Cook Museum of Natural Science has welcomed fuor new species that are threatened in the wild: the Mexican alligator lizard, diamondback terrapins, hellbenders and eastern indigo snake.
These animals, and others, will be available for guests to see at the Cook Museum’s upcoming event “Alabama’s Amazing Amphibians Fun Day” from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the museum, located at 133 4th Ave. NE in downtown Decatur.
Hellbenders are the largest amphibian in North America, and factors, such as habitat loss, pollution, the silting of rivers, and changes to their environment such as stacking of rocks, all lead to the reducing numbers of this species, museum officials said.
The Mexican alligator lizard lives in the cloud forests of Mexico, and its habitat is diminishing due to deforestation, officials said. Although they are common as exotic pets, they are a great example of how an animal may seem common. but have an extremely low wild population.
The diamondback terrapins are dealing with habitat loss due to development, officials said. If they don’t have the right environment to lay their eggs on the land, the eggs will not survive.
The Cook Museum is working with the University of Alabama at Birmingham to house these terrapins, who have been raised from eggs, in order to be re-released someday when they are old enough to have a better survival rate. This helps not only promote the terrapins while they are growing, but also is great for the environment to have three more healthy terrapins in the wild population.
The eastern indigo snake is native to the long leaf pine forests of the Southeast, a habitat that has reduced dramatically due to deforestation and urbanization, officials said. This is the only habitat the eastern indigo snake is endemic to, so losing these forests means drastic declines in their numbers. These snakes are extremely beneficial, and help control the population of venomous snakes.
Cook Museum of Natural Science opened to the public on June 7, 2019. It contains 62,000 square feet of exhibit galleries which include a 15,000-gallon saltwater aquarium, an immersive cave, an interactive sand table, live animals, museum Store, and the first Nature’s Table café in Alabama.
Visit cookmuseum.org/calendar for more information about Alabama’s Amazing Amphibians Fun Day and other upcoming events.