The Milwaukee public is invited to meeting snakes, turtles, and lizards, up close and personal at the Wehr Nature Center on June 10 for Reptile Day.

Families will see and learn about a variety of reptiles and amphibians from Wisconsin and around the world at the Wehr Nature Center. Experts, including wildlife biologist Randy Hetzel and members of the Madison Area Herpetological Society, will present their animals, give visitors the opportunity to touch or hold the critters, answer questions about reptiles in the wild, and discuss responsible ownership of reptiles as pets.

“There’s a lot of myth and half-truths out there when it comes snakes, turtles, and frogs,” said Wehr Naturalist Howard Aprill. “Reptiles and amphibians are important parts of our ecosystem. At Reptile Day, we share tips on how to peacefully co-exist with these misunderstood neighbors.”

In addition to the critter show-and-tell, Milwaukee County Parks staff and volunteers will lead nature hikes in search of basking turtles, croaking frogs, and sunning snakes. A variety of children’s reptile-themed craft activities will complete the event.

Some of the Wisconsin species to be exhibited include the Common Snapping Turtle, Blue-spotted Salamander, and Timber Rattlesnake. Exotic species to be exhibited include the Amazon Tree Boa, Ball Python, and Spiny-tailed lizard.

Guidelines for establishing Reptile- and Amphibian-Friendly Yards

  • Avoid using glue traps for rats and mice. While the traps work on rodents, they also capture insect-eating frogs and rodent-consuming snakes.
  • Use pesticides sparingly. If you must use them, follow the instructions on the pesticide container. It is against the law to use a pesticide in any other way.
  • Avoid using nylon netting for erosion control. The netting can trap frogs and snakes
  • Do not relocate animals to your yard. The translocation of reptiles and amphibians can spread disease to the new population with little resistance. Instead, attract frogs by making the habitat inviting to them.

Tips When Interacting with Reptiles and Amphibians in the Wild

  • Move slowly when approaching snakes and turtles. Both will move away quickly when startled. If you want to handle them, do so with care. Snakes may release a strong odorous musk and may bite.
  • Before touching any amphibian, such as a salamander or frog, make sure your hands are wet and free of any chemicals. The animal’s skin can absorb anything on your hands, and if your hands are dry, you will dry out the amphibian.
  • If you found an animal under a rock or other object, pour water next to the object and set the animal gently in the water so it can make its way back. Do not put the object on top of the animal to avoid crushing it.
  • Do not keep the animals you find. They don’t always transfer into captivity well and often die. Regulations prohibit the capture of many animals. Take pictures, enjoy meeting the animals, but leave them in the wild.
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Milwaukee County Parks