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.