Visiting the Southern Vermont Natural History Museum
While we were camped at Hapgood Pondwe picked up a brochure somewhere for the Southern Vermont Natural History Museum. Normally we look for attractions that participate in the AZA reciprocal program or ASTC Travel Passport program, to get the most value out of our Western North Carolina Nature Center membership. However this museum’s regular prices were so low we didn’t need to look for a discount! Since it was July 4th, we called to see if they would be open, and they were.
As we arrived, the keeper on duty came over to let us know he was about to feed the snapping turtle so we could either come see it if we were interested, or stay away if we didn’t want to see the turtle eat. Can you guess which way we went? We all enjoyed watching the snapping turtle eat his dinner, consisting of an already-dead mouse, and hearing about the habits of snapping turtles in general and the history of this one in particular. Then the kids, not being shy at all, asked if there were any reptiles they could hold. After thinking for a moment the keeper led us to another room where he allowed the kids to touch and hold an amelanistic snake while they discussed the difference between amelanism and true albinism.
Once the impromptu reptile encounter was over, we went over the rest of the museum. A large number of the specimens are insects and birds. Some of the mammal specimens had placards explaining how the animal ended up in the collection- for example, there was a fawn who was preserved after the doe was killed by a car. This was a little sad, but better than wondering if someone killed a fawn just to stuff it, right?
In addition to live reptiles, the museum also houses live birds, such as the owl pictured above. Many of these birds are non-releasable due to injuries and serve to educate the public and schoolchildren about raptors. These birds ranged from a little screech owl to a pair of bald eagles.
If You Visit the Southern Vermont Natural History Museum
The museum is located on Vt. Route 9, near West Marlboro. From the road it looks like a teeny shack, but there is an extensive lower level you cannot see from the road. You should enter through the gift shop and pay at the counter, then you will go downstairs to the museum.
Admission is $5 for ages 13 and up, and only $2 for kids 5-12. Kids under 5 are free.
The museum is open 7 days a week. They are closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. They may close at times in the winter due to weather.
More information about the museum’s exhibits is available on the website.