Reptile Day slithers into Davidson April 12
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Friday, Mar. 28, 2014

Reptile Day slithers into Davidson April 12

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/03/25/14/56/snuz0.Em.138.jpeg|237
    - DAVIDSON COLLEGE HERPETOLOGY LAB
    Kids and adults will have a chance to touch, feel and learn about reptiles and amphibians on April 12, when the Davidson College Herpetology Lab will host its 14th annual Reptile Day on campus. For years, the community has been coming out to get up close and personal with local herps and learn about their habitats.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/03/25/14/56/Qu7na.Em.138.jpeg|210
    - DAVIDSON COLLEGE HERPETOLOGY LAB
    Kids and adults will have a chance to touch, feel and learn about reptiles and amphibians on April 12, when the Davidson College Herpetology Lab will host its 14th annual Reptile Day on campus
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/03/25/14/56/11RP84.Em.138.jpeg|210
    - DAVIDSON COLLEGE HERPETOLOGY LAB
    Kids and adults will have a chance to touch, feel and learn about reptiles and amphibians on April 12s. For years, the community has been coming out to get up close and personal with local herps and learn about their habitats.

Davidson College would like you to meet some neighbors.

No need to bring a casserole as a welcoming gesture; that act of goodwill is likely to be lost on this particular group. A juicy rat would be more in line with what they would appreciate.

That’s because these particular neighbors are snakes, turtles and other reptiles local to our area, all of whom will be out greeting the community at the 14th annual Reptile Day from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 12.

The event, presented by the Davidson College Herpetology Lab, will take place in the Blanche Knox Parker Garden between Watson and Dana Science buildings on the campus.

Reptile Day has been a long-standing tradition in Davidson, providing the opportunity for hundreds of local children and adults to get up close and personal with the scaly sort.

Featuring an array of reptiles and amphibians such as snakes, turtles, lizards and salamanders, residents can touch, feel and learn about these creatures that so often seem misunderstood.

The Herpetology Lab hopes to end some of the stigma and misinformation through live animal exhibits and informational booths. Stars of the show include Carmelita, a 15-foot python, and Snap, a baby alligator. Professor Mike Dorcas will also give a talk on venomous snakes.

Davidson College’s Herpetology Lab focuses on the conservation, ecology and physiology of reptiles and amphibians. It’s one of very few programs that provides the opportunity for undergraduates to develop research projects. Outreach programs such as Reptile Day are one of the many ways it extends its research.

Rebecca McKee, a senior environmental studies major from Cashiers, serves as the outreach coordinator for the Herpetology Lab. Besides this event, she said, she and other students do many school talks (from the preschool level all the way up to high school), discussing adaptations, differences between reptiles and amphibians, environments and ecosystems. They also participate in special museum events.

“Outreach is a great way to inspire future scientists and conservationists,” McKee said. “You can really feel the energy and excitement of the kids when we’re out there, and it serves to generate a greater interest in science.”

Education and outreach is especially important for this area, as many don’t realize that herps make up a vital part of Southeastern ecosystems. Many of these animals’ populations have declined in past years, thus increasing the need for understanding.

One of the many tasks of the Davidson College Herpetology Lab is to update the Carolina Herp Atlas. This database provides detailed data on the distribution of reptiles and amphibians in the Carolinas.

Many of those included in the Herp Atlas will be on hand on April 12. Besides hands-on exhibits and educational booths, many local nonprofits will be there to help deliver information about conservation efforts.

Amy Reiss is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Amy? Email her at amysalvatorereiss@gmail.com.

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