August 24, 2020

Meet the Animals: King Tut

Get to know our resident Eastern King Snake

Eastern kingsnakes usually grow to be anywhere from 3-4 feet long, although they can reach up to 5-feet long. They are shiny black and typically feature white or yellow chain-link type bands running along their bodies. The chain-like pattern is why the eastern kingsnake is also sometimes called the chain kingsnake.

Strong constrictors, these kingsnakes eat other snakes – including venomous ones like copperheads, hence their name “kingsnake” – as well as lizards, rodents, birds and turtle eggs.

These snakes can be found throughout a very large geographic range, stretching along the East coast from New Jersey to Florida. They are commonly found in all areas of the Carolinas.

Summer is the most active season for eastern kingsnakes, which are mainly terrestrial but do like to live close to water.
Spring is mating season for eastern kingsnakes. Females lay anywhere from three to two dozen eggs, which usually hatch in late summer.

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Emotions are complicated. They’re so complicated that scientists still don’t even fully understand them! One thing that scientists do know, though, is that some of our biggest feelings are caused by a tiny part of the brain called the amygdala.

The amygdala is a bundle of important nerve cells deep inside the brain. Everyone has two amygdales—there’s one in each half of the brain. The amygdala works with the parts of the brain that control memory, behavior and emotion, and this tiny group of cells packs a big punch when it comes to emotions, especially stress and fear.

Most people don’t like to feel scared, but humans are fascinated by it! Think of all the spookiness in the month of October. The rush of energy and emotion people get by being scared can be enjoyable in controlled situations, like a scary movie or an amusement park ride.

No matter the source of the scare, the amygdala’s role is the same. The amygdala is like a bridge connecting two very different parts of the brain: the part that controls the body functions you aren’t aware of (like breathing) and the part that “thinks” for you.

This means that when your amygdala gets information that tells you something scary is happening, it can send signals that make your heart race and your breathing get faster, making you feel scared!