Wild creature living at McNicholas

A wild corn snake has been living at McNicholas for six years. The orange snake, which is not named, lives in Biology and Environmental Science teacher Debbie Bonekamp’s classroom as a teaching tool for her students.

“I love having the snake present in my classroom. I teach to the students how the snake lives in its environment, how it attacks its prey, how it eats, and how it defends itself against predators. I also explain to the students how important snakes are in the food chain. What interests me the most about snakes is how well adapted they are. They are fast, quiet, and efficient hunters,” Bonekamp said.

She lets the students hold the snake and lets them interact with it, only if they want to. She said it’s important not to force any students to touch or hold it if they’re not comfortable with it.

Bonekamp received the snake from former student moderator Gerard Kissel who had the snake as a pet before asking Bonekamp if she would like to keep it in her classroom. “Corn snakes are commonly found in southwestern Ohio on farms and in fields,” Bonekamp said. The average length of a corn snake is between 3.9 and 5.9 inches, and Bonekamp’s snake is five feet long and three to four inches in diameter, which is just above the middle average length for a corn snake.

“The snake is at least ten years old. It definitely could last at least five more years. What is unique about this corn snake is how its skin is orange. Corn snakes are known for having yellow skin, and I love how this one has an orange look,” Bonekamp said.

“I like the unique, reddish color of the snake. I always look at it in class and for some reason it makes me feel safer,” freshman Evan Brunot said.

Biology and Environmental Science teacher Debbie Bonekamp shows the proper way how to hold a snake. “I love sharing to the students how snakes are less harmful than they think and how unique of a wild animal they are,” Bonekamp said about the snake who has been living in her classroom for the past six years.

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