Tūtū and Me Wai‘anae and Papakōlea were treated to an exciting visit last month. A variety of reptiles and amphibians that we can now find in the State of Hawai‘i were introduced to us by “The Reptile Man”, Charles King. The keiki were even able to touch them if they dared! We learned that many of the creatures he showed us were populating our ‘Oahu streams and forests. Some even traveled here for a purpose; usually to solve some “other” kind of pest problem. Unfortunately, research was not always done before bringing them overseas to Hawai‘i.
Mr. King started by showing us the frogs and toads. We were able to touch, see, and sometimes even hear the wrinkled frog, bull frog and the toad! It was fun seeing them hop around on our mats and just as exciting to see and touch a Hawaiian blind snake! Next came the lizards! We “met” the brown anole, which traveled here from Cuba, the common house gecko, a Madagascar day gecko, and even a Jackson chameleon. Some of our bravest keiki even let “The Reptile Man” put the chameleon on their heads!
The final group of reptiles was brought out. Here came the turtles! There was a small, medium, and large red-eared slider, and a Chinese soft-shell turtle. The red-eared sliders usually start out as pets that either escape or are set “free” into our ‘Oahu streams. The tiny 1½ inch long red-eared slider was the most popular amongst the keiki. The Chinese soft-shell turtle was very aggressive as we watched it try and bite Mr. King.
All in all, the keiki enjoyed seeing and interacting with “The Reptile Man” and the variety of creatures. However, the caregivers were less inclined to touch the reptiles and amphibians! Maybe next time we will have one brave Tūtū pet the Jackson chameleon!