It’s a bug’s life at St John’s

Written by Sue Round on .

Leafy the leaf insect and Cactus the stick insects make new friendsLeafy the leaf insect and Cactus the stick insects make new friendsYear 7’s at St. John’s were treated to a hands on workshop with all sorts of exotic creepy crawlies and snakes when Jonathan’s Jungle Roadshow visited the school on Tuesday November 28.


Jonathan Cleverly is a lifelong wildlife enthusiast with more than thirty years’ experience of keeping and breeding many species of reptiles and invertebrates.

Jonathan Cleverly with Year 7 students and Nacho the Mexican Black King snakeJonathan Cleverly with Year 7 students and Nacho the Mexican Black King snakeYear 7 were introduced to Spinderella, a Peruvian tarantula born in Wales, who can spurt her poo a long way!  Other visitors included Nacho, the Mexican black king snake, born in Birmingham, Leafy, the Philippine leaf insect and Cactus, the Borneo stick insect.

“Animals have impressive ways of protecting themselves from danger,” Jonathan told the students.  “Cactus is covered in sharp spines down his spine to deter predators, while Raphael, the African grasshopper, has a colourful face like an African tribal mask.  The combination of colours is a warning.  He’s not actually poisonous but the colours make him look that way.”

Students who were brave enough or curious enough were allowed to handle the insects and snake to observe how they moved close up.

Year 7 students meet Cactus the Borneo stick insectYear 7 students meet Cactus the Borneo stick insectBen Cobbold, St John’s Research and Curriculum Director told  “The theme for the Year 7 curriculum this term is ‘the nature of the beast’. The Jungle Roadshow helps students understand what we can learn from animals as they have ingenious ways of solving problems. It makes it real.  It also raises conservation issues.  All two hundred and sixty two Year 7’s will get the chance to see first-hand these exotic animals.”

Also as part of this term’s theme, Year 7 experienced a falconry display and are being given the opportunity to watch the BBC’s ‘Blue Planet’ at lunchtimes.

Appetizing and crunchy.....!Appetizing and crunchy.....!Ben has hit on an imaginative way to raise money for the charity ‘Brighter Futures’ by organising a Bush Tucker Trial on Thursday 7 December.  Students pay for the bugs which are given to volunteer teachers on an appetizing platter to eat!  There is competitive bidding for the tarantula!  Ben has obtained a good supply of bugs from who have made a donation towards the event.  The insects, which include Giant Waterbugs are, Ben says, ‘particularly crunchy’!