Thea Granillo has Lucy the alligator cut on her head at the Reptile Man's 1 p.m. show on Aug. 1 at the Yelm Timberland Library.

Reptiles of all shapes and sizes will be on display and ready to be handled by kids as the Son of the Reptile Man presents an interactive, educational program on the animals at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Wednesday, July 17, at the Yelm Timberland Library.

The library’s website says that folks will “see reptiles from around the world” guided by Isaac Petersen. Participants will meet turtles, an iguana, an alligator and a bunch of snakes, learning about their importance in the balance of nature.


Children discuss how much weight a tortoise can carry on its back during the hands-on part of the Reptile Man's show last year.

Scott Petersen is the original Reptile Man, and now his son, Isaac, takes on some of the shows due to the program’s popularity.

“Just so we are clear on the record, none of them are (actually) reptile men, which would be really cool, maybe a little scary, but they are cool in their own right,” said Mike McGowan, Yelm Timberland Library associate. “They are men with reptiles.”

Scott Petersen has been bringing the show to Yelm for about 20 years, McGowan said.

“The first year, I think my reason was to have a program that would draw a lot of people into the library,” McGowan said. “And that’s not a bad thing to do, because I think once we get them in here other good things can happen … Animal programs in general usually draw people.”

McGowan said that in that first year, he became very much aware of how much he didn’t know about reptiles, and then was shocked by the fact that many of the animals were available for petting after the show.

Participants will find out that many reptiles are only dangerous when disturbed and overcome fears as a part of the experience.

“We get in a bunch of books and videos on reptiles and everything checks out,” McGowan said. “Not everything that is checked out that day is on reptiles and not everyone that comes checks out a book, but many people do. So now you have an increase in literacy potentially as well.”

Isaac Petersen has similar animals as his father, but not the same, so attendees that came last year will get the treat of new animals this year. At these events, there has been an alligator and even a giant tortoise with the run of the library.

“We’ve had the tortoise walking around the library,” McGowan said. “They’re not as slow as maybe their reputation is. The smart money is still going to be on the rabbit. Unless you’ve got a rabbit that is taking a nap in the middle of the race, the rabbit is going to win all of the time. But the tortoise moves OK.”

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