St. Petersburg Times Online: Pasco County news
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather

printer version

Featured creatures thrill kids

World of Reptiles gives youngsters a new - and wiggly - kind of educational experience.

By MICHELLE JONES, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 7, 2002

LAND O'LAKES -- Prying children away from video games and television during the summer and getting them to crack open a book is no easy task.

But the Pasco County Library System is undaunted in its quest to attract young patrons.

Even if it takes some snake handling.

On ThursdayJohn Storms brought his World of Reptiles, including his boxes of snakes, an alligator turtle and a giant skink from the Solomon Islands.

At the end of the hourlong presentation, Land O'Lakes Library volunteer Paul Phan was among those who held Julie, the 75-pound python.

"She's kind of sticky and a little heavy," he said of the snake.

Paul, 11, has seen several of Storm's presentations, and he is impressed with the reptile man and his slithery friends.

"Sally, Julie's mother, is my favorite," he said.

Storms is not only entertaining with his humor, he also educates the audience with bits and pieces of information tucked into his presentation.

He told the audience that filled the floor around him, and spilled out onto all other parts of the library, that the skink lives in trees.

"So if you visit Solomon Island, you won't see them swimming in the lakes or rivers or lying around on the ground," he said.

He described how the skink blends into the tree foliage with its camouflaged skin.

"Even its eyelids are camouflaged," he said.

Storms showed how the skink uses his tail like a seat buckle, reminding the children to always buckle up.

One of the snakes he brought out of a box is the king snake.

"He gets his name because he eats other snakes, even rattlesnakes," said Storms.

Storms listed safety rules concerning the nonpoisonous king snake, including don't put a snake close to your face.

"If something scares him, he will bite you right on the nose," said Storms. "And, don't carry him around your neck, because he's a constrictor and he's very strong. He might hurt you by accident."

The 50-pound alligator snapping turtle was another of his reptiles.

"His jaws are strong and could bite off your fingers or toes," said Storms. "They can grow to 250 pounds."

He described how the turtle sits on the bottom of the river waiting for a fish to swim into its mouth.

"He looks like a moss covered rock, and the tip of his tongue like a worm," he said. "The fish thinks it a worm on a rock and swims right in."

The snakes are part of the summer reading program at all library branches.

Each week, a special program is held at all the Pasco County Library branches to promote the Florida Library Youth Program, also known as FLYP. Other summer offerings include singers and storytellers.

Paul, who listens to children in the summer reading program talk about their books, advises children to spend at least 10 minutes a day reading.

"It will increase your vocabulary, and you will have a better understanding of the world," he said.

-- Michelle Jones covers central Pasco community news. She can be reached at (813) 909-4612 or toll-free 1-800-333-7505 Ext. 4612. Her e-mail address is

If you go

John Storms will bring the World of Reptiles to the Centennial Park Library at 2 p.m. Tuesday and the South Holiday Library at 2 p.m. Thursday.. He will be at the Regency Park Library at 2 p.m. June 20 and at the Dade City Library at 11 a.m. June 22.

Back to Pasco County news

Back to Top

© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111