Eight Great ways to Appreciate Snakes

Eight Great Ways to Appreciate SnakesIt’s starting to warm up here in Australia and that means that snakes are becoming more active. Don’t all shudder when I say that! I love snakes and believe they are very misunderstood creatures.

We have the top ten most venomous snakes in Australia, and although they all play an important role in the environment, it does mean that there are risks too.  So, as a result, I’ve written two posts on this topic. This post will cover activities that will encourage snake appreciation and the next will cover what you can do to teach your child how to stay snake safe in a fun and snake-friendly way.

Why should we appreciate snakes?

  • Snakes have ecological value. They are silent predators of the world and keep the animal population in balance. Imagine how many rats and mice we would have living in our houses if we didn’t have snakes to keep them under control?
  • They are beautiful. Okay, I know some of you may not agree with me, but take a look at google and type in snake and you’ll see an array of vibrant colours and patterns. Why do you think so many handbags replicate snake skin?!
  • Snakes have helped  and are still helping to create medicines that help people:

-The Brazilian pit viper is one of the deadliest snakes of the jungle, but a blood pressure drug made from a protein in its venom has extended the lives of millions of people.

- More recently, researchers have begun exploring the potential cancer-fighting properties of certain snakes venoms (Animals in Research, cited 2012)

What can you do to help children appreciate snakes?

1.       Get snake crafty

This craft will prepare you for next week when you will learn how to teach your child to stay snake safe. For now though, making a snake can be lots of fun and can help to point out parts of a snake that a child may not know yet.

 Snake craftWhat you’ll need:

  • Penne pasta
  •  acrylic paint
  • paint brush
  • 2 x toilet rolls
  • 2 or 3 x pipe cleaners (we reused some from another craft activity)
  •  sticky tape

 How to make it 

Join the pipe cleaners together by twisting the ends.

Paint the pasta and leave it to dry.

painting pasta

Squash the toilet roll and cut out a head. You should get two cardboard heads the same size. Paint the two cardboard head cut-outs.

Once they are dry, use the remaining cardboard from the toilet roll to make a loop that will sit on underside of the head. Attach the cardboard loop and the pipe cleaner to the underside of the head (see image). Place the other cardboard head on top and stick it together with tape.

snake head

Once the pasta is dry, thread it onto the pipe cleaner.pasta snake

Use the other toilet roll to make the tail. Cut it out like this.

snake craft

Do the same join that you did on the head and attach the pipe cleaner before you roll the tail to make a cone.

 

Voila! Now you have some very crafty snakes! 

2.       Learn about snakes through play

 We used our crafty critters to act like snakes and do what snakes like to do best—laze in the sun, hide under debris and eat mice! You could use stuffed toys, rubber snakes or even dress up like a snake yourself. ‘

Snake Craft

3.       Read some great books about snakes

These books are snake friendly books:

 Verdi by Janell Canon – There’s a great review on My little Bookcase regarding this book. Plus, there are some awesome activities to go with it. I know what will be under the tree for Miss Possum this Christmas!

Wonder Why Snakes Shed Their Skin by Amanda O’neill

Snakes by Rachel Griffiths

S-S-snakes by Lucille Recht Pennerby

Hide and Snake by Keith Baker

 4.       Always talk about snakes in a positive light

Many parents don’t realise they are creating a fear in their child just by modelling negative attitudes toward snakes.

 5.       Discuss a snake’s role in the environment

Why do you think snakes are important? Create a food web or food chain and see what role snakes play with other animals in the environment.

 6.       Ask questions and research snakes

What would happen if snakes were taken out of the environment? Why do they need the sun to warm up? Why do you think they have scales all over their body? What do you think it would be like to eat something when you have no hands? Do you think it would be funny if we shed our skin all at once?

 7.       Visit these snake websites

  • Snake FactsLearn more about snakes here.
  • Reptile Games aplentyWith lots of snake fun!
  • Online Snake Game(children 8 +) the snake needs to eat a certain number of mice to move to the next level. A word of warning, it’s quite realistic.

 8.       Get Closer

Not to wild snakes of course, but to safe captive snakes. It’s a great sensory thrill to touch a snake. They look wet because of the sheen on their scales but they are dry and they are cold to touch because they are cold-blooded.

If your child gets the opportunity to touch a captive and well-handled snake, do it. Don’t push your child if they don’t want to though, it’s natural to be hesitant about touching a snake. Pushing can sometimes worsen a fear.

Remind your child that the snake is safe to touch. Touching the snake yourself can encourage them to give it a go too. Be brave, like Kelly from Be a Fun Mum, she kindly let me use her photos of wild snakes for this post (can you believe I don’t have any!). I had to add the photos of  Kelly and her family holding captive snakes too. !

love snakes

I’ve been working with captive snakes for 10 years and have never been bitten (yet), so they are very safe and the snakes used are always pythons and have no venom.

Miss Possum held her first snake at just four years old.

Does your child love snakes? What do you do to appreciate animals that have a bad reputation?

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Comments

    • pawhitehouse says

      Thanks so much Trisha! I think snakes need all they help they can to get a positive rap. I’m guessing you love snakes too!

  1. kirri says

    Another incredibly comprehensive and informative post Pen. Apparently, snakes are my 6yr olds favourite animals! I tried to talk her out of it, but she insists they are beautiful and that is the only reason that I agreed to touch a python for the second time in my life, just two weeks ago.

    • pawhitehouse says

      And this is a case of child teaches parent. He he he. Tell your daughter I’m proud of her. I’m proud of you too Kirri!

  2. Christina says

    thanks for the (sun)light on snakes!!
    I am guilty of saying I do not like snakes, but it is incorrect and I can see how that sets my young child up for being afraid. It is not that I “don’t like” them, but I am afraid to be bitten and honestly the texture does it for me too. But this post really did give me a different view on snakes. :)

    • pawhitehouse says

      Christina, thank you for being so honest and also for letting me know that my post changed your preception of snakes. It made my day. It’s comments like this that make my heart soar and keep WF4K going! Thank you!

  3. says

    I have to say that I hate, hate, hate snakes always have. I have terrible nightmares about them- I am sure Freud would have a hey-day with that one. :) But, I do the good mom thing and do not share that fear with my boys. They seem intrigued by them and were not afraid to pet them when offered a chance. Great post!

    • pawhitehouse says

      Why do you hate them Steph? Do you have time to come for a visit to the Goldcoast? I’d love to show you why they are awesome!

  4. Katrina says

    Thanks for a great post. I love snakes, as does my mum. My two year likes them and we are lucky enough tio have a friend who keeps snakes and my daughter loves to see and watch them, and after some watching etc is happy to hold them/touch them.
    Any good snake boosk you can recommend as in many books the snakes are bad (we try and change the words but soon she will know).
    PS just genrally love your blog. Thanks
    PPS Making duck biscuits this weekend, so thansk for that post (we knew about the bread but I could not find anything that we could give them instead)

  5. Kate @ Back to Basics Tuition says

    Indi loves snakes. She sleeps with a knitted one. ‘Ssssssssssssss’ (her words not mine lol)

      • Kate @ Back to Basics Tuition says

        Sure can! I just tagged you in a photo from a couple of months ago but it’s not the best shot as you can only see a little of snake ;) I’ll try for another soon ♥

        • pawhitehouse says

          I never seem to see when I get tagged anymore. Facebook is seriously annoying me. Thank you for tagging me and sorry I didn’t see it. Would love ito post it on WF4K.

  6. Narelle Rock says

    my sister works for a reptile company, is a trained snake catcher and breeds them at her house….but no matter how many times I see them, they still give me the creepy spine feeling!

  7. says

    oh dear….i must admit i am one of those people that is terrified of snakes….i have had 3 neighbours tell me they have seen them in their backyards (which run the length of our property)in the past few weeks and i am terrified i will take the girls up to play in the yard and we will come across a brown or red belly (which seem to be popular here!)
    I try not to show that fear in front of the girls but your post really had me thinking how i need to be a little more aware of this…i just don’t know how to make them understand that some snakes are safe and others venomous and not to be gotten close too….uggg…i need help lol!
    On a cheerier note….your pasta snake is fabulous…so clever and really looks the part…even that could possibly scare me if left in the vegie patch though hehe!

    • pawhitehouse says

      Thanks Jode! Just in case you didn’t read it, next weeks post will be about how we can teach our child to be snake safe in a snake-friendly way. This should help with you children, especially if you live in an area where there’s snake aplenty!

      We had to remake our snakes yesterday. I had kept the craft outside and a rat took both of them. Obviously rats like raw pasta. Not happy!

  8. Tory Huth says

    I love the idea of getting children to learn about snakes. But seeing as I live in an area where it is not unusual for us to get large carpet snakes move into our ceiling or 2 metre brown snakes trying to move into our backyard, I think I will hold off on the learn about snakes until she is well and truly old enough to understand the danger that they can have for her.

  9. TBassula says

    My boys would love this craft project! Our local area is having a bit of an issue at the moment with people harming snakes – so this post comes at a good time – a great reminder of the importance of snakes in our eco-system.

    • pawhitehouse says

      What a horrible thing to be happening in your community. I understand that they can be dangerous, I understand they aren’t cute and cuddly in many people’s eyes but they are SO important for the environment. I hope this post reaches the people that are harming snakes and they twice about what they are doing. Thanks for your comment honey.

  10. Anna K says

    Snakes and I have a good understanding of each other..I leave them alone and they leave me alone. I’ve only ever seen 4 in the wild and I do go out in the forest a fair bit. I hear them a lot but never see them. I’ve even had experiences where a group of walkers in front of me will have had a snake up and swaying and it leaves about 2 seconds before I get there. A mutual respect. My little girl loves them so I’ve had to ‘Mum up’ and pat a few of late- she’s teaching me an appreciation of their form to compliment the existing understanding :)

    • pawhitehouse says

      Anna, that’s so wonderful! People don’t have to like snakes but you’re right, they have to respect each other! It’s lovely that your little girl love snakes. :)

    • pawhitehouse says

      Do Kerry. You will feel so proud of yourself afterwards and your children will think your awesome too! Once I got over the nervous energy of holding a snake, I started to love it. Now it relaxes me when I have a snake around my neck.

      • kerry santillo says

        It does sound intriguing :))) but I think i need to do slowly and get over the fear. I think its just because they look slippery :))) but thankyou one day I think I will :)

  11. Olivia Knapman says

    My daughter has grown up around wild and captive snakes and loves them. We are definitely going to check out your book recommendations and try making our own pasta snake – what a great idea!

  12. says

    This is such an important lesson to learn, so many great ideas here, thank you. I live and work in an area with lots of snakes, ane teaching my class about snake awareness is something I should really focus on more with summer coming up.

  13. Kate says

    Snakes are always spoken about in a negative light, which is such a shame. It’s true I’m not that into them but I can appreciate their beauty and what makes them amazing. Thanks for the post.

  14. says

    I don’t like snakes at all – deep instilled fear and being on a farm and a runner I go prepared. I’m trying to teach my boys to respect them and badger my husband into keeping things tidy and clear when the boys play . Thanks for sharing this Penny.

    • Penny Whitehouse says

      Hello Lovely Trish. How are you? I’m always thinking of you whenever I see your images on IG or Twitter.

      I can totally understand a fear of snakes. It’s almost instinctive to have some fear of them but yes, being brought up on a farm wouldn’t have helped that fear. I find farmers the hardest to convert.

      If you ever want to hold a snake and you’re in the sunny Gold coast, let me know. I have the safest snakes around and would love to help ease that fear a little. xx

    • Penny Whitehouse says

      How funny. I have a feeling my twins will do the same! I’m yet to try them though. They are 2.5 now and although I’m not concerned about the snake, I actually think the snake is way to heavy for them. We only touch at this stage.

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