A Reptile Obsession: Our Take on Lizards & Snakes at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science

07 Feb


Let’s pretend it never snowed on Groundhog’s Day in Colorado this year, on the very same day that Punxsutawney Phil predicted 6 more weeks of winter, and that the weather forecasters of Denver never predicted a Winter Storm on the day that my family and I were supposed to preview the Lizards & Snakes Exhibition at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Yeah, let’s pretend that when we went on Saturday instead, Phil was chillin out in his hollowed out log over at Gobbler’s Knob granting us a redo since the weather kept us away from the preview event.


Getting right to it, we joined the awesome crowd at the Museum on Saturday for the newly anticipated Lizards & Snakes Exhibit and took along a friend of our boys to see what we could see. Packed in the Grocery Getter with clear roads before us, we headed for Denver. Since we invested in the Family Membership last Fall, we have used it four times, totally paying off. The T-Rex Encounter was a more-than-pleasant bonus for our money and now we were heading off to double our bonus on this new exhibit. The best part? My 9 year old LOVES all things reptiles. In case you didn’t know, we have two adorable Leopard Geckos.

We also used to have a Corn Snake and my son recently did a report on the Gila Monster.


Arriving around noon, we brought our own packed lunches and ate first in the Museum’s Cafe’ dining area. Yeah, we’re pros. At their own table, the 9 year old debriefed his pal on a few facts, scarfed down lunch, got super pumped and jumped up ready to go straight to the third floor. He meant business.


After a bit of ooohing and ahhhhing upon entering, we immediately made our way over to the adorable Kim who was searching for her pal “Bo”. She quizzed the kids on some of the capabilities and hunting techniques of snakes and finally found “Bo”. Don’t worry, he’s just a virtual pal. No need to freak about snakes on the loose. And don’t think it didn’t cross my mind.

The number of live lizard and snake species was more than expected. I was impressed by their active behavior and the cleanliness of their habitats. My son is very sensitive when it comes to proper treatment of contained animals, so it’s a big deal when I “pay” to see animals in captivity.

As usual, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science offers a lovely crew of volunteers to give our kids hands on demonstrations and displays to enhance their learning experience. My personal favorite experience was finding that the Gila Monster’s skull has the same bumpy texture we intricately imitated for my son’s school report. (I assumed it was the skin that was bumpy.) I got my 4 year old to touch the skull since he was the trooper who went with me to four different stores in one day in search of the specific ingredient that gave our Gila Monster that perfect look (more on that in a future blog post).

The other impressive display/demonstration was that of the large replication of a snake’s skull. My 9 year old impressed us all by having all the right answers for the volunteer. The gentleman used the skull to simulate how a Burmese Python can fit a big ol’ deer into that seemingly smaller mouth. As our 6 year old guest stared straight into the open mouth of the skull, my husband assured him that he would easily fit in there.

One of the highlights for families was the large hexagon tank in which you can observe 4 species of Geckos chilaxin in their resort-like surroundings with two big brother cameras. You do the driving as you control joysticks to focus, zoom and pan out on them.

But what ultimately caught the attention of these three boys was the interactive “Hunt Like a Rattlesnake” simulation. Each boy had a chance to be the rattlesnake, flicking the snake’s tongue to smell out a rat, viewing the rat through the snake’s eyes, striking at the rat, and then ultimately chowin’ down. We had to return to this one last time before leaving.

After taking a look at a real life Burmese Python, the boys ran over to try and lift the 15 foot, 100 pound Anaconda. This feat required assistance from dad, who lightly helped with the tail, allowing the boys to lift that sucker up off the ground.

Before heading back to “Hunt Like a Rattlesnake” I disassembled the 3-D snake and lizard puzzles before the kids came around to put them back together. In true fashion, my 9 year old and the husband looked for a system to putting the snake back together and found the convenient numbering system on the underside, putting “Bo” back together again. The 4 year old, a puzzle fanatic, insisted on doing the lizard all by himself.

By the end of the exhibit, about an hour later, the 4 year old was claiming to be hungry again, but we did not leave without first claiming his very own lizard wristband. And when we hit “Hunt Like a Rattlesnake” that one last time, the kids gave me the “aw-mans” and we headed out. 

Although there is a “no-photography” policy in this exhibit, you get a sweet little family photo-op at the end with the ever-friendly “Bo”. Your photo is accessible for free online to share with everyone you know.


Be sure to check out the rest of the museum. We hit one of our favorites, Expedition Health, for another hour before calling it a day.


The Lizards & Snakes Exhibition runs from February 3rd to July 8th.

Click here for more info and details on a membership. Like I said, we have been four times and we also received two free guest tickets with our membership. We still have yet to see everything. If you’re just visiting, you have many options in Denver to keep you busy. This is one not to be missed.




The 9-year-old and 6-year-old (After about 50 minutes – 10 minutes before hunger set in again): 5

The Turkey Rating: A 5 during all his favorite parts. A 3 everytime we weren’t doing something he wanted to do.

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Posted by on February 7, 2012 in Entertainment, Family, Kids, Motherhood, Travel


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