I’ve been here about a month now and wow do I have some stories to share! First of all, I want to talk about how awesome of all the CRESO students that I get to work with are. From week 1 to week 4 I have been able to see new students’ interests in snakes grow and returning students learn new information about new protocols for snake fungal disease.
I also need to say that I am not the only one doing the teaching down here. The CRESO students teach me something new every single day. You think I’m kidding!? I have learned how to ID bugs, birds, smells, spiders, skinks, I’ve learned facts about snakes I didn’t know, I’ve learned not only to ID flowers and plants but which ones are invasive. I’m telling you these kids are smart and keep my on my toes. I’m so impressed by them. That being said I can only confidently spit back the names of 2 invasive plants, but I’ve still got time to memorize right?
Now, I bet you’re wondering about the title of my blog this week. You see, the place I live has such character to it and is an experience all in itself. To give you an idea, I have found, numerous daddy long legs, centipedes, BIG GIANT spiders, (remember when I said I have a fear of bugs?), wasps, and a five lined skink. Right outside my door I even have treefrog friends that love to serenade me.
I feel like Dr. Doolittle because the animals just flock to me in the field too. I have had a least 150 chigger bites, and have picked at least 70 ticks off of me, and have unknowingly stood in an ant nest and had about 50 ants crawling all over my boots and legs. (I basically haven’t stopped itching since I got here). The picture below is when I was working up a snake in the field. Our tiny snakes: ringnecks, wormsnakes, smooth earthsnakes, and brown snakes are too small to put a PIT tag in (rice sized microchip for snakes that is injected into the muscle). In order to be able to keep track of which snake we catch, I started scale clipping these little guys. There is a number system that we follow to make sure we don’t mark the same number on multiple snakes. The scales are clipped on the ventrum (belly) starting at the vent. The vent is zero and counting up on the right side is your single digits and counting up the left side is your double digits. It’s a form of micro surgery counting the tiny scales and cutting just enough that you can ID them if caught again.
The CRESO building, no matter how glamorous and luxurious it may be, is my home now. A home that has given me lots of experiences and opportunities and stories to share with YA’LL (my TN accent is comin’ in strong), and for that I am thankful.