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This site was originally created by Mike Monlezun. In other words, he basically went through it's birth pans and did all of the hard work. I just took it over when prospective jobs out-of-state resulted in Mike having too little time for all of his projects. He's still around giving me help as needed, but he's spending most of his time working on his Snakes of Florida site now.

That said, if you want to learn more about me, visit my info site. Out of respect for Mike, I'm gonna leave the rest of the page for info about him. It's the least we could do -- it is in Mike's own words:


monitor[1].jpg (21978 bytes)
Photo of Mike holding a mangrove monitor (Varanus indicus) that I had just caught in Guam at Ritidian Point on the north end of the island in July of 1996.


Most of what I know about herps is self taught.  I grew up as a "military brat".  My dad spent 20 years in the U.S. Navy so I spent most of my school days travelling.  Although this wasn't the best for friendships, it did enable me to see parts of the world others can only dream of.

My interest in snakes started around the early and mid 1970's while I was in my later years in elementary school and junior high.  I was living in Iceland of all places.  You can't get much worse for selection of native herps there.  When we moved there we were warned about the "snow snakes".  I later found out that they were rocks that were hidden under the snow that would "bite" you when you fell down.  All I could do in Iceland was read about snakes.  I read everything I could find in the tiny library at school.  I was fascinated by many of the pictures and the colors that were represented on the snakes.

Upon moving back to the U.S., I started keeping native snakes from Louisiana and then Maryland, where I went to high school.  I talked my mom into letting me keep a black rat snake in the garage.   Of course winter gets too cold so I had to tell her that the snake would freeze in the garage and that I had to move it into the house for the winter.  The snake ended up staying in the house and then one snake grew into two, and two into three, and so on and so on.

I went to college at the University of Southwestern Louisiana in the early 1980's and after spending too much time snake hunting and building my collection of native snakes in my dorm room, I had to quit school because I wasn't making the grades.  I spent so much energy into snakes and snake hunting.  I started giving lectures to the Boy Scouts on the snakes of Louisiana and brought as many as I could to the lectures.

In 1984 I enlisted in the U.S. Air Force.  That brought me to Washington state where the herp diversity was a lot less than what I was used to in Louisiana.  Unlike in Louisiana, it was easy to find rattlesnake dens in central Washington.  In addition to rattlesnakes, I caught many rubber boas Charina bottae.  These are very strange, unique creatures that I enjoyed immensly.  I did get to meet some interesting people while there including Ernie Wagner and Louis Porras.  In 1989 I got stationed in Louisiana in Shreveport/Bossier City at Barksdale AFB.  I was "back home" and the collection quickly grew again.  I continued to do lectures on snakes and built up a nice collection of native snakes.  I try to breed a few here and there, but it is definitely NOT a money-making operation.  A few snakes here and a few snakes there doesn't come close to paying for everything involved in the hobby.

I got out of the Air Force in 1995, joined the Reserves and went back to school again at Northeast Louisiana University(now University of Louisiana at Monroe).  I worked for a while as a reptile keeper at the Louisiana Purchase Gardens & Zoo, which gave me valuable experience with some species that I had not previously been able to work with. 

I now teach 7th grade science and want to eventually keep many herps in the classroom in natural vivariums.   I think zoo quality exhibits in the classroom will go a long way to getting people to understand how fragile nature really is and that we are here to coexist WITH these animals.  Our higher intelligence doesn't make us better or more important than any other living organism on the planet.

Mike and rattlesnake.jpg (31029 bytes)   Mike and cobra.jpg (23580 bytes)  
Out in central Washington at a den site for the northern pacific rattlesnake, Crotalus viridis oreganus.  (1986) At work at the Louisiana Purchase Gardens & Zoo, moving a cobra. (1996)

This is only made possible with the support of my family and the love of a very special wife.  Without them I would not be successful.


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