Category Archives: Herp Room Animals

Meet the New Interns!

By Annalie Mallon and Trudyann Buckley

What’s happening nature lovers?! Enjoying this crisp January air? In the midst of learning how to teach all of the fall programs here at DNS along with the recent holiday craziness, we have completely forgotten to introduce ourselves 😳😱. Our names are Trudyann Buckley and Annalie Mallon and we are the education interns for the 2015-2016 year!  We are so happy that you have stumbled upon the kids nature blog – a great place for you to stay up to date on current things happening at DNS and to check out what kids like you have been doing at some of our sites!

Trudyann (left) and Annalie (right) teaching an Animals in Winter Outreach at a local school!

Since we have already been working here for the past few months, we thought we would give you a quick introduction with some fun facts about us and what we love most about working for the Delaware Nature Society.

Fact numero uno: We both have a passion for the outdoor world! What are some of the types of things we enjoy doing outside and where are some of our favorite spots to explore?

  • Annalie is a big ocean fanatic. When she is not daydreaming about living on a Caribbean island and SCUBA diving with fish everyday she enjoys hiking, camping, kayaking, and fishing! 🐠🐠 Below is a picture of her favorite camping spot on the St. Lawrence River in the Thousand Islands, New York.


  • Trudyann likes to make the most of the seasons. She loves skim and boogie boarding on the New Jersey coast in the summer. In the winter, she hits the slopes on her snowboard in the Pocono Mountains. Below is a picture of the view on top of one of her favorite trails. She also loves hiking, ice skating, and swimming in lakes! slopes

Fact #2: The herp room animals are some of our best friends! We spend tons of time caring for, feeding, and teaching with these awesome reptiles and amphibians. Which ones are our favorites? (shh we’re allowed to have favorites, just don’t tell them!)

  • Trudyann thinks our spotted turtle is awesome! It’s pretty shy, but it’s very friendly. It has only three legs, but it doesn’t seem bothered. Also, its balancing game is on point! spotted turtle
  • Annalie’s favorite herp room friend is the Diamondback Terrapin because he has the coolest diamond shell pattern and polka dotted body, AND he is an excellent swimmer who gets to live by the beach! He has also been used as a symbol for one of her favorite bands (extra points if anyone can guess who!).


Female Praying Mantis

#3: What are our favorite programs to teach??

  • Annalie enjoys teaching insect safari because we get to explore three different habitats around Ashland and search for some super cool insects! We found this pretty lady (right) sitting on top of the butterfly house one day and brought her to some of our school outreaches. She even laid an egg case which hatched in the herp room – we had hundreds of baby praying mantises!
  • Trudyann has a wonderful time teaching Stream Ecology. The lesson shows kids how fun science can be! We get to test stream chemistry and look for critters. Then we find out why one effects the other. She especially loves finding Crayfish in the stream–so cool!

#4: What is the most exciting/our favorite thing that we have done so far while working for the Delaware Nature Society?

  • To train for our Native Birds lesson, Trudyann loved looking after a borrowed pet Mallard duck all morning. The duck explored our office space, and then she sat right next to our desks and started to fall asleep!20160112_224436
  • Annalie thought shucking corn on the farm was quite a fun little mission. At the beginning of December, a whole group of teacher naturalists and volunteers got together at Coverdale Farm Preserve to pull off and collect all of the dried ears of corn in the corn field! We loaded up whole trashcans full to be used for school programs!

#5: What are you looking forward to doing before your internship is over at the end of August?!

  • “Apart from waiting for it to snow so that we can FINALLY use sledding hill for what it was named for, I am super psyched about summer camp!! I can’t wait to go on some awesome adventures with all of you kids!” – Annalie
  • “I’m looking forward to seeing all the flowers and trees at the Nature Center bloom in the Spring! I hear the meadow is going to be beautiful, so Nature Photography, Insect Safari, and Exploring Ecosystems will be extra fun to teach!” -Trudyann

Are you a Delaware Nature Society member between the ages of 9 and 12 and love nature like us?? Come on over to the Ashland Nature Center and join the Young Naturalist Club, a group of  nature lovers, bug collectors, snake finders, and explorers! We’ll be spending our time outdoors hiking and exploring streams, woods, fields and wetlands in search of reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals. Make new friends that are interested in the outdoors, like you. Time will be spent at Ashland Nature Center and natural areas and preserves in the area.

Meets the last Sunday of the month at Ashland Nature Center unless otherwise noted, 9 – noon

Ages 9-12, members only: $60

3511 Barley Mill Road Hockessin, DE 19707 (302) 239-2334


Fantastic Frogs!

by Kim Scotto

What’s hoppin, nature lovers?

It’s quiz time! Let’s see if we can separate frog facts from fiction:

1. Will touching a toad give you warts?

2. Will kissing a frog turn it into royalty?

3. Is it really “not easy being green”?

(Answer: false, false, and false!)

This Green Frog uses its coloring to camouflage with aquatic plants. It's pretty easy-and much safer-for it to be green!

This Green Frog uses its coloring to camouflage with aquatic plants. This protects it from becoming someone’s snack! Being green makes its life much easier! Photo by Jim White


There are many myths surrounding frogs, but we’ve compiled some
fantastical facts about frogs that are 100% true!


Fantastic fact #1: American Bullfrogs are the largest frogs in North America, and they can be found right here in Delaware! They are so big that they can eat just about anything that can fit in their mouths-including rodents, small birds, or even other bullfrogs!

This big guy has an equally large appetite! Photo by Kim Scotto.

This big guy has an equally large appetite! Photo by Kim Scotto.


Fantastic Fact #2: Think you were cold this winter? When Wood Frogs and Spring Peepers get too cold their bodies literally freeze to the point where their hearts stop beating! They have a special sugar in their blood that prevents any long-term damage, and once the temperature warms up, the frog can defrost itself and hop away! Scientists have actually been studying this unique property of frogs because they hope to replicate the process with human organs!

Wood Frog in the snow

Wood Frogs can freeze and dethaw several times in one winter! Looks like this one came out a little early. Photo by Derek Stoner.


Fantastic Fact #3: Frogs use their eyeballs to swallow! They don’t have the same kind of throat muscles that we do, instead they can push their eyes inside their head and use them to move food down into their stomachs.

GIF of toad eating a worm

Check out our American Toad munching down on a worm! See how she can pull her eyes all the way in? Video by Kim Scotto

Want to learn more about the frogs of Delaware? Come to our Frog Festival at Ashland Nature Center this Saturday, April 5th, from 9 AM-12 PM, hosted by our very own Intern Hannah! Go frogging in the marsh and listen to the springtime chorus, do a frog-themed craft, and see a live animal show! Pre-registration required. Call 302-239-2334 or click here to register.

Hannah holding a bullfrog

We’ll see you there!





Ready for Their Close-Up

Hey kids! I’ve got a fun activity for you to spice up your February. I work with some pretty cool animals on a daily basis and I wanted to share them with you! At this time of year these animals would be hibernating in the wild but not these guys. They were awake and ready for their close-ups when one of our Teacher Naturalists, Jeff Haas, pointed his camera at them.

Ready for the activity? Here’s what you’ve got to do. There are four different animals listed below: Animal #1 through #4. There are 2-3 close-up pictures of each animal and a short quiz following each set of pictures. It’s up to you to figure out what animal it is by looking at the pictures and then see if you can answer the questions in the quiz! At the end of the quiz the animal reveals himself so you can see if your guess was correct! Good luck!


Animal #1:

Animal #1

This animal looks pretty slippery if you ask me…

What is that big circle?

Is that a foot?

Your Score:  

Your Ranking:  

One down, three to go!


Animal #2:

Have you seen anything that looks like this before?

What body part(s) are visible in this picture? (You’ll need to know for the Animal #2 quiz!)

Hint: There are 3 of this animal in this picture!

Your Score:  

Your Ranking:  

Halfway there!


Animal #3

What body part is this?

High five!

Oh my, what big poison glands you have…

Your Score:  

Your Ranking:  

Last one!


Animal #4

What a beautiful color, don’t you agree?

This shot is so cool, it’s one of my favorites!

Your Score:  

Your Ranking:  

All done? Great job!

A big shout out and thank you to Jeff Haas for taking all these pictures of our animals with his fancy camera! Weren’t they awesome? Jeff took pictures of some more of our animals and I couldn’t help but share the rest of them with you because they are really cool pictures! Here’s a list of the animals that are pictured below (not in order): Whites Tree Frog, Boa Constrictor, American Alligator, Sudan-plated Lizard, Green Frog, Alligator Snapping Turtle, American Millipede, Yellow-footed Tortoise, Rose-haired Tarantula, Black Ratsnake, and Western Swift.

Check out the pictures and comment below if you know what animals they are. I gave you some hints!

Whose ear is this?

That’s a lot of legs…

This Ashland favorite is a tough backpacker!

This animal has the most beautiful scales.

This little lizard is pretty swift!

Check out the toes on this guy, they come in handy climbing trees!

What kind of reptile shed this?

Who is this hairy lady?

Check out that smile…

This guy is a great tree climber.

Are you green with envy for this guy’s colors?

Wow, whose mouth is this?


If you enjoyed this activity keep reading the Kids Nature Blog for more nature fun like this!

Introducing Anna and Carrie and Their Favorite Herp Room Friends!

Hellooooooo fellow nature lovers! We are the Environmental Education Interns for 2012-2013 – Carrie Scheick and Anna Lounsbury. We are so delighted that you have found the Delaware Nature Society’s nature blog for kids! Here’s the place you can “Ask a Naturalist” any nature questions you have, stay updated on current nature events, and check out our “Program Spotlight” to see what kids like you have been up to when they visit our sites!

We will be updating the blog from now on and just wanted to give you a quick introduction of who we are. We’re going to spice it up a little by also introducing you to our favorite Ashland Herp Room friends! We thought we would ask ourselves questions that our reptile friends could also answer (we know they can’t talk, so we had to imagine what they would say!)


This is Anna and her favorite animal – the Leopard Gecko!

This is Carrie and her favorite animal – the Yellow-footed Tortoise!

Let’s get to know the interns!

Q: What is your favorite food?

Carrie: Ice cream! I eat a lot of junk food…

Anna: Pizza! Especially dipping the crust in garlic sauce, yum, yum!

Q: If you had to pick a favorite spot at Ashland Nature Center, where would it be?

Carrie: The top of the Succession Trail in the woods. It has a great view and is such a peaceful place! I like to sit on the bench along the trail and just look and listen to the nature around me.

Anna: The old Sycamore tree on the Floodplain Trail. I have always loved climbing trees and that tree is absolutely perfect for sitting in and reading a book or looking for birds!

Q: What is your favorite outdoor activity?

Carrie: I love backpacking! It’s very rewarding to know I’ve hiked for miles in the woods surviving with only what I can carry on my back!

Anna: I love to kayak! While moving slowly down the river, you can see Great Blue Herons and Kingfishers, as well as large fish.  Plus it’s great exercise and going down rapids is exciting!


Anna’s favorite Herp Room friend is the Leopard Gecko.

This is Ashland’s Leopard Gecko!

Did you know that leopard geckos live all the way on the other side of the world in India and that their tail can grow back if it falls off? Wild!


Carrie’s favorite Herp Room friend is the Yellow-footed Tortoise, affectionately named Speedbump, who was once a pet and was donated to Ashland Nature Center.

This is Ashland’s Yellow-footed Tortoise – Speedbump!

Did you know that yellow-footed tortoises live in the rainforest of South America and live to be 50 – 60 years old? Pretty cool stuff!


Now let’s get to know the reptiles!

Q: What is your favorite food?

Yellow-footed Tortoise: I’m an omnivore! I like to eat salads – full of lettuce, fruits (especially strawberries!), and vegetables. But I also like an occasional worm!

Leopard Gecko: I’m a carnivore! I only eat crickets and mealworms.  I get so excited to eat them that I shake my tail like a cat before I pounce on my prey!

Q: If you had to pick a favorite spot at Ashland Nature Center, where would it be?

Yellow-footed Tortoise: I like the front lawn next to the picnic tables! There are a lot of greens for me to eat!

Leopard Gecko: I really like the geology floodplain. There’s lots of sand and it gets a lot of sun, which I love because I’m from the desert!

Q: What is your favorite outdoor activity?

Yellow-footed Tortoise: I like going on long walks, like Carrie, but instead of carrying a backpack, I carry my shell. I carry my home with me everywhere I go!

Leopard Gecko: Well, I don’t like kayaking like Anna does because I hate the water. But I would go rock climbing at night because I am nocturnal. I’m a great climber, I can climb up vertical surfaces!


Thanks for getting to know us and our reptilian friends! Be sure to often check back to see what other fun things have been happening at the Delaware Nature Society!

Who’s the Champ?

Here we are once again nature lovers. It is time to vote! We have some very interesting candidates for this coming month. Who deserves the prize? You decide!

February Herp Room Animal of the Month Winner

Greetings nature lovers! Thanks to everyone who voted in another exciting contest for the Herp Room Animal of the Month. This month was very different from last month; we only had one animal lead the voting the entire time. So without further ado, let’s get down to business…

The February Herp Room Animal of the Month is…

The Eastern American Toad!!!

These critters can be easily found all over the North American continent; from Manitoba, all the way down to Georgia. They hibernate in the winter, but you can see them in standing water in spring and early summer and in forests in late summer and fall. Spring is their breeding season, where males will call non-stop through the night and each female will lay over one thousand eggs into marshes and ponds. When they hatch the tadpoles stay in schools like fish to stay safe. They also are poisonous so many animals cannot eat them anyway. These toads have a “toadlet” stage. This occurs right after they mature from being tadpole; they look like really tiny toads and they stay near water until they get a bit bigger. Once they become adults, they head to the forests until the next spring; where they can be found under logs and dead leaves. The adults are also poisonous, with beanlike sacs called paratoid glands right behind their eyes. Don’t worry, this poison will only secrete when they are being eaten. Toads eat all kinds of creepy crawlies; including worms, crickets, beetles, spiders, and much more. Our toads eat crickets three times a week with the occasional worm.

Thanks for watching everybody! Be sure to vote for next month and keep checking in for more things that are happening at the Delaware Nature Society. Until then, this is Austin Conley saying Stay Wild!

February Herp Room Animal of the Month

Who deserves the prize? Will our turtles claim another Herp Room Title or will one of our other animals take home the gold. You decide!!

January Herp Room Animal of the Month

Hey all you nature lovers! Thanks to everyone that participated in the first voting for the Herp Room Animal of the Month. It was a very back-and-forth battle between all of our January candidates, so much so, that I had to keep the poll open a bit longer because of a tie. But the dispute is over and the fat lady has sung…

The first Herp Room Animal of the Month of the year 2012 is…

The Diamondback Terrapin!

As Maryland’s beloved mascot, this turtle can be found in brackish (salt mixed with fresh water), swampy, coastal areas of the eastern US; ranging from Cape Cod, all the way down to the Florida Keys. They get there name from the diamond-shaped scutes or scales on their shell. They can tolerate salt water, unlike related turtles because of special glands and having skin that is almost impermeable to salt. These turtles are excellent swimmers, with webbed feet and a narrow shell to help quickly navigate through their shallow coastal habitat. They have a carnivorous appetite for a wide variety of creatures found on the coast including shrimp, snails, and crabs. Here at Ashland, the terrapin is fed worms throughout the week and is treated with the occasional fish. Like our other turtles, the diamondback terrapin competes in the International Turtle Race at the Harvest Moon Festival. He is a usual favorite and has won the race on numerous occasions. This year, he finished second in both races.

So there you have it! I hope you enjoyed hearing about the diamondback terrapin. Be sure to keep checking the blog because the voting for next month’s Herp Room Animal of the Month will be starting very soon!

January Herp Room Animal of the Month

Herp Room Animal of the Month

Every month we will feature an animal from the Ashland Nature Center’s Herp Room. The Herp room is the room where all of our educational animals live. These animals are both native and non-native and they all attract a lot of attention from everyone that visits the nature center. Since the Herp Room is not open to the public, we wanted to give everybody a closer look at our amazing critters.

These posts will have all of the information you could possibly need about the animal featured. You will be able to view it as a video or pictures and text. For this first month, the Herp Room Animal of the Month is already chosen. In the coming months, you will be the ones choosing which animal deserves the coveted title.

This time, The December 2011 Herp Room Animal of the Month is….

The Yellow-footed Tortoise!!

Affectionately referred to as “Speedbump,” the yellow footed tortoise is the oldest animal (approximately 35) at Ashland Nature Center and also, one of the most popular. He is native to northern South America, typically around the outskirts of the dense rainforests. These turtles are diurnal, meaning they are awake during the daytime, in which they feed on various fruits, berries, vegetation, and slow moving animals such as snails and worms. They are remarkably long-lived animals that can be up to 60 years old! They are also quite social, with various noises and head movements to impress the ladies or to tell other males to take a hike. You can tell a male tortoise from a female because the male has a big dent on the bottom of his shell.

Here at Ashland, this big guy is spoiled with salads three times a week and a nice juicy worm once a week. The yellow-footed tortoise participates in the annual International Turtle Race at the Harvest Moon Festival, though he has never won. He prefers to munch on the clover instead of actually competing.

Be sure to keep checking the blog to see when you can vote for your favorite animal to become the next Herp Room Animal of the Month!