Cliffcrest welcomes creepy crawlers

Which cold-blooded critter has scales like a snake, legs like a lizard and has a long blue tongue?

The blue-tongue lizard, of course.

Questions like these were answered last Thursday at the Cliffcrest Library as elementary school children were given an interactive presentation on warm- and cold-blooded creatures.

“Do you guys know why his tongue is blue?” Alda Metallo, Creepy Crawlers Express presenter, asked the children.

“It’s poisonous” and “To make it look prettier,” the children yelled.

“It’s not poisonous,” Metallo said. “He pretends like he’s poisonous so he can protect himself. He actually has no venom inside of him.”

The library hosted a variety of reptiles and amphibians for children to have a hands-on experience.

Children oohed and aahed as Metallo took each animal out, letting the children feel the slippery or scaly skin of the reptiles.

“Kids like the chameleon and the chinchilla the most,” Metallo said.

Nine-year-old Jacob Peace was one of many looking forward to the chameleon.

“I haven’t held a chameleon but I have held a snake,” Peace said, “which is similar to a chameleon.”

Metallo took the colour-changing reptile out of its cage, as it sat on a small branch.

The kids sat up in excitement.

The animal from Madagascar cannot change into all the colours, according to Metallo.

“This one can change yellow, green or brown” Metallo said. “They only change colours depending on their mood. When he’s happy he can be a really light colour, when he’s upset he can be dark brown.”

Other animals included leopard geckos, frogs, corn snakes and a Russian tortoise that got its name for being the first tortoise to be taken to the Russian space station.

Metallo fed the critters mealworms as she taught the children what the critters ate and where they came from.

One of the last animals shown was the bearded-dragon lizard from Australia.

“Want to know why his throat’s very puffy?” Metallo asked. “Because when he gets scared he puffs it out really large so his predators are scared of him.”

The kids suddenly yelled, “Can he puff it now?”

“I don’t really want to do that,” Metallo said, “because that means I have to scare him.”

She said the chinchilla from South America is her favorite animal to present.

“He’s really soft,” Metallo said. “I’m more into the softer animals.”

Growing up with pet reptiles, Metallo is familiar with all the critters, but said she would not bring out the tarantula.

“I’m terrified of spiders,” Metallo said. “I can hold them in a cage but can’t hold it in my hand.”