In this episode of Let's Dive In, RTÉjr Radio's science show, hosts Julie and Phil find out why a tube-shaped animal isn't native to Ireland, and why it’s such a great predator - we're talking SNAKES!!

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On 17 March the Christian missionary, St Patrick, is celebrated the world over. And, legend has it, it was this man that sent the snakes slithering into the sea when they started attacking him during his 40-day long hilltop fast.

Suffice to say, this is clearly a story. So, Kevin (7) from Limerick, asked what is the real reason that there are no native snakes in Ireland?

In this episode we welcome back Trinity College Dublin zoologist Collie Ennis. He was on our series one episode all about spiders - you should check it out HERE!!

This time, he's talking to us about snakes...

"It's the same reason we don’t have a lot of animals in Ireland that you have through the UK and Europe, and it’s all down to the Ice Age… not St Patrick. It was old Father Frost who stopped them," Collie tells us.

But just because they couldn’t cross into Ireland doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t survive in climates like the one in Ireland. So, what do snakes do to survive in colder climates?

Well, they hibernate, says Collie: "They go into a type of hibernation, not dissimilar to the hedgehogs and other animals we know and love…they’ll go into a nice warm place underground."

But, it’s Phil’s question about how they use their tongues to find their food that leads us to our game for this episode called: The Smelling Game! Or the Smelling Bee!

It’s all about our sense of smell. We may not be built quite like a snake for finding out dinner, but we do have a pretty good sense of smell.

What you’lll need:

  • 4 large cups
  • 4 smaller cups with lids
  • 4 different scents - vanilla essence, mint, orange cinnamon (you can use others)
  • Dropper
  • Water
  • Marker pens

What you need to do to prepare the game:

  • Set up each of the 4 small cups with a teaspoon of each scent in it.
  • Label the underneath of each cup with what the scent is. Make sure it’s on the underneath so that the players don’t know what it is
  • Half fill each of the large cups with water, and add a couple of drops of a scent in one cup, and repeat for the other scents into the other cups.
  • Again, label each large cup on the bottom so players don’t know what’s in there.

To play the game:

  • Take a small cup
  • Remove the lid
  • Take a whiff and identify what smell it is!
  • Screw the lid back on
  • Now find the large cup with the corresponding scent in it! This will be tricky as the scents are diluted in the larger cups.
  • Keep going until you’ve matched each small cup with each large cup!

Some extra ideas...

Use more smells - If you’re adding another scent or two (chocolate and lemon maybe?) does it make the game harder?

If you’re playing with lots of people, can you tell if everyone can guess the smells just as well as each other?

You could add another set of large cups, this time with even more diluted scents. How much harder is it to smell the scents?

We finish off the episode with a list of amazing facts about how this animal really should be titled King or Queen of predators - there is so much they can do with a tube-shaped body!

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AND read all the Let's Dive In articles and try the experiments HERE!