What slithers and creeps, waddles and sleeps at Plum Creek Nature Center in Crete Township?
The answer is a number of creatures that call the nature center home. The group includes Bud the ball python, Smashbox the three-toed box turtle, Daenerys the bearded dragon, and Shoebert the tiger salamander.
How did all these interesting creatures find their way to the nature center? It’s an interesting story, said Bob Bryerton, an interpretive naturalist at the site.
“All of our animals are rescues,” he said. “They were acquired through adoptions. People either found them or bought them and couldn’t or didn’t want to take care of them anymore.”
While Shoebert is the only native species included in the group, all four serve as a good representation of their snake, lizard, turtle and salamander species, Bryerton explained.
“This allows visitors to get a close-up view of these animals and see their differences and similarities,” he said.
Some of the animals can be touched, usually during a program or an event, but as a rule they aren’t taken out of their cages for individual visitors.
The resident reptiles not only help visitors learn about their species, but they teach other lessons as well.
“We talk about the fact that these critters were not wanted or people were unable to care for them,” Bryerton said. “In general, these types of animals do not make good pets, since they do not do too much, and have very special requirements. Snakes and turtles live an especially long time, and so it is a big commitment once you get them. They should not be acquired without knowing all of the details about their needs, care and longevity.”
But the reptiles are a good fit for the nature center because they are hardy and generally have a passive temperament, so they can be handled and used for programs with visitors, Bryerton added.