LAURINBURG — Fear and excitement spread amongst over 200 children, parents and volunteers watching Monday’s presentation of Snakes Alive at the Scotland County Memorial Library.
Herpetologist Ron Cromer, who established the program in 1982, showcased everything from a python weighing more than 100 pounds to a feisty iguana named Tarzan.
The scientific program, a part of the library’s summer reading catalogue, teaches kids about all reptiles, specifically snakes. The demonstration incorporated two dozen snakes, all harmless, offering kids a hands-on experience.
Teasing the crowd a little by pulling out snake after snake, Cromer incorporated a quick PowerPoint lesson to teach the kids about each snake before pulling them out. Then he started getting to the creepier critters.
“Don’t start screaming,” said Cromer as he began to introduce the overgrown iguana he was about to let loose in the room, “because how would you feel if you came over the curtain and 200 plus lizards started screamin’ at you?”
Before releasing the beast, he asked one brave volunteer to feed the iguana once he came out of his curtained aquarium.
“This is not a thumb’s up situation,” said Cromer, letting the brave volunteer know not to hold the sweet potato snack too close to his fingers.
“He might come out bobbing his head up and down, letting you know he’s the king around here,” he said as he lifted the lid.
The crowd gasped and squealed with excitement, disregarding Cromer’s request, as Tarzan came leaping out. He then began bobbing his head at the crowd and headed towards his morning snack.
Once Tarzan was back in his cage, Cromer introduced his next big event. He was going to need eight volunteers to hold a hefty Burmese python from Southeast Asia.
As a few boy scouts, their leader and various volunteers arranged in a line the snake came slithering out of its wagon — a large, lemon colored serpent named Lucy.
“It’s heavy,” yelled volunteer Jailyn Farmer, as she slowly started lowering the middle of the snake.
Everyone in the crowd got a chance to come by and pet the lengthy, limbless reptile on their way out the door.
“He was pretty heavy, he weighs more than me that’s for sure,” said Boy Scout Jacob Myers, hands shaky after returning the snake back to its wagon.
“I wasn’t scared because I was in the middle and the head was way down there.”
The summer reading program continues on July 29 with “Mad Science of the Piedmont,” featuring chemical reactions, special effects and potions, at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. The program wraps up on Aug. 5 with storyteller Tyris Jones.
For more about Cromer’s program, visit www.snakesaliveprograms.com/.
Abby Hackmann can be reached at 910-506-3171.