A close look at snakes

Romulus Whitaker


India is a land of many awe-inspiring and fascinating reptiles and amphibians – from king cobras that can stand up and look you in the eye, to frogs that glide from tree to tree. There are turtles that can stay under water for several hours, snakes that can eat a whole deer and lizards that can run on their hind legs. Which other subjects can hold a child’s attention as well as this group can? For some, the fascination comes from wanting to know if the scary rumors they have heard are true: Do snakes take revenge? Are lizards poisonous? For other children, the attraction is simple curiosity: How can a snake swallow something twice as big as its head? Why do frogs sing in the monsoon?

“Herps” is the collective name given to reptiles and amphibians. You can take advantage of their appeal to teach a variety of subjects. Science, Social Studies, Geography, Art, creative writing and other subjects can “come alive” with this topic. Studying herps can also provide a good reason to take a fi eld trip – to a snake park or a crocodile farm, if there’s one nearby, or the reptile house at your local zoo. Better still, visit a local herp environment, like a fi eld, pond or forest to see frogs, turtles, lizards, and even snakes and crocodiles in the wild, if possible.

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