People often ask me if I grew up in a home of “exotic” pets. Did I have a snake, turtle or lizard as a kid? Did I bring home frogs and newts from the local pond ? Did I keep bugs in jars in my room? The honest answer is “no.”
I had cats and a dog. I caught grasshoppers and fireflies in my yard, but always released them by the end of the day. I did try to “keep” a wooly bear caterpillar for a while, but other than that, I had pretty run-of-the-mill pets.
I didn’t adopt my first snake until I was well into my 20s. He came to me as “Elvis,” a name given to him by his previous owners. “Elvis” quickly turned into “Isis”, when I discovered that he was a she. Isis was a two year old corn snake, and she remained my only exotic pet until I started acquiring animals for Teaching Creatures in 2003. She was one of the original Teaching Creatures.
Another was Terra. Terra was a four-year-old ball python when I adopted her in August of 2003. It was a classic story: A family had purchased her at a pet store for their 12 year old son, and after three years or so, his interest in her had waned. He was driving, working and otherwise occupied with his high school career, and his parents noticed he wasn’t taking her out, cleaning her cage or feeding her on a regular basis, and decided it was time they found a new home for her. She was the first animal I adopted for Teaching Creatures, and after 10 years, she remains a very active part of my programs. With good care and a little luck, she will continue to be so for years to come.