LONG SAULT — Dozens of children watched in awe during a presentation of reptiles and mammals at the Long Sault Arena Friday afternoon hosted by the Township of South Stormont.
“I love doing this job because I get to educate kids on animals because it’s something that I’m passionate about,” said Tristen Marks, an employee of Little Ray’s Reptiles who made the presentation to the exuberant crowd.
She commended the group for its participation, actively questioning her to learn more about the animals.
“I like to educate them and make them less scared of certain animals that can seem scary, like tarantulas and snakes,” Marks said.
The presentation was another event in a series of summer recreation programming organized by the South Stormont township. This presentation had a fee of $5 as the township had to hire the company to put on the show.
While the attendees were able to handle the animals themselves, the presentation ended with applause.
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Ingleside resident Rachel Papadakis has been bringing her children to the township’s activities all summer.
“I love the summer events,” she said. “I like that they encourage the kids to ask questions. They really spark my kid’s interest with learning and informing them correctly with all the animals that they have.”
She explained what keeps her family coming back to the events is the enjoyment she sees in her children when they attend.
Marks educated the group on the safe handling of a variety of reptiles and mammals, while encouraging everyone to learn a lot about any of the animals if they wanted to have one as a pet. Marks started her presentation with a turtle, then a lizard, before displaying an albino hedgehog. She explained a turtle’s shell is made from keratin, the same substance found in human hair and nails.
After, Marks displayed a tarantula spider, saying that out of the over 800 species, none of their bites will kill you. She explained the arachnid uses its venom to kill its prey, not to attack humans.
She also shared a young 12-week-old ferret named Bear, teaching the group the animal is a very good hunter which can tunnel underground to find mice and will even attack animals twice its size.
The finale was a crocodilian, which she said was an infant at seven years old. According to Marks, the reptile is fully grown after 25 years and can live up to 60 years.