Snakes are really cool so you can imagine how excited my kiddos were to discover this one in our own backyard. (The snake was initially slightly less enthusiastic about their chance encounter, but once assured that we had no intention of eating him, he became much more compliant and even rather photogenic.)
Snakes never blink and even sleep with their eyes open because they don’t have eyelids.
Snakes can “smell” with their tongues. It flicks in and out to catch teeny tiny molecules from the air, water, or ground and pulls them into the snake’s mouth to help the snake detect smells. (Snakes also smell with their nostrils, but that’s just not as cool ‘cause everybody does that.)
Snakes shed their skin several times a year! Your skin grows along with your body, but a snake outgrows its old skin and wiggles out of it with a new one.
Snakes “hear” with their jaw! Their jawbone feels vibrations in the ground and delivers them to its brain to give the snake clues about what’s happening around it.
Snakes can sense fear and will deliberately try to freak you out if they can sense you’re afraid. (Just kidding!)
Each of my kids enjoyed holding this harmless snake (I’m pretty sure it was a Northern Red-Bellied Snake) and were trying to convince me that we should name it “Sandy” and keep it forever until they accidentally dropped it into the grass. It was so small we weren’t able to find it again, but it was fun while it lasted. (Incidentally, they adopted a snail and named it “Sandy” a few days later. Apparently they like that name.)
You can do this with pretty much any critter you see with kids. (Except ticks. I’ve discovered the general public frowns upon the practice of removing a tick from your arm and waxing eloquent about its remarkable design, but most other animals are fine.) Just enjoy it together and thank Jesus for the ability to see, hear, feel, and smell it. (Some snakes, including “Sandy” emit a weird musky odor when handled.) This may not look like “Family Devotions,” but kids love it and activities like this (Even if you choose to use something you’re more comfortable with like toads, snails, or worms.) are a great way to help them develop the habit of noticing God’s presence and power in the world around them.
“I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.” ― George Washington Carver
After seeing this snake, we naturally had to incorporate some YouTube videos of super cool snakes (Like this “flying” snake from Indonesia!) into our “Bible Time’ before bed. My kids peppered me with questions about snakes and didn’t want to stop learning about them. As we put them to bed, they voluntarily prayed and thanked God for getting to see the snake. (And also asked Him for a dog.) How cool is it that such a fantastic opportunity to discuss the awesome power and creativity of God slithered right into my own backyard!?
How do you feel about snakes? Love? Hate? Indifferent? What animals fascinate you and the kids in your life?
P.S. If you’re scared of snakes, I dare you to watch this INCREDIBLE video. If you record your reactions and submit them to America’s Funniest Home Videos you could probably win some cash! (Not to mention that this video could easily be used to introduce an object lesson on overcoming temptation or staying focused on Jesus.)