Rescuing Reptiles

ball_pythonWhen we think of pets, dogs and cats usually come to mind first. If these animals can no longer be cared for by their owners, are abandoned, found roaming neighbourhoods, or are apprehended by authorities because of neglect or cruelty, they can be brought to the local S.P.C.A. to be cared for. When animals are considered healthy, they are then available for adoption as the goal is to find individuals who can provide a safe and loving home to them.

So what happens when snakes, lizards, and turtles can no longer be cared for or are seized because of inadequate care? Well, on Vancouver Island … there really wasn’t anything … officially.  At least that’s how it was until 2008, when Natalie Ramsay and Dawn Robertson established the North Island Reptile Rescue Society. Their goals are to provide a center for rescue and rehabilitation as well as educate the public about reptile and amphibian pets. If restricted animals (B.C. has laws about what types of reptiles and amphibians can be purchased here) end up in their care, they transfer them to appropriate facilities that can take care of them.

We learned a great deal from their presentation. So much in fact, that a new pet found its way into the Braidwood household. A ball python! Maybe if my class is nice to me, I’ll bring Yatsu into class to visit.



image: Zorro, my ball python by char1iej released under a CC Attribution – Noncommercial – No Derivatives Works

The Day We Met Geanie …


The topic of our local large predator animals came up in discussions with Mr. Webb‘s students in New Zealand. We learned that there, they did not have comparable animals or even any poisonous ones, so it seemed like the topic of our animals like black bears and cougars came up more than once. While not many of us have actually seen a cougar while we’re out hiking or mountain biking, some of us have and one of the lessons we learn here is that cougars are rarely seen, but if you’re in their territory they’re always watching you. By nature, they aren’t really too interested in us, but incidents with cougars and people have occurred on Vancouver Island when people startle a cougar, get too near cougar kittens, or the cougar is sick or confused. In my 12 years here, I’ve yet to hear of a local cougar attack. 

When our music teacher, Mrs. Lehton, heard about some of our discussions, she asked me if I would like her to bring in a cougar pelt that her Air Cadet Squadron at 19 Wing Comox uses traditonally as part of their military marching band. Well, we couldn’t exactly pass on that opportunity!

The following was sent by Mrs. Lehton …

Geannie the cougar was shot in a community on the North end of the island because she was a nuisence and a threat to humans and pets. She belongs to the 386 Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron Comox and as a tradition she is worn by the bass drum player of the marching band. Geannie is worn during all formal functions of the band. I am the director of the band.

Geannie was given to us about two years ago during a special ceremony where she was blessed by a Padre who is like a military Priest. We were replacing another cougar skin we had that was quite old and falling apart. I believe the old cougar skin was at least 30 years old. His name was George.

In order to get this skin the Sponsoring Commitee for the Squadron applied to an organization who determines the use of the animals who are killed for our safety and it took about two years before we were contacted that we could have this cat. The animal was taken to a taxidermist who then mounted her to be worn which took quite a while and was expensive.
air cadets in Canada are a lot like the air cadets in other countries. We study flying, leadership, survival, first aid, music, drill and much more. Cadets is open and free to all children from the ages of 12 to 18.


We thank Mrs. Lehton for the opportunity to see, feel, and even wear the cougar pelt. It was a very memorable experience. We’re wondering  … do any of our readers have similar or different animals where they live? Or maybe smaller animals, but poisonous? We really don’t have too many poisonous creatures here.

We’re in the process of creating a few more visuals to share a little bit more about where we live. Keep your eyes on the lookout for the next ones!

Minding Our Own Businesses

Last Friday was our school’s first ever PowerPlay Young Entrepreneurs Fair, which was sponsored by our local credit union. To prepare for it, Grade 6 & 7 students from 3 classes have been learning about how to create a business plan to market an original product. There were many steps leading up to Friday afternoon’s success and the creative ideas that emerged were very impressive. A few “business” ended up taking future orders when they ran out of product!

After the fair, students calculated their true profit, which ultimately was their cash accumulation for the day minus the float they started with and minus the loan the received to help them buy their materials. From their profits, 10% was collected from each student for charitable donation. We’re currently in the process of deciding which organization we’d like to donate the money to as a class.