Introduction and Requirements
Our shows usually last between one and two hours. For small groups little is required: space for the participants and a small area for the presenters and their animal transport containers. For large groups, mall presentations or similar shows, a sound system may be required. Sciensational Sssnakes!! can supply a sound system for an additional charge. The first 20 to 50 minutes of the show is an educational talk. The length can vary between venues and accommodates the age and interest of the audience. Many different topics can be covered. We have performed shows addressing environmental concerns, endangered species, adaptations, geography, math and many more. We can easily adapt to specific program requests, especially those that address the needs of the educational curriculum. Our regular program incorporates most if not all of the listed topics.
What Our Shows Entail
Native Ontario species, the animals that may be encountered in our own province, are a major focus for us, and are featured prominently in virtually every show we do.
In a typical show, we discuss the concept of ectothermy (vs. cold-blooded) and the fact that snakes are not slimy. Our next segment covers snakes’ senses and how they are similar to or different from ours. We cover information about snake feeding and snake habits and behaviours. Of course, we always have an important conservation message to impart. To expand the discussion we cover turtles and other reptiles and the issues they are having in Ontario. During the presentation while we are discussing these topics we are also displaying and introducing various individuals of a variety of native species. There will be garter snakes, and we love to introduce people to water snakes, as they have a very negative reputation which we (and our water snakes) feel is quite undeserved. They have been wonderful employees for us! Endangered species are important to see and learn about, like the largest snake species in Canada, the Black Rat Snake. If time permits we like to show a couple of turtle species, comparing and contrasting a smaller species with our largest native turtle, the Snapper. We discuss the features of these beautiful animals and the problems they encounter because of humankind.
In addition to natives, we use many species of exotic snakes that are not found in the wild in Ontario. Some of these are excellent pet species of snake, while some have interesting characteristics, and others are simply wonderful to handle and play with. If the conditions allow we often bring a large snake, a python or boa, which is typically the finale of our presentation and very popular with the crowds.
After we have finished, it’s the audience’s turn! In such a short time there is a limit to the amount of information we are able to impart, and we often don’t cover some topic or specific information that an audience member is interested in. We have a question-and-answer period to ensure everyone finds out what they want to know. If all the questions are not answered at this time there is still the next section when the participants are free to ask the presenters questions one-on-one.
The Hands-On Experience
The best experience with snakes we have found is a hands-on one. An extremely important component of each show is the portion where every participant is given the opportunity to touch, hold or even wear the snakes. This is a voluntary activity — no one is forced to take part in any way. (Though we love to do lots of encouraging!) There are very important rules to be followed, which are covered at the beginning of this part of the show; we want to ensure the safety of the animals and the enjoyment of the people participating. If possible, we try not to limit the time of this hands-on session, continuing until everyone is satisfied.
A wide variety of custom programs have been performed, including:
• Animal control and SPCA training seminars — staff can learn to identify, handle, and care for, typical pet reptiles, and native Ontario species.
• Corporate themed events, such as “Jungle Night”.
• A seminar for municipal by-law personnel on creating reasonable and enforceable by-laws pertaining to reptiles and amphibians.
• A seminar for highway construction personnel on snakes “at risk” in the highway corridor.
• Workshops about Ontario’s reptiles and amphibians for park interpreters.
• Seminars for Ministry of Natural Resources personnel on reptiles “at risk” in the province.
• Workshops for veterinary technician students and veterinary medicine students.
If you have a particular topic related to reptiles and amphibians, we can build a program around it — just let us know!