Dec 13, 2001
Randal Berry
History of Herpetoculture.....

jeffb would like to welcome Randal Berry tonight, his topic is going to be the History of Herpetoculture.....
jeffb before we get started let me post the rules for guest chat
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jeffb Tonights moderator is Bill Meyers, (Matt2) and I am Jeff Barringer and I have the first question....

Randal I understand you were working on a book at one time chronicalling sthe industry and outling some of its more notable charachters, is that correct?
Randal_B Yes, Jeff, Bill Love was also working on it with me, but we both got side-tracked
jeffb Are their any plans to resurrect the project?
Randal_B yes, Jeff, Jennie Smith, a writer from New York is also writing a similiar book, mainly on the reptile trade from the 70's to date, to help me finish it, edit, etc.

how long have u been into herps?
jeffb thanks
Randal_B About 37 years
herpinboy wow

What do your keep???
Randal_B Bushmasters, Fer-de-Lance, cobra's, various sundry reptiles a few colubrids and lot's of turtles

Who were the early reptile dealers, and how many (and who) are still around in the business today?
Randal_B Oh gosh, The Tillman Brothers, Jack and Buster, around the mid 1940's and then later on Bill Chase and others
Randal_B Oh, Hank Molt, Ray Van Nostrand, Bill Love, RobRoy. lol!

what do you think the best snakes (constrictors) is on the market far as making money off of?
Randal_B Rob and Bill are not THAT old!
Randal_B next
Randal_B Ball Pythons, varoius morphs of Boa's, etc.

What is the earliest known to have been kept herp?
Randal_B yikes! I don't know, probably some hardy colubrid

in the 60's roughly how many commercial dealers were operating in the US
Randal_B I would have to say, about 5 or 6 that were known to the public

Randal; which major herp project is your zoo now working on
Randal_B I'm just finishing up on a new exhibit for Crocodile monitors, seems like I've been working on this forever

Hey Randal, I was your chaffer to the Houston show back in Sep. Are the Tillman Bros Gold Coast... - they don't look old!
Randal_B Thanks for the ride from the airport Andrew. Tillman Bros. Gold Coast?
jeffb I think thats Chaufer

With the advent of the Internet, information about a wide variety of herps is readily available although not always corect. Are there any publications that you particularly recommend to the amateur herpetoculturist for accurate husbandry information?
Randal_B Sure, Reptiles magazine for one, and you can always access books and papers from your local zoo

Randal, do you consider the old dealers to be the start of herpetoculture or folks like Ernie Wagner, etc.
Randal_B Well,DWM, that's a hard one to answer, the early dealers were pioneers and Mr. Wagner and otheres, certainly played a huge part in it

How do you view the fact that SO many of the big animal dealers/breeders are directly involved in reptile smuggling and the public continues to buy off these people and "accept" an illegal practice? Could this be the main reason the herp hobby seems to be more of a back-stabbing arena SO often? Any thoughts appreciated...
jeffb How many is SO many?
Mattmorelia You need to be "in the loop" a bit more Jeffro...
Mattmorelia directly may be a bit strong...
Mattmorelia Both directly and indirectly, but with full knowledge.
Mattmorelia in many cases
Randal_B Wow, that's a loaded and unfair question. Not many of the big time dealers as you say were involved in smuggling for the most part, dealers know the law and stay away from that sort of sordid dealings
Mattmorelia Not too loaded... sorry :)
Randal_B no prob

Randal, what do you think the most important event has been for the herpetoculture trade as a whole? ie; what things have happened in our hobby history that have helped to ensure future generations can enjoy the hobby?
jeffb I would like to add that this hobby/business doens't seem to have any more backstabbers/con artists than any other businsess or hobby
Mattmorelia True Jeff
jeffb from my perspective
Mattmorelia I guess I know of TOO many! :)
Randal_B well Aj, dealers in the past have brought in new animals, thus, new bloodlines and that ensures future generations of animals that at the time weren't currently available. Also, this expanded our hobby
NajaAnja thanks randal!
Randal_B Correct Mr. Barringer

Do you think the hobby is doomed because of all the laws that State and Federal Gov't is passing, trying to either kill or surpress it?
dw wgd
Randal_B The gov't today seems to have MANY more restrictions than in the past, however, the hobby has exploded, i.e. witness and the many dealers out there

what sort of herps would you recomend for an advanced beginner in herptoculture and are there any special degrees for this and herptology?
Randal_B The hobby is not doomed! No way!
Randal_B Colubrids is what I reccomend, very hardy animals. Check with your local college or university about Herpetology classes. And go for it!

SnakesAndStuff Randal, have there been any general treds over the years of preference of a certain group of herps over another? If so, what direction is the current trend headed in?
wdg F&W would like for everyone to get out of the herp bus..
matt2 shhh wdg
Randal_B Wow, Bobby, that's a tough one. Turtles/Tortoises seem to be making an impact on the hobbyist, along with Amphibians. Plus, you have all of these Ball Pythons morphs and Boa's morphs that are in high demand

wdg they could reduce their paperwork. As one Fla. wildlife off. told me, let the Indigo go extinct, that would reduce my workload.
NickAsher What was the first kind of gecko to be breed in captivaty wit offspring?
Randal_B Not from what I've seen. I've never bred them and like many people, there are a lot of good breeders out there. Like Eugene Bessett and Trooper Walsh and lot's others

Do you feel there has been much of a drop in demand for field collected herps? Now there is so much emphasis on captive breeding, but habitat distruction is the real problem-right
Randal_B Nick, I believe Leoprad Geckos, and then late on Phelsuma
vwmreptiles what has the price of normal baby boas done over the last few years? and what do you think the future holds for them?
Randal_B Yes, Amdrew. People are scared of wild-caught animals, i.e. because they don't know how to check for parasites etc.. PLUS captive-born animals seem to to hardier. I prefer wild-caught because the bloodline is new Plus I like the challenge of them
andrewG captive breeding only helps other herpers really...
Randal_B The price of normal baby boas have dropped because everyone it seems are breeding them!
Randal_B When the market is flooded, prices drop. Simple economics

What technology do you think has most impacted the herp industry?
Randal_B Better incubators, rain chambers, our understanding of cycling aniamals, heat lamps, pads, etc

In Canada there is a lot of fighting going on about who knows the most and who is the best breeder etc. Any ideas on how to help bring a small herping community spread over a large area together?
Randal_B I wish everyone would quit bickering and share their success's and failures. The Herp community is one of the most gossip-laden communities I knwo of! lol!
casacrow Ottawa
Randal_B know

Randal, do you feel that herpetoculturist are looked down on by herpetologists like aviculturists were for a long time by "birders" and ornithologists?
Randal_B In the "old" days they were. Now, herpetocultrists outnumber Herpetologists and they also breed many, many more animals than zoo's, etc.

Have you had any success reproducing your Lachesis? If so, what kind of effort was it? If not, BEST of luck! They are amazing...
Randal_B Yes, I produced Lachesis stenophrys, (Central American Bushmasters) and hopefully this year, muta's, (S. A.)
Randal_B and more C.A.!

I assume you're familiar with the import trade. Is there ANY feasible way to reduce mortality and suffering in this trade without shutting it down entirely? Do you think there may be some merit to the proposal of greater restrictions on the reptile trade due to the fact that many dealers and owners do not provide even the minimum adequate housing or diet? Working at a zoo, I'm sure you've had to clean up after irresponsible owners.
Randal_B Sure TT. If the dealers who are importing their animals would advise the collectors on how to properly pack, bag, etc. the animals before shipping AND hydrate them before shipping, then you would see less animals come in, in poor shape or dead. I've seen many animals arrive like this, I think if the collectors were better educated, then the survival rate would be much higher

Do you think the governments will benefit from passing stricter herp laws considering there will still be herp keepers, they will just be underground??
Randal_B No, I don't think the gov'ts will benefit from exporting herps. The people in some of these countries rely on catching herps and shipping them to the U.S. for making a living. A lot of countries now however, have export "quotas", i.e, limiting the number of animals that are allowed to leave the counrty. By the same token, if they quit exporting animals, it would certainlt drive us undergriund

Do you see a Day when Zoos acknowledge the advancements that private herpers have done? Or do you think there will always be a rift? (IHS meetings are a good example)
Randal_B I mean banning the exports of herps
Randal_B Ah, I think zoo's recognize herpetocultrists now. They certainlt outbreed and are as least, is as knowledgible as herpetologists. I think it will come together. I attend all of the I.H.S. meetings as I can and am surprised by the ni=umber of herpetocultrist that attend
Randal_B Zoo's better acknowledge them, there coming! There here!

is it hard to breed Green Tree Pythons? as well as any other morelia species. as well maternal or artificial incubation. As well say a breeder is selling 50 % or 100% hets, how do we know that they arent just normals and the breeder is just trying to make a dollar?
peterd thanks alot
Randal_B I've never bred GTP, however I understand the hatch rate is more successful with maternal incubation. As far as a breeder pitching "hets" you have to rely on the breeders reputation

I heard that there is a demand for herp vets, esspecially were i live, is this true, and so how would it affect the herpticulture community?
Randal_B Exotic animal medicine is still a reletivity new field and there IS a demand for Vet Tech, and Vet's in the hobby and zoo field

is there a high demand for herpetoligists?
Randal_B I don't think so, there aren't many jobs available and the market is very limited. Field research seems to be picking up and more jobs are available there

Do you know of any reptiles that are common in the pet trade they may in the near future be stopped from importing/exporting and may start to demand higher prices like the prehensile tail skinks did?
NickAsher sulcatta Q wasnt A
Randal_B Sure, Ball Pythons come to mine. They are being collected in extrordinary numbers
vwmreptiles they will go up in price then
Randal_B nextsure, simply supply and demand will kick in. Remenber, this hobby gets bigger everyday. People LOVE reptiles! You can leave them over a weekend without any care and not worry too much about the, Unlike dogs, cats, birds, etc. that require daily attention

With the continued pressure from "animal rights" groups, will there need to be a more concerted effort from herpers to unite? Or, can we continue to survive "on our own"? F&Wildlife and "animal rights" groups would like to see us go extinct. The future is in more cooperation within the field? Still too much piousness in the "professional" field (zoos & universities)!? ?
Randal_B I agree with the "piosness" part! But I would join PIJAC or NRACC and together we CAN have our voices heard

Go get'em Bryan!
matt2 I'll start by asking Brian to introduce him self
SteveS knock knock
matt2 oops, looks like Brian isn't quite here yet,
matt2 we'll give it a few
ratrace good job bill
Jeffle- matt, I believe thats with a "y" - just so u know before he gets here, lol
ratrace hey randal
Randal_B hi
Timbo Timbo here
matt2 thanks jeffl
Jeffle- no worries
SteveS worry free if you will
ratrace told you my questions would be easy ha ha ha
matt2 we're gonna continue on w/Randal til Bryan arrives
Timbo Were's Dr Fry

would it be safer to let all my female pythons maternal incubate or should i remove the eggs? females include: ball, ringed, whitelip, Jungle carpets, irian jaya carpets, borneo blood, and womas!
matt2 we're waiting timbo
SteveS hahaha
Timbo Thanks man
David15 You could all ask me questions? lol
David15 Hi Matt!
Timbo How big is your snake
Regg Bill, what's the topic, real quick?
Randal_B I'm back Bill
matt2 see, Regg, please
SteveS lol
matt2 Randal's topic is History of Herpticulture
matt2 Buzztail:

Is anyone working with Mexican Pigmy Rattlesnakes and do you expect to see them become available in the trade?
Androctonus what ssp
Rache what happened to the next guest?
Androctonus polystictus?
Buzztail1 Sistrurus ravus (any ssp)
matt2 BTW, folks we are making efforts to contact Bryan now
Timbo He's in the bathroom
Randal_B Polys and mex pygmies are still back in the tradem albeit in limited numbers. The San Antonio zoo has both

Cryssstalpass i live in SA
Androctonus anyone heard anything about candoia bein moved to cites apendix 1?
GlennB Where do you see herpetculture in the next10 years?
Randal_B I haven't heard Candoia being moved to appx.1
Androctonus i saw it posted on classifieds by conway
Timbo Yes
GlennB My question wasn't answered
Randal_B I see it getting better, educationally wise, and countries opening up to allow people to study theor animals
GlennB Thank you
matt2 sorry, gleen..Randal see GlennB's q
GlennB got it matt
GlennB thanks

What No. American snake, proportional to it's length, has the longest hemepenis?
Randal_B the copperhead David, longest hemipene

Randal, do you think more people that are not ready for hots have been getting into hot herps in more recent years?
SnakesAndStuff or is there not an increase in this trend?
Randal_B yes, unfortunetly. People are enamored by them because of what they can do, However people should really study up on hot herps before they get them

I know your topic is History of herpetoculture...but I was wondering if you know why P.masobe is doing so poorly in captivity? The few people who have had sucess with the species are not giving out any information, and it is a real shame.
Randal_B I'm sorry, I don't know what P. masobe is!

Why is it, do you think, females are still looked down on in the herp industry? And do you see a big change in that any time soon?
Randal_B I don't think females are "looked down" in the industry. There are a lot of great female keepers/curators, etc. in this field. BTW, female keepers at zoo (whatever are there wkg in) outnimber men
Randal_B zoo's, outnumber

Sorry for the off topic Q, but what time is it there right now? I'm susposed to be on but I thought it was a half hour from now?????
Timbo Duh
Randal_B Your on B!
Regg lol
matt2 no prob, BGF and thanks so much to Randal for staying on
SnakesAndStuff BGF: About 45 mins ago :-)
Randal_B go get'em!
NajaAnjaPass 40 mins AGO Bryan :-)
BGF what time is it?
BGF sh...
NajaAnjaPass 10.39 eastern standard time
Stryder lol
Regg :O
NajaAnjaPass so 9.39 CST
ratrace Good Job randal