Poor snakes. They really get a bad rap, don’t they?
Fear of them is one of the top 10 phobias. It’s called ophidiophobia.
They’ve been blamed for the temptation that resulted in people becoming mortal (according to the Bible) and also revered by others as the bringers of good luck.
However you view them, snakes are a vital part of the ecosystem and humans would be doomed without them.
Try these silly snake fun projects to help teach kids about the importance – and dangers – of these slithering reptiles.
SILLY SNAKE FUN – BUT FIRST, SOME FUN FACTS
- Snakes are found just about everywhere on land and in water, except in Antarctica.
- There are more than 3000 different species of snake.
- Snakes don’t have eyelids.
- Some sea snakes can breathe partially through their skin, allowing for longer dives underwater.
- Snakes are one of nature’s great pest controllers. They eat a variety of harmful bugs and insects and larger snakes feast on mice, rats and other small mammals. Without them, we would be overrun by rodents.
- They serve as a food source for larger predators such as hawks, owls, herons, as well as some carnivorous mammals.
SCARY FACT: some snakes retain the reflex to bite even after death. What do you think is the world’s scariest job? Maybe being a snake milker. They have to collect to the venom used to make antivenin. It would be pretty scary trying to squeeze that venom from the glands near their sharp fangs.
SILLY SNAKE FUN – AUSSIE SNAKES
- This may surprise you, but Australia doesn’t top the list for the country with the highest number of venomous snakes. That honour goes to Mexico (with 80), then Brazil (79) and Australia comes in at third place with 66.
- The thing is though, Australia’s venomous snakes have more powerful venom than the others.
- Australia is home to nine of the top 10 most venomous snakes in the world.
THE FIERCE SNAKE
- The most poisonous snake in the world is the inland taipan, also known as the fierce snake.
- Truth is, they are not fierce at all. They are extremely timid and rarely seen as they live in remote parts of Australia. There are no recorded deaths and only a handful (all snake handlers) of recorded bites from the fierce snake.
THE DEATH ADDER
- Another Aussie snake that appears to have been misnamed is the death adder. The name actually started out as deaf adder as it was believed they couldn’t hear. This belief stemmed from the fact that, unlike other snakes which tend to slither away when a human approaches, the death adder does not. As an ambush hunter, it lays in wait for its prey and is, therefore, less inclined to move.
- Death adders have the longest fangs of any of the Australian snakes. They are easy to spot because of their stumpy bodies. Don’t let that fool you though. They can deliver the fastest strike of all of Australia’s snakes. However, they are said to be reluctant to bite unless actually touched.
- They also have the distinction of being among the few snakes that produce litters of live young.
- That being said, loss of habitat and an increase in cane toads – which like to feast on the death adder babies, means numbers are decreasing.
- The eastern brown snake probably tops the list of Australia’s most dangerous snake. They and other brown snakes are responsible for more deaths every year than any other groups of snakes. Their venom is ranked as the second most toxic of all of the world’s land snakes but what makes them so dangerous is that they thrive in populated areas, particularly where there are large numbers of rats and mice. And they are renowned for their bad tempers.
- Mainland tiger snakes are responsible for the second-highest number of bites in Australia, as they inhabit highly populated areas. They hunt rodents at night, which makes them difficult to see and easy to inadvertently step on.
RED BELLIED BLACK SNAKES
- Red-bellied black snakes are next on the list but they are generally considered to be shyer and more eager to escape human contact. With their shimmering black scales and bright red bellies, they are actually quite beautiful.
- Treatment with anti-venin means fatalities from snake bites are relatively low – about six a year. There are around 3000 snake bites recorded each year in Australia. This contrasts with somewhere like India, where there could be a million bites a year and up to 50,000 deaths.
- Snakes are usually timid and eager to avoid confrontation which means most bites occur as the result of humans trying to catch them.
NOT SO SILLY SNAKE FUN – WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU SEE A SNAKE
As we humans take up more and more of their territory, our encounters with all forms of wildlife is increasing. It’s important to educate children about the dangers of certain creatures without making them fear and hate those creatures.
We need to explain to kids how important each and every creature is to our ecosystem and therefore our existence.
However, we also need to prepare them for how to deal with those encounters.
The first piece of advice is possibly the hardest to adhere to – don’t panic. Stay calm.
Freeze at first to see what the snake will do. Usually, they will slither away. If you are blocking their escape route, back away slowly.
Do not try to outrun the snake and do not try to catch it.
NOT SO SILLY SNAKE FUN – WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE BITTEN
Call your emergency service immediately. The number is 000 in Australia.
While waiting, stay calm and stay as still as possible to minimize movement of the poison around the body.
Do not try to suck the venom out of the wound or wash the wound. The residual venom can help medical staff determine which snake bit you and how to treat you.
The current advice is to avoid applying a high tourniquet and instead, tightly bandage with a pressure bandage if possible, then splint and immobilise the area to stop the spread of venom.
For information on American snakes and what to do if you encounter one, read this snakebite guide.
SILLY SNAKE FUN CREATIVE PROJECTS
Explaining these important details to children can really make them fear snakes. However, if you turn it into a creative game it is easier to get the message across without frightening them.
Try helping them make these silly snake fun projects while you are discussing the issue with them.
SILLY SNAKE FUN – THE PENCIL TOPPER
This is so easy, even the littlest kids can have fun making it. And it looks so cute it takes the sting out of your warnings and advice.
- Two pipe cleaners – different colours works really well
- Red paper
- Googly eyes
- Twist the pipe cleaners together.
- When you get near the end, form a small loop for the head.
- Cut a tiny forked tongue from the red paper and glue to the bottom of the head.
- Glue two googly eyes to the top of the head.
SILLY SNAKE FUN – THE CARDBOARD ROLL SNAKE
This one is even easier. The natural curve on the roll makes it the perfect material to turn into a snake.
- Simply cut the roll is a spiral and cut a triangular head at the top end.
- Draw on eyes and add a forked tongue if desired.
SILLY SNAKE FUN – THE SPIRAL SNAKE
This is a fun way to have the kids practise making patterns.
- Draw a simple spiral on a sheet of paper.
- Cut it out and have your child decorate the snake however they want.
SILLY SNAKE FUN – A RAINBOW SERPENT
The rainbow serpent is an important feature of the Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime Stories.
According to the legend, when the rainbow is seen in the sky, it is said to be the Rainbow Serpent moving from one waterhole to another.
Here’s a fun and easy way for children to create their own rainbow serpents. Wacky Workshops students love doing this while listening to the story of the Rainbow Serpent.
- Wool – various colours
- Draw a simple snake shape on the cardboard
- Cut out the shape
- Tie some wool to one end and secure (so it doesn’t slip off the end) with some glue.
- Have the child wind the wool around the cardboard.
- When they want to change colours, tie the new colour to the existing coloured wool and continue winding until the cardboard snake is covered.
- Finish by tying the wool off and securing with another dot of glue.
Happy crafting and have a gleeful week, Tamuria.