictor, a Ball Python, a King Snake, and a Corn Snake. He also showed them a Tegu Lizard and a Legless Lizard. Then he produced a 25-year-old tortoise. Wow!
Did you know that snakes do not have eyelids? They keep their eyes open at all times. Snakes are one of the only vertebrates that do not have legs. They also do not have ears but instead, they have nerves on their belly to help them taste the odor in the air. The non-venomous Boa Constrictor was six feet long, but they can reach a length of twelve to fourteen feet. The Python he brought was from Africa. It had a cryptic pattern known as camouflage.
Lizards are very similar to snakes. They have almost an identical structure, but lizards normally have legs. However, the Legless Lizard has the same features as a normal lizard; it is just missing legs! The Tegu Lizard lives in South America. Did you know if you grab a lizard’s tail and it is afraid, it can break its tail off? The tail can also regrow or regenerate after it breaks off!
Did you know that the tortoise wears his skeleton? The tortoise has a special adaptation that allows his shell to be made out of bone. His major organs are fused into the shell and protected by the bone-like structure on his back. The tortoise is hatched with the shell, and as they grow so do their shells.
To cure snake bites, hospitals carry anti-venom. Scientists have discovered that if they use a large animal such as a horse, they can produce anti-venom. Anti-venom is made when antibodies come in contact with the venom. Scientists then extract portions of the blood from the horse, which is then processed and made into the anti-venom found in hospitals. The medical field has found that certain enzymes found in some snake’s venom can be useful such as to help prevent blood clotting, other venoms clot blood while some venoms can help those who suffer from Epilepsy.
Mrs. Walker and Miss Coon were given a snake test to end the lesson. This was not like the tests we have in science or math, but instead, they had to hold onto the snake for a count of ten! They both passed their test! Overall, the students had a very educational time learning about the snakes, lizards and tortoises.