LUMBERTON — Creepy crawlers and slithering snakes were on display Wednesday during the annual Meet the Museum event presented by the Lumberton and Pembroke branches of the Robeson County Public Library.
About 50 children gathered in Osterneck Auditorium in Lumberton to hear a presentation from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science in Raleigh about amphibians, reptiles and insects that can be found in the Southeastern region of the United States.
Carolyn Brooks, an outreach educator for the museum, came with Madagascar hissing cockroaches, a brown watersnake, a baby scarlet kingsnake, an eastern box turtle and a mud turtle.
“This just opens a world to them,” Brooks said. “It opens a new awareness about nature.”
Brooks explained to the children that hissing cockroaches actually do hiss to communicate, mud turtles are not very sociable and do bite, and the eastern box turtle is the official reptile of North Carolina because of its predominance. They also learned that the two snakes Brooks brought are often confused with venomous snakes found in North Carolina, the cottonmouth and the coral snake.
“You can barely tell the difference,” Brooks said about the coral snake and the scarlet kingsnake. “These snakes often end up killed for no reason.
“When I see snakes in the yard, you know what I do? I leave them alone,” Brooks said. “Snakes want no part of us. They just want to live.”
Brooks taught the audience a rhyme that will help them tell the difference: “Red touches black, safe for Jack. Red touches yellow, kills a fellow.” She also gave them tips on identifying dangerous snakes. Almost all venomous snakes have a rectangular head while non-venomous snakes have a rounded head, Brooks said.
Jasmine King, a 9-year-old Littlefield Middle School student, said the presentation gave her some knowledge to take home to her mother who found a snake in her garage.
“She thought it was venomous, but now I know it wasn’t,” King said.
Brooks explained to the children the proper way to touch animals, different ways to identify various characteristics of the animals, and things to look out for.
“Pat your arm gently,” Brooks said while she demonstrated to the eager listeners. “That’s how you should pet an animal. They don’t want you poking them.”
The children asked questions throughout the day and were allowed to pet the cockroaches and the eastern box turtle. They also were allowed to view different items, such as snake eggs and skin, and turtle shells.
King said she enjoyed touching the cockroaches.
“It felt like a Lego,” she said jokingly.
“My favorite part was when we got to touch the skin,” said Olivia Blue, a 9-year-old Carroll Middle School student. “I loved the skin.”
The event is to educate children about nature and get them to excited about going outdoors instead of playing video games inside, Brooks said.
The presentation also was used to encourage them to visit the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science, which is located in downtown Raleigh, said Lisa Bowden, the youth services librarian.
“It’s exposure to animals that they might be afraid of,” Bowden said. “It educates children on animals they might see in their backyard.”
The Robeson County Public Library will present Birds of Prey on July 20 at 11 a.m. The event is free, but parties of 10 or more are asked to register.
Tomeka Sinclair can be reached at [email protected] or 910-416-5865.