07/29/12 — Reading program brings critters to northern Wayne

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Reading program brings critters to northern Wayne

By Aaron Moore
Published in News on July 29, 2012 1:50 AM

PIKEVILLE -- Pikeville Community Center played host to some out-of-town visitors Tuesday, including a snake, a tree frog and a North African hedgehog.

North Carolina Aquariums representatives came to teach children about wildlife for Pikeville and Fremont's final meeting of their summer reading programs. The goal, as always, was to spark children's interest and get them reading.

Though the children already learned about reptiles and amphibians this summer, they said they love any chance to see something creepy or crawly.

"She loves anything to do with animals," said Michelle Singleton, talking about her 7-year-old daughter Anne-Marie.

The children learned why certain animals only come out in the day and others at night. They also had the chance to pet a corn snake and the hedgehog.

"It feels rubbery," one girl said as she stroked the snake's scales.

"One time I saw a snake and I picked it up and it got on my neck and it didn't even squeeze me," one boy said as they learned how corn snakes feed.

"It didn't squeeze you because it knew you were too big to eat," said Rhana Paris, who led the program.

But it was the hedgehog, not the snake, that children had to take care with. When scared, they can curl up in a ball and inflate their spines, which can be very painful, Ms. Paris explained.

Besides just petting animals, the children also learned some new vocabulary.

Nocturnal animals come out at night and diurnal animals during the day, Ms. Paris said. Crepuscular animals are active before sunrise and before sunset, and cathemeral animals sleep in one-hour cycles.

"Like your baby brother or sister," Ms. Paris said.

To explain why humans don't stay up at night, Ms. Paris had one girl wear headphones, sunglasses, a face mask and mittens to show how darkness dulls the senses.

"You can still feel just as well in the dark, but would you stick your hand in a dark place you couldn't see? I wouldn't."

Humans have relatively good eyesight, she said, so sunlight gives them an advantage. But we have "a very lousy nose," which makes it hard for us to find our way in the dark -- and avoid potential predators.

"There are animals that are built for night and animals that are not built for night," Ms. Paris said. "And some animals that are not built for anything."

Animals also come out at different times because they don't want to compete with each other for food, she said.

"If we all went to Hardee's right now and tried to order, do you think they might have problems getting us all fed right away?" she asked. "It's the same with animals. We're competing."

Owls and hawks, squirrels and rats and birds and bats are all examples of animals that come out at different times so they don't compete with each other, Ms. Paris said.

With it being the final meeting, Pikeville and Fremont Library Branch Manager Lisa Stevens named both programs' top readers. Javon Graham read 10 books in 27.5 hours, Sadie Collins read 14 books in 24 hours and Luke Winders read 29 books in 18 hours.

Since the books were all different lengths, the children got Target gift cards based on hours spent reading.