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Snake alert!

I could have lumped this activity from las week with the rest of the highlights in my last update, but I felt selfish doing so. You all would have missed too much. So here it goes…

When I began facilitating learning experiences for Le’Laia last October we unexpectedly found a small Puerto Rican garden snake (arrhyton exiguum) in front of her house. We captured it and observed it for two weeks. Then it escaped the day after we arrived at our new location. It was gone, never to be found again. We were deflated by our sneaky snake’s escape

Luckily for us, ExAlt is surrounded by a small forest and, according to the gardener (Señor Luis), many many snakes. We determined to find a new one we could study and learn about over a longer period of time. An agreement was made with Sr. Luis: Next time he saw a snake he would call us immediately and snake protocol would be put in place.

When Snake Alert was received everyone had to proceed as follows: 1) Stop whatever we are doing, 2) Put on shoes as fast as possible (shoe on wrong foot is fine as long as laces are properly tied), 3) We all run outside to the snake sighting location ready to grab it.

Señor Luis came once per week to maintain the green areas. Every time he was around we would look out the window, secretly expecting his call, but after a month and a half and no news of snakes we had lost all hope of finding one.

Last week,  at the least expected moment, the Snake Alert came in. Señor Luis yelled, “¡Hay una serpiente en el primer piso, corran!” The excite-o-meter went from 0-100% in just 3 seconds and off we went shoes backwards, screaming Snake Alert, Snake Alert!!

To our surprise, it was another arrhyton exiguum of about the same size as last one. Le’Laia asked with wide eyes, “Is it the same one??” I said “YES, we found it!” But immediately after, I confessed there was no way to tell, and that the chances of finding the exact same snake were small given our surrounding.

That didn’t stop us from jumping into action. We found a secure provisional habitat. Went online to find some more information about it. We bought a terrarium. Went to the forest to find good dirt and plants, and we created a cozy habitat for it. Below you will find a few pictures of the process post-capture. This has been one of the most exciting and engaging spontaneous activities we have had. Sometimes the best experiences are not planned. Enjoy!

 

Immediately after capturing the snake. Diego discovered he isn't as fond of snakes as he thought.
Immediately after capturing the snake. Diego discovered he isn’t as fond of snakes as he thought.
In search for the best dirt in town. If we are going to keep a wild snake we must make sure to provide the most "homie" environment we can.
In search for the best dirt in town. If we are going to keep a wild snake we must make sure to provide the “homiest” environment we can.
The walk back with trays full of dirt, ferns and small logs.
The walk back with trays full of dirt, ferns and small logs.
Final touches to our snake habitat: Arrhyton exigumm prefers the forest floor, under rocks, leaf litter or dead logs and branches in lower sections of wet forests. It also may also dwell in urban and rural garden settings.
Final touches to our snake habitat: Arrhyton exigumm prefers the forest floor, under rocks, leaf litter or dead logs in lower sections of wet forests. It also may also dwell in urban garden settings (We knew that!).
At last!
At last!
A snake drawing, so that our friend doesn't feel lonely...
A snake drawing, so that our friend doesn’t feel lonely… “I think she likes our drawing.”
snake4
I suggested many (beastly) names… They decided to name it Twilight Sparkle.
Our first live feeding!  Arrhyton exiguum preys on anoles, frogs, and lizards.
Our first live feeding!
Arrhyton exiguum preys on anoles, frogs, and lizards. I had to prep kids for this. Seeing a snake swallow a lizard whole (“without chewing it!”) can be a chocking experience for younger kids.

 

Everyday at ExAlt is an adventure. You never know what surprises the day may bring. Stay tuned for more!

2 comments

  1. Profile photo of NancyT
    NancyT says:

    Siempre estoy muy feliz cuando leo su escritura! El ano pasado, los ninos en Mosaic los ninos encontraron muchos serpeintes!

    Mi espanol no es muy bueno, pero yo quiero practicar mas 🙂

    Muchos abrazos de Mosaic!

    • Profile photo of Alex
      Alex says:

      @nancy Yo no sabía que podías escribir en español tan bien. 🙂 Tenemos que comenzar a organizar reuniones de español/inglés por G-Hangout con los chicos. ¡Sería una muy buena iniciativa!

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