Jonesing for your critter fix?

Warm weather, strawberry festivals and no more school traffic on my way to work are just a few of the many reasons I love June, but one of my favorites is Scales & Tails Fest. Since 2006 we’ve planned this annual event to celebrate  all kinds of critters. And since that first year, when I adopted my own dog, I’ve enjoyed bringing in as many groups and different kinds of animals as possible. Snakes, dogs, skunks, pigs, chickens, horses — you name it and they’ve been part of this program at some point.

This year I’ll have a lot of snakes and exotic animals as well as the cats and dogs that we all love to pet and cuddle. In addition we’ll bring back the miniature horses and also talk a lot about Indiana wildlife.

I’ll also make my annual trek up to Purdue to pick up eggs for the incubators. We’ll keep these guys warm and cozy for a few days in the R.B. Annis Naturalist’s Lab before they start hatching just in time for the festival. It’s always a lot of fun to watch these little chicks peck their way out of an egg and realize they went from nothing to cute little chicks in only 21 days! At that time I’ll be somewhere near the 252nd day of my own pregnancy and will still have a month to go. Yikes!

We also have several great programs lined up this year including one on snakes as pets, training your cat (yes, apparently they ARE trainable!), exotic animals as pets and miniature horses.

So if you just like animals, you’re thinking about a new pet or are interested in how you can get involved with these great groups, stop on by. See some newly hatched chicks, touch a snake, meet some interesting people and enjoy a fine Saturday in June. 

For more information about the event and links to exhibitor information, visit our website.

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Hot Chicks at the Indiana State Museum

Marcus Harshaw, museum program specialist and Scales & Tails Fest facilitation extraordinaire, provides a behind-the-scenes glimpse of event programming.

chicks_hatching_060909_03Every year leading up to our Scales and Tails Festival here at the Indiana State Museum, we are fortunate enough to offer our guests a glimpse of the “miracle of agriculture” as two dozen chickens hatch before their very eyes.

The eggs and incubators come to us from the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Office in Johnson County. The office coordinates the Incubators in the Classroom program. Our incubators are placed in the R.B. Annis Naturalist’s Lab in the museum’s first floor galleries, and become a large attraction for visiting summer camp and other groups. The chickens were even filmed as a part of a story on Scales and Tails Fest with WISH-TV 8’s own Julie Patterson.

chicks_hatching_060909_02Annually, each chicken is named after a member of the program facilitation intermittent staff starting with the longest serving to the newest member. Of course, by time you get over six chickens, it is impossible to tell them apart! We each care for the chickens ensuring proper incubator temperature, humidity and cleanliness.

The chicks definitely have personalities. One chicken was busy facilitating the hatching of the other chickens, and another took many naps on his un-hatched siblings. At times the first incubator will be alive with activity while all 12 chickens in the incubator next door were napping, and then they would switch.

Although I have watched most of these chicks hatch, I still cannot decide which came first; the chicken, or the egg?

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