We are sitting on benches, anxiously waiting, as lots of leggy creatures crawl around us… and soon make their way onto our hands….
“Getting hands on really inspires minds and we find that children learn more if they are excited, and theres nothing more exiting than holding a millipede or maybe even a tarantula!!!!!!” [source]
Today’s adventure is a fantastically educational animal handling experience with Bugtopia Kettering. We stumbled across this animal centre while looking for something to do after visiting a comic con in the area. After noticing that you had to book into time slots for experiences, I was a little dismayed, as I did not think we would be able to book our adventure for the same day… but the folks at Bugtopia were really accommodating, and after a quick phone-call we were booked up for the very same afternoon!!
After arriving, we were sat on benches in a room surrounded by lots of tanks with fascinating creatures living inside… that I decided to have a nosey in while we were waiting for everyone to arrive!! We were soon joined by about 6 other people. This felt like a good group size, as we were all able to get a good amount of hands on time with each animal. Our host was fantastic, and incredibly knowledgeable about all of the animals that we were introduced to. Both adults and children alike were enraptured by the stories he wove about each animal.
Our experience started with Stick Insects, Leaf Insects, and a few varieties of Katydids. Each smaller group of us were given a different creature to handle, and with careful supervision from our host, we passed them round so everyone would get a chance with each animal. This experience has made me fall in love with Leaf Insects even more, and they are even higher up my wish list of animals I would like to have in the Fluffy Jellyfish family in the future!!
Next, we moved on to Giant African Millipedes, and then got into “scarier” territory with Tarantulas, and Scorpions. It was here that some people chose not to participate, and our host was great at encouraging everyone to get involved in their own small way, and to face some of their fears. I really appreciated his understanding, and how he used education to help people see these arachnids in a new light. Experiences like this are really important in trying to get people to care for the creepy and the crawly animals as much as the big cute fluffy ones in the fields of protection and conservation!!
Speaking of cute and fluffy, our last animal was an adorable black rat boy!! Other folks were not so keen on holding a ratto, but we, of course, were all over it!! and asked lots of a questions about the adorable little furball!!
Did you know? Giant African Millipedes are fairly docile creatures. They do not bite, or sting, or prick us with pincers like some of their invertebrate cousins… however, the protect themselves with a form of chemical defence. These Millipedes secrete an iodine substance that tastes bitter for animals that try to eat them, and can be harmful to your skin, as well as staining it yellow!!
I would highly recommend this experience to anyone wanting to learn more about invertebrates. It is a wonderful experience for both adults and children, and if you are a little fearful of minibeasts, this is a perfect chance for you to face your fears and discover more about the amazing tiny creatures that inhabit our world.
Bugtopia Kettering at a glance…
Sessions are available through the day and last for approximately 1 hour – click here to book your slot.
£5 per person.
Children under 18 must be accompanied by a paying adult.
Children under 2 years are free, but must sit on the lap of a paying adult.
Address: The Newland Centre, Kettering NN16 8DP OR use Google Maps here.