GREENFIELD — A 12-foot-long python came to visit both of the Hancock County Public Library branches on Monday, along with a hairy tarantula, an arctic fox and a hedgehog named Sonic.

Hedgehog Hannah — the popular family-owned animal show based out of Carmel — drew capacity crowds at both the Greenfield and New Palestine locations.

Youth services manager Kristen Schutt said it’s one of the library’s most popular programs of the year.

About 40 kids and 30 parents filled the Greenfield branch’s activity room to see the first show at 4 p.m. before a similar-sized crowd attended the second show at 6:30 p.m. at the Sugar Creek branch in New Palestine.

Hedgehog Hannah’s father, Paul Venckus, pulled out all the stops, sharing 11 different animals throughout the hour-long program.

Kids and parents got the chance to interact with each one, petting several and admiring others from up close as Venckus carried the critters around the room.

Many took a turn letting Charlotte, a curly haired tarantula, crawl on their heads.

When Charlotte left a bit of excrement in one little girls’ hair, the room broke out into gales of laughter.

“That’s rare,” said Venckus with a chuckle, as the tarantula crawled up his wrist. He rewarded the little girl later in the program by letting her place a ferret back into its box.

Venckus shared interesting facts with each animal interaction and shared whether or not each animal would make a good pet.

“Tarantulas make a cool pet because they’re low maintenance,” he said. “You could set up a terrarium and you don’t even have to get it out.”

He warned against getting a pet like Irwin the alligator, which was less than 2 feet long from tip to tail, but could grow up to 10 feet long.

“Alligators will get too big. This is one (pet) I think should be illegal in Indiana,” said Venckus, a wildlife advocate, who named the alligator Irwin in honor of the late wildlife educator and television personality, Steve Irwin.

When he gets bigger, Venckus said the gator will safely be relocated to an appropriate climate, like Florida.

Holding the reptile in his hands, Venckus showed how gently rubbing the top of an alligator’s head could cause it to relax its head backward to the point where its snout nearly touches its back.

“I could do this with a bigger alligator too, but they’re harder to get a hold of,” he quipped.

Ivan, a 17-year-old Russian tortoise, proved to be much more docile as it sat in the palm of his Venckus’ hand.

“This little guy is 17 years old, but he’ll get up to 50 years old,” said Venckus, who said a land tortoise like Ivan might make a better pet than a water turtle.

“Tortoises are easier to care for because you’re always cleaning a water turtle’s cage,” he said, yet he cautioned the kids to be mindful of what type of tortoise they choose as pets.

Sulcata tortoises are intolerant of cold weather and can grow as large as 100 pounds, so they’d have to be carried downstairs to a basement in winter months, he said.

Venckus went on to share a variety of much more cuddly creatures, including a prairie dog named Chester who popped his little furry head out of a box the second Venckus lifted the lid.

“He loves belly rubs,” said Venckus, rubbing the little prairie dog’s belly as he laid in the palm of his hand.

Next up was a cream-colored chinchilla with brown markings around his ears, eyes and tail.

Children oohed and ahhed as they petted the animal’s soft, dense fur as Venckus carried him around the room.

While they’re not overly friendly, he said chinchillas typically make great pets for older kids or adults, and can live for 15-18 years.

“Chinchillas are very hyper. They will take off and go,” said Venckus, yet they make for lower maintenance pets than rabbits “who poop a lot,” he said.

Venckus then pulled out a fluffy white lion head rabbit — an absolute furball that no doubt made some think the high maintenance of keeping a rabbit would likely be worth the fuss.

He then pulled out a ferret named Taffy, which he said is a member of the weasel family.

“I love ferrets as pets, but there’s only one problem. Some people think they kind of smell,” he said.

Venckus also introduced the crowd to Grumpy, the European legless lizard that looked very similar to a snake, with a brown body and pinkish underbelly.

Venckus said that it was actually legless lizards, not snakes, that appeared in the famous “snake pit” scene in the 1981 film, “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

Moving on to furrier critters, Venckus introduced the crowd to one of the stars of the show: a pygmy hedgehog named Sonic.

“Does this cute little animal make a good pet?” he asked the crowd of curious kids, as the hedgehog sat in the palm of his hand.

“They’re easy to take care of, but nocturnal, and they have quills, so it can sometimes hurt to touch them,” he said.

The little hedgehog was relaxed at the library, however, making it easy for guests to stroke his back.

The next guest of the show was a big surprise — a fluffy white arctic fox the size of a medium dog.

“All this white fur will come off in the spring, and he’ll grow short dark fur in the springtime,” said Venckus, carrying the docile fox around the room so guests could get a closer look.

“Arctic foxes are found in northern Canada all the way to the Arctic circle. Around here you see red foxes,” he said.

Saving the biggest showstopper for last, Venckus ended by unveiling the star of the show — Virginia, a 12-foot-long albino Burmese python weighing 125 pounds.

Three brave women were called to the front of the room to hoist up the massive reptile to show it off to the crowd. Children then had a chance to come up and pet her, which they, of course, clamored to do.

Venckus said wildlife education has been a part of his family since his daughter Hannah started hosting Hedgehog Hannah animals show when she was just 15.

Now 13 years later, Hannah has moved to Dallas and Venckus and his two other children — a son and a daughter — have carried on her mission of sharing a love and respect for animals with children everywhere.

Venckus, a former teacher with the Greenfield-Central Schools, makes sure to remind children about the important role they play in taking care of animals and the world we live in.

“You’re young. The future of the world is in your hands, so you’ve got to take care of the world,” he told the crowd gathered in Greenfield Monday.

“The best way to connect with nature is to go for a hike because you’ll connect with nature and will want to take care of it,” he said.

Madison Graham of Greenfield was happy that her two older kids — son Oliver, 6, and stepdaughter Lacy, 11 — could experience the interactive animal show on Monday.

“I thought it was just going to be a hedgehog, but there was so much more,” said Graham, who watched the show with her 9-month-old daughter, Lorelei, strapped in a carrier on her chest.

“Lacy’s favorite animal is an arctic fox, so that part of the show was a great surprise,” she said.