Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Plant A SSSSSSSeed

Not Zick, this is SSSSZack.
SSSSZack is a young Florida Kingsnake also, just like Zick, but he is a wildling, not captive bred.

 He is also injured. Last Friday, (the same day the gecko and the orphaned flying squirrels dropped in), one of my students showed up with SSSSZack.
"He's hurt, I found him by the sidewalk."
While I was happy that one of my kids was kind enough to rescue an injured snake, I had to temper that with a safety message to the whole class.
Being as diplomatic as I could, I tried to be grateful to my snake rescuer for his kindness while reinforcing the fact that as kids, they should not be out there grabbing snakes, since the penalty for mistaken identity can be severe.
We had the usual talk about leaving wildlife alone, which I present very convincingly, even if hypocritically, since I am a snake grabber since about the age of 9.

SSSSZack's injury is located about one quarter of his length back from his cute little head. There is a puncture and some swelling. Last Friday, I daubed on some Neosporin to try and prevent infection.
Since that time SSSSZack has been in a Rubbermaid hospital snake box here in the dining room. He is active and behaving normally except for reduced movement behind the injury.
It's not a total lack of snakey sinuosity, just reduced movement. The tip of his tail has movement, so it's not a case of paralysis.
Maybe it just hurts.
He seems to be showing some improvement back there, so we will see.
I didn't attempt to feed him, since I was afraid the meal might not get through the injured point or move correctly if his back end wasn't responding well.
I think I will attempt to feed him tonight since things are looking a little better.
Don't get too attached though ... I'm not sure SSSSZack will make it.
I will keep you posted.

Zick, on the other hand, is doing great.

I introduced "Zick" the baby Florida Kingsnake a few weeks ago here at PF. At the time I believe I mentioned that one of my reasons for bringing her into my classroom was to have her serve as a serpentine ambassador.

Because, y'all know that ...
t's easy to fear snakes if you never are around them.
It's easy to hate something you fear.
It's easy to kill something you hate.

It was my belief that having Zick in our class, watching her eat, bask, shed, and grow would win over the hearts and minds of my students.

I'm not always right, but there is solid evidence showing that I was correctamundo this time.

A few days ago, a cute little 5th grader came in asking about Kingsnakes.. It seems her classmates had all picked different snakes as research projects.
We talked about Zick and I offered to bring Zick down to the 5th grade for a visit if it was okay with her teacher.
It was.
The next morning, the same girl showed up with a tiny, 4 inch long ringneck snake.
"What does it eat? , she asked.
 We talked about ringnecks, and I encouraged her to let it go since it's hard to find food for such a tiny beast.
One day later, she walked in to my classroom with a young grey rat snake, all 9 inches of him. He was actually the perfect size to keep as a pet, so we talked about simple Rubbermaid box snake habitats and general rat snake care.

That afternoon, I walked down to the elementary wing of our tiny PreK-12 school. It's an older redbrick building with all the musty, booky, chalky school smells I remember from my own elementary experience.
I mean this building looks and smells like a REAL school.

After a few deep breaths of schoolhouse essence, I knocked on the 5th grade door and was greeted like a celebrity. The kids were pumped about their snake research and each one was an expert on their chosen species.(GOOD JOB 5TH GRADE TEACHER!)
I had Zick the Kingsnake in her Rubbermaid travel cage. We talked about kingsnakes, safety, and the good things snakes do. While we talked, I held Zick up so they could get a good look.
I wish I could remember all their enthusiastic comments, "Fabulously awesome" is one that stuck in my head.
After a while, I pulled a thawed pinky mouse from my pocket and they crowded around to watch Zick eat.
"Will she bite you?" they asked.

I assured them that even though any snake, even a pet one, could bite you, Zick was very tame and had never struck at me.

At that point, I dangled the poor, dead mousling by the tail to get Zick's attention. She was instantly interested and struck almost immediately.

For the first time ever, she missed the mouse and got my finger.

The entire 5th grade gasped in unison.
I could feel her hanging from my finger, but it didn't hurt,... she's too small to even break the skin, so I just carried on.

In a moment, she let go, retargeted, and nailed the mouse.

Once Zick was committed to eating the pinky mouse, I backed off and let the children crowd in around the plastic box. They were completely awestruck as she worked the seemingly too large meal into her mouth and down the hatch.
While a few may have still had snake jitters when I left, I could tell that the majority of these kids thought snakes were pretty cool animals.

... and you gotta love that.


threecollie said...

What a great class you snake grabber you!

tai haku said...

I reckon Zack'll come good - my own experience with damaged snakes is that they are surprisingly resilient if they survive the initial injury.

Speaking of snake experience; oh to live in a place where kids find snakes so easily - poor, snake, deprived young Tai Haku averaged about 2 a year.

Thunder Dave said...

Hopefully Blogger will like me today and this comment will actually get posted!

Lightnin' has just recently bought me a few books as gifts: Florida Reptiles, Florida Snakes, Florida Insects, and Florida Birds. I'm looking forward to trying to identify all the little critters living in our jungle!

Thunder Dave said...

Oh I forgot the comment I tried to post the other day was that we had an Anole about the size of your Gecko climbing around on my hand in August.

rebecca said...

Oh, this makes me REALLY miss my job in Georgia, part of which was doing snake programs for kids. One of my coworkers had a pet snake and a pet cat and was fond of asking the kids to guess which one bit her more often. (Hint: the snake had NEVER bitten her.)

I did manage to deeply impress the high school students I work with here in Wisconsin when I tried to pick up a garter snake we found on the trail and was bitten for my trouble. I was bleeding, and we had to pull out the first aid kit and everything. They still talk about seeing me get bitten by a snake...

Sharon said...

Don't know if it made it to your area, but there's a news story about a 2 headed king snake that was found yesterday in TN. They are bringing it to TN Tech (near where I live now) for study and to feed it, since the two heads are making it difficult to get around. Very interesting find!

Barbie said...

*Snort* You gotta love it when the animals get you the very day you say it out loud. I had a pet lionfish for a LONG time I hand fed twice a week. Never once in two years did he ever try to hurt me. I said it outloud once and guess what? Yup. lots of pain that day. :-( Never open mouth unless prepared to insert foot. Lesson learned. :-D
Good job showing them the wonders of the slithering world!

Jacki said...

I was terrified (TERRIFIED) of snakes until my 10th grade biology teacher had snakes. Just being around them made me realize just how majestic they are!

lesle said...

A favorite post:

Caroline said...

Creatures in the Classroom! WooHoo!
Jose, my desk betta, was a guest "speaker" in 9th grade reading class last week.
We were reading "Rumblefish" by S.E. Hinton, kids didn't know what a Siamese Fighting Fish was, so Jose took a trip down the hall.
Many kids are ready to become his foster parent when Christmas vacation rolls around.

Jose is the name chosen by the kids, I have also had Spyk, Ozzie Rob Zombie and Tweety. All who have gone home with kids at the end of the year.

Anonymous said...

Aw gosh, I'm already attached. I hope the little feller makes it!!
KC's momadness

Miz S said...

Wow, so much going on here at PF. Sorry I have been so un-visit-y lately. Long story. Anyway, HI FC! I'm all caught up now on the flying squirrels and the injured snake and the 5th grade project. I'll try and check back here in the near future. I been missing you!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

What a fun experience for those children. You are a good teacher.

Floridacracker said...

Thank you for the great comments.
I am a little behind in responding, but here is an update on SSSSZack:
He is healing well on the outside. The back half still is not as mobile as the front half, but he did pass some feces, so the internal plumbing must be working.

He did not want a pinky mouse last night, so I will try again. I may get some wiggly earthworms and give them a try also.

Anonymous said...

Pinkies and earthworms...oh puuhhleeze could you video that? NOT! I know it's natural but it's still kinda gross! Now if you get them to eat on!

robin andrea said...

You are a fabulously awesome teacher! Great job!