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Creepy Stuff Crawls out for Halloween

In the spirit of Halloween, Earthplace paid tribute to lots of creepy, crawly creatures Saturday at its annual Yuck Day, including a 10-foot Burmese Python , one of the largest species of snakes in the world.

With mealworms, leeches, Madagascar hissing cockroaches and giant African millipedes, Yuck Day at Westport's nature discovery center was a bug-a-phobe's nightmare. But for brave and curious kids like Brendan Murtha, a junior staff member at Earthplace, it was cool.

"It feels like Velcro going over your hand," he said of the giant African millipede he let crawl on his hand.

Also not afraid of Yuck Day's superstars was Charlie Colasurdo, another junior staffer. Of all the creatures, his favorite was the millipede, which Charlie said felt scaly, long and smooth.

"It feels like it's giving your hand a massage when you hold it," he said.

But the boys weren't the only ones having all the fun: Junior staff member Erin Vallerie proved that not all girls are scared of bugs.

Like Charlie and Brendan, Erin held one of the giant African millipedes — and not just for a second. She held it long enough to get her hands dirty with its secretion.

"It starts out light, but then it turns gets darker," Erin said of the secretion on her hands, which resembled purple paint.

Not to be overlooked, the Madagascar hissing cockroaches, one of the largest species of cockroach, were a favorite for junior staff members Jonathan Russo and Nadav Fuchs.

Besides being a perfect kid-friendly pre-Halloween event, Yuck Day is all about education, said Becky Newman, museum program manager.

"It's a way to demystify some of the things people find creepy and are scared of," she said. "But they all serve a purpose: That's the message we're trying to get across."

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