Grade 6 students hosted some special guests last week, as two snakes from the Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary came to visit the school. The two snakes, along with their handlers, came to educate the students on the many unique features of the snake as well as to dispel myths about them. Because the snakes are very tame, students were able to hold and touch them.
The guest speakers spoke about how a snake’s internal organs are arranged, explaining that the snake’s lungs are higher than the stomach, so that large amounts of food don’t impede their breathing. They also explained how snakes can eat such large animals. Not only can snakes unhinge their jaw, they also have flexible ligaments in the front of their jaw, an elastic esophagus and no breastbone or front ribs.
Along with the living snakes, the guests brought snake bones, skins and a life-size replica of the longest snake ever found, which was as long as all students in the room standing shoulder to shoulder. Students learned about the different kinds of snakes found on Vancouver Island and in BC, as well as how habitat and geography dictate where snakes are found around the world.
Students had a chance to meet “Peach Pits,” a Royal or Ball Python that is four feet long, enjoys life in savannas and eats mice. They also met her friend “Checkers,” who is one of the easiest breeds of snake to keep as a pet and who vibrates his tail when he gets nervous. Though they differ greatly in size, both snakes use constriction to capture their food.