Paint­ings by rep­tiles on dis­play at CoOp Gallery

The Goderich Signal-Star - - GODERICH IN FOCUS - Judy Barker The Goderich CoOp Gallery

At one point in our lives we’ve all heard at least one per­son say “snakes are slimy” or “the only good snake is a dead snake.” How­ever, 6 per cent of driv­ers will go out of their way to run over a snake or tur­tle cross­ing a road. Now it’s time to learn why these mis­con­cep­tions are wrong and are even harm­ful to the bal­ance of na­ture.

TheGoderichCoOpGallery is cur­rently host­ing a dis­play of REP­TILE ART un­til mid Fe­bru­ary, and no, I don’t mean paint­ings of snakes and tur­tles, I mean paint­ings by snakes and­tur­tles. Whoknewthat these an­i­mals could cre­ate art? Thep­eo­ple at Scales Res­cue Park found out and have pro­vided their res­i­dent rep­tile artists with can­vas and paint and op­por­tu­nity. It is fas­ci­nat­ing to learn howthis is done. Ap­par­ently, tur­tles, be­ing­more food mo­ti­vated, arewil­l­ing to paint if re­warded by a straw­ber­ryor rasp­berry. Th­es­nakes, which feed­less fre­quentlyan­drest for­weeks af­ter a meal, not so much. But the snakes, when they can be per­suaded to paint, leave beau­ti­ful pic­tures of their scalepat­tern­son­thecan­vases.

TheHuronSte­ward­ship Coun­cil is spon­sor­ing this ex­hibit, where you can see ex­am­ples of the art, a video, plus hand­outs ex­plain­ing just how each of us can help pre­serve these an­i­mals. There are eight species of na­tive tur­tles in On­tario, and cur­rently seven of those are on the en­dan­gered list. We can’t af­ford to al­low species pre­da­tion at such a rate, or soon, our chil­dren will see only pic­tures of long gone an­i­mals that­mankind failed to protect. An adult snap­ping turtle­must live and lay eggs for over 60 years just to re­place it­self, which­meansthat in 60 years of re­pro­duc­tion only one tur­tle has lived to adult­hood. The resthave been lost to pre­da­tion by an­i­mals or hu­mans. Un­like birds, whichalso lay eggs, baby rep­tiles emerge very ca­pa­ble of look­ing af­ter them­selves, but all young hatch­lings are seen as tasty morsels for predators. Tur­tles are in­fact, liv­ing di­nosaurs, still ex­ist­ing in­much the same fash­ion that they did dur­ing the di­nosaur age -how cool is that? Rep­tiles are not slimy! Their skin is, in fact, dry, but their heat reg­u­lat­ing sys­tem is dif­fer­ent than ours, and so they are called “cold blooded.” This doesn’t mean they are heart­less and mean, it sim­ply tells us that they use out­side sources, like sun­shine, tomain­tain body heat as op­posed tomam­mals like us, who reg­u­late body heat through our own­metabolism.

Comein to check out this in­ter­est­ing ex­hibit; youwill not­mee­tanylive rep­tiles, but you can en­joy their paint­ings, see an in­for­ma­tive video, pick up a card ex­plain­ing how to help an in­jured an­i­mal if it has been hitby a car. And­whenyou leave, you will be bet­ter in­formed about rep­tiles, and how to help save them from ex­tinc­tion. Their art­work is avail­able for pur­chase, with the pro­ceeds of a sale go­ing to sup­port pro­grams to res­cue and main­tain, as well as study at risk pop­u­la­tions of the area tur­tles and snakes. Whether or not you can “re­late” to such an­i­mals, they hold an im­por­tant role in our ecosys­tem, and­de­serve our­pro­tec­tion. Plus, you­canbe inthe 94 per cent of peo­ple­whow­ill not go out of their­way torunover a snake or a tur­tle cross­ing the road. The snake is just en­joy­ing some warm­sun­shine, and the tur­tle might be look­ing for a good safe place to lay her eggs.

To learn more about the Huron Stew­ard­ship Coun­cil, join its Face­book page or visit its web­site (hsc. huron­stew­ard­ship.ca). TheCoun­cil and the Goderich Co-op Gallery want to thank the ScalesNa­turePark for their­con­tri­bu­tions to this project. Visit www.scalesna­turepark.ca for more in­for­ma­tion about at risk an­i­mals in our area of SWOn­tario.

The Goderich CoOp Gallery is now op­er­at­ing on a winter sched­ule, we are open from 10 a.m., to 4 p. m. , Wed­nes­day t h rough Satur­day.

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