4-Hers meet night critters in the Conecuh [with gallery]

Published 2:32 am Saturday, April 13, 2019

Jimmy and Sierra Stiles of Andalusia said it’s important to educate students about are wildlife because they are the ones that are going to be taking care of the different critters in the future.

The Covington County 4-H program hosted “Stalking Night Critters of the Conecuh National Forest” yesterday, where the couple was able to show off some nocturnal creatures.

“It is important for these kids to know things about these animals that live right next door to them,” Stiles said. “They need to know that the national forest has more species of reptiles and amphibians than anywhere in the U.S.”

The couple said that they have met people from far and wide who travel to Conecuh National Forest just to see the animals.

“A lot of people grow up here and they take it for granted,” Stiles said. “Honestly people come from all over just to see these critters that live in their backyards. I have had people from as far away as Japan, Australia and Europe come just to see the salamanders.”

Mrs. Stiles said that the students need to start learning young how to protect their neighbors.

“These animals are neighbors to these kids,” Stiles said. “Hopefully they will do a better job protecting them than we have done. It is important that they know who their neighbors are and to be aware of them when they are out here in the forest. They have a heck of a job in the future.”

The students were able to see several critters, including southern flying squirrels, a two-toed amphiuma and a grey tree frog.

“The theme today was about nocturnal creatures,” Stiles said. “So all of these creatures come out at night. With the two-toed amphiuma, it is a very large aquatic salamander that is very common to the area, and they are primarily nocturnal. That means that they will go very deep in the water during the day, then at night they will come out of the water to feed. With the frogs we are able to teach them about all of the different frog species in the forest and talk about how they call at night. Conecuh National Forest is actually home to more species of frogs than any other public land in the United States.”