Friday, July 18, 2014

Misunderstood monsters

Afraid of snakes? Who knew?

Frankenstein's monster was created by Mary Shelley on a dark and stormy night in 1818. Born in lightning, he was afraid of fire. But rumor has it that Ijams' own Frankenpine is also terrified of fire...and snakes.

Who knew?

He stopped by Ijams' Monsters! Monsters! Nature Day Camp this week to learn more about our scaly friends and to seek some advice about dealing with his ophidiophobia (an abnormal fear of snakes).

It's a good thing our nature campers are snake experts! They taught him all about the habits of our local snakes and the important role they play in various ecosystems. 

After the campers interviewed Frankenpine learning of his phobias, they went to the Ijams' Homesite to look for reptiles and amphibians. The second, third and fourth graders found three water snakes, plus oodles of frogs. 

Like Frankenpine, northern water snakes are often persecuted. People bludgeon them thinking they are killing water moccasins but the venomous cottonmouths are not found in the Tennessee Valley. Northern water snakes are not monsters, they're harmless unless you are a frog.

Not everything in nature that seems like a monster, be it spider, snake, wolf, bat, hawk, crawdad, vulture or creepy, crawly millipede, is a monster. Monster! Monster! Nature Day Camp is designed to separate the fact from the fiction.
FYI: The original movie Frankenstein starring Boris Karloff was the number one box office hit of 1931. 

- Jenny Newby, Guest blogger. Frankie photos by Jill Sublett. Other photos by Katie Plank. Monster wrangler, Cam Basden 

Yes. I'm afraid of snakes. Can you help me?

Northern water snake (Nerodia sipedon)

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