Handling and showing off fluorescent scorpions, hissing toads and snakes are all in a day’s work for Clint Eller and his 9-year-old daughter, Ellie.
The duo, better known as Those Reptile Guys, and all sorts of critters were on hand Friday morning at the Hampton Library to teach kids and families some facts about the animals and other good advice.
“We have lots of really cool, creepy stuff: snakes, lizards, frogs, turtles, even tarantulas and scorpions today,” Eller said. “We talk about not about the animals and where they’re from and what they do, but why they’re important in society and how we winded up with them, which is mostly abuse cases.
“So we talk a lot about anti-bullying, not only in the animals but of each other as well.”
At the library, kids and other attendees met Charlotte, a Chaco Golden Knee tarantula; Loki, a bearded dragon; and Cherry Blossom, an Asian forest scorpion.
Eller said during the presentation that one of people’s three most common fears was snakes. Any yet he had several of them, ranging in size from a few feet long to one requiring a Eller and a volunteer to hold up.
When asked afterward what his favorite part of the show was, 10-year-old Daniel Emmitt, who was one of several audience volunteers who took part in the program, said the biggest snake left an impression.
“Mine would probably be the 8-foot snake,” he said. “It was really interesting to see.”
Cemile Turan, who was attending with her 9-year-old daughter, Meliha, applauded Eller for giving kids the information in a hands-on and fun way.
“It was a great experience. I really love it,” she said. “I am a scientist as well, and I like to hold animals and to see them in real life. It was an awesome experience. Especially for the kids, to teach them science, it is a great opportunity for them to touch them.”
Eller said he thinks it is important to give both the educational and anti-bullying lessons during the summer when it might be on students’ minds less than during the school year.
Additionally, he’s eager to let youngsters know what wildlife lives near them and how to approach them.
“This part of Georgia has a lot of snakes. Two venomous snakes right here, copperheads and rattlesnakes,” Eller said. “We talk about what to do if you see one, but also not to kill them just because they are venomous, because they do have a place.”
Eller has been presenting for more than 30 years. When he started, kids’ questions covered more basic facts, like what the animals were called, what they ate and how big they got. Today’s students have stepped up their game.
“Now, the kids are susceptible to so much information on the internet and on social media that we have to talk about a lot more things: how their venom works, how they eat, what their genus is,” Eller said. “The kids are a lot smarter now, so you get a lot more intelligent children asking me questions that keep me on my toes, and you get a lot of gasps, you get a lot of smiles and you get a lot of excitement.”
For those that missed the reptiles this week, they will be back in town at the Post Road Library on Friday, June 22 at 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. No registration is required, though space is limited at both events.
For more information on Those Reptile Guys and the nonprofit Animals Matter Inc., go to ThoseReptileGuys.com or Facebook.com/ThoseReptileGuys.