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Posted by rtdunham on May 11, 2003 at 11:18:45:
In Reply to: Kids and Kings, HELP!!! posted by KevinM on May 10, 2003 at 23:23:59:
You've raised a subject i've been thinking about the past few days because i got a call from a nice woman wanting to get a milksnake baby for her 3-year-old because the girl liked the colors. Milksnake babies are more skittish than king babies (and more skittish than 3-year-olds!) so I did all i could to discourage her.
There's simply an age when kids are ready for responsibilities of all different kinds, including handling snakes of various species, and it's OUR responsibility to guide them so that when they test those skills they succeed. In some instances, we guide them and then let them learn from failures. But it's NOT appropriate to do that when their failures affect living things. A two year old is not old enough, not emotionally developed enough, to be considered at fault if he/she injured a snake because they were startled by its musking on them, biting them, or just suddenly struggling vigorously as they held it. The adult who allows them to do that before they're ready is old enough to know better. Your question shows you DO know better.
I raised two girls. I know by age four or five and perhaps earlier they were handling snakes safely (for the snakes' safety). At earlier ages they had observed them in their cages; touched them when they were held by older people; maybe supported the tail while I held the main body; etc. So you gradually move them into it. I realize even an adult can be startled by the sudden movements of an animal, but your own observation of your younger one's sometimes too-sudden movements in the cage, are proof enough that he's not ready. You tell him so. You let him see that his older sibling IS old enough, and gets to experience things a younger child doesn't yet. These are broader lessons that are true for driving, for being allowed to go to the mall alone, to go on dates, to ride their bikes away from the neighborhood, to go to a PG-13 movie. So there's nothing wrong with the younger child not getting privileges granted the older one, and there's everything right with the younger one learning that's how life works. He'll also gain a better respect for living things, by having seen the respect you insist on, with your rules, for those animals.
Oh, another useful parenting tool in these circumstances: A cage lock!
:I have two children, ages 6 and 2. Both ask desperately to help me care for and see the snakes daily. However, I am afraid of feeding response accidents and general skittishness of several of my kingsnake species due to lack of excess handling. I have no problem manipulating them out to clean, inspect and briefly handle, but only one or two are tame enough to trust with my children. But, sometimes my youngest sticks his hands/face in too quickly and I get nervous and ruin the experience somewhat for them due to my aggitation/fear of them getting tagged. I want their intro to reptiles to be pleasant and hopefully they will surpass me in reptile husbandry. Whats the best way to introduce them? Any suggestions on how to spark your kids interest into herps or just teach them general good care of any pet?
:Thanks, just looking for food for thought.