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CHILDREN MEET REPTILES

Preschoolers watch Helen the hedge hog walk. ().
Preschoolers watch Helen the hedge hog walk. ().

More than a dozen reptiles and a hedge hog visited children at Mona Chandlers Kinder World Preschool and Daycare Monday.

BJ Farris, who visits the school to teach sign language to the students, brought the animals.

As Terry, a sulcata tortoise, strutted across the floor for the children, Farris said, Terry is going to live longer than any of us.

Terry was born Sept. 21 and was the size of a quarter when Farris got him, she said.

He will be full size in five years and will weigh more than 100 pounds, Farris said.

Hes from the desert and could live to be 200 years old, she said.

Terry is a herbivore, which means shes a vegetarian, Farris said.

Terry likes foods like romaine lettuce and grass but Terrys very favorite food is dandelion greens, she said.

While showing the students Azure, a blue belly lizard, Farris said, This is not what they live in. This is kind of like their car seats.

The lizard needs at least a 5 gallon cage, preferably 10 gallons, she said.

Farris has two Wahlberg geckos named Gracie and George.

Gracie visited the students but they werent allowed to touch her because when the geckos get stressed or scared their tail will fall off, Farris said.

Gracie, who is from Africa, is also fast, she said.

Farris said she hopes Gracie and George will have babies, which can then be hand raised so they will be more friendly.

Zorro, a masked tree frog from Mexico, who appeared to be almost translucent, was the size of Farris fingertip. He seemed to sit patiently on her thumb as she gave children a close view of him.

If he eats a black worm, you can see it in his stomach, she said.

Jabba, a white dumpy tree frog from Australia, can live 25 years, Farris said.

Jabba was a dark brownish green color when Farris lifted him out of his cage, but he turned bright green after spending some time inside Farris shirt.

Frogs like Jabba like a warm environment around 80 degrees, she said.

Farris let the children touch Jabbas skin and explained that it was important not to rub it.

Farris also made sure each child washed there hands after touching each reptile.

Tree frogs like a a damp environment and live in the rain forest, she said.

African clawed frogs, Elvira and Charlie, made their appearance in large jars.

They are totally aquatic but are air breathers, she said.

They swim to the top, gulp air and will go back down.

Elvira is big and lives by herself because of her appetite, Farris said.

One day she ate 14 gold fish, she said.

Charlie, a dwarf, is about half the size of Elvira.

Flame, Stubs, and Bo Jangles are called fire belly toads, but are really semi-aquatic frogs.

Farris said the frogs she has have retained their color because she feeds them crickets that shes raised and carefully fed things like shredded carrots, bell peppers, apples and oranges.

Crickets will eat cardboard, so people who feed them to a pet should always find out how what they have been fed, she said.

Lilly, an American bull frog, actually belongs to second grade teacher Tammy Coffey, but needed some extra care Farris has been providing.

Lilly will eat almost anything.

Because she needs a lot of room, shes getting a 130-gallon tank with a mud bog. Bull frogs need mud bogs for their skin, Farris said.

Gladys, a red racer, provided a lesson on how snakes smell by sticking his tongue out.

When snakes stick out their tongues, theyre smelling you, Farris said.

Three-year-old African pygmy hedge hog Helen, is nocturnal so she was waken to meet the students.

Helen will live seven or eight years, Farris said.

Helen knows who you are by your smell, she said.

Farris told the children that they must remember to never, never put a pet outside.

Youll find somebody who wants it.

Frogs like the ones Farris owns are used to humans. Frogs who are outside are not. A frog who has been a pet can take bugs from humans, Farris said. If they are introduced to frogs in the wild, it could kill them.

You could kill lots and lots of little animals by releasing a pet into the wild, she said.

Farris said she began caring for reptiles because she has five boys. The oldest is 24. She said she was always finding some creature in a pocket and you gotta help the hurt ones.

Farris said she enjoys sharing the animals with children and likes teaching them that the animals have feelings and need special care.

If you pick a pet to fit your lifestyle you both can be happy, she said.

Groups interested in meeting Farris menagerie may call her at (541) 469-2931.

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