“Double, double, toil and trouble; fire burn and caldron bubble”– Shakespeare’s Macbeth
Immerse yourselves in the enchanting world of creatures that seem straight out of a sorcerer’s tale, but call the WNC Nature Center home! Embark on a creepy cruise through Shakespeare’s classic Witches Song to uncover magical facts about some of our often overlooked native wildlife champions. Plus, we’ve conjured up our own delightful Witches’ Brew recipe for you to concoct with young sorcerers-in-training.
“Fillet of a Fenny Snake
In the cauldron boil and bake”
Meet our “fenny snake” Gary, an Eastern Garter Snake. The term “fenny snake” evokes a snake from the swamps, as a fen is a type of wetland. Garter snakes have a hearty appetite for amphibians and slugs, so they thrive in wetlands, but these non-venomous snakes can live in many different habitats. But here’s where the magic comes in: Gary’s species practices ovoviviparity. That means snake moms give birth to live snake babies! They hatch from soft eggs inside their mother and emerge into the world as little baby snakes.
“Eye of Newt and Toe of Frog”
The Eastern Red Spotted Newt takes center stage with this famous line! These captivating creatures possess the “magical power” of shape-shifting. Newts start off as aquatic larvae with gills, then transform into land-dwelling juveniles known as efts, using their lungs to breathe air. Eventually, they become adults, returning to the water with a sleek tail, changing colors from fiery red to lush green. If you visit our two newts, Alex and Olivia, in Appalachian Station, see if you can decide which life stage they are in. If their transformations don’t seem magical enough, newts have another truly enchanting power: regeneration. If a newt is injured, it can regrow entire functioning limbs and organs! It is a skill that seems straight out of a spellbook, doesn’t it?
“Adder’s Fork and Blind-Worm’s Sting
Lizard’s Leg and Howlet’s Wing”
Enter Natalie and Nora, our Carolina Anoles, with their mesmerizing ability to change colors from vibrant green to earthy brown, adapting to the season and their habitat. It’s no wonder spotting them at Appalachian Station in the WNC Nature Center can be a challenge! These lizards blend in seamlessly into the trees they call home.
There are plenty of animals in the poem we didn’t learn about together. Next time you visit the WNC Nature Center (or see a wild animal) you can use these connections to explore with your child how wildlife plays a key role in so many parts of our lives, including inspiring art and literature.
There are plenty of animals in the poem we didn’t learn about together. Next time you visit the WNC Nature Center (or see a wild animal) you can use these connections to explore with your child how wildlife plays a key role in so many parts of our lives, including inspiring art and literature. Now that you’ve learned about all the ingredients, use the recipe below to concoct your own witches’ brew!
“For a Charm of Powerful Trouble”
Witches’ Brew Recipe!
- Pudding or peanut butter
- “Eye of Newt”: Mini-chocolate chips or raisins
- “Lizard Leg”: Shredded coconut or carrots
- “Fillet of Fenny Snake”: Gummy worms or apple strips
Directions: In your cauldron (a large pot), combine the above ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon, moving in slow, mystical circles. For extra magical flair, recite the lines from the poem as you add each ingredient! Scoop the concoction into cups or bowls and garnish with extra “eyes of newt” to add a final spellbinding touch.
To serve a small gathering of witches, have each brew their own treat in a mini cauldron (a small mug), adding the ingredients one by one.
Special thanks to Outreach Education Specialist Brian Wuertz for this wildly-inspired article!