Zoos play a unique and vital role in today’s complex world of conservation. As global leaders in biodiversity preservation and drawing upon our animal expertise, Zoo Atlanta works to save species and their wild environments around the globe and partners with conservation organizations to expand reach and competency. Check out this year’s Conservation Poster for curricular connections and information about how Zoo Atlanta helps preserve the wild population of eastern indigo snakes!
Use the poster to connect to your curriculum!
Next Generation Science Standard: 3-LS1-1 | Georgia Standard of Excellence: SKL2, S5L1
From eggs to adulthood, reptiles have quite an interesting life cycle. Use this year’s education poster to start a conversation about the life cycle of an eastern indigo snake. Start by looking at the top, right image of the poster. There you will see a newly hatched snake around a few oval-shaped eggs. How are these eggs similar to eggs that you have seen? How are they different?
Have students make a sketch of the life cycle of a snake. Use the poster and Zoo Atlanta’s animal pages to see up-close images of the indigo snake and their eggs. From there, have students complete a sketch of the phases of development. Extend the lesson by having students compare the life cycle of a snake to the life cycles of birds, amphibians and mammals!
Looking for more? Register for a Virtual Wild Walk! Our “Cycle of Life” program showcases the life cycles of various animals at Zoo Atlanta!
NGSS: 2-LS4-1, 3-LS3-1 | GSE: S2L1, S5L1, S7L1
What makes a reptile a reptile? For one, reptiles are covered in scales, which help protect them in their habitats. Compare the scales of the indigo snake to the body coverings of other animals. For a close-up picture of scales, check out Zoo Atlanta’s eastern indigo snake fact page. Have students closely look at the scales and compare and contrast them to the body coverings of other animals.
From there, start a conversation with your students about all of the fascinating characteristics of the reptile class! Reptiles are a member of the vertebrate class, meaning that they have backbones. There are four other classes of vertebrates: fish, birds, mammals and amphibians. Each of these classes have unique characteristics. Have students create a diagram that indicates the characteristics of each of the five vertebrate classes. Use the animal pages from Zoo Atlanta’s website to find images and facts about each of the vertebrate classes!
Students can use what they learned to create a diagram that shows the differences in the types of body coverings of different animals. To bring your lessons to life, bring your students to the Zoo for our Zoo Challenge program, Creature Classification, where students will apply what they have learned to solve a classic case of “whodunit!” Or let the Zoo bring classification to you in “What Vertebrate am I,” a popular ZooMobile program!
NGSS: 2-LS4-1, MS-LS2-2 | GSE: S7L4, SEC3
Georgia’s diverse regions are home to a variety of animals specially adapted to the region in which they live. Several of these species have symbiotic relationships in which they depend on one another for survival.
Eastern indigo snakes have a special connection to the gopher tortoise and can often be found in the burrows of the tortoise. In fact, the indigo snakes that are released back into the wild by Zoo Atlanta are released into gopher tortoise burrows! That way, the indigo snakes already have a ready-made home to move into!
Visit Zoo Atlanta’s website to learn more about indigo snakes and their symbiotic relationships, and watch our Zoo2You on the gopher tortoise! From there, have students determine what type of symbiotic relationship exists between gopher tortoises and eastern indigo snakes. Ask students to take on the role of Zoo exhibit designer and create habitat signage for both the gopher tortoise and the indigo snake to explain their relationship! For even more fun learning about the very special animals that call Georgia home, visit Zoo Atlanta for the “Discover Georgia” Zoo Challenge program.
NGSS: 3-LS4-3, MS-LS2-3, HS-LS2-6 | GSE: S3L1, S4L1, SB5, SEV1, SEC1
Ecosystems are dependent on a delicate balance of species. Unfortunately, due to habitat fragmentation, the wild populations of indigo snakes are dwindling. How does the indigo snake fit into that delicate ecosystem balance, and what would happen if there were no more indigo snakes?
Have students visit Zoo Atlanta’s website to learn more about the indigo snake and what it eats. After researching the animal’s diet, have students create a food web and then present to the class on what would happen if indigo snakes were removed from the ecosystem.
NGSS: K-ESS3-3, HS-LS2-7 | GSE: S2E3, SZ4
Eastern Indigo snakes have quite a varied diet of rodents, insects, amphibians, birds and even venomous snakes such as rattlesnakes, cottonmouth snakes, and copperheads. For this reason, they are quite beneficial in keeping backyard habitats safe from these venomous snakes. However, due to habitat loss and a general fear of snakes, indigo snake populations have been decreasing in the wild.
Have students research the indigo snake on Zoo Atlanta’s website and do their own research to learn how the indigo snake’s habitat has become fragmented and their populations have declined due to the fragmentation, as well as general fear of snakes. Have students create a Fact Vs. Myth presentation on snakes to explain their importance in the ecosystem. Students can even create campaign posters and presentations to inform the public on the benefits of having snakes, including eastern indigo snakes, in their yards and present to their school community.