Reptiles come to library during slithery ‘Snapshot Day’ program

By Wally Robinson - ReminderNews
Stafford - posted Wed., Apr. 20, 2011
Brian Kleinman of Riverside Reptiles allows kids to carefully pet a king snake. Photos by Wally Robinson.
Brian Kleinman of Riverside Reptiles allows kids to carefully pet a king snake. Photos by Wally Robinson.

Snakes ranging from a 6-inch-long grass snake to a 10-foot-long Burmese python recently paid a visit to the Stafford Library. Also included as part of a special program presented by Brian Kleinman of Riverside Reptiles during the library’s “Snapshot Day” on April 13 were a rat snake, a garter snake, an albino corn snake, a king snake and an Australian carpet python.

Kids and adults alike looked on with a mixture of reactions running from rapt attention to sheer horror as Kleinman brought forth his specimens, along with a commentary on the critters and their place in the world. He took each around the room for anyone who cared to touch them.

“All snakes are carnivores,” Kleinman said. “That is to say they all eat meat. Venomous snakes kill their prey by biting them, while constrictors squeeze their prey to death.”

Holding a 7-foot-long rat snake, Kleinman noted its tongue, which was flicking in and out. “Snakes have an acute sense of smell, which they do with their tongues. For instance, if there were a mouse in this room, you wouldn’t be able to smell it, would you?” he asked. “Believe me, the snake could.”

Often, the snakes are named for what they eat or where they are most often found. “The king snake is so-named because he eats other snakes, while the corn snake does what? Eat corn? No,” he laughed, “It’s because he’s most often found in cornfields, barns and silos; places where mice and rats are to be found.”

One child asked how the garter snake got its name. “Well,” said Kleinman, “That animal was named for the garter belt. You’ll have to ask your parents what that is.”

Kleinman does some 200 of these shows a year, mostly in New England. A graduate of Franklin Pierce University with a degree in biology, he has worked in zoos and wildlife preserves, but is happiest doing what he’s doing. He has more than a hundred animals that he keeps in his home. Half of his basement is a recreational area and the other half is his reptile room. “Everybody should have a reptile room,” he said.

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