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kingsnake.com - Friday, May 06, 2016

This Hagen's Pit Viper wants to get up close and personal with you in our Herp Photo of the day, uploaded by kingsnake.com user knotsnake ! Be sure to tell them you liked it here! On Rattlesnake Friday, we celebrate all forms of venomous reptiles to promote conservation of them world wide!


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Featured Contributors

Reptile Fest: Pioneering educational outreach
Cindy Steinle - Thursday, May 05, 2016


You never forget your first reptile show but sometimes it hard to recapture that moment of awe. In 1998, I walked into the gym at Northeastern Illinois University to experience my first Reptile Fest and I as in awe. So many reptiles I had never seen in person, but more importantly, so many people who loved reptiles, just like me! I only owned a few lizards at the time and was a few years into my own Iguana Rescue. I was as green as I could be as a herper, but I could talk freely on my iguanas. When I started exhibiting the following year, I started as one of many in the Iguana Squad and eventually took over the role of managing the Iguana display.

Reptile Fest has been happening in Chicago for over 20 years. Every spring families plan their trips to "the city" around the date. The most magical thing about Reptile Fest, however, is the exhibitors. They are not doing it to make money, in fact, many people give up a lot of money to make their displays more amazing or even to get a hotel near the venue to volunteer. Sure, there is a free t-shirt and free lunch each day for exhibitors, but the reason they are there is to educate people. From a 6-year-old girl and her display on corn snakes all the way people who have been keeping reptiles for more than 40 years, these are the exhibitors. You can find a child talking to you about their pet bearded dragon right next to a display of Spilotes pullatus. There are no animal sales at all. Hosted by the Chicago Herpetological Society, the sole focus is on education and you will see more than 100 species of reptiles and amphibians. The event is also very hands on, so it is a guarantee that you will touch something if you want. Visitors to the event get to see the native reptiles and learn the difference between a cottonmouth or copperhead and the much confused Nerodia and fox snakes to learn the difference. To me, however, on my first visit, the thing that impacted me most was the love these people had for their pets. It still moves me to this day.

Looking back, two animals caught me that day and have never ever let go. I pet my very first alligator that day, Bubba the Alligator owned by Jim Nesci. This was the original Bubba, all of at least 6 foot sitting calming on a table for people to touch. I was nervous. I mean it was a HUGE alligator and his mouth wasn't restrained in any way AT ALL! Those who have had the pleasure of meeting both Bubba's knows the feeling. The other was a snake, but not just any snake. These sausage-like red beasts that are known for their nasty disposition because most were wild caught were called Blood Pythons. But more importantly than that, it was meeting the owner of these snakes. The owner was an older woman. I mean she was ancient, but then I was still young enough to think 40 was ancient. But she was, a woman and that was something very odd to me and all empowering. I wonder if meeting Joan Moore that day helped inspire me looking into story women and their evolving roles in herpetology.

The chills I had this year walking into Reptile Fest reminded me of a few things. It reminded me of how much I have learned and most of it could be attributed to the people in that room. But as I was finishing up my shift at the photo booth in the Alligator corner and heading over to relieve Rich Crowley at his Short-tailed python display (including a beautiful bright red Blood Python), I realized how much my first visit changed me forever. The two animals I walked away from that very first day just so happened to me the two species I worked with in 2016, but this time no hesitation or nerves. It is just what I do.

Hands-on, in-person education is the key to demystifying reptiles. If you have the chance to be part of an event like the CHS Reptile Fest, get involved! Taking the fear out of reptiles and challenging the stereotypes that involve both reptiles and their owners is one of the best ways to stop legislation against ownership. It is time to unplug from the web and get out there in person! Congratulations to the Chicago Herpetological Society on yet another amazing and wonderfully successful event!

Inset Photo: Cindy with one of the many people who wanted to get up close and personal with an American Alligator. Maybe one day, this little girl will be inspired to save a species!


Spring is for Salamanders. And Ice Cream.
Will Bird - Wednesday, May 04, 2016


I don’t know about you, but when Spring time hits I get super busy! All of my exotic pythons are laying eggs, boas are giving birth, colubrids are breeding, cages need to be cleaned, snakes are feeding heavily again, work is really busy, sales are brisk due to tax return season…and on top of all that it is finally time to get out and find some wild animals in nature! I like to travel great distances in search of some of the more difficult to find species, but on some weeks I don’t have the time. So it is nice to be able to get out and find some beautiful herps close to home. I live in Louisville, KY, which is billed as America’s 16th largest city but is really the Nation’s largest big town. Even so, it is possible to find all kinds of neat reptiles and amphibians in urban and suburban settings in my area. Sometimes I am stunned by how close neat animals can be found around the city along roads that I drive by at top speeds most every day. Such was the case with this Cave Salamander Eurycea lucifuga. A member of the Lungless Salamander family, he was found in a suburban neighborhood where you could literally see 11 houses and their backyards. It took all of 5 minutes to find this little guy was hiding under a piece of tree bark after a quick trip to the grocery and other errands. When I got home after my big “hunt” the ice cream I bought was still frozen! Fun Times!!
More Featured Articles
  - Reptile Fest: Pioneering educational outreach
  - Spring is for Salamanders. And Ice Cream.
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