My summer has been filled with snakes, lizards and turtles, Oh MY! As an animal programs intern for the special exhibition The Scoop on Poop, I have been learning and educating every day! At the beginning of the internship, I didn’t realize Fernbank Museum had so many live animals. I also didn’t really know ‘how’ to handle a snake or lizard. After training with Fernbank’s animal keeper staff, I’ve been able to lead presentations with the live animals and handle them as we educate guests about animal conservation.
At Fernbank we have a live animal collection consisting of a mammal, some amphibians and mostly reptiles. During the first few weeks of the internship, I quickly warmed up to the smaller snakes in the animal collection. There are larger snakes I’m still getting to know such as the Ball python, Felix, who has a fierce look to him. Before becoming an intern I didn’t know much about snakes but after being around the animals I have learned a lot about them. For example, I now know that there are no python species native to North America.
Education is crucial, especially with reptiles. There are many things people may not realize about reptiles that are important to understanding them. This is one of the many reasons I have loved my time as an intern. Not only do I get to educate guest about the great things these animals have to show us, but I also get to spend personal time with them, meaning…I get to scoop their poop! Although it can sometimes be a dirty job, I thoroughly enjoy performing daily animal care tasks such as preparing salads for the lizards and turtles, collecting shed skin from an enclosure and feeding the amphibians their favorite food--bugs.
While animal care is an important part of my day, I always look forward to taking the animals out for a program. Despite my initial reaction to his menacing looks, I have quickly formed a bond with Felix and I always enjoy sharing him with guests. He is my go-to guy for animal encounters and he always puts on a good show! When you next visit the Museum, you may even see Felix during a Live Animal Encounter!
Editor’s note: Check the “Today at Fernbank” sign when you arrive to see a schedule of events like Animal Encounters.)
Claire Brummeler—The Scoop on Poop Animal Programs Intern