PITTSBURG — Kindergarteners held snakes, pet a tortoise, hissing cockroach and a ferret at the Nature Reach on Friday.

The Nature Reach at Pittsburg State University has invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, mammals — most of which were rescued.

Upon entering the room the students were in awe — “ooohing” and “ahhing” as they pressed their faces on the glass of the enclosures to get a better view of the animals.

George Nettels Elementary Kindergarten Teacher Emily Faulkner said the field trip was a great opportunity for the children to see the animals they have been learning in class. In fact, her class is hatching chickens to learn about life cycles.

“In class we talked a lot about habitat and life cycles,” Faulkner said. “We are currently hatching chickens in class.”

Director of Nature Reach Delia Lister hosted the tour of the Nature Reach.

“Seeing live animals may help the children want to learn more and retain better,” Lister said. “We hope when they grow up they will be good stewards of the environment — including animals.”

Lister brought out animals one at a time to show the students — the first, a Hissing Cockroach.

The children listened for the roach’s hiss. Lister told the children the hissing comes from the holes on the sides of its body and they eat rotten fruit.

“If it weren't for them it would be a stinky planet,” Lister said.

When Lister brought out the American Toad she explained how the toad went through metamorphosis.

After one of the students asked if the toad will cause warts Lister told them, “Although there are stories about toads giving warts — they will not.”

The students also learned about how reptiles have scales and lay eggs on land — unlike toads.

“This was a great opportunity,” Faulkner said. “I am thankful PSU can give us this opportunity.”

— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP.