On April 5th, EcoReach members, Katie and Ashley, packed up a variety of reptiles and amphibians and made their way to the Athens-Clarke County Public Library for this month’s Teen Event. Katie and Ashley started out with amphibians, introducing students to a Southern toad (Anaxyrus terrestris) and a spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) while discussing the defining features of amphibians and their sensitivity to environmental conditions. From slimy to scales, they moved on to reptiles by first bringing out two charismatic turtle species: the Eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina) and the Eastern diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin), showing off their durable shells and variable limb morphology that makes them expert forest stompers or swift swimmers! The final group of friends were a series of snakes: an Eastern kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula), a corn snake (Pantherophis gutattus), and a juvenile Northern watersnake (Nerodia sipedon). Many students faced there fear, holding or touching a snake for the first time! Katie and Ashley discussed the role of snakes in the ecosystem and the importance of identifying any snake before approaching it!
All the animals used for this program were education animals from Dr. John Maerz’s lab in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. Learn more about the herpetology outreach they do on their lab page https://www.maerzlab.com/.