Yarbrough’s reptiles educate kids

Published 12:18 pm Thursday, July 17, 2014

Helena's Jane B. Holmes Public Library presented Yarbrough's Educational Reptile Show on July 16 at City Hall. (Reporter Photo / Jon Goering)

Helena’s Jane B. Holmes Public Library presented Yarbrough’s Educational Reptile Show on July 16 at City Hall. (Reporter Photo / Jon Goering)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

HELENA—Can you tell the difference between a tri-color king snake and a coral snake? How about identify a copper head? Helena kids can, thanks to Yarbrough’s Educational Reptile Show hosted by Helena’s Jane B. Holmes Public Library.

On July 16, Ken and Becky Yarbrough Tucker brought some of their reptiles to Helena’s City Hall to teach children both safety and fun facts about snakes, lizards, iguanas, turtles and even alligators.

The Tuckers work with schools and other organizations across Alabama and Georgia to set up fundraisers and educational programs for kids.

“We bring all the venomous reptiles that live in this area,” Becky said. “We want people to be able to identify them.”

Becky showed the children a variety of indigenous venomous snakes, including a cottonmouth water moccasin, a copperhead and a timber rattlesnake. She pointed out the distinctive features on each snake to aid in identification, such as the hourglass pattern on the back of the copper head.

She also stressed that although some poison snakes are small, they are still dangerous and told children to be cautious around any snake in the wild.

“Do not pick up a snake because it is tiny,” Becky said. “Treat every snake like a dangerous poison snake and leave it alone.”

However, the program was not just about safety, it was a lot of fun too. Becky and Ken brought several exotic reptiles from their collection of more than 200.

The kids were introduced to Uncle Frank, a 22-year-old iguana, Spike, a young African spur thigh tortoise that Becky said will grow to be 300 lbs., and Sweet Pea, an American alligator. At the end of the program, children were invited to hold the “ever popular” Banana Pudding, a 12 foot-long Burmese python.

Reptiles are a family business and passion for the Tuckers, who inherited the business from Becky’s father, Tom Yarbrough. This year marks the 52nd year of Yarbrough’s Educational Reptile show.

“My dad just had a passion for snakes when he was a young child,” Becky said, noting she favors lizards. “I love (reptiles), I grew up around them and I have a passion for them.”