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A baseball half-eaten by rodents.

Cook Museum of Natural Science

Field review by the editors.

Decatur, Alabama

Cook's Pest Control, a long-established business headquartered in Decatur, originally set up some employee training displays on insects and the damage they inflict. In 1980 these evolved into a full-blown museum, although the insect portion occupied one small corner of a much larger "natural science" building. In 2019 the museum expanded again, to the point where bugs now occupy only one of its 11 galleries. And now it charges admission.

There are many giant insect specimens -- big roaches and beetles pinned to displays or slowly rotating on Lazy Susans. A couple of glass cabinets are filled with termite-ravaged items (wall cutaways, a half-eaten hammer, gutted books) and labeled displays such as "Rat Gnawings on Rubber Hose." The message is that nothing is sacred to vermin -- even a baseball's innards have been consumed.

The rest of the Museum features mounted wildlife and live alligators, jellyfish, snakes, turtles, and fish as well as a glassed-in beehive, a rock collection, and a meteorite. While we wandered through, the gift shop was doing a brisk business selling mementos to a busload of school kids.

Cook Museum of Natural Science

133 4th Ave. NE, Decatur, AL
North side of the city, From US-31/6th Ave. NE turn west at the stoplight onto Lee St. NE. Drive to the next stoplight and turn left onto 4th Ave. NE. You'll see the museum on the right.
M-Sa 9-5; Mem Day-Labor Day also Su 12-5 (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Adults $20.
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