Charmingfare Farm’s Wildlife Encounters Day was crawling with fun.
by Cheryl Killam 8-17-12
Most people who live in the towns near Candia are familiar with Charmingfare Farm, home to Beau the oxen used for logging and the black draft horses that pull wagons in the summer and sleighs during the winter and the howling of the wolf family when it’s close to feeding time.
The farm is a working farm with many acres of gardens growing fresh lettuce, beets, radishes and other vegetables for the CSA program, that are hand cultivated like the Amish to allow for planting rows closer requiring less irrigation; the fields with rows of corn stalks for Halloween.
What they wouldn’t expect to find were the interesting reptiles that the 20 children attending day camp and other visiting families got to see up close and hold during the Wildlife Encounters Day. Many of the children were squeezed up to the edge of the stage anticipating the arrival of the van from NERD, the New England Reptile Distributors of Plaistow, while a few remainded cautiously back a few feet.
Kevin McCurley drove in right on time and started unloading plastic crates onto the stage, all with holes in the tops for breathing and some had water for the swimmers.
The first display was an Albino Snapping Turtle that he raised from a baby. Kevin had one myth he had to correct right away, it was that Snapping Turtles “do not eat people, they only snap and bite in defense”. He said, just like the albino rattlesnake it's not poisonous and rattlesnakes use their rattles to try to scare away whatever might be threatening them. Poisonous rattlesnakes really only use their poison to catch their food.
Next he explained this next reptile has exellent hearing so they needed to quiet down. He brought out a Dwarf Caiman, a relatively small crocodilian reptile from nothern and central South America which is primarily nocturnal. My what pretty teeth you have !!!
Kevin asked for a volunteer to come hold this next critter before he took it out of it’s box and Dani Dupuis from Candia jumped to the stage. He opened the box top and took out a Mexican Flame Tarantula Spider and let it crawl up her arm as she giggled about the fuzzy feet.
Next came a Bearded Dragon and a Blue Tongue Skink that were not phased by all the hands touching them and sharing to hold them.
Kevin brought out a bunch of white sacks containing a variety of Ball Pythons explaining they are not slimy and never wet, their tongues are used to smell the air and when holding them you must properly support them or you could break their backs. Instinctively they roll up into a ball when they get nervous.
Another fact he shared was, "alot of the information that people hear on TV is mis-leading. In Florida since 2009 officially they have only collected 113 pythons but the media would like you to believe they have collected hundreds."
Tyler Byrne from Deerfield and Emma Lee from Amherst enjoyed holding the ball pythons and wearing them as a necklaces.
Out came two more unique critters, an Albino Water Monitor and an Argentine Black and White Tegu. Both were very content to just crawl around the grass with the children petting them and comparing the differences in their skins. When someone tried to pick them up their very long toe nails dug into the grass and dirt keeping them grounded.
Meet "Sherman" the African Spyr Thigh Tortoise who is 12 years old. He had the time of his life just chomping on grass. Kevins pet gator loves to eat pizza! Check out the blue-ish protective sheath over his eyes.
There is a very wide variety of colors in all these snakes, this is the Albino Blood Python.
The New Caldonian Giant Geko has very velvety soft skin and it's eyes were only open a slit because they are nocturnal and the sun was much too bright for him.
Check out those round toes on the Geko!! Time to bring out the biggest one of all, the Albino Green Burmese Python that camp counselor Sam Leger of Hooksett had to have help holding.
By the end of the two hours, all of the children who were originally nervous were right in the middle of the group holding boa’s and learning to pet snakes from nose to tail because the scales go in one direction. Petting the opposite direction is like bending your fingernail backwards.
Kayla Clark from Westfield, Mass holding the Green Tree Python and 4 year old Danny Ord was down from Juno, Alaska visiting his grandfather Rick Sullivan of Manchester. He was in his glory when that Bearded Dragon kissed him right on the nose. Hopefully someone checked to make sure Danny didn't carry that Bearded Dragon back to Alaska with him.