Monday, March 01, 2010

Snakes In The Rain

Today, Marcus turned eight. The boys slept in. At 7.30 we heard some action - although Marcus was still asleep, Michael was quietly doing "explosions" with his hands under the doona. Pretty soon they were both up and about. Elf tracked down some great presents for Marcus; plastic spherical transformer things called Bakugan Battle Brawlers. He just loves them, and so does Michael.

Elf lined up the Reptile Rescue people to put on a snakes and lizards show for Marcus, Michael and a dozen invited friends. The reptile guys were quite hard to get hold of and pin down - Elf's persistence and perspicacity came to the fore there. But they were well worth the trouble, they were fantastic.

We invited everyone to meet us at Cascade Gardens, just up the road from home. The weather outlook was mixed, so we had our fingers crossed. The snake guys, Justin and Chris, arrived early, shook hands with Marcus and showed the boys the lizards in their tubs. They had an impressive large plastic bucket marked DANGER Venomous Snakes.

As the kids and parents arrived they got out the lizards and handed them around. They had blue-tongues (two adults, two two-day-old babies) and some lovely little mountain dragons.
Clockwise from above left: Lana, Marcus, Caleb, Adrian, Cameron, Michael.

After everyone had had good fun with the cuddleable reptiles, Justin and Chris brought out the non-cuddleables. First they each extracted a tiger snake, holding their tail and keeping the head away, curled around a special snake stick. The tigers looked very different from one another - one very dark, and the other quite green with a yellowish belly. Next they brought out a copperhead. He was much slimmer, kind of khaki. I was wandering around taking photos at this stage and didn't get a close look at the copperhead, but there is apparently a metallic orange-pinkishness about the headular area.

These and the tigers are highly venomous - a good bite would kill an untreated adult in about 5 hours. The little white-lipped or whip snake is less venomous, although Chris said new research suggests that they are capable of laying you low, as their venom varies a lot in toxicity.
Next Chris and Justin demonstrated (with a large rubber red-bellied black snake) how they catch a snake, how they release it, and then how to bandage a snakebite on the arm. The kids asked lots of questions and were very interested. Someone asked how to bandage a bite on the stomach or the back. Justin's advice was "Er... just do your best".

It was raining solidly by this stage, so we just handed around barbecues sausages in bread and left out the tricky stuff like plates and salad. The snake men took a break while people ate, and joined us afterwards for cake and sour worm lollies. Elf excelled herself, with a vivid green chocolate snake cake.

Elf laboured over a perfect potato salad that came home untouched, but having just eaten some at dinner I can say - spot on.

Once everyone had eaten, Justin and Chris broke out the lizards again. Parents and siblings arrived to collect the guests, and they too had a go cuddling lizards. Of all the things in the animal kingdom called "blue", the blue-tongue's tongue is the most rewarding. Eventually the snake men said their farewells. Just when we were wondering when we would get rid of everyone else, the rain kicked up a notch to Reasonably Heavy, and we finally moved off home to get dry and get coffee.


Julie Ward said...

What a fantastic party! Must look up on the net to see do we have anything like that here in Limerick....Mack was not impressed when he heard the story of St Patrick banishing snakes from Ireland,as like most small boys he loves snakes(or the idea of them anyway) Im sure your boys had a great time and the cake looks delish!
Bakugans are a big hit in this house also...along with battle strikers.

chris.dadness said...

Are there really no snakes at all in Ireland? There must at least be a reptile house at the zoo? Poor Irish laddies, its really not fair on them. The cake was great - you can see from that pic the sun came out once or twice. Actually I just noticed that as well as a snake it makes an M for Marcus.

Happy first day of spring!

Julie Ward said...

Well yes of course we have the reptile house in Dublin Zoo and the pet shops are stocking some now also, but not quite the same. No native breeds and not sure they would survive in the"wild". Mack reckons he knows the reptiles in the shop/zoo are alive and real but they are not "Real" I kinda know what he means. Ireland doesnt have Moles either....which I always found kinda odd, as where we were in England was overrun with them.....While we were chatting about the whys and wherefors of all of this, Caitlin gave me a withering look and informed me that Ireland doesnt have Tigers either and I need to build a bridge and get over it. .....(sigh)We really have their full attention for so little time......

chris.dadness said...

So which saint is thought to have driven the tigers out of Ireland?