Snakes alive at Indian Land Middle School

Special to The Fort Mill TimesMarch 24, 2014 

— Science came alive at Indian Land Middle School Friday as seventh-graders and their teachers were treated to a presentation by herpetologist Ron Cromer and hands-on time with his reptilian menagerie.

The visit was coordinated by seventh grade science teacher Brittany Major.

Rosie, aBurmese Python who required seven ILMS teachers to lift her, was a fan favorite, as was Tarzan, a 15 year-old iguana.

“My favorite animal was probably Tarzan because it was really big and spontaneous and really crazy,” said seventh-grader Ashley Patterson.

Cromer previously worked on a Louisiana snake farm and at the San Antonio zoo as a reptile keeper and assistant to the curator. He has been lecturing full-time since 1982.

“Many students are fearful about snakes because they don’t know much about them, so having a hands-on program like this allows them to ‘first-hand, close up and personal’ become acquainted with snakes. At the same time that they are petting the snakes, they are also learning about snakes and the environment, the ecosystem, how snakes play a major role in the food web, and how, being part of the ecosystem, snakes need to be protected, especially harmless species,” Cromer said.

Cromer also notes that while learning about new animals can be exciting, keeping a captive reptile as a pet is not for everyone. The average life span of many pet reptiles can be 10 years or more, and the decision to purchase one should not be taken lightly.

“Legally you can buy a number of different kinds of snakes, but I would not encourage that in general without beforehand realizing the responsibility involved. Taking care of any kind of animal requires responsibility and requirements based on the need of that particular animal. Before anybody should get any kind of snake, they need to determine if they can take care of it, because if an animal’s in a cage it cannot take care of itself,” Cromer said.

For more information about the Snakes Alive program, go to snakesaliveinc.com.

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