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When people ask why you keep reptiles, tell them

By Cindy Steinle
Wed, February 1 2012 at 14:39

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Amanda - #1 - 2012-02-01 14:49 - (Reply)

Here you go Cindy:

For me, keeping reptiles is all about education. Besides being low maintenance, beautiful, and fascinating, pet reptiles allow me to observe behaviors in species I would be lucky to see in the field, since captives can become acclimated to seeing large, relatively hairless primates lurking around all the time. These insights can be applied to studying reptiles in the wild, and make me a better scientist. I also use outreach with live animals as an excellent way to inspire interest in science, biodiversity, and conservation issues in the general public. Handling a live snake makes a much larger impression than a powerpoint presentation.

Court - #2 - 2012-02-01 15:35 - (Reply)

I have always had a deep love for ALL animals. Much to my mother's dismay, I was the kid who repeatedly dragged in the stray kitten, dog, wayward salamander, or orphaned bunnies.
I was raised under the "only good snake is a dead snake" mentality. Wild animals (and strays) were not overly welcome in our household. My parents weren't HEARTLESS by any means, but they felt anything other than a dog or a cat shouldn't be kept as pets. I conformed to my parents' rules in their home, until I met my husband. We shared an interest in ALL animals, so we frequented zoos, aquariums, shelters, and watched TONS of Animal Planet. (Back when Steve was just gaining ground) and I LOVED hearing the respect and admiration he had for all these amazing animals. I remember thinking. "THIS guy UNDERSTANDS what it means to care for something without expecting anything back from it." So you ask me "Why do I keep reptiles?" It's selfless love. Sure they are in cages. But their cages are adequate, and they have no predators, no natural disasters, and no human harming them intentionally out of ignorance. My animals are loved, even if they are incapable of showing me love like a dog or a child would, it doesn't make them any less worthy. I think only selfless people will understand WHY we choose to love an animal that by nature is not designed to return the love. Many people don't understand caring for something if there is no reciprocation. People have come to EXPECT a return on their "investments" both financial and emotional. I think the more important question here is "What does THAT say about us as a society that we can't accept someone's love and respect for a certain kind of animal?"

Kristiina - #3 - 2012-02-01 15:50 - (Reply)

Reptiles and the most fascinating animals in my opinion. No, they don't wag their tail when you come home, but if you spend enough time with them, the bond can be every bit as strong. My female bearded dragon brightens her colours when I walk in the room. She will sit with me and watch TV and she will even climb atop a book I am reading if she feels I am not giving her enough attention. Both of my dragons will snuggle themselves up to me in the evening and their personalities are just amazing. My snake is beautiful and friendly and the lowest maintenance animal I have ever kept.
I love dogs and cats, but I feel that reptiles deserve the same amount of love importance.

Mike F. - #4 - 2012-02-01 15:55 - (Reply)

This is a question I've heard many times and there's not an easy answer. I think to answer this I have to ask more questions. Why do I hike and camp? Why do I like the art and music and movies that I find appealing? Why do I like the sound of a well-tuned engine? Why do I like building models? Examine any person who's passionate about a hobby or their career and you will probably find some connection to their childhood; some happy bond. Look at the engineer and you'll probably find that he loved taking things apart as a child and seeing how they worked. The gearhead probably remembers helping his dad or older brother wrench on an old muscle car. The musician grew up appreciating the complexity of other artists.
For me, I can trace my fascination with reptiles to one specific memory. It was '78 or '79, probably, so I would've been 3-4 years old. I was riding shotgun in my dad's sky-blue-and-rust '72 Chevy pickup. I had always called it "Blue-cher" because when I was learning to talk I couldn't say "blue truck." The dust from the country road clouded through the holes in Blue-cher's floorboard making my eyes itch. There was a field on the right with a barbed-wire fence. Suddenly there was a black streak darting across the road in front of us.
"Look, it's a snake," my father said.
He was already applying the brakes and mashing the wheezy clutch by the time I yelled, "Catch it for me, Daddy!"
The truck might have come to a complete stop, but I'm not so sure, because as the snake disappeared into the ditch Dad was already out of the truck and halfway across the road. The snake emerged from the ditch and glided under the fence but my dad just jumped. He cleared the ditch and landed on the little ribbon snake.
A minute later we were rolling again and I held my new captive with pride and wonder. It was, as far as I can remember, my first reptile.
Dad was never into snakes, or any other reptile for that matter. But that never stopped him from bringing home any little critters he found crossing the road or lurking about the many construction sites he worked. No matter how hard his day was, if my dad found a reptile, he brought it home to me.
My dad always instilled in us an appreciation for the outdoors and nature. A true appreciation that you can only get from actually exploring and experiencing nature first hand. So maybe that's why I'm not content to just read about reptiles and watch documentaries. Maybe that's why I've always surrounded myself with cold-blooded creatures. Maybe reptiles are a link to the best times a little boy had with his dad.

Malcolm - #5 - 2012-02-01 15:58 - (Reply)

I have always been fascinated with reptiles. Every aspect of them is amusing in some way or another. I have been keeping since I was a child and do not intend to ever change that. There is nothing like walking into my snake room and looking around at the beauty that lay in each cage. They also serve as tools of education for those who misunderstand them. I've had the chance multiple times to allow people their first real encounter handling one. It's a great feeling knowing that you've replaced someones fear with knowledge and understanding. I will continue to do so til the day I die.

softkiss - #6 - 2012-02-01 21:14 - (Reply)

I've never found that I had to reach out to people to educate them because it's always come natural to me to want to show people the snakes that I've raised because they all have names and I take great pride in what wonderful companions and pets they are. So, through this love and respect for them I find it natural to educate people about them so they can hopefully someday have this wonderful experience. I don't think of them as a hobby, I think of them as my family and a way of life after 50 years of raising snakes.

Sanna - #7 - 2012-02-02 01:20 - (Reply)

Glad to read this. Thanks very much. I feel the same way about my snakes. I talk to them all the time. They are really amazing pets. I can't imagine my life without them.

Katie Grabill - #8 - 2012-02-02 09:57 - (Reply)

I currently have 3 snakes, 1 tarantula, 1 gecko, 2 ferrets and 2 dogs in my family. I love my snakes, they have personalities all their own. Murphy, my large and in charge female California King, is a true cuddle bug and needs human contact. Lumpy, my lavender make California King, is ornery and fiesty just like me. Wiggum, my cute little Garter, is the clown of the group always doing something adorable and hilarious. I greet my snakes every morning, they are right at the glass front to see me. My memories of my father include catching red racers in the fields near our home just to see them. Snakes are awesome pets and only ignorance would say anything else.

Robin - #9 - 2012-02-03 18:28 - (Reply)

I always telling people after their ewws, how will they like to live with overpopulated by rodents, insects,etc? God created them for very reason, so as much as he love them, should we all have love for the eeky friends as much as furry friends too!


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