Reptiles attract a crowd at Point Pelee

by Garrett Fodor

As a part of Labour Day long weekend celebrations, nature lovers and reptile enthusiasts were welcomed to Point Pelee National Park to enjoy an interactive presentation “Sciensational Sssnakes!!”

  The Guelph-based group that made the presentation has been coming to Point Pelee one weekend, each summer, for the last several years. Each year, its display features various kinds of turtles, snakes, lizards, and other native reptiles. The event offers visitors a chance to get an up-close and personal look at some reptiles they may not see otherwise. It also offers attendees a chance to touch and even handle some of the snakes as well. 

  The company was founded in 1994 by Jenny Pearce and Jeff Hathaway, graduates of the University of Guelph. Since founded, the collection has grown to include over 100 reptiles, representing 30 species. Each year, they travel throughout Ontario, presenting information on the animals, proper handling techniques, their native habitats, place of origin, and unique identifying features. 

  Reilly McIsaac is one of presenters and handlers for “Sciensational Sssnakes!!.” She said the goal each year is to inform people about the native species and even help some people overcome their fears. 

  “We focus on native Ontario species, but as a part of our presentation, we also feature a few different reptiles not from Ontario, such as the Texas Rat Snake,” McIsaac said. “Unfortunately, reptiles do not get a ton of conservation focus, especially snakes, because people are afraid of them or have negative perceptions of them and don’t want to protect them or their natural habitats.”

  McIsaac said they are very satisfied with the public response from the presentations and how many people, who participate, overcome their fear of snakes and are left with a new opinion on the reptiles.

Hopefully, seeing the snakes and other reptiles, in this light and up close, can help increase conservation efforts and awareness.

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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