Reptiles – Beautiful and Deadly is the Canadian Museum of Nature’s newest special exhibit, having opened on Oct. 7, 2016. And trust us, you don’t want to miss it!
This special exhibit, which runs until April 8, 2017, lets adults and little ones get close to some of the world’s most venomous snakes and beautiful reptiles, from a safe distance of course. In most cases, you’ll be glad that aquarium glass separates you as you marvel at these beautiful, exotic creatures.
In the exhibit, you’ll find 19 living reptile species of which five are highly venomous. As you walk through, various jungle noises play in the background, simulating the reptiles’ natural habitats. Here, you’ll find live turtles, snakes, lizards and more from all over the globe.
At a VIP preview of the exhibit on Oct. 5, Meg Beckel, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Nature, noted that Reptiles follows on the museum’s successful summer exhibit, Ultimate Dinosaurs, which saw more than 100,000 visitors over 89 days. “We’ve moved from the extinct dinosaurs to their more living cousins,” she said, adding that visitors should go into Reptiles “with an open mind.”
Dr. Kamal Khidas, Curator of Vertebrates at the Canadian Museum of Nature, said at the preview event that when people think of reptiles, they tend to think of death and danger. He noted however, that humans have a greater chance of dying from a mosquito bite or a car accident than any injury inflicted by a reptile. Dr. Khidas then invited visitors to “be as fascinated by reptiles as you are with dinosaurs.”
Reflecting Dr. Khidas’ statement about risk, the exhibit presents the fact that since 1948, there have only been about 100 unprovoked alligator attacks. And of those 100, less than 12 incidents were fatal, the exhibit says. For Reptiles, Dr. Khidas said: “Gaze into the steel eyes looking at you and get as close as you want.” According to the museum, there are more than 10,000 species of reptiles in the world, with 54 species and sub-species located in Canada.
Among the exhibit’s many beautiful creatures is a Gaboon Viper affectionately named Walter. Although decorated with a lovely pattern, Walter is not necessarily for the faint of heart. A good size snake, Walter’s large head conceals fangs that can grow up to five centimeters in length and deliver a deadly dose of venom. According to the exhibit, “vipers can deliver a deadly dose of venom in a fraction of a second and are rarely injured by prey animals.”
Another exhibit highlight is a Red Spitting Cobra. Though beautiful, this snake can cause harm to a human or a prey animal without even biting them. According to Reptiles, this is the only snake in the world that uses venom from a distance, spitting it from its fangs. The exhibit says that if the venom gets into the eyes of a predator, it causes irritation and even temporary blindness. I bet you’re happy that there’s glass separating you from this one…
In addition to the potentially deadly, more intense creatures, you’ll find the more warm and fuzzy kind as well such as tortoises, a Veiled Chameleon, a Frilled leaf-tailed gecko and more. Throughout the exhibit, there are also various interactive elements such as ‘Did you know?’ stations.
For example, did you know that some turtles have antifreeze in their blood? It’s true! According to Reptiles, some turtles have glycogen in their blood, which keeps them from freezing. But this is only one of the many fun facts you’ll discover.
Reptiles is being presented by the Canadian Museum of Nature, but it was created by Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland in Allenwood, Pa. In a press release on Oct. 7, the Museum of Nature noted that the exhibit has been touring North America since 1999. “This is the largest travelling reptile exhibition in the world,” Beckel said in the release. She added that the exhibit is meant to contradict common myths and “instill a new appreciation of these misunderstood creatures.”
Reptiles will be presented until the beginning of April 2017 and an additional $6 CDN entry fee applies.
Thinking of visiting Ottawa in 2017? Consider seeing Reptiles for yourself and taking in some of the celebrations for Canada’s 150th anniversary. There are great events going on all year long.