Reptile Day Celebrated Here Friday, February 23


Elizabeth Bolin , Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Notre Dame’s “Reptile Day” has been one beloved by students for years, but many are unaware of the origins and purpose of this seemingly random event.

“I think it’s such a big success because most people don’t know about these animals or have opportunities to interact with them,” said Raija Hansen, a senior and the primary mind behind the event. She started the event her freshman year with the help of Mr. Winkler, who was her physical science teacher at the time.

“Basically I said ‘hey, I really like lizards and snakes’, and Mr. Winkler said ‘hey, I really like lizards and snakes too,’ and we just went from there,” she recalled. “It took a lot of communication with both the administration and the Madison Area Herpetological Society.”

The MAHS is a not-for-profit organization that Hansen and her mom have been a part of for almost three years now.

“We were a part of a different organization before, but the MAHS was a better fit for us and has provided us when a ton of unique opportunities.”

Raija is the secretary of the society and her mother is the events coordinator, which is a benefit when planning for Reptile Day.

“MAHS is basically a big compilation of knowledge, with members from different backgrounds, with different animals and specializations,” Hansen shared. “It’s such a welcoming community and everybody loves to share the knowledge. If you don’t know something, chances are somebody else in there will, or will be able to point you towards somebody who does.”

The club meets every third Friday of the month at Fox Valley Tech from 7-10 p.m. The meetings have activities for younger members as well as a speaker for the adults in the society. Most recently the club had a talk about vipers from a speaker from UW – Stevens Point.

“Without societies like ours, a lot of these animals would be extinct,” said Hansen. The organization does rescues, adoptions and rehabilitations of the animals. “I adopted an iguana that was rehabilitated after breaking almost all of her toes and losing her tail,” said the senior.

Hansen plans to go to UW-Oshkosh to study environmental science and eventually specialize in Herpetology. “I love all animals, but I like to focus on reptiles because they are so unique and not a lot of people interact with them, so I want to educate people.”

When asked what she would say to those who are nervous around snakes and other reptiles, she said, “Yes, anything with a mouth can bite, but the people who are handling the animals know what to do to prevent that type of situation from happening.”

This year, an Asian Forest Scorpion is being brought for the first time, and Hansen is excited for the NDA students to see the animal.

“We are also having a drawing for a MAHS membership to help draw more attention from the students,” she said.

A membership allows a person to go to “Herp Outings” to look for various amphibians and reptiles in the area, as well as attend the meetings and see speakers. Not to worry, Hansen plans to come back in the following years to help continue Reptile Day.

Wondering how to attend the event? “Just tell your science teachers a couple days in advance that you are interested!” said Hansen. “If you enjoyed it, tell them that too! Feedback is always appreciated.”

This year’s Reptile Day is Friday, February 23.