Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Everyone loves Pumpkin...

Volunteering at Shawnee State Park in Southeastern Ohio
Part of our volunteer work at Shawnee State Park was working at the Nature Center from noon to 3:00. What a wonderful place. Jenny has turned the cozy A-Frame building into Nature Learning Central. She has books, posters, activities, frogs, bugs, bird nests, and snakes! All but two of her snakes are native to Ohio. One that isn't native is Pumpkin, the albino corn snake. Corn snakes are close relatives to Black Rat Snakes, which are native to Ohio, and therefore shares his digs with Steve, the Black Rat Snake (more on that sweety later).


Look at that beautiful red albino eye. If you look closely, you can see his pupil is round. A round pupil lets you know he is not a venomous snake. Venomous Snakes, such as the Timber Rattlesnake, Northern Copperhead, or Eastern Massasauga, have elliptical pupils. That's the sort of helpful information you learn when you visit Jenny's snakes!



...before working with Jenny at the nature center I wasn't a particularly "snakey" kind of girl, but after learning about all of our native snakes and handling all the sweeties at the nature center, I think I actually might fall into the "snakey" category now. I had no idea going into the week how much I would learn to love and appreciate snakes, and how much I would learn about them.

Matthew Riccetti at the Shawnee State Park Nature Center. Matt and other volunteers take the snakes out to play in the rain.
Anna, Kayla and Matty and I each took a snake out to play in the rain. The snakes love feeling the rain falling on them as much as we did. It was hot out, and the rain felt great. Pumpkin was content to rest on Matty's shoulders.

Matthew Riccetti at the Shawnee State Park Nature Center
...sometimes Pumpkin would just curl up and go to sleep in your arms. Here he's resting around Matty's neck, curled in around his shirt.

Matthew Riccetti at the Shawnee State Park Nature Center
Pumpkin is a corn snake, and corn snakes are constrictors, but they eat rodents and lizards and other small things, so we didn't have to worry about him trying to constrict around our necks. If you look in the background, you can see posters of birds and butterflies. Jenny's walls are covered with information on the natural world. Kids love it there!

29 comments:

Jeni said...

umm... snake?? Not for me at all! But Matty looks like he's having a blast!

Laure Ferlita said...

What a cool snake! LOVE those colors!

Tell Matty I'm LOVING that new 'do!! Great choice to stay cool for the summer! (AND I mean it—I really like it.)

Picturit said...

Great snake love the second image. Kev UK

Adrienne in Ohio said...

Matty looks so comfortable with Pumpkin. I don't know if I could ever think a snake was sweet, but Pumpkin is a very handsome snake.

Carol Mattingly said...

Love that orange colored snake. Never seen anything like it. And your son is adorable. Carol

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Snakes make me CHILL..... Love the pictures of Matty with Pumpkin... BUT---I am not sure I would ever get that close to a snake....

Can't wait to see you in Sept.
Hugs,
Betsy

Tammie Lee said...

such a gorgeous gorgeous creature!

Roy said...

Gorgeous snake! And who says reptiles aren't cuddly? Heh, heh!

Abraham Lincoln said...

Shawnee State Park was my old stomping grounds, Kelly. I practically lived there in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The cabin you are at wasn't there then. There was a lake on a road just as you came out of the forest. Well, not a lake, but more of a pond. It was a delightful forest in those days. I hope it still is.

Your snake photography is stunning. Keep it up. You are educating a lot of people.

Pam said...

I can appreciate their beauty but I still could not hold one. Its a mind over matter thing!

Jayne said...

It must have been so neat to be able to get to know these guys up close and personal. It does take the fear factor out of things a bit when you can see them for the beautiful creatures they are. Such great shots of Matty with the albino corn snake!

Wanda..... said...

When an unknown snake crosses my path in the woods, Kelly, I will be sure to check for elliptical pupils as I run the other way! :)

It's good to know the difference in the eyes, although the common snakes here in SW Ohio don't scare me, it's the uncommon ones that just may be lurking that do!

JKoenig said...

What an interesting week you two must have had! The corn snake really does have beautiful coloring. And, it is good to know that there is a way to tell the difference from a poisonous and nonpoisonous snake, but I'm not sure I will get close enough to check that out. I think it has something to do with the fact that as a child on our farm whenever we saw a snake, my grandmother got out the hoe, and she definitely had something different in mind that checking out his eyes.:)

Tell Matty I think he is very brave.

Valerie said...

Sounds like a great place!

I never thought I would like lizards but after having several in the house (as pets) I have come to enjoy their little faces and way of life! I guess once you get to know a creature and its habits - you aren't afraid of it anymore -

I loved the color, and I really liked the shot of Mr. King with the tongue extended in an earlier post.

Great shots!

Kathy A. Johnson said...

I can't believe I'm writing this, but...great pictures of the snake! I'm not really a snakey girl, either, but I really appreciate the people who love them and protect them and educate others about them. The less-cuddly creatures of the world need our care, too!

Kelly said...

Abe....you're right. They just moved that cabin from its original location to Jenny's Nature Center. It used to be on the outskirts (I can't remember, but a few years ago I saw it in its original location). It was the first forest outpost--for the first forest rangers, I guess. I need to get the details on it. Jenny told me, but some of the details fell through the holes in my Swiss-cheese brain. Good eye, Abe!

Kyna said...

That's a cool thing about a snake's pupil. My husband just taught me about the head shape being an indicator. There aren't too many poisonous snakes where I'm from, if any.

Pumpkin, hehe. What a great name for a snake. :)

Atanasio Fernández García said...

What a beautiful snake! I had never heard of albinism in reptiles, this case is very curious! Greetings from Spain!

Kerri said...

Sounds like a wonderful place. I wish I was brave enough to let a snake curl around my neck ... not yet ... but maybe someday :)

The Early Birder said...

Tell Matty the new choker looks very COOL but I think I'll stick with my cotton one..lol.

Gaina said...

I love Corn Snakes! I had one crawl up into my fleece once and fall asleep in the sleeve - while I was wearing it! Haha. Such beautiful creatures.

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Kelly.
Pumpkin looks like a lovely snake, but stroking him is about as close as I would get.
He is a lovely colour.

Out on the prairie said...

Great post, the volunteer sounds fun and helping in a nature center even funner.I will let someone else place the snake on their neck but have handled quite a few. I remember reading about a corn snake as a kid and my brother said they had kernals on them and believed it.Thanks for the great comment!

Montanagirl said...

Wow...no snakes for me either! But your pictures are pretty cool. Looks like Matty was enjoying it all.

Chris Petrak said...

Snakes are okay to look at, but beyond that as far I am concerned ... not rational, but there it is.

Cindy said...

Kelly, Pumpkin is such a beautiful snake. You learned so much but I have to admit I probably wouldn't gwt that close to a snake in the wild to check out his pupils...lol

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

What stunning shots Kelly.

Kelly said...

...thanks, everyone! I was clueless about snakes before volunteering. I learned so much. If you're in the area, drop in and visit Jenny at Shawnee. You will love the snakes!

Mary said...

It's color is beautiful!