Audubon Center provides fun lessons on reptiles and amphibians
By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Sat., Aug. 6, 2011
About 20 children filled the “Turtles, Snakes and Frogs, Oh My!” class at the Connecticut Audubon Society Center in Glastonbury for three days of learning and interacting with all things slimy and scaly. The program consisted of three days of two-hour classes, and included many opportunities for hands-on exploration of animals and nature.
On the third day, Aug. 4, the focus was on the amphibians. The day started with a brief lesson on the difference between reptiles and amphibians.
“How does a frog's body feel, compared to the snake or the turtle?” asked instructor Felicia Johnson.
“They're wet and slimy,” replied one student.
The class took a hike in Earle Park to look for the creatures, specifically toads, frogs and salamanders.
A few frogs were heard, and briefly seen, in the park's pond, but efforts to turn logs and find salamanders and toads were fruitless, largely due to the recent lack of rain, which keeps the habitat moist for the critters. Many earthworms were discovered, much to the delight of the kids.
While the amphibians went mostly unseen, many other nature lessons were offered. Evidence of animals' interactions with the forest were observed, including a beaver-carved tree trunk, and lessons included why moss grows where it does.
Johnson and assistant Debbie Dubitsky taught the students the philosophy of observing nature without disturbing it, and reminded the children that everything in the forest is a living thing and is in its place for a reason. “They can be destructive without even realizing it,” Dubitsky said, adding that the kids seem to generally understand the concept, once it is explained.
The highlight of the day was a visit from “Lucky,” the center's resident bullfrog, which Johnson held while allowing the students to pet it. Johnson then explained that frogs and toads use their “ribbit” noises to help locate each other. That was followed by a chorus of different amphibian sounds – including those of peepers, bullfrogs and wood frogs, performed by the children.
For a listing of all of the Connecticut Audubon Society’s summer youth programs, visit www.ctaudubon.org, or call 860-633-8402.