Browse My Site

Products & ServicesPRODUCTS & SERVICES


This Week's ScuttlebuttTHIS WEEK'S


Sharing IdeasSHARING

Interesting LinksINTERESTING

Special OffersSPECIAL



This Week's Scuttlebutt


Superstitions and Religious Beliefs
There are many superstitions about snakes. Some people believe that hairs taken from the mane or tail of a horse and placed in stagnant water will turn into slender snakes. In some very early religions, the snake was the cohort of the mother goddess and symbolized fruitfulness and renewal. In some modern religions, the snake symbolizes evil.

Serpents as Symbols of Healing
People have believed in the healing power of serpents for thousands of years. In ancient Greece, at the temple of Aesculapius, the god of healing, large, yellow, nonpoisonous snakes were trained to lick the wounds of patients. Statues of Aesculapius usually show the god holding a staff with a serpent coiled around it. Today, the serpent coiled around a staff is the symbol of the medical profession.

Garter Snakes in the Classroom

Garter snakes make good classroom pets. They are easily maintained, and their presence in the classroom can remove many of the misunderstandings and superstitions that children often have about snakes. But negative feelings should be respected; if a child is fearful, he/she should not be ridiculed or forced to touch the garter snake.

To avoid frightening the animal, always handle a garter snake properly. Hold it securely with one hand just behind the head. Use the other hand to support the rest of its body. After being handled a few times, garter snakes usually become docile. Even so, they should always be held with two hands to provide support and to prevent thrashing around.

Garter snakes can be hard to find outdoors because they are secretive and well-camouflaged. When found, they can be brought to school. But it is important to accurately identify a snake before it is picked-up! Many venomous species closely resemble non-venomous species. Garter snakes can also be ordered from biological supply companies or purchased from local pet stores.

A cage for a garter snake must have good ventilation, smooth interior walls, a secure cover, and plenty of space. A standard aquarium, with lid, will work fine. Wire screens can be used to cover the top of the cage but wire should not be used on the floor of the cage. (Snakes crawl.) Paper towels are easy to change and will keep the cage dry. Do not use wood shavings in a snake's cage; the snake might ingest the shavings along with its food.
..... The cage should have a forked stick for climbing and one or two rough rocks for rubbing against while shedding.
..... Fresh water, daily, is very important. Use an open, shallow dish that is not easily tipped. The snake will drink the water and will occasionally soak itself.

Garter snakes eat small amphibians, fish, and earthworms. However, garter snakes swallow their food whole and do not kill their prey before devouring it. Since the struggle between a snake and its prey can be gruesome, it is better to feed the snake when children are not around.
..... Most garter snakes can live well on a diet of earthworms. Place the earthworms, one at a time, in front of the snake. You can also place small live minnows in the snake's water dish. Snakes rarely overeat; a good meal once or twice a week is sufficient. But be sure the snake always has fresh water.

Just before a garter snake sheds its skin, its eyes become cloudy, it becomes lethargic, and may refuse to eat. During periods of rapid growth, this can take place several times in a season. Shedding begins around the mouth and the snake literally crawls out of its skin. In the wild, garter snakes rub against vegetation. Be sure to keep some rough rocks in the cage to help the snake shed its skin.

When the school year is over, the garter snake, like any other living creature, must be dealt with responsibly. If the garter snake was collected locally, it can be released back into its natural habitat. If the garter snake is not native to the area, or has been purchased, it should not be released. Sometimes, animals in the classroom can be given to students or to other teachers, but animals should not be given to students without written consent from the parent or guardian. You can also ask at your local pet store if the store will accept, or even purchase, the garter snake.

What Makes the Poison in a Snake's Fangs?
A snake's fang is an eye-tooth, or canine tooth. This tooth corresponds to the sharp-pointed teeth we have at the corners of the jaw between the front and back teeth. In poisonous snakes, the tooth has a special channel inside it through which poison travels when the snake bites.

But where does the poison come from? A poisonous snake has glands, similar to human salivary glands. (Salivary glands produce the saliva needed for our mastication and digestion of food.) In the snake, these glands produce poison. The poison runs along a little tube from the glands on each side of the snake's mouth to its fangs. When the snake bites, the jaw muscles also squeeze the glands. Poison is forced from the gland through the channel in the fang and left in the victim's body. In non-poisonous snakes, these same glands look just the same yet produce no poison.

Although the amount of poison injected may be very small, the poison of venomous snakes is among the deadliest of all poisons. With some snakes, the merest portion of a drop will kill.

The Child and the Snake

This is one of the many children's poems written by Charles and Mary Lamb. The story which it tells is believed to have been founded on fact.

Henry was every morning fed
With a full mess of milk and bread.
One day the boy his breakfast took,
And ate it by a purling brook.

His mother lets him have his way.
With free leave Henry every day
Thither repairs, until she heard
Him talking of a fine gray bird.

This pretty bird, he said, indeed,
Came every day with him to feed;
And it loved him and loved his milk,
And it was smooth and soft like silk.

On the next morn she follows Harry,
And carefully she sees him carry
Through the long grass his heap'd-up mess;
What was her terror and distress
When she saw the infant take
His bread and milk close to a snake!

Upon the grass he spreads his feast,
And sits down by his frightful guest,
Who had waited for the treat;
And now they both began to eat.

Fond mother! shriek not, Oh, beware
The least small noise, Oh, have a care—
The least small noise that may be made
The wily snake will be afraid—

If he hears the slightest sound,
He will inflict th' envenom'd wound.
She speaks not, moves not, scarce does breathe,
As she stands the trees beneath.

No sound she utters; and she soon
Sees the child lift up his spoon,
And tap the snake upon the head,
Fearless of harm; and then he said,
As speaking to familiar mate;
"Keep on your own side, do, Gray Pate."

The snake, then to the other side,
As one rebuked, seems to glide;
And now again advancing nigh,
Again she hears the infant cry,
Tapping the snake: "Keep further, do;
Mind, Gray Pate, what I say to you."

The danger's o'er! she sees the boy
(Oh, what a change from fear to joy!)
Rise and bid the snake Good-bye";
Says he, "Our breakfast's done, and I
Will come again tomorrow day"—
Then, lightly tripping, ran away.

To send a private message, or enter the Trivia Contest… Click HERE

To read other ideas, or to post your own Idea… Click HERE

Saturday, April 19, 2003 19:20