‘Reptile Day’ enchants OMSI visitors

Take a look at some of the nearly 100 creatures that slithered into town for this annual event – but only if you like creepy-crawly-scaly living things …

Sisters Alexandra and Abril Unda take their turn petting Tess, a ball Python.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Some people will do anything to get away from snakes and lizards; others flock to see them.

A thousand folks came to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) for the museum’s annual end-of-summer Reptile and Amphibian Show.

One look around the OMSI Auditorium, and it was clear that were easily 100 exotic reptiles on hand – including a wide diversity of captive-bred snakes, lizards, turtles, and frogs.

Alexander Giger intently studies the reptiles on display in this tank at the annual OMSI show.

Visitors were drawn like a magnet to the special hands-on area where several dozen non-venomous reptiles were available to be petted, held, and even (for those up to it) caressed.

“I love snakes,” smiled Kate Garmaeva, a Portland State University student, as she showed off a blue-tongued skink. “The reptiles, like this one, are OK, but I really prefer snakes.”

OMSI volunteer and PSU student Kate Garmaeva, shows visitors a blue-tongued skink, which proved to be too shy to show off his pastel, cerulean-colored tongue.

The blue-tongued skink turns out to be one of the most intelligent species of lizard. Their average lifespan is from 20 to 30 years in captivity. Some people say they eat crickets, but we learned that the blue-tongued skink is omnivorous, and actually prefers a diet with 50% vegetables and grains, which is healthier than what many people eat.

“I’m glad I’ve been able to handle mostly snakes all day,” said Garmaeva, the OMSI volunteer.

The museum’s visitors were too enraptured with the scaly creatures to say much. “It’s really cool,” was one young man’s sentiment. “I could stay here forever!”

Family members, young and old, appear to be fascinated by the reptiles on display at the annual OMSI show.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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