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Awesome Amphibians, Remarkable Reptiles Take Center Stage at Herp Day 2006

They slithered. They hopped. They jumped. They descended on the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences on March 11 for a one-day extravaganza in their honor, proving once and for all that you don’t have to be warm and fuzzy to be loved.

Reptiles and amphibians, commonly referred to as "herps," took center stage at the 13th Annual Reptile and Amphibian Day in Raleigh. The free event, which drew about 11,500 people, featured more than 50 exhibits highlighting herps from around the world.

For the third year in a row, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission had a large display booth on the first floor to promote its conservation message of native reptiles and amphibians and to encourage the public to embrace these often-maligned critters.

Attendees who stopped by the exhibit got to see models of reptiles and amphibians native to North Carolina as well as two live spotted salamanders that left the comforts of their wooded habitat to pop in for the day.

Staff addressed questions from the public, stamped little hands with frog images and handed out a variety of cool products, such as turtle rulers, herp stickers, turtle buttons and copies of
Wildlife in North Carolina — all designed to educate and entertain.

"This is a great show because it gives me an opportunity to let folks know about the various herp projects under way across the state and to answer questions about species identification and natural history," said Lori Williams, nongame wildlife biologist for the Commission.

The show is also a good place to dispel common myths about herps, she added.

"Several people asked if frogs caused warts," Williams said. "And more than one person thought that lizards are poisonous, namely the five-lined skinks because of the blue tails in juveniles."

For the record, frogs don’t cause warts in humans — a virus does; and the blue on a five-lined skink’s tail is a warning coloration to let predators know that the skink tastes bad and to leave it alone.

"All bright colors in nature — blues, reds, oranges, etc. — are defense mechanisms animals use to avoid predation," Williams explained. "So don’t kill those skinks you see in your yard. They’re not poisonous and they eat so many bugs and spiders."

For more information on reptiles and amphibians native to North Carolina, visit the Wildlife Species and Conservation section.

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