Sciensational Sssnakes!!

Conservation Through Education

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Spring Volunteer Weekend, June 11-12

Once again, volunteers from across Ontario will be coming here to do various nature park projects on the weekend of June 11-12. We hope that you will be able to join us!

Projects will be quite weather dependent, but may include: bridge construction, fencing the slider pond, building the outdoor wood turtle pond, continuing construction of the main pond viewing/teaching platform, firewood stacking, exotic vegetation removal, and lots of other fun stuff. There are some indoor projects, too, in case it rains, though if the weather forecast looks really bad we may postpone the event until June 25-26.

We expect to get started fairly early on Saturday, around 9:00, though depending upon driving distances some will arrive later. And you don't have to come for the whole weekend- some people only come for the Saturday, or just Sunday afternoon, etc. We have lots of room for tents, and possibly even a couple of beds available!

Last fall, for the first time, we had all of the food for the weekend donated by local restaurants (Swiss Chalet, Theo's, and Tops Pizza) and stores (No Frills), so we hope to be as successful this spring! Donations of food (and anything else) are always welcome!

And, of course, there will be the ever-popular Saturday night pool party, so don't forget your bathing suit!

If you aren't familiar with our plans to convert the property into a conservation education centre focused on Ontario's reptiles, amphibians, and fish, check out the Scales Nature Park link on the left side menu of this page to see some more details and some pictures, including some from previous volunteer weekends.

Please let me know if you are interested in participating, and feel free to pass on the invitation to anyone you think might be interested in helping out.

Posted by Jeff Hathaway at 8:59 AM | Comments (0)  

Friday, May 27, 2005

Turtle nesting season!

It looks like turtle nesting season is upon us here in central Ontario. This week, while on the way to a program, we moved a large female Blanding's turtle off of the road west of Coldwater. It was a pretty cool sighting since they are not very numerous on the south side of Severn Sound. Of course, we reported it to the Georgian Bay Reptile Awareness Program ( which tracks sightings of rare reptiles within the watershed. This turtle appeared to be returning to a nearby pond, and no eggs could be felt within her so it is possible that she had just finished nesting. This seems a little early, but we have had a fair bit of hot sunny weather to speed up the egg development.

Anyhow, the important thing is to keep an eye out for turtles on the road over the next month, as nesting females will be wandering in search of a good place to lay their eggs. If we want to have turtles around in the future, it is critical that we do not kill these reproducing females (or take them home, but that's a subject for a future entry). Turtles have evolved a life history where the babies are very likely to get eaten, but the few that do survive live for many decades. Each female has to lay eggs for 30 years or more just to keep the population stable! Highways and cars have reversed the situation- now adult females are at great risk if there is a roadway nearby, and there aren't many places in southern Ontario without roads! So drive carefully, and if you see a turtle, please try to move it off of the road (in the same direction it was going, don't take it to a nearby pond) if you can safely do so. If you find one that has been hit and is still alive with a cracked shell, it is possible that it could be saved. The Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre ( has been making great strides in turtle rehabilitation. They are in Peterborough, and I would highly recommend that injured turtles be taken there!

Posted by Jeff Hathaway at 9:16 PM | Comments (2)  

Monday, May 09, 2005

The Eastern Canada Tour

Now that the announcement has been made in the CARCNET newsletter, I'll post it here as well.

We are partnering with the Canadian Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Network ( to present our programs throughout eastern Canada this summer! Though the scope of the tour remains to be determined, we hope to spend some time in Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and PEI promoting reptile conservation at parks, libraries, museums, summer camps, and other venues. We've never taken our program east of Ottawa before, so we're looking forward to covering some new territory! If you have any suggestions regarding locations we should include in our program schedule, feel free to send us the info.

Why the partnership with CARCNET? We're members of this fine organization ourselves, and we support their goals of reptile and amphibian conservation in Canada. One of their aims is to undertake public education that raise awareness about reptiles and amphibians, so it is natural that we would want to assist them with this. Of course, we also hope to find some new members amongst the crowds at our shows! Another reason is related to the logistics of organizing such a tour. We have always operated on a fee-for-service basis in the past, mostly to avoid the long-term difficulties associated with funding instability that many groups face. However, to organize an extended tour efficiently over such long distances, we need to make it very affordable (even better- free!) for all of the venues. This means we need external funding, and by partnering with a charitable organization such as CARCNET we are able to access a larger pool of funding resources.

So the scope of this tour will be largely dependent upon the outcome of our fundraising campaign- any assistance with this is appreciated! We've had good luck so far with some individual donations and in-kind contributions, but not much luck with corporate sponsorship. What more could a company want- smiling, happy kids learning about species at risk in a variety of settings over thousands of kilometres with extensive media coverage and on-line interactivity?

Posted by Jeff Hathaway at 9:55 AM | Comments (2)  

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The Passing of Nibblets

With sadness, we announce the passing of Nibblets, one of our oldest snakes. Nibblets was an amelanistic (sometimes known as "red albino") corn snake (Elaphe guttata). He was one of our original four corn snakes that we imported from a university student in Pennsylvania by the name of Ryan Arner. We obtained these four baby corn snakes in 1994 when we started doing our educational programs. Cream, Cob, and Kernel were the others; Nibblets was the last one to go, at the age of 11. This is fairly old for a corn snake, though some do live longer.

Nibblets was a regular in our programs, and it would be reasonable to estimate that he was held by somewhere between 50 and 100 thousand people over the years. He also appeared in at least a few newspapers along the way, in the hands of smiling children.

We planted a tree on Sunday, a Red Pine to represent his colours, as a memorial. Actually, we planted about 20, since we had to plant them anyway...

Nibblets is survived by Husk, Silk, Stalk, Peaches, Ear, Sweet and quite a few other corn snakes, some of which still need names. Eventually, we'll probably name another one Nibblets, but not for a while, and the original will always be remembered.

So farewell, Nibblets, and thank you for years of service in helping to convince people to respect, or even like, snakes. We'll miss you!

Posted by Jeff Hathaway at 10:27 AM | Comments (1)