A couple weeks ago we went to a local Reptile Rescue Centre for the morning, admittedly with very low expectations.
In an unexpected turn of events, Gemma spent the visit asking when we could leave while Kristopher, who usually mimics her every motion, loved every minute. He has played “Reptile Guy” almost every day since, constantly asking me if I want to hold any of his geckos, scorpions, or snapping turtles (aka: my couch throw pillows).
The snapping turtle turned Gemma off from the start. Mike, “The Reptile Guy”, hauled out this beautiful monster named Muffin and gave us a little demonstration of her jaw power.
Yup, snapped right through the water bottle, soaking those in the splash zone and reinforcing the signs warning you not to stick your fingers into the turtle pond. Naturally, Carl wanted a turn holding the impressive creature, who was still feeling a little snappish.
We then headed over to the more sedate tortoises, who share their home with bearded dragons, one friendly and one not as much. Gemma was just warming up again when the gate was left open as we entered the enclosure and the Reptile Guy jokingly said, “Get in, we don’t want them to get out!”
As the tortoise ambled at tortoise speed in the general direction of the opening, my kids wailed to the 5 other visitors, “GET IN!! HE’S GETTING OUT! GET. IN. Close the door, closethedoor, CLOSE THE DOOR!” Seriously, our family is as least as entertaining as any animal exhibit.
We ventured into the dark room where holding a baby didn’t get me out of holding the scorpion – in fact, I had to convince The Reptile Guy that placing the scorpion on my 8-month-old baby was not a good idea, regardless of when his baby had held her first scorpion. I could just envision Theo taking an eager exploratory bite of the black mama-to-be.
Yup, those hairy pincers were heading for me. I was none too sad to hand it over to my unsuspecting 2-year-old :)
The geckos were more up my alley, but I couldn’t get a hold in edgewise with this little boy around hogging them both!
Just after this picture was taken that front gecko made good on his poised position and leapt straight onto the eyeball of the unsuspecting child nearby who wasn’t interested in holding him – laughing was probably the wrong response, but who could help it?
Kristopher spent as long as he could just chillin’ with his new friend, who surprised him by heading for a comfy shoulder spot, where he made himself right at home.
Gemma felt much better after we left the dark room and even braved holding the snakes, and we’ve agreed that when we go back, which we definitely will, we’ll just ask that Muffin the Snapping Turtle be left in his pond :)
The snakes don’t look too scary when Carl holds them.
And I am apparently incapable of holding things in a way other than the “mom hold”…what a nice snake baby I have.
I could seriously go to zoos and animal rescue centers every day. Every single animal has so many amazing features and unique characteristics, and it’s such a great way for both adults and kids to learn about the incredible complexity of creation and how important our job is as stewards of this earth. I love that kids have no idea that a scorpion is something people might consider “gross” or “scary”, and that they learn to both admire and respect the power of animals in a first-hand way.
Now if I could just control my reaction when it comes to the tarantula…