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Snake-ology (PCEC)

TopicLaboratory and Hands-on Activities - General
Outdoor Skills - Identification
Outdoor Skills - Outdoor Safety
Wildlife - Reptiles
Summary
Distinguish between venomous and nonvenomous snakes of Arkansas as participants relate snake traits to their habitat and lifestyles. Identify the “real” snakes of Arkansas.
Grade Level4 or higher
Recommended SettingIndoor or outdoor classroom
LocationPotlatch Conservation Education Center at Cook’s Lake, Casscoe
Contact

Education Program Coordinator, 870-241-3373

Duration30 minutes to an hour
Suggested Number of Participants 20 - 25
Special Conditions
One adult supervisor per 10 students; outdoor activities, weather permitting.
Objectives
  • Distinguish a venomous snake from a nonvenomous one.
  • Relate snake traits to their habitat and lifestyle.
Key Terms*

Pit-viper

Venom

Materials

Drawing paper and colored pencils

Scrap material for snake construction

Habitat pictures

Handout comparing poisonous and nonpoisonous snake traits

Slide show/video on snakes of Arkansas

Snake specimens-live or preserved and/or pictures of snakes

Snake-ology quiz

Background

Before participants arrive at the center, have them research poisonous snakes in Arkansas, their traits and where they are found in the state. They should share this information through presentations.

Procedure
  1. Brainstorm snake traits and types of Arkansas snakes.
  2. Talk about snake legends and myths such as the hoop snake that rolls down the road with its tail in its mouth (coachwhip), the whipsnake (coachwhip) that whips people with his tail, and the “stinging” mud snake with his pointed tail.
  3. Present a slide show or video on Arkansas snakes.
  4. Feed a snake to show how snakes “crawl around their prey” as they swallow. Garter snakes like frogs, rat or king snakes eat mice well and the hognose prefers toads.
  5. Divide the participants into small groups and do one of the following camouflage activities.
    • Assign each group to a different outdoor habitat. Have them study and sketch the habitat with a camouflaged snake drawn in it or have them construct a snake from assorted scrap and/or natural materials and hide the snake in their habitat. Each group will then search for the other groups’ hidden snakes. The group with the best camouflaged snake is King Snakes for the day.
    • Give each group a large habitat picture and have them draw and color a snake that would be well-camouflaged in it. They should list traits necessary for success in that habitat other than camouflage then explain their drawings. Sample habitats might include the following:
      • Green bushes with slender limbs
      • A rotting tree on the ground
      • Log floating beneath tree shadows
      • Muddy, marshy area
      • Piles of dry brown leaves
      • Rocky area with crevices
      • Rock emerging from a swift stream
      • Flower bed or garden
Modifications

Slither your way through the Snake-ology Quiz.

Review
  • List characteristics for venomous and nonvenomous snakes.
  • Name three of each type of snakes that might be found in your area.
Related Documents
Glossary

Pit viper – any of various venomous snakes of the family Crotalidae, such as a copperhead, rattlesnake or fer-de-lance, that has a small sensory pit below each eye

Venom – poison transmitted to prey or an enemy chiefly by biting and stinging