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Daily Classroom Special
Critter Corner: The Buzz: Past Issues: Volume 2, Issue 6  

About this Daily Classroom Special
Critter Corner allows teachers and students to learn and share experiences about organisms that can be kept in the classroom. Critter Corner is maintained by Judith Jones, teacher at East Chapel Hill High School (NC) and Teachers Network web mentor. E-mail Judith. Make sure to visit Judy's other Daily Classroom Special, The Time Travel Interviews with Famous Scientists

The Buzz  


Past Issues

Questions, Comments, Suggestions

The Buzzzzzzzzzzz
Catch the Buzz
You have questions

Judy has answers

Corn Snakes and Meal Worms

From Slovenia to the UK, from Denver to points unknown, the questions for Judy keep coming.

From: Marko S.

Subject: Corn Snake

I am an 19 year-old student from Slovenia. Here in our country reptiles are not very popular pets. But I have a friend here who breeds snakes and lizards.

I have eight lizards and I have no problems with keeping them. But last week I bought very beautiful male corn snake. The snake is very young and I like him very much. I have large terrarium (90cm x 40cm x 40cm) and beautifully decorated. The snake has no problem climbing on rocks, background made of wood, etc. But I have a problem. Although there is a lot of shelter in the cage the snake is concealing itself in the substrate. I know that corn snakes spend the majority of their time staying in shelters, but I think mine spends all the time in the substrate.

And one more question. Are corn snakes nocturnal?

Yours truly,

Dear Marko,

Your corn snake sounds lovely. To my knowledge, they are not nocturnal; however, mine have always loved to burrow into their substrate or to hide in the little bark houses that I provide. As they get bigger, they find it harder to completely hide, and spend more time visible to their admirers. If you think about it, nature is protecting the little snakes by having them hide away from possible predators!

Good luck with your reptiles.

Judy Jones

Subject: Re:Albino Corn Snake
From: Carol Ann B.

Dear Judy

I have just been reading your page on the website with fascination and intrigue.

I recently became the proud owner of an albino corn who is now roughly five months old (although it was sold to me as a yearling). As a first time owner there were the inevitable teething problems such as keeping the correct viv temperature, panicking if it didn't eat and trying to pick out the good info from the bad (there are an awful lot of 'knowledgeable people' who gave me a lot of bad info!!).

Having overcome the majority of my 'first time owner' panics I still have one small problem. My corn is used to being handled but has got in to a nasty habit of defecating on me when I get it out. Regardless of when I handle it, whether it's prior to feeding or after it has defecated after feeding, it still manages to 'leave it's mark!!'

Is this something it will grow out of as it gets older, or has it found a way of ensuring that I put it back in it's viv every time I get it out? It is a real shame as it has put my children off holding it, and it has an otherwise lovely nature.

I look forward to hearing from you,

With best wishes

Carol Ann B.
Sutton Coldfield

Dear Carol,

What an interesting problem! I have certainly had snakes defecate on me before but not on such a regular basis! I am not sure what all the possible solutions are but one idea I have is this: the next time that the snake does this, just wipe up the mess and continue holding the snake. It should not have any more waste to present you with and you can then hold the snake and get it use to the experience of being handled. It might also break the stimulus-response pattern of getting out, defecating, and being put back in the habitat. In essence, you would be reconditioning the snake.

Good luck and let me know how your beautiful white snake does!

Judy Jones

Subject: Liked your page
From: Ruth G.
Organization: University of Redlands


My daughter (Casey, age 7) and I were cruising the web about meal worms and got a lot of ideas from your meal worm activity page.

She is telling me the experiements we are going to do now!

Your site has motivated us.

Ruth G.

Dear Ruth and Casey,

How nice of you to send your praise of Critter Corner. It is particularly pleasing to me to see young girls becoming interested in the fascinating world insects and other creatures! If I can be of any further help, let me know.

Judy Jones

Subject: Corn Snakes
From: Paige

I was excited to find your web page! I teach fifth grade math and science in Denver. I can't wait for my kids to see your page! I have five snakes and the kids love them! I have a male regular corn, a female amelanstic, a male and female snow, and a California speckled king. All are wonderful animals for the classroom, and take turns living there.

Using the variations to teach genetics is a great idea. I use the variations to teach habitat and the need to blend in to the environment. We design ecosystems that might support the "designer" snakes.

I notices in one of your letters you said you didn't like to use pine shavings because the snakes can ingest them. Did you know that pine and cedar shavings can actually be toxic to reptiles?

I would love to have my fifth graders share their finds with you and your class.


Dear Paige,

How wonderful to get your e-mail. Your enthusiasm cheered me as I sat at my computer late at night. What a snake collection you have - wonderful snakes for fifth grade. Your idea to use them to help students understand the need for some organisms to blend into their environment is perfect for that age level. Aren't the snow corns beautiful. My students keep calling them albine - but technically they are not albinos because they are missing both the black and the orange colors. The amelanistic is the true albino. This is just definitional but still interesting!

Thanks for the tip on pine and cedar shavings. I have found some recycled newspaper stuff that looks like grays blobs of dried paper - it works pretty well as an absorbent substrate.

Keep in touch! Let me know other ways that you use snakes in your classroom. What lucky students you have!

Judy Jones


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