Corn Snake: AKA, Red Rat Snake, these reptiles grow to a slender 3-4' making them some of the longer snakes in Georgia, where they are found throughout the state, but primarily in the Coastal Plains ecoregion. They feed on small rodents and bird eggs. Commonly mistaken for the venomous Copperhead, all snakes play an important role in our ecosystem, keeping disease-carrying rodent populations in check. On loan from Mrs. Tracy in Kindergarten, our snake is amelanistic, a mutation causing it to lose its darker red and brown pigments.
American Toad: American toads are 2-3.5” long and live in terrestrial habitats ranging forest and fields to backyards. You can hear the trill call of the male American Toad from February through July when they are most active at night, spending the day hiding. Adult American toads eat a variety of small insects including ants, beetles, moths, and earthworms; and are prey for several species of snakes, birds, and mammals that are immune to the toxic secretions of their skin. They spend up to two months as tadpoles before becoming toadlets. These toads are on loan from the Chattahoochee Nature Center.
Bluegill: Like other sunfish, bluegills are "tall" and "flat." They have a small mouth on a short head. The dorsal fin is continuous, with the front part spiny and the back part soft and round with a dark smudge at the base. The tail fin is slightly forked but rounded. The body is mainly olive green with yellowish underneath. A close look reveals six to eight olive-colored vertical bars on the sides. Bluegill like to live in lakes and slow-moving, rocky streams. They can often be found in deep beds of weeds. Bluegills are carnivores, primarily eating invertebrates such as snails, worms, shrimp, aquatic insects, small crayfish, and zooplankton. The very small mouth of this fish is an adaptation to eating small animals. They can also consume small fish such as minnows and plant material such as algae. Young bluegill eat worms and zooplankton, staying under cover while adults feed more in the open. These fish are visiting us from Chimney Springs Pond.
Yellow-bellied Slider: Yellow-bellied sliders can be found in almost any body of water or stream in the Southeastern United States, but can be crowded out by pet Red-eared Sliders that have been discarded by their owners. Sliders can live for more than a quarter of a century, reaching a maximum length of almost a foot! There is a vertical yellow line behind the eye and stripes on the neck, arms, and legs. Yellow-bellied sliders are aquatic, omnivorous, and will opportunistically eat aquatic insects, fish, frog eggs and tadpoles, aquatic snakes and a wide variety of aquatic plants and algae. This turtle is on loan from the Chattahoochee Nature Center.
Fancy Rats: These furry rodents are the domesticated version of their wild cousins, and don't carry the same health risks that wild rats do. They are social and trainable animals who especially like to be out in the morning running around their cage, watching our students. In the wild they would be an important part of the diet for snakes, hawks / owls, and foxes - all of which are doing us a favor by keeping population sizes in check. Their diet consists of nuts, grains, fruit, and rodent pellets. These rats come to us from PetSmart.