‘Zoo Station’ brings subterranean animals to Somers Public Library

By Lisa Stone - ReminderNews
Somers - posted Wed., Aug. 14, 2013
Jake, Cody and Marissa Marks enjoy learning about animals that dig underground for survival. Photos by Lisa Stone.
Jake, Cody and Marissa Marks enjoy learning about animals that dig underground for survival. Photos by Lisa Stone.

The Children’s Museum of West Hartford presented “Zoo Station” at Somers Public Library on Aug. 9 as part of the library’s “Dig Into Reading” summer program. In keeping with this theme, the library invited the museum to give an entertaining and educational presentation about subterranean animals.

The Children’s Museum’s Jonah Cohen – better known as “Mr. Science” - showed the children a select group of animals that live underground, hide in the dirt, or hibernate in it. He also explained what predators these animals had to be concerned with.

The first example was Wolf, a Brazilian white knee tarantula. The entire room took a deep breath when the spider appeared. Cohen first placed a thick leather glove on his hand. He then gently picked up the large, black spider. He said, “Wolf is very skittish. He doesn’t like loud noises or sudden movements.” According to Cohen, the tiny, stiff hairs on the legs of the spider are very scratchy, and that is why he needed to use a glove. He went on to explain that Wolf’s venom is deadly to insects, but not to humans. “It may make you sick, but it won’t be that bad,” Cohen said. “She hides in the ground to avoid being seen by her predators as well as using the ground as a way to hide from her prey. We know Wolf is a female spider because of her size. The females are larger than the males, and she is very large.”

One example of a subterranean animal that Cohen brought was the box turtle. These are generally found in Connecticut forests. The reason the box turtle has its name is that they are able to fold their shells into a box shape due to a joint-like line across the belly. “When the turtle is afraid, it folds itself up into a box shape for protection from its predators,” said Cohen. “The turtle is cold-blooded, so its body temperature can change. They hibernate underground when the temperature drops.”

When Cohen pulled a corn snake named Coronel out of a cloth bag, many of the children shrieked. Despite the fact that the snake looked very intimidating, Cohen reassured the audience that the snake will not bite humans. “The corn snake is indigenous to southern states like Maryland, Virginia and the Carolinas. The corn snake gets its name because it hides by the tall corn stalks and waits for mice. The snake mainly eats mice, and the mice like to eat the corn on the stalks,” Cohen said.

For more information on Somers Public Library programs, call 860-763-3501.

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