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Recognizing the Snakes Native to Charlotte, NC

In writing my 32 page report about keeping snakes as pets, I came across a lot of information. The information was pretty contradicting at times, and it took work to figure out which sources to believe and which sources to disregard. I’ve found that this isn’t just true about pet snakes; it’s even truer when it comes to wild snakes both venomous and non-venomous.

There are a few misconceptions that I want to address before we get started.

  • Snakes are poisonous. No! Snakes are not poisonous. Poison must be eaten. Venom is injected into the bloodstream. Copperheads and other dangerous snakes are venomous because they inject their venom into their victim’s bloodstream.
  • Cat-like pupils mean venomous. Nope. There are plenty of nonvenomous snakes, including ones kept as beginner pets, that have this kind of pupil.
  • Round pupils mean nonvenomous. Also incorrect. While this may be true for some nonvenomous snakes, a copperhead’s pupil will dilate in low lighting. Pupil is no reliable indicator of anything.
  • Triangle head shape means venomous. Incorrect. Many nonvenomous snakes will flatten their heads to look triangular when threatened.

Remember that the best way to know if a snake is venomous or not is to memorize what your local venomous snakes look like. If the snake you want to identify doesn’t look like any of them, you’re probably dealing with a nonvenomous snake. We have only three venomous snakes, so I’m sure you can remember what they look like.

Venomous Snakes

Copperhead

This is an adult copperhead. Adults are usually 2-4 feet in length. Notice that the head is a copper color and the body is copper and almost pink. The markings along the side of the body are Hershey kiss shaped (although some in other areas may have bands across their back and no clear Hershey kiss shapes). Copperheads are venomous. You do not want to mess with a copperhead. Instead, if you see one just leave it alone. If you really need to move it spray it with a hose. It is extremely dangerous to attempt to kill any venomous snake because that puts you in a much larger risk of being bitten than just leaving it alone.

Below is a baby copperhead. It has the same markings as the adults and a bright yellow tail tip. There is a myth that baby snakes’ venom is more harmful than adult venom, but there isn’t any proof of this.

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Timber Rattlesnake

This is an adult timber rattlesnake. They are venomous and usually get about 3-6 feet. You can see the orange stripe that runs from the neck down the back. Like any other venomous snake, you should avoid getting too close. Give them space and they will move on with their day. Below is a baby timber rattlesnake.

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

This is a venomous eastern diamondback rattlesnake. Some maps say that they are around here and others say that they aren’t, but I figured I would include it. There are diamonds down the back and it has a pretty distinct head shape. They get 3.5-6.5 feet long. Definitely respect these and give them space.

Keep in mind that this list is comprised of 3 snakes. If you live in or around Charlotte and see a snake that doesn’t look like any of these, it’s probably safe, but don’t mess with any snake when you aren’t positive of the species.

Nonvenomous Snakes

Ratsnakes

These are all non-venomous rat snakes. I think that they are so cute! They can be 3-8 feet long, depending on the species. For some reason rat snakes are often misidentified as copperheads which… Makes no sense to me. But whatever. They actually feed on copperheads among other things. If you come across one please leave it alone! They will move along and eat the mice trying to get into your basement. If you really do need it gone you can spray it with a hose or, if you’re gutsy, you could gently move it by hand. If they do bite it usually isn’t a big deal. Wash super well and you’re good to go. Just make sure you know what you’re handling before you handle it!

Eastern Coachwhip

Eastern coachwhips can get up to 8.5 feet, but are usually more like 6-7 feet when fully grown. They are nonvenomous, but they are easily scared and will bite if cornered or threatened. I would avoid trying to come up close to these for the sole reason that they tend to bite one after the other and their bites aren’t enjoyable.

Corn Snake

Corn snakes are extremely popular pet snakes because of their docile personality and easy care. They are nonvenomous and won’t bother you if you don’t bother them. They can reach 4-5.5 feet. They’re similar to rat snakes in that, if you want to, they won’t do too much to you if you try to move them somewhere else.

Garter Snakes

These two are both nonvenomous garter snakes. The top one is an eastern garter snake and the bottom one is a striped garter snake. These snakes can be 18-51 inches fully grown. They are harmless and great to have around your garden.

Dekay’s Brown Snake

I’ve seen three of these in my neighborhood this year! People usually think that they are babies, but these adults only reach 12 inches long. They are brown colored (sometimes a bit lighter brown than what these pictures show) with little dots going down their back. They are completely harmless. Their mouths are so small they can’t really bite you at all. In my experience, if they see you they will escape into grass or under pine needles.

There are many kinds of harmless snakes in in my area not included in this post. Always use caution when dealing with wild snakes. Be smart and realize that they have just as much right to be there as you do. Killing snakes puts you in a lot more danger of being bitten than just leaving them alone. I suggest joining the group titled “Snake Identification” on Facebook. You can have professionals identify the snake you post within minutes, and you learn a ton from just seeing the posts.

Thank you for reading! I hope you have a new appreciation and understanding of snakes. Feel free to comment and ask me any questions you may have!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Can Drive!

Last week was our second spring break. I went to drivers’ ed Monday-Thursday from 8am-2pm. This was my first real experience in a classroom and I actually loved it. My mom has always said that I would do great in a public school if I needed to attend one for some reason, and after my experience I’m sure that I would. I know that drivers’ ed is different in some aspects from public school, but I think the general idea is the same.

We learned about tons of things. We learned about what the different fluids in the car do, the illegal per se law, how deductibles and premiums work, and how to get out of a skid. My teacher, Miss Veronica, was so hilarious. She made all kinds of jokes and she had an unlimited supply of old fashioned peppermints that we could get anytime. We also learned about her family history and the variety of times she had been hit by cars and in near-death situations.

On Thursday we took our written test. We had two hours to answer 200 questions. I finished in a little over an hour. I was torn in between feeling super confident and feeling super nervous. After lunch we got the results. I passed with a 91! I had the fifth highest score in the class of probably 25 students. I felt really proud of myself, especially because the learning was so different from what I was used to. I noticed that nobody else ever asked questions, and I asked a lot of them. I wonder if that had something to do with my schooling versus theirs or if it’s just a coincidence.

In the state of North Carolina you do thirty hours of classroom time and six hours of driving with an instructor before getting your permit. I thought I would need to wait a month before getting my first three hours of driving done, but I was able to do my first three hours on Monday (school started on Tuesday) and my last three hours after school on Tuesday. My instructor is named Paul. He is also very nice and very calm. He said I got an A+ after my first day. My second day I drove on I-485, which is the interstate highway that circles Uptown Charlotte.

Today before school my mom and I went to the DMV and I got my permit! I had to take a vision test, road sign test, and a 25 question test. You are allowed to get 5/25 wrong on the test, but I got every single one right so the test cut short once I reached 20 correct answers. I drove home from the DMV and I drove my mom and sister ( @animalfreak9 ) to school.

I’m so excited to be able to drive!

Also… I’m getting a snake! My mom said yes! I’m planning to get a western hognose this August or September. If you or someone you know has a hognose and has any tips, please let me know through the comments!

Snake Report

Lately I’ve gotten really interested in snakes. Our school is getting a snake named Ratters soon. Right now he lives with Jess until we have a cage for him (which she’s building). Since holding him and Jess and Zack’s other snakes a couple months ago I’ve been to a serpentarium (click to see my post about this trip) and Repticon.

After Repticon I asked my mom what it would take to for me to be able to have a snake, and she told me to write a thirty page report about snakes addressing the pros and cons of having a snake, as well as how to take care of them and keep yourself safe whilst doing so. I’ve been working on it for a couple of weeks (including over spring break in Universal) and I’m a quarter to a third of the way through depending on how you look at it.

So far I’ve written about rosy boas and I’m in the middle of writing about Pueblan milk snakes. I’ve explored how to care for the individual snakes in regards to food, water, heat, humidity, the enclosure they’re in, and shedding. Every kind of snake is so different in the care that they need! Rosy boas shouldn’t have too much access to water in case their cage gets too humid, but Pueblan milk snakes should have a water bowl big enough for them to soak in at all times.

Here’s what I wrote about rosy boas. Please let me know if I’m missing things, any information isn’t totally correct, or if you have experience with snakes and/or other reptiles. Distinguishing fact versus fiction with online information is hard, especially when I come across wildly varying articles and blog posts.

Rosy Boas

This is the rosy boa. They can come in many different colors including, but not limited to, rosy pink, salmon, orange, brown, gray, white, and black. They are easily identifiable by the three stripes down their backs.

Description

Rosy boas are are considered excellent beginner snakes for many reasons. They are easy to find because of their popularity and they are not expensive. You can get a Rosy boa for as little as 25 dollars. Other snakes cost hundreds, and even thousands, of dollars! Also, rosy boas’ temperaments are perfect for new snake owners and children. They are slow moving, docile and enjoy handling. They are also small snakes, even as adults. Their adult lengths are usually 2-3 feet, with very few reaching 4 feet. Their diameter as adults are around the size of a golf ball.

In the Wild

Rosy boas are found in the Southwestern United States and Northwestern Mexico. They live in rocky places where they can hide under rocks. It is best to buy a captive-bred snake for a couple of reasons. First, if you buy a wild-caught snake their temperament won’t be like a captive-bred snake that was handled from birth. It may also have parasites and injuries. Even if a wild-caught rosy boa didn’t have any such issues, if too many of them are taken from the wild there could be a potential problem with population. It is best to purchase snakes from breeders who know about the individual snake, its parents, and any issues it might have. Breeders should also let you know if they have any concerns about the snakes. They should be able to tell you how the snake is with eating and handling, and what the snake’s enclosure will need for your snake to thrive.

Enclosure

Because rosy boas are small, their enclosures don’t need to be large. Adults do very well in 20 gallon tanks, which are usually 24 x 13 x 13 inches. The enclosure needs to be escape proof because rosy boas are known for trying to escape. The top should be made out of a specific kind of screen, because the snake may try to escape and injure itself if it’s too rough or the holds in the screen are too large. Instead, the top should be made out of a softer screen with smaller openings.

This tank would be an ideal tank (minus the cactus and leopard gecko; never house snakes with your other pets). This tank is selling for about $170, but it is also possible to build your own tank with a kit for less money.

All snakes need something called substrate. Substrate is the material on the floor of the enclosure. Substrate can be wood chips, sand, and many other things. The substrate you choose should depend on the type of snake you have and what it needs. Different substrates contribute different things to the humidity, heat, and comfort level in the  enclosure.

In the rosy boa’s case, it’s best to use newspaper, paper towels, wood chips, or CareFresh. Carefresh is like the bedding for hamsters or other rodents. Substrate should be changed every two months, and immediately if there is any smell. Also, with rosy boas, if any water is spilled in the substrate it should be changed immediately as this can lead to serious health problems. Besides the bimonthly cleanings, spot clean the enclosure 2-3 times per week.

Another part of the setup should be hides. Hides can be anything from elaborate little homes and (fake) skulls from the pet store to tissue boxes. Hides make the snakes feel safe. Some snakes like hides better than others, so for some hides aren’t as important.

Rosy boas like to have two hides; one on either side of the enclosure. One hide being the warm hide, and one being the cool hide. The temperature of the enclosure can be managed by heat tape or a heating pad and thermometers. The gradient of the enclosure should be the low 70s on the cool side and the high 80s on the warm side.

Something else very important when it comes to snakes is humidity. Some snakes, like the reticulated python, require very high humidity. Other snakes require very low humidity. Rosy boas are one of the latter. They live in very low humidity areas like deserts, so the humidity of the enclosure should not be more than 60%. If the humidity gets too high, the snake can quickly get respiratory issues. This is very dangerous and can quickly lead to death.

Water

To keep the humidity down for the reasons mentioned above, you shouldn’t give your rosy boa constant access to water. Instead, put a water bowl in for 1 day 1-2 times per month. This way, your rosy boa still has access to water and the humidity won’t reach a dangerous level. As long as the snake eats well, the snake will stay hydrated from the mixture of biweekly water access and mice.

Food

Related to the water is the food. Rosy boas only need to be fed one mouse 2-4 times per month. The age of the mouse will correspond with the size of the snake. Baby rosy boas will eat the baby mice, called pinkies, while adults can eat small adult mice. When you get the mouse, it will be frozen. When it is time for your snake to eat, take the mouse (it will be in plastic packaging) and submerge it in warm water. To make sure the mouse is completely defrosted, squeeze it in the middle. If it is completely soft and you don’t feel anything frozen, it is safe to feed to your snake. After feeding, snakes should not be handled for two days or until the mouse is no longer visible in the body. If the snake is handled at this point then it may regurgitate the mouse, and nobody wants that.

Thanks for reading!

Serpentarium 12+ Trip

*Blog for Feb 12-16

This week I went on a super fun trip with kids ages 12 and up. I’m part of a group where we take turns planning trips with/for the older kids and our latest trip was to a serpentarium in Wilmington, NC. Zack (@zelda) did a great job planning it. We stayed at his grandparents’ condo for two nights and went to the Cape Fear Serpentarium, the beach, the Fort Fisher Aquarium, Fort Fisher, and a couple of little shops near the condo.

Left to right: Kate, Liberty, Elisha, Caleb, Andrew, Ireland, Jordan, Zack, Me, Will, and Ralphie.

The Serpentarium

A serpentarium is like a museum/zoo that shows snakes, lizards, and other reptiles. We went to the Cape Fear Serpentarium which, according to the website, has the largest and most rare venomous snake collection in the country.

It was so amazing! I saw so many different types of snakes, including a black mamba (pictured) that either liked me or wanted to eat me. It was really cool to see a black mamba because when I was younger I was super interested in them and re watched a documentary about them probably five times. I felt proud of myself for knowing what kind of snake it was before looking at the sign. Black mambas are extremely venomous (5/5 on the venom scale) and their bites are known as the kiss of death.

Black mamba and me.

 

There were also lizards and turtles, as well as alligators and crocodiles. I was really impressed with the variety and sheer number and size of the collection. We learned that all of the animals are taken care of by one person. That’s a huge job! Jess got their contact information and I’m hoping we might be able to help them out some time. Here are some more pictures:

Not a snake.
Blood Boas
Friendly snake
This snake is so cool because it looks like leaves.
cute snek

Aquarium

Liberty and me at the aquarium.

We also went to the Fort Fisher Aquarium. That was a lot of fun. We saw a dive show where two scuba divers went into a huge tank with fish, sharks, turtles, and an eel and answered questions through an underwater walkie talkie system that we could hear outside the tank. We learned that green moray eels (pictured below) aren’t actually green. They’re blue, but the slime they secrete everywhere is yellow  making them appear green! I thought that was super cool.

Green moray eel

Something the Fort Fisher Aquarium is famous for is Luna; their albino alligator. Albino alligators can’t survive in the wild. A big reason is that because they’re albino, they can get sunburns super easily. An alligator’s instinct is to bask in the sun. If an albino alligator basked in the sun and did what they wanted for just a couple of weeks, they would probably die from sun poisoning.

 

Fort Fisher

Unfortunately, we had to go through Fort Fisher really fast. We didn’t have time to read the signs and I don’t really remember anything from the quick movie we watched beforehand. I will say that it was a nice walk around outside and the mounds around the fort were cool, though.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my trip. The reason this is so late is because I’m on spring break (Universal Studios!!) and just now had a free few minutes to finish this up.

Bye!

*Not at the Serpentarium, This is at Repticon the Sunday after the trip.

Punnet Squares

Today I’m going to be teaching you about punnet squares! Punnet squares are a simple way to find the odds of a person having certain traits such as eye color, nail shape, or genetic disorders. Of course, genetics is a really complicated subject, but punnet squares are a simple way to understand how traits are passed down through generations. Before we begin, here are some things to know:

  • Capital letters stand for a dominant trait, while lower case letters stand for recessive traits. Dominant traits override the recessive ones.
  • Alleles are what hold the certain traits. For a parent to pass a trait to their child, they actually pass down that allele (which is on a gene, which are segments of DNA, which are on chromosomes). Generally, each trait has two alleles.

This is Sharon and Mike. Sharon and Mike are expecting a baby, and they want to know what their child might look like.

Sharon has the following traits:

Black hair (B), Blue eyes (b), Freckles (F), Curly hair (C)

These are Mike’s Traits:

Red hair (r), Green eyes (g), Straight hair (s), No freckles (f)

Sharon’s traits are all dominant except for b (blue eyes), while all of Mike’s traits are recessive.

First, let’s look at the punnet square for hair texture.

This baby would have curly hair. This is because curly hair is dominant, and in every situation the baby has one curly hair allele, meaning curly hair is pretty much a definite. This baby’s alleles are heterozygous Cs.

Let’s move on to freckles.

In this situation, the baby does have freckles. This is because in every situation, Sharon gives the baby one dominant allele for freckles, and the dominant allele overpowers the recessive allele given by Mike. This baby’s alleles are heterozygous Ff.

Next is hair color.

You probably know the drill by now: Black hair is dominant, red hair is recessive, there are no situations where the baby has two recessive traits, therefore baby has black hair. This baby’s alleles are heterozygous Br.

Now for eye color!

This is where it gets fun! What do you do when the baby inherits two recessive traits from their parents? In this situation, the baby has a 100% chance of having the alleles gb (green, blue). Technically, these are both recessive traits. But, green eyes are actually dominant over blue eyes! So, even though green eyes are a recessive trait, the baby will still have green eyes. This baby’s alleles are heterozygous gb.

Now, last but not least, boy or girl? A baby’s sex is determined pretty much the same way other traits are determined. But instead of parents giving the child alleles, they each give the child a chromosome (specifically a sex determining chromosome).

Sharon is going to have two X chromosomes because she is a woman, and Mike is going to have one X and one Y because he is a man. Sharon is always going to give an X chromosome, while Mike could give either X or Y. If he gives an X the child will be a girl, and if he gives Y the child will be a boy. As you can see in the image above, the child has a 50/50 chance of being a girl or a boy.

So what does the child look like?

The baby has curly black hair, freckles, and green eyes.

He’s also a boy!

Now, what happens when the baby grows up and has a child?

His traits are pink and his wife’s are green.

And this, my friends, is how traits are passed down through generations.

Please ignore the fact that these babies have no bodies.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment and ask!

Winthrop Eagles

This week, as you probably know, was the beginning of March Madness/March Mayhem/NCAA Tournament. In case you don’t know, this is a tournament between the top college men’s basketball teams in the country. There are 64 teams who play each other until there is a winner.

There is a college called Winthrop University out of Rock Hill, South Carolina. This year, Winthrop made it into the NCAA tournament for the the first time in (I believe) ten years! The reason this is exciting for me is because my family knows two of the players; Anders and Bjorn Broman, who are brothers. Because we know them, we get to go to a lot of Winthrop’s home games.

There was a Selection Sunday watch party at the Winthrop Coliseum my family went to. Winthrop was the number 13 seed and was going to play against the number 4 seed.

Thursday, March 16th the Winthrop Eagles played the Butler Bulldogs in Milwaukee. They unfortunately lost by 12 points, but it was still a really good game to watch. It wouldn’t have been such a sad loss if it wasn’t the last time I’ll see the seniors (Keon Johnson, Tevin Prescott, Josh Davenport, Hunter Sadlon, and Roderick Perkins) play.

I’ve decided to draw all of the Winthrop players and then get it autographed! I have drawn 14 of the 16 players on the team, including red-shirted players. Here’s my progress so far!

winthroppicwinthroppics

The Curly Girl Method

Hi! I’ve mentioned the Curly Girl Method a few times on my blog, but not in much detail. I thought that I’d do just that.

The Curly Girl Method is for anyone who has wavy or curly hair. The basic idea is to only use conditioner, gel or mousse. No shampoo. I know, I know. No shampoo?! Trust me, my hair is very clean. Shampoo contains sulfates, which strip the hair of its natural oils. Some shampoo (and pretty much any other types of hair products) also contains silicone, which coat your hair in plastic, making it so that no moisture can get through to your hair. Ever. For your hair to be healthy, it needs moisture, and it can’t get that when it’s coated with plastic.

To start the Curly Girl Method (or CGM), you need to do a final wash. This is washing with a shampoo that has sulfates, but not silicone. You can also use diluted dish soap. The sulfates wash out the silicone so that you can start anew with non-plastic-y hair. Then, you add conditioner. The conditioner can’t contain sulfates or silicone.  It all depends on your hair with how much conditioner, which conditioner, if you leave some in or not, etc.

Personally, I leave in one HUGE handful of Suave Essentials conditioner. That’s right, I don’t wash it out. My hair loves moisture that much!

The next time you wash your hair, instead of shampoo or dish soap, just use your CG (Curly Girl Method Safe) conditioner to wash your hair. Put some on your dry scalp (and, if you want, dry hair) and scrub your scalp. Don’t use your nails, though. Scrub until you feel like your arms are falling off, then get into the shower. Scrub some more so that all of the conditioner is out of your hair and off of your scalp. Put some more conditioner in your hair and let it sit like you would with normal conditioner, and shower as normal. Once your shower is over, rinse all of the conditioner out while combing through your hair with your fingers or a wide tooth comb. Now, add some more conditioner in your hair. It should feel like wet seaweed and your fingers should be able to go through it effortlessly. I suggest doing this with your head upside down; it’s easier on the arms. I then add another handful of conditioner and work it into my hair. This is too much for some people, and not enough for others, so you just have to figure out what’s best for you!

Once you’ve finished with that, put some gel in your hair. Remember, the gel can’t contain silicone or sulfates! I like to scrunch my gel in, but it’s up to you. You don’t need to use gel, but that works best for most people.

It’s normal for your hair to need to transition. For some people, their hair looks good right away. For others it takes up to 3 months. During the transition period the hair is usually limp, possibly greasy looking, and overall unappealing. But once you get past that stage, your hair will probably look so much better! I know mine did. Here are some pictures:

alona3andahalf
My hair when I was little.
IMG_6294
Before the CGM. I wore my hair in a ponytail 24/7.

curlyhair
This is after my first time doing the CGM. I didn’t know about the final wash, so I didn’t actually do one.
curlycut
Right after my first DevaCut. My hair was cut dry so that she could see how my hair naturally fell.
2016-03-01-09-05-17-hdr
My 13th Birthday! A couple weeks after my DevaCut.

 

braces11
A few months after my first DevaCut.

Over time, my hair got curlier and curlier. Now, a year after my first DevaCut, my hair is pretty curly.

me14
My 14th birthday! This was yesterday 🙂 (March 1st, 2017)

If you have any questions about the Curly Girl Method, comment, and I’ll do my best to answer them!

I hope you’ll give it a try 🙂

allihavetosay

The Balkan War

This week I learned about the Balkan War from one of my fellow student’s father. I will teach you what he taught us.

There used to be a country called Yugoslavia. It consisted of a few countries. The ones I’ll be talking about today are Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia.

Let’s get our geography down real quick.

Croatia is yellow, Bosnia is green, and Serbia is brown/pink/redish color.
Croatia is yellow, Bosnia is green, and Serbia is brown/pink/redish color.

As you can see from this map, Bosnia is practically surrounded by those two countries. If you look closely, only a TINY part of southern Bosnia is touching the shore, and that’s it.

On March 31st, 1991, Croatia wanted to secede and become its own country. Serbia didn’t like this, and they tried to stop Croatia from leaving Yugoslavia. This started a conflict between the two states, leaving Bosnia in the middle. Bosnia declared that they also wanted to secede on April 6th, 1992. Serbia obviously didn’t like that either. So now Serbia was in a war with both Bosnia and Croatia. Because Bosnia was left in the middle, that’s where the fighting happened. The innocent citizens, who were just trying to live, were stuck in the middle of a horrible war.

There are many similarities between the Holocaust and the Balkan War. There were concentration camps, pointless killings of civilians, and sieges that killed thousands of people.

The army would go around to people’s houses and take the able bodied males to fight in the war. They didn’t have a choice.

When people were lucky enough to escape to other countries as refugees, they would get on buses. The even luckier ones would be delivered safely to another country. The unlucky ones would be separated into groups of men, women, and children. Then lined up and shot. Just like that.

My friend’s father was 6 when he escaped from Bosnia to Croatia. The bus that transported him and his family to safety did stop. The men, women, and children were separated and lined up. But just a few seconds before the shots rang out a UN vehicle showed up and their lives were saved.

He and his family made it safely to Croatia and lived on an island in a refugee camp for 2 1/2 years before coming to the USA as an immigrant. He had a friend in less than a week, and learned the language in 6 months.

He’s now married and has an 8 year old daughter named Ari. She’s the age he was when he was still living in a refugee camp. He was going to a soup kitchen every day to get food with his family.

Without refugees being welcomed by Croatia, and immigrants being welcomed by the USA, Ari wouldn’t exist. Our school wouldn’t be as happy as it is today, all because of one immigrant.

I guess some people fail to realize how important refugees and immigrants are, and that’s too bad. I think if they took the time to meet one, they would learn that they’re people just like you and me, and that when they need help we should help them.

His story made me think about how very lucky I am to be living where, when, and how I am now.

 

Figuring out my parents’ eye color alleles

A couple days ago, Elisha, my sister ( @animalfreak9 ), commented on one of my blog posts. She asked what the chances of her inheriting hazel eyes was. At first, I dismissed the idea as impossible. I didn’t think it could happen with my mom having blue eyes. But then I did some more research.

I learned that brown eyes are dominant over all, hazel and green are dominant over blue, and blue is completely recessive. This means that for Elisha to have hazel eyes, she would only need one hazel allele from my dad. My mom’s blue eyed allele that my mom had to of given Elisha wouldn’t have affected it (My mom’s eye color genotype MUST be bb, or blue and blue. This is because to have blue eyes you must be homozygous(have two of) recessive (blue eye alleles).)

That’s right. To have blue eyes you have to have 2 blue eyes alleles. That means, you guessed it, my dad needs to have a blue eyed allele! Otherwise, Elisha and I wouldn’t have blue eyes. The other allele my dad has would overpower my mom’s blue allele.

Now I knew that my mom’s genotype for eye color is bb (blue eye and blue eye) while my dad must have a b allele as well. There isn’t any way his genotype is bb, though, because he has hazel eyes! This means he MUST have a hazel allele! That means that my mom is bb and my dad is Gb (hazel and  blue). That results in a 50% chance of Elisha (or me, for that matter) having hazel or greenish eyes. TA DA!

 

Keep in mind I started learning about genetics this summer. I am also 13 years old. There is a high chance that I messed up/was misinformed in some degree/read the wrong answer on the internet/am just plain wrong and am making stuff up as I go unknowingly.

But, on the other hand I could be totally right!

Wings Assignment #2

This week I decided to stay in genetics again. I slacked a bit and only completed 3 out of 5 tasks, but I still feel accomplished. Here are my notes from this week!

Tuesday:

“I watched a video about the structure of DNA. I’ve never taken chemistry classes so I was kind of completely lost. That’s basically it.

The second video was also about the structure of DNA and the different stuff that makes other stuff. I’m clueless. :(”

As you can see, I didn’t really understand anything, even though I tried really hard. I do believe that I learned a little bit, though.

 

Wednesday:

“I don’t think I learned anything. Again. It was all the same sort of stuff as yesterday and I don’t know what the heck I just spent 20 minutes reading.

I watched an interesting video on the transforming principle that I actually understood! It talked about how in 1928 a scientist with the last name of Griffith performed an experiment. He took mice and injected them with different strands (This means viruses). He had rough strands and smooth strands. When he injected rough strands the mice lived, but smooth strands killed the mice. He tried heating up and killing the smooth strands. He then injected the mice with this and, not surprisingly, they survived! Lastly, he tried mixing the killed smooth strands with the rough strands. Logically, the mice would survive. Right? Wrong. The mice died! In 1944 three scientists (Avery, McCarthy, and MacLeod) decided to find out why this was. They did a whole bunch of stuff to killed smooth strands and somehow figured out that the virus had DNA! When Griffith mixed the dead smooth strand and the rough strand, the smooth one’s DNA must have transformed the live rough strand’s to be deadly to the mice.”

This was very interesting to me. I think it’s so cool how this dead virus can overtake the living virus and transform a rough strand into a smooth one!

Friday:

In the video, I learned about Hershey and Chase, who proved Macleod, Avery and McCarthy’s theory that DNA is the stuff that holds all the information about organisms. They took some T2 Bacteriophage (This is a virus that kills bacteria I think). That did something… Not positive what. They knew that when the heat-killed smooth strand transformed the rough strand into more of the smooth strand, something was injected. They wanted to know if it was protein or DNA. Chase and Hershey though that protein would hold all of the information of the organism, while Macleod, McCarthy, and Avery thought it was DNA.

Man… I understand this in a broader way and it makes sense, but I don’t know how to write it and explain it! I don’t know what did what, just that something did something resulting in something that makes a lot of sense.

Anyway, something from that virus was mixed with/grown with radioactive 32P (phosphorous) and some with radioactive 35S (sulfur). They knew that if DNA was the answer then they would end (somehow) end up with 32P. If it was protein, they would end up with 35S. In the end, they ended up with/found/discovered 32P. That’s how we know DNA holds all of our genetic information!

The article I read was kind of re-explaining what the video said. I understand a bit more. A bacteriophage is a virus that attacks bacteria. The scientists grew this with the 32P and 35S. Here is some stuff to help understand it better (from the article).

“Hershey and Chase knew that the phages attached to the surface of a host bacterial cell and injected some substance (either DNA or protein) into the host. This substance gave “instructions” that caused the host bacterium to start making lots and lots of phages—in other words, it was the phage’s genetic material. Before the experiment, Hershey thought that the genetic material would prove to be protein

To establish whether the phage injected DNA or protein into host bacteria, Hershey and Chase prepared two different batches of phage. In each batch, the phage was produced in the presence of a specific radioactive element, which was incorporated into the macromolecules (DNA and protein) that made up the phage.
One sample was produced in the presence of 35S, a radioactive isotope of sulfur. Sulfur is found in many proteins and is absent from DNA, so only phage proteins were radioactively labeled by this treatment.
The other sample was produced in the presence of 32 P, a radioactive isotope of phosphorous. Phosphorous is found in DNA and not in proteins, so only phage DNA (and not phage proteins) was radioactively labeled by this treatment.
Each batch of phage was used to infect a different culture of bacteria. After infection had taken place, each culture was whirled in a blender, removing any remaining phage and phage parts from the outside of the bacterial cells. Finally, the cultures were centrifuged, or spun at high speeds, to separate the bacteria from the phage debris.”

This was also very interesting to me, however much confusing it was. I don’t fully understand the order of operations but I have an idea of how it works and I like that. Of course, I would rather fully understand it, but having an idea feels nice.

Something I also really like is how there was a woman scientist that helped make the breakthrough discovery about DNA carrying the genetic information versus protein. Everybody else that Khan has talked about (Gregor Mendel, Thomas Hunt Morgan, MacLeod, Avery, McCarthy, Griffith, Hershey) were men. But Martha Chase helped make the definite discovery of DNA.

OTHER NOTES: (keep in mind I’m telling myself I can’t use any outside source to remember things, so I might say I think a lot. I’m relying on my brain alone!)

I finally memorized what DNA stands for! DeoxyriboseNucleic Acid

RNA (something that has the recipe for different amino acids to put it simply) stands for Ribose Nucleic Acid.

I also memorized the scientists who made big discoveries about genetics. At least, the scientists Sal Khan talked about.

Gregor Mendel was in the (I think) 1880s. He did experiments with pea plants and discovered heredity! He noted the ratios of differently colored pea plants. These ratios are spot on and used today!

Thomas Hunt Morgan started breeding fruit flies in 19-something. I know for sure the latest year was 1911.

Boveri and Sutton I think discovered/did something with chromosomes. I believe they came up with the theory that traits and genes sat on chromosomes.

Griffith came up with the Transformation Theory/Hypothesis/Idea. He wanted to come up with a cure for pneumonia but ended up discovering something different. He injected different viruses into mice and discovered that the dead smooth strand could transform live rough strand into smooth strand!

Avery, MacLeod, and McCarthy wanted to figure out why/how the transformation theory worked. They took the smooth strand and found that the virus has DNA! They believed that DNA was the thing that held genetic information.

Hershey and Chase wanted to know for sure if DNA or proteins held genetic information. Hershey was pretty sure it would be the proteins, but he was wrong! The two did a slightly complicated test with stuff and they proved that DNA actually holds the genetic information for organisms.

That’s all the time I have for today; every finished blogging ten minutes ago! Bye!