Join me in Australia!
Finally have all the details worked out for the Australia trip! If you are interested in going we only have 12 slots on this adventure! Here’s the details….
Wednesday November 6th we fly out of L.A. and head to Brisbane.
We arrive in Brisbane Friday morning of the 8th. We’ll spend the day seeing sights and getting over the long trip. Plenty to see in Brisbane and for those that feel up to it we can go snake hunting in the evening.
Saturday the 9th is the Scales and Tails festival. There will be lots of reptiles and tons of reptile events as well as talks from Bob Irwin and other amazing animal experts. Saturday night banquet with food and Keynote speaker.
Sunday 10th we visit the famous Australian Zoo (Steve Irwin’s zoo).. Good possibility of behind the scenes tour.
Monday 11th we visit with Bob Irwin, Steve Irwins dad and spend the day seeing his wildlife camp. This will be an amazing time and an experience of a lifetime.
Tuesday 12th we fly to Darwin. Spend the night taking in the sights and go reptile hunting in the evening.
Wednesday 13th Visit Crocosorous Cove for a behind the scenes tour and each will be able to enter the cage of death with 18 foot crocs surrounding an acrylic tube, where you’ll be on the inside! Night in Darwin reptile hunting at Fog Dam where there is the largest predator to prey ratio on the planet.
Thursday 14th the Adelaide river and the jumping croc cruise where we’ll see wild salty crocs jumping out of the water for food. Then off to Arneheim Land for some amazing wildlife and nature. This is the true Australia!
Friday 15th Fly to Sydney and spend the night seeing the sights such as the opera house and the harbor bridge. It’s an amazing city.
Saturday 16th Behind the scenes tour of Taroonga zoo. This is an amazing zoo and we’ll have a lot of fun seeing their animals from the zookeepers perspective. Evening in Sydney for sightseeing.
Sunday 17th Gosford reptile park. This is a medium size zoo where we’ll get a behind the scenes tour of their amazing exhibits as well as their venom milking facility. We’ll get hands on with more animals then you can imagine. Back to Sydney at night for our last night in Australia. Departing dinner and social with all our new Aussie friends.
Monday 18th we fly back to LA.
Total cost with air transport starting in LA and all other expenses other then food and spending money is $6250. This includes, flights within Australia, housing, car rental, gas, and all entries into all events and places. If you priced it out through a travel agency it would be over $10,000! We will only have 12 spots available for this tour and will need a $2000 deposit to save your spot. Trust me this will be a trip you’ll remember your entire life! Please join me on this adventure! You will not regret it! Brian
If interested you can contact me at: email@example.com
Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom
I recently entered into a video contest for Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. They are in search of the next host and turned to YouTube to see if they could find it. Most of us grew up on Wild Kingdom and the chance to be associated with them would be amazing. This is where “we’re” at and the process that we need to go through to become that next host.
The video entry period ended on Wednesday of last week with about 100 vids, some pretty good, others not so much. Their panel of judges pick the top 12, lets hope they feel I belong in that top group. They announce the semifinalist on May 9th. This is where you ALL come in. From May 10th until the 23rd you can all vote once a day for the best host, hoping you’ll think it’s yours truly. The top three vote receivers then get flown to Omaha and go in front of their judges for a live audition. Now I have no clue what that means and what we’ll have to do, but I’m hoping that juggling chainsaws is not one of them, it’s not my strong suit. I’m imaging they’ll want to get an up and close look at the three people and decide which one of them will bring the most to the position. I’m hoping that the 5 plus years of hosting a show and our loyal following will help persuade them to choose me. We shall see?
This is what I need from you guys… hopefully “when” and not “if” I get picked in the top 12 I”ll need you guys to not only vote each and everyday for those 14 days, but I also gracefully beg you to ask all your FaceBook, Twitter, Google+, and other friends to do so as well. If we get into the top 3, there will be two other finalist that will be working as hard as I am to get votes. We need to not just win the vote count, but destroy it! If we get 10 times the votes as the others we’ll be sending a strong message to that judging panel that there’s only one reasonable choice to make. The only thing that kind of sucks is you need a YouTube account in order to vote. Most of you probably already have one, but if not you’ll need to create one for this. Why do this for me? Other then my overwhelming appreciation to all of you, I am sure you guys want one of your own in a position that could help change people’s perception of the hobby we all love so dearly. This isn’t about the fame and certainly not about the money because there’s little money in these kinds of things. It’s about the platform to get the word out that we want out. The truth about the animals we love instead of the media hype that is so prevalent in this current environment.
Listen, I would be way better off just minding my own business and worrying about my collection along with my personal agenda, but I can’t just sit back and listen while our beloved hobby is being slammed constantly. If I win I will do my best to represent all animals and all animal lovers and I promise to take you all on an incredible adventure. This may or may not amount to anything, but I know I’ll give it everything I have to make everyone proud. So the question is??? Will you help me achieve this goal?? I’ll need all of you in this in order to make this a reality!
Statement from PIJAC
Statement on Pet Reptile Ownership
PIJAC has for many years supported the right of responsible pet owners to keep animals of their choosing, so long as reasonable measures are taken to protect human health and safety and the environment. Accordingly, PIJAC strongly opposes pet bans of any type and favors a more responsible and rational outlook on pet ownership that takes into account the setting, geography, expertise and experience of the owner. Large constrictors and monitors, venomous species, crocodilians, scorpions, spiders and tarantulas may not be the right pet for everyone, but certainly are appropriate for sophisticated keepers that demonstrate the expertise and experience to properly house and care for the animals, and provide for the safety of others (including first responders).
PIJAC is well acquainted with the strong bond between humans and their reptiles, a relationship not fully appreciated by all. Because of a wide misunderstanding of some reptile species and the remote possibility of injury/sickness to humans, the reptile industry (which includes hobbyists) operates under unique scrutiny.The industry is only one major incident away from devastatingknee-jerk reactions by government that mayjeopardize the livelihood of breeders, importers and retailers, and could deprive the hobbyist of the opportunity to enjoy these fascinating and beautiful animals.
In order to prevent reactionary responses by government authorities to accidents or perceived threats to public safety or the environment, PIJAC supports responsible reptile ownership. This entails a cooperative effort among members of the reptile community to follow industry-driven best management practices that ensure the health of the animals and reduce the risk of harm to human health and safety, as well as to the environment. For larger snakes and venomous reptiles, PIJAC may support meaningful requirements, such as appropriate caging, notification of first responders and development of critical incident plans.PIJAC rejects the notion that novice keepers should be able to own any type of reptile without knowledge of its husbandry needs, respect for best management practices, proper biosecurity measures and appropriate surroundings. This will only lead to the type of accident that could greatly damage the industry and hobby for everyone. Those that endorse “no rules, under any circumstances” for reptile ownership are taking the shorter view, one that is likely to jeopardize the right to own and enjoy reptiles for everyone.
Having stated PIJAC’s general policy, specific requirements on keepers are supported or opposed case-by-case based on the environmental, geographic,and political realities of a given issue, as well as the opinions and make-up of our membership. PIJAC is a membership organization and we look to the views of our dues-paying members through our internal committee and board processes. The best way to make your views known is to join PIJAC.
In summary, PIJAC staff has participated in and benefitted from the strong bond between humans and reptiles and we want others to continue to be able to enjoy that bond that comes fromowning and caring for reptiles of a keeper’s choosing.
I was in New York this weekend for a reptile show along with paying attention to social media and I thought it was time to chime in to try to dispel some of the rumors that are going around about USARK. The first and most prevelant rumor is that USARK is not protecting “big” snake and “venomous” snake keepers and they are only interested in protecting geckos and Ball Pythons. This is just simply not the truth….
Lets back up for a minute and talk about what is going on here.. Andrew Wyatt resigned from USARK amongst some pressures from the powers that be because of some issues that I would rather not speculate on without permission from the board of USARK and Andrew. In a nut shell things were not peachy between Andrew, the board and some others such as PIJAC. Let me say that I have no personal problem with Andrew or his new endeavor, as a matter of a fact I think if the reptile hobby could support multiple organizations financially I would be totally behind that movement. It would be great to have “big snake” group and “monitor” group and so on.. The simple fact is that we “can not” afford to be divided at the moment. USARK raised $300,000 last year of which the majority of that came from ZooMed, Timberline and charity auctions from shows such as the NARBC amongst others. Take away those three major contributors and it wouldn’t even cover the presidents salary let alone cover legal fees, lobbyist, travel expenses, and PR. If an organization can not be funded properly they can not operate on the level to help in any significant way. Again, I have NO problem with Andrew trying to start another organization, what I do have a problem with is the rumors of why he left USARK. It seems the “word” being spread from “somewhere” is that he left because USARK didn’t want to protect the “big snakes” they didn’t want to protect “venomous snakes” and they only cared about the big box stores.. Again, Andrew steered the ship with very little input from the board for the last few years. It was largely his decisions that created policy for USARK. I’m not saying Andrew is lying about his intentions, but I am saying that he’s allowing others to speculate that USARK was not there for the little guys and he left to be there to fight for you now. While I am confident that Andrew’s heart is to help the reptile community and I believe he was the right guy for the job to get USARK off the ground, I also released that we needed “our” president to work more closely with other animal organizations, there is power in numbers. I find it convenient that the short comings of USARK is now largely being blamed on the board, while I am sure they deserve some of that criticism, certainly the blame should also be excepted by the CEO and President of that organization, shouldn’t it?
Let’s look at an example… If President Obama wants to raise taxes on the richest people in the country and the congress refuses to let him do so, does he quit and try to start another country or does he go to the people and convince them that this is good for the country? I just can not imagine that if there was such a push back from the board of USARK to not fight for everyones rights to keep whatever reptile they want that if Andrew came to us we would have made sure that changes were made in the board members that didn’t want to represent the entire community. Heck, I would have led that charge! I think that by now everyone has to know that I fight for the rights of all reptile keepers… Including venomous, monitors, and big snakes.
Whether you want to put your support behind Andrew and his new organization or to continue supporting USARK is totally up to you, but you need to know the TRUTH about their positions. I know from conversations that USARK have not changed their commitment to represent ALL of the herp community. I personally will be wishing Andrew well in whatever he decides to do, but I will continue to put my support behind USARK because I truly believe that they are our best chance of protecting our hobby. If for some reason I find out information that in contrary to this I will not only stop supporting them I will also be happy to share it publically with all of you and lead the charge to support “whoever” is willing to fight to their dying breath for what we all believe in. I wish there was still a way for Andrew to be involved in USARK, I think he deserves a lot of credit for all that he did while in charge. But sadly I just can not see another organization helping our hobby with little funding and putting even more pressure on USARK to raise the funds needed to fight the enormous battle they have on their hands.
In the end what is happening with USARK and Andrew’s new organization is exactly what I was not happy with USARK about over the last few years. That’s instead of working together and trying to unify our hobby, they continue to put one sector of the hobby against the other. I can not sit here and not tell you that it upsets my beyond belief and I call on BOTH USARK and Andrew to put the hobby before themselves and start to represent us rather then letting rumors further hurt the hobby that we all love so much. If we don’t get our facts straight and we continue to fight amongst each other who is really winning the battle? For now I will wait to see if our leaders start to lead and if they don’t I will be happy to be the first to ask them to step aside. This is OUR hobby, we have to make sure to get behind people that are for all of us and if they aren’t then all will be lost anyway. I personally look at this as an opportunity to make USARK an organization that we can all get behind and be proud of. Let’s see if they except the challenge of being all that WE want them to be.
Happy New Year
When I start a new year, the first thing I do is reflect on what the past 12 months has brought me as well as look forward to the adventures of the next. In 2012 we had plenty of ups and downs, but thankfully I can say we certainly were trending in the right direction. We’d come off a couple of soft years in the business and had plenty of problems to overcome. Fortunately we’ve gotten past the majority of those issues and finally are looking better each and everyday. We produced some of the best animals that we had ever this past year along with getting into plenty of new animal projects that I have never worked with before. I had the amazing pleasure of traveling around the world, from Japan, to all over Europe all the way to Australia, the past 12 months were by far the most travel I’ve ever done in a short period of time. In those travels I was able to get to know a lot of cultures, meet so many incredible people and try some food I’ll probably never want to eat again. With all my adventures this year I was able to take my Twitter following along step by step, when WiFi was available of course. For me the fact that I can share my experiences with people that care enough to follow me in real time makes the journey that much more incredible.
The one thing that was so special to me and has been a constant the past several years, was the amazing support that the community has shown me. Yeah, I had plenty of detractors in 2012, and even on one occasion I had a bitch fest about them on this very blog. But again, it was all of you that showed me so much love. Even when I was considering taking time off of SnakeBytesTV you reminded me how much you guys are there for me with your emails, comments, tweets, FaceBook post and letters. So many of those communications talked about how I inspired people, but the truth is that YOU all inspire me. You give me the energy to be more then I am, to push myself to places I would never go on my own. Without each and everyone of your support I could never have looked back on the past 12 months and reflected on what an amazing year it had been.
What does 2013 bring? Well, my plans for the new year are robust! More and more travel, loads of filming, lots of incredible animals to breed and so many more people to reach with my message of how amazing the animals I love so dearly are. Do I know where I’ll be 12 months from now? Will we have reached our goal of making a huge impact on people’s perception of reptiles and all other animals? It’s hard to say, but I can promise you this much, I will work as tirelessly as I did in 2012 and I will not stop until my dying breath. I truly hope you’ll join me for the next 12 months to help us achieve the things we set out for. Remember you guys are my inspiration, my driving force…. So please keep sending me those emails, making those YouTube comments, posting on my FaceBook and tweeting me with words of encouragement. It’s not easy to juggle all the things in my life, but with your support I know we can change the World! Happy New Year everyone!
Sick of Animal TV programs nowadays?
Some of you may know that we recently were involved in filming a TV show for a major network, exciting right! Well not so fast, at the moment things are on hold and there’s a chance it will never be aired? I can’t really say much else because of contractual obligations. TV is a tough business and for anyone that has not worked in that field it can almost be impossible to explain how difficult and painful the process actually is. TV executives are under so much pressure to deliver “hit” TV shows and in a lot of cases when they don’t they lose their jobs. I was once told by a TV exec that if they green-lit a show staring Ashton Kutcher and it failed they could use the excuse that it was worth the shot because Ashton Kutcher is a big star, where as if they developed a show staring Brian Barczyk and it failed they could very well get fired. Great creative environment, right?
This probably explains why when a network like Discovery channel has a hit show on “gold mining” like Gold Rush they then have four more shows on gold mining, and so do several other networks. It’s the safe bet, you know you’ll get decent ratings and there’s little risk of losing your job. For me this creates an environment of boring and repetitive TV. When it comes to animal programming, the shows that are rating decent are the negative shows and the over sensation shows that typically show the animals in a negative light. Oh, please take me back to the days of the Crocodile hunter! A couple networks have stepped out in the past few years and taken a chance on “better” and more positive animal programming, but unfortunately those shows rated badly, so now they want to stay away from them all together. Ever wonder why we don’t see Jeff Corwin, Austin Stevens, Brady Barr, Nigel Marvin and Mark Ohsea anymore? Well, now you know….
Why am I telling you all this? Do I think you need to understand the inter-workings of the TV business? Not by a long shot.. It’s because I think it’s about time for the landscape to change. Time for the networks to realize that there “IS” a demand for great animal programming! With that said, I think that we can be a part of changing their minds. This is the way the process typically works; you have a production company pitch an idea, or in a lot of cases a 3 minute sizzle reel to a network development person. In the case of positive animal programming, 99% of them pass immediately because that’s what they think they should do. Positive animal programming doesn’t rate well, remember. So what do I want to do about that? I want to produce a “ready for” TV pilot that is exciting, high energy, positive, maybe a little dangerous, and lots of fun! I have a few other “animal personalities” that have a good following that are interested in being involved in this process as well. All of our main goals are to be involved with a project that shows our passion for wildlife in a positive light. If we produce a ready for TV show that the network can watch as a finished product, they would not feel they are taking any risk because they could see how awesome it actually is. Not to mention when signing with a network they control all development and trust me when I tell you they can change the direction of the show to make it something you would never want to be involved in. In this case we would be the production company and we’d have complete control, or as close to it as possible.Then if it gets good ratings the flood gates will open for more and more positive animal programming and all this negativity that has surrounded our beloved hobby will start to fade.
Again, why am I telling you all this? Well, it’s not cheap producing a real TV show. Post production alone can be tens of thousands of dollars. The only way the network will buy this is if it’s produced as good as any TV show you watch now. Have you ever heard of “kick starter”? It’s a campaign where you can help raise money for projects like this. You can donate as little as dollar, or as much as you want. We’d set it up where if you donated $20 you’d get a DVD of the final project. The more you donate the cooler stuff you’d get back when the project was done. Is there any guarantee that we would sell this to a network? No, there never is, but I have some pretty good connections and I am super passionate about changing peoples minds about animals. I can’t imagine anyone trying harder then I would to get this thing aired.
So my question to you is.. Is this a good idea? Would you want to help out? If you think it’s a waist of time and money, I’ll keep moving down the path that I’ve been going for years and I think I’ll end up to my destination one day anyhow. But if you think it is a good idea I would put together a better explanation of what the show would be about, who would be involved and then we’d get started. Your “honest” opinion is very important to me! Thanks in advance for all your support either way, Brian…
Ever since I can remember I have been fascinated with the idea of spending time in Australia and have been very fortunate to make several trips there over the last few years, from the big city of Sydney all the way to the remote Northern Territory the diversity of the land they call Oz is breath taking. In the time that I have traveled there I’ve made some incredible friends and had some amazing animal experiences. So when I got the call from Joy and Troy from Scales and Tails magazine a few months ago asking if they could bring me out to be the keynote speaker at their festival, I could not say yes fast enough. It was mid June when the offer came in and with the show being in beginning of November it seemed like a lifetime away. I had my plate full with travel, from Japan, all over Europe and from coast to coast here in America, it seemed like a perfect way to cap off a whirlwind of travel. And trust me it was all and more then I bargained for.
I left on a Wednesday afternoon and I’m not going to lie, the thought of that long journey is never something to get excited about, but I kept my eyes on the end result, which was stepping off the plane in Brisbane. I first had a five hour flight to L.A. then a three hour layover, and finally the fifteen hour flight into Brisbane airport. All in all the total travel time from leaving my shop to touch down was 28 hours! Seems like a long time, but with the excitement of being back in one of my favorite places in the World the time actually passed fairly quickly. There’s not a lot you can do on that long of a flight and being I can’t sleep on a plane it’s all about catching up on all the movies I’ve missed all summer long. Batman, Ted, and Spider man to name a few, with Abraham Lincoln the vampire killer being the wild horse.. Not as bad as I thought, but I will save my money on buying the DVD.
Before I knew it I was on the ground and full of energy. As expected I had a little delay at customs, the result of a jealous idiot in Oz that loves to make false accusations of smuggling about people he dislikes. I have no doubt that Karma will find him and it won’t be pleasant. It’s really a shame that the authorities have to waist their time because of a moron like him, but with that said, I wasn’t hiding anything and they were extremely kind while trying to see if in fact I was smuggling animals, which of course I was not. After the hour detour at customs, I was on my way to start my adventure.
When flying to Australia it’s not only more then a days travel, but you also cross the international timeline and lose a day. For me Thursday never existed and it was Friday morning. Troy picked me up and we headed to help set up for the festival. It was being held in a fair ground in Ipswich, QLD. Right away I was impressed at the shows size as well as all the helpers putting the tables out and getting everything all set for tomorrow (Saturday’s) big event. One thing about traveling a long way and in a timezone that is literally 14 hours different then what you’re familiar with is to tough it out the first day and get on their time as quick as you can. That way you’re not spending your days sleeping and staying up all night wishing you hadn’t slept. All this means that you suffer that first day, and I do mean SUFFER! By 3:00pm I just wanted to curl up and go to sleep right on the hard concrete floor, but I toughed it out and made it until 8:00pm where I fell fast asleep. Waking up at 5:00am, I felt like a new man and was ready for the festival to begin. After the 30 minute drive to the fair grounds, we made the final show preparations and before we knew it the doors were open.
Australia has very strict wildlife laws and in Queensland you’re not able to sell any animals at shows, I know weird right? So there were plenty of amazing animals on display, but no animals for sale. Some of my favorite creatures were an Albino Olive Python, which at one point decide to make me an unwilling blood donor and inflicted a hardy bite on my hand, drawing an immediate crowd of people wanting to see the crazy American get bitten. Also, there was a very tame Roughie Python along with a five foot Lace monitor named Harry that was as tame as a puppy dog.
Although there were no animals for sale, it didn’t seem to slow down the interest of people attending the show and it was pretty packed with attendies the entire day. One of the highlights of the show were the “talks”. The majority of the day was packed with amazing speakers on many topics such as Peter Birch on Anterasia and of course the great Bob Irwin on his take on some of the victories they have recently achieved for animal conservation. I found myself listening to Bob’s talk and realizing how in awe I was of the man that was responsible for one of the most iconic zoos in the world and of course the father to the most incredible animal and wildlife expert that our generation has ever seen, the great Steve Irwin. I felt like a kid back in grade school when the state fair was in town and some of the circus act would visit our school for a small demonstration. Eye’s wide open, hanging on every word, it was a time I’ll never forget.
That excitement was calmed a bit when I realized that I was speaking right after Mr. Irwin. The place was packed with people and I was certain that they would all leave after Bob’s talk was concluded. To my surprise nobody left and we actually gained one to the crowd awaiting my talk. That one would happen to be Bob Irwin himself. He sat a few rows back, middle of the room. Talk about pressure… It was everything in me to not panic and run away like a crying child. With that said, I sucked it up and started my talk.. I wanted to spend as much time talking on my passion for the animals and leave plenty of time for questions. My main speech wasn’t until later that night and I knew some of the people in the crowd would be attending that was well, so I didn’t want to duplicate the talk. I spoke about the reasons for spending my life dedicated to animals and also what crazy twist and turns had happened that ultimately caused me to end up in Ipswich, QLD talking in front of a packed room with one of my idols sitting there listening. When it came to the Q&A part of the talk, who do you think had the first question? You guessed it… Bob… He threw me a softball and asked if I was concerned with the reduction of reptiles being found in the wild. Thank God he didn’t ask me about my views on keeping Satan in too small of a cage..
The talk concluded and it was time to film a SnakeBytesTV episode. As always I went from table to table asking to highlight the animals that impressed me. Trust me it wasn’t hard to find all that I needed and more and as usual the Australian keepers were more then happy to accommodate my request to mess with their animals . Probably my favorite table was Joe Balls, amazing Blue Tongue Skinks. He had Albinos, Melanistics, Patternless to name a few, as well the most beautiful albino Tree skinks, that just so happen to be the only ones in the world. Each animal I picked up and spoke about made me realize how lucky I am to be living this adventure that my life has become.
We wrapped the shoot and shortly after wrapped the day at the show. Now there was just one piece of business to finish, and that was my Keynote speech. Again, Peter Birch was the “opening act” and trust me his talk was headline quality. I’m sure he knows more about Children’s and Spotted Pythons then anyone on the planet. He claims he’s written a book that will be released in February on this very topic, but I will believe it when I see it. Just kidding Peter, I know it’ll be out soon and should be stunning! He wrapped up and it was my turn. By this time it was after 8pm and it was a long day for all, I was very concerned about spending an hour talking and potentially losing my audience. The place was still packed, but I’ve seen people leave half way through a talk because they’ve had a long day. Although I was expecting to lose some people, the truth was not a person left. It was a brand new talk I had just written a few weeks before to go along with a slide show I put together with some great photos from Aaron Jones. The talk seemed to go over well and as with all my talks it ends with a Q&A session. This time the questions didn’t stop. For more then an hour I fielded questions from how I dealt with such a large collection to where I felt the legal issues in our country would go. The herp community in Australia is very educated and very passionate, so the questions were all amazing. I finally wrapped up the night after almost two hours in the spotlight with a huge thank you for everyone that hung in there even after what for most was over 12 hours at the event.
I felt on top of the world and I remember standing in the banquet hall after everyone had left and reflecting on everything that had happened that day. I’ve only been in Australia for 36 hours and already I was speechless of the experience I was having. And I still had 5 more days of adventure lined up, with the most incredible one being spending the day at Camp Chilly, Bob Irwin’s place. This is the first installment of several blogs on my recent adventure, so check back soon for what it was like to crawl under a porch in search of an Eastern Brown snake with the father of the Crocodile Hunter…..
Frustrated and getting tired.
I’ve been caring for reptiles for most of my life, always putting their needs and the needs of the hobby I love before my own. Over the past 5 years since I started SnakeBytesTV things have really changed. I have taken a more promoting the hobby roll and doing everything I can to get people excited about the animals I so dearly love. I’m not going to say that everything we do on the show is perfect and I will even go as far to say that we take things too far on occasion. With that said we have certainly reached millions and millions of people and brought many people to love and understand reptiles all with little to no benefit to me personally. When was the last time you saw me trying to sell a BHB animal on our show? The answer is NEVER!
Over the past few months with all the attacks on our hobby from animal rights, laws and financial issues with various countries. Still our hobby feels the need to attack one of it’s own rather then putting our focus on saving our hobby. I have weathered most of the attacks without really saying anything, but even I get sick of the bashing. Today there was a post on RFUK forum in the UK all about how poorly I keep our big snakes. I’ve been caring for large snakes since I was 15 years old. I’m not saying I know everything, but I certainly understand the needs of the snakes I care for. I work 7 days a week and spend countless hours doing things for this hobby that do nothing for me personally. What do I get in return for all my efforts? I get bashed by a bunch of people that don’t even know me and don’t understand my reasons for keeping animals the way I do. Do they know that I had some of our largest snakes in much larger caging and all it did was stress them out, caused them to bash their faces up on the glass and refuse food? Do I get thanks for all the radio, TV and news articles that we are involved in helping promote the hobby? No….. I don’t get paid for any of them and they all take TONS of my time, I never complain about doing them because I believe in helping the hobby.
Now I can take some criticism and trust me I have for a long time, keeping it all to myself, but sometimes I reach my boiling point. Why do you think our hobby is so “fucked”? It’s because people attack the ones that try the hardest to help. You cause us to want to say fuck it and walk away. Do you have any idea the energy it takes to run a collection like ours and still spend 40-60 hours a week helping protect the hobby beyond the actual 70+ hours working on the actual animals? Not to mention the tons of hours I spend helping other people that are having problems with animals that didn’t come from me? But I do it and never ask for anything in return. It’s so exhausting I can hardly explain how hard it is, and then to get attacked over every little thing I do is just frustrating beyond belief.. You want another person that cares more then anything about the future of this hobby to walk away and tell you all to fuck off? Well, a lot of you are driving me to that point.
I love my animals more then anything I could ever imagine and I have sacrificed more then anyone I know for them and my hobby. I’m not asking for a free ride and for everyone to just give me a pass whenever I make a bad decision. What I am asking is to see what effort I put into things and think a little harder before you want to publicly bash me. You have a problem with something I do, then contact me personally and we can discuss it. Don’t go starting a thread on a public forum so that people can just pile on because it’s fun to bash a big name in the business. We have lost so many great people because they get frustrated with the childish B.S. that goes down on the forums all over the world. Maybe spend more time helping people and helping our hobby and less time attacking the people that are trying to help. I want to keep caring but so many people are stealing my love of what I used to be so proud of. If you guys think I’m doing a bad thing with SBtv, then I’ll shut it down tomorrow.
For now I am really frustrated and not sure of what I am going to do in the future. Do I keep spending all the time and energy helping protect and promote this hobby or do I go into a shell and only worry about myself like so may other breeders? I’m feeling pretty unappreciated and I need to regroup. I can honestly say that in the 24 years I’ve been doing this I have never felt so unhappy with so many people in this hobby. I am sorry for the rant, I almost always try to put a positive face on things no matter how negative things are, but every now and then I need to say what I feel and this is truly how I feel. I could really use some encouragement at this time. And to all my supporters, I thank you beyond belief for all that you do for me. It’s normally your kind words that get me through these kind of attacks. All I want is to be proud of my hobby and continue to tell people how incredible these animals actually are, but right now I feel like walking away. Sorry again, for the negativity.
You Believe in Ghost?
Being that it’s Halloween, I figure it’s the perfect day to reflect on whether or not “ghosts” really exist. I certainly didn’t come from an area or from a family that believed in the paranormal, but some of my childhood experiences have lead me to believe there is more to the afterlife then some may believe.
I recently stayed in a good friends two century old plantation house on the east coast. Although the house had a brand new addition added in the 1990’s the original residence was still similar to what it looked like in the early days of our country. Low ceilings, shallow stair cases and the feeling you had stepped back into the 1700’s gave this house an amazing historic feel to it.
My friend and his family stayed in the new addition that was attached on the other side of the living room and kitchen. The extra bedrooms were in the old section and up a flight of stairs and on the complete other end of the house. You certainly got the feeling that you were alone there when entering that part of the residence. There’s something about old historic houses, they are so beautiful, yet kind of creepy at the same time. I couldn’t help but feel like I was in a scene from the original Amityville horror movie, with the creaky floors, the large windows and the vast history that these wall have seen. My first concerns of staying there came when some of the “history” was revieled. The house was used to help wounded soildiers back in the civil war, more or less a field hospital with many people losing their lives and limbs within these very walls. There was even a report of a nurse that had passed away while living here.
My mind immediately reverted back to when I was ten years old and when I had my first experiences of the paranormal. I stayed in my family houses basement in a small room down the stairs and on the other side of the basement . It was a small room, but there was a sitting area that I would commonly sit and listen to music before going to bed. One evening I fell asleep in the chair outside my room and was shaken awake by something? It was just for a moment, but one that I will never forget. Something or someone was starring me in the face, only an inch away from my eyes. This dark mass right in my face… Only for a second and then it swished away like it was flying.. As with any unexplained experience you first start to try to explain it as a nightmare or something that can easily be a normal occurance. I got up startled and ran into my room and slammed the door. Still shaken I went under my covers and then things really started to get weird. It was 3:00am and my Mom and Dad were fast asleep and the only other people in the house. First there were loud noises coming from the room right outside of my door, then some actual banging on the door. I stayed huddled in my bed, still in disbelief that this was happening. It had to be a person that was trying to scare me, but who and why? I wanted to run upstairs but I would have to run right through the area that the noises were coming from. To make matters even worst the light switch for the basement was on the base of the stairs on the complete other side of the basement. There was no way I could bring myself to make that journey in the pitch black, not with someone or something out there!! I was still trying to justify what was happening? This could not actually be something other then an explainable happening? What could it be and why was it happening? For the next few hours until my Mom woke up for work I stayed shivering in my bed as the noises appeared to try to continued to break into my bedroom. Finally I could hear my Mom shuffling around in the kitchen at the top of the stairs, she was up getting ready for work, I screamed to her and she came down to get me. The noises had stopped a few moments earlier and there was no sign of anything strange. Again, I started to wonder if I was going nuts? A little later when my Dad got up, he appeared to be mad at me, he even yelled at me for keeping him up most of the night. I asked him what he meant and he said I was making so much noise moving things around in the basement… I explained what had happened and in the normally fatherly way he thought I was just covering up for keeping him awake. To make matters even more extreme, when i went to school that day one of my best friends aked if I was okay? He said his very religous mother woke up at 3:00 and prayed for me all night. She said she was awakened by a vision and that I was in extrene danger and she was very concerned for me.
Just before heading to bed for the night in the 1700’s house I was staying in, one of my friends workers that stayed at his house when they had late nights working on his collection, said to be aware of the women ghost? As if I needed any reason to be frightened of this house, I asked what he was talking about. He then told me story after story of the nights he had spent in the very bed that I was about to sleep in. He had been woken up on numerous occasions from someone scratching his back, just to look and see nobody there. He was the only one in the old wing of the house when these experiences happened to him. He would get glimpses of a women in a nurses dress walking across his bedroom door? Noises and voices were common and he preferred not to stay there anymore. Great, just what I needed. Now faced with going to bed and knowing all of this, I was certainly thinking a hotel was a good option.
I reluctantly retired to my room, my friend and his family far away on the other side of the house. I immediatly likened it to being alone in that basement bedroom with my mother so far away when I was 10 years old. I turned out the lights, crawled into bed with my laptop and cell phone, just in case, like somehow the internet gods would protect me from the spirits of old. I wanted to sleep, I really did, but the images of a ghostly nurse waking me up kept my eyes open the entire night. Did I come into contact with the spirit of the nurse, not really. But there was a feeling of being watched all night and the occasional glimpse of something moving across the room that kept me from slipping into slumber. I didn’t sleep a wink that night.
So I have to ask you…. Do you believe in ghosts? Happy Halloween!
Japan Reptile Show
The last month has been a whirlwind of travel. It started with a journey to Shizuoka, Japan for the biggest reptile show in that country. After a 14 hour flight to Tokyo I arrived at midnight their time. I’d been up for close 40 hours when we arrived and with my inability to sleep on a plane to say I was tired would be an under statement. After driving to Yokohama where my friend Disuke’s reptile shop we decided to catch a late, and I mean really late, dinner. I was a bit taken a back at the fact that it was 1am on a Thursday night and the restaurant was packed with people? Do these people ever sleep? We proceeded to eat some pretty interesting traditional Japanese cuisine which included some type of shrimp head soup that surprisingly was very tasty, just had to ignore those little eyeballs staring back at me. I finally got back to the hotel at 4am and to my surprise the sun was coming up? Now I totally know why Japan is referred to as the “rising sun”. We were leaving for Shizuoka first thing in the morning, so there was little time to sleep and with the sun blazing in the sky by 5am it looked as the chance of me catching up on sleep was pretty slim.
Waking up a few hours later we had the chance to spend an hour walking around “China town”.. I know pretty weird to be in Japan and finding a China town? Regardless, it was an amazing place to visit and about that time I really started to realize that I was on the other side of the world. We finally headed to Disuke’s shop and started to pack the vans for the show. As we were packing Disuke realized that two pretty expensive Ball Pythons had pushed their way out of their tubs and were missing. Interesting how the same problems occur everywhere. We frantically looked and found one relatively quick, but spent more then an hour looking for the last remaining escapee. I think we all had pretty much given up when Di came into the room and within two minutes found it behind a cabinet that we had all looked at several times? At this point we were all happy to have just found the animal and get on our way even if our inept reptile finding abilities were shinning through.
The drive was about four hours long and gave me the chance to see the amazing Japanese country side. We even got a glipmse of the famous Mt. Fuji, which was pretty impressive. When we arrived at the show, I was blown away at how big the hall was, but even more impressed with the wide variety of animals at the show. Although it was a reptile show, there were Owls, Eagles, Monkeys and mammals of all types. The reptile selection was super impressive as well. It might have been the first show I attended in ten years that I couldn’t even recognize what some of the animals were? I remember going table to table thinking to myself… What is that? What is that?
After set up it was time for dinner and I wouldn’t call myself an adventurous food guy, but I try not to complain too much. I think I recall telling everyone that the one thing I really don’t enjoy is eel. Well, sure enough that night we went to eel BBQ… No menu, no choices.. just eel infused rice, eel bladder soup and BBQ eel… Yummy… Needless to say I left the restaurant hungry as I couldn’t stomach eating even a single bite. I guess that’s part of the joy of traveling and although I was still starving I didn’t let it drag me down.
That night I finally got some shut eye and felt a lot better, I was ready to get the show started! It opened for business at 9am and at 8:30 I made my normal pilgrimage to check out the “line” of people waiting to get in. No exaggerating there were thousands of people waiting in line. All in all the show was amazing.. I can’t remember being at a show that had as many people attending and sales of animals seemed to strong as well.. Seems that the Japanese reptile market is alive and well! The show went until 6:00pm but the time flew by and before I knew it the show as shutting down. I guess the only hard thing about the day was not being able to easily communicate with everyone. There were plenty of people that spoke English, but even more that didn’t. Anyone that knows me knows that I like to talk about reptiles and I found it difficult to not be spewing my stories to everyone that walked up to the table.
The show was over and it was time to find some food, what would it be tonight? Maybe whale blubber?. I begged them to not go to an eel place again and we ended up at a very nice restaurant with again some traditional Japanese food. The food in Japan is very “fish” based and much of it’s not cooked, which is totally fine with me, I happen to love Sushi. I was able to finally get some food in me, but still had a hard time stomaching some of the other “goodies” that came to the table. Lot’s of intestines, and tripe and other crazy looking things that I couldn’t bring myself to even try. I know, how do you know if you don’t like it if you don’t try it, right? I’ll take your word for it and I’ll pass.. thank you very much!
The following morning the show started and the crowd was a little smaller then the masses that showed up for the first day of the show on Saturday. It gave me a chance to run around the show an play with some critters. One of the nicest things about the Japanese culture is how polite they all seem to be. Every cool animal I came across such as a river otter, a gross eagle or a squirrel monkey were easily able to be handled. I was even able to touch a sea turtle that was swimming in a kiddy pool! Certainly something you’d never see in any show in America… or anywhere else for that matter..
For the most part all reptile shows are similar no matter where you are, other then the constant screaming over the load speaker from the show promoter in Japanese. I still wonder what the heck that guy was screaming for the entire 9 hours of the show? Whatever it was, he was REALLY excited about it! And I needed an aspirin from the headache he gave me. Before we knew it the show was about to be over and it was time to pack up. Seems that I’ve done this a few times? And just like with most of the shows I do, we were the VERY last people in the venue still packing our booths. We got on the road about 8:00pm and headed back to Yokohama. Although it was only a four hour drive there, it took us almost 6 hours to get back because of heavy traffic. Take into account that we stopped to eat at a resturaunt that had the most “western” food that we ate the entire trip we didn’t get home until 4am. Did I mention that the smoke from the kitchen bellowing into the dinning area was so thick that I could hardly breath the entire meal? Again, making me realize how far from America I actually was. I’m sure one day exhaust fans will find their way across the ocean to Japan?
Once we got back to the hotel we all needed sleep, but being that tomorrow (Monday) was my last day in Japan and I had not even had a chance to see the sites, we thought we’d get up early in the morning and head to Tokyo for some tourist attractions. I think we agreed on 9:00am but I think that one of the people in our group didn’t get the memo, because he pounded on the hotel room door at 6:00am! I had hardly closed my eyes at this point and didn’t think I was going to make the day with an hour sleep. I’m not sure what I told him to make him go away, but he finally left and I slept a couple of hours before getting ready to hit the city. We were on our way to Tokyo by 9:00am…. First thing that struck me was getting on the train I noticed that even with tons of people, nobody was talking. It was clean and it was SILENT…. In a way it was kind of creepy, certainly a long way from my experiences on the Tube in London, or the subway in New York. Again, it made me realize how different the culture is here, but at the same time I really had started to fall in love with this country.
We arrived in Tokyo and it is just what you think of when you think of Tokyo. It was walking onto a movie set. Tons of shops, tons of people and so much to see. We visited an incredible temple, a seven story toy store and miles of street shops. In all my travels I can’t say that I ever was in a place I enjoyed as much as I did that day. We capped off a tremendous day with an even more fabulous dinner. Disuke had a snake client that wanted to meet us and take us out to a special dinner. I can’t remember the name of the restaurant, but again it was like a scene out of a movie. Bambo doors and our very own gushi girl waiting on us. It was my first experience eating this style and it was amazing. There were several courses, but the final one was Kobe beef cooked in front of us and dipped in raw egg. Sounds a little strange, but it was amazing!!! All in all when the bill came for the four of us it was over $1200! This was the one time I was happy someone else was picking up the tab:) It was a great way to end a terrific day. Unfortunetly it was only a few hours away from me boarding my plane home. We walked around for a few more hours and I was off to the airport. I sometimes have to stop and think what an amazing journey this life takes me on. I just clean snake poop for a living, yet I am able to meet so many amazing people and travel to so many incredible places around the globe. As for Japan, I only spent a week there, but I have a new appreciation for how beautiful that country is. I can’t wait to get back to the country where the sun rises at 4:00am!
The Sunset Ball Python has been an interesting journey
The Sunset Ball Python has been an interesting journey, starting with a huge leap of faith that saw me shell out $70,000 for the wild bush baby out of Africa to being convinced that it was not genetic all the way to the resurrection of my elation of it proving out a recessive mutation. Let me take you on the journey and introduce you to the newest proven recessive Ball Python, the Sunset.
It all started with a phone call and an email stating West African trappers had found an amazing animal. Trust me I have heard the story many times over, most of which turn out to be a disappointment, but this time certainly was the exception. When I finally received the picture of this beauty I was blown away. Not just because it was an amazing animal, but because it was the color that I felt the Ball Python world had been missing and that was “red”. Of course I realize that it’s not “coke can” red, but a shade of burnt orange, but I still thought of how it would mix with the mutations that had already been proven out. Keeping in mind seven years ago when I bought this snake there was far less mutations to consider. Another thing that persuaded me to buy it was when I looked at the animal I saw “co-dom” written all over it. I was positive it would be genetic and as confident that it would be co-dominant. The Ball Python hobby was in it’s boom, and huge money was being paid for any and all Ball Pythons mutations. With that in mind and me being a swing for the fences kind of guy, what’s $70k between friends, right?
I sent the money and then came the long and painful wait for the shipment to arrive. There’s always the concern of it not making the trip alive, not to mention wondering if it would be as impressive in real life as it was in the picture I was sent? Remember, these are west African pictures and certainly far from what you’re going to see in next months issue of National Geographic magazine. When I finally got the animal in after a few weeks of nerves waiting on a ship date, I was elated! It was everything I had hoped for and I started dreaming of where the project could go and what amazing combos I could make in the coming years. It was a male, so that meant there were a lot of possibilities, but first and for most I needed to raise it up and prove it out. Fortunately it was a great feeder and although I got him too late to breed the first season he quickly reached 700 grams. He was now a year and a half old and breeding season was upon us. Truth be told the market was in a change and the real big money for animals had came back down to earth, so I really needed this guy to prove out and hopefully put a charge back into my business as well as the entire Ball Python hobby. Let’s face it $70k is a lot of money and it started to feel like even more in the changing market. My next task was to decide what to breed it to. I could go the mutation route and take it to Pins, Spider, Albinos and so on, but to be honest back then I didn’t have tons of them sitting on the self waiting to be breed, and I really needed to use them as income producers. So I decide to take him to a handful of big normal females. Remember I was convinced he would be co-dom and I just wanted to produce more baby Sunsets.
It turned out that he was a good breeder and soon enough we had three female normal Balls gravid. In total they laid 21 good eggs and a few slugs. The count down had started and I REALLY needed this one to prove out after my recent disaster of the “big money” Viper Ball turned out to be a flop and not genetic. I remember those 60 days of incubation as some of the longest days of my career. It was more then painful, I knew that BHB would really explode if it proved out and also realized that without having a huge new project to showcase that we would fall back into the pack with so many collections of mutation Ball Pythons aggressively growing. Finally at day 55 into incubation I was ready to cut the first clutch, it was 6 eggs so I felt pretty good about my odds. I stood over the clutch and took a deep breath and cut the first egg, normal… my anxiety shot through the roof and as I cut the remaining 5 eggs, my stomach was in knots. All normal looking babies.. Could I have just missed my odds? Will the next clutch have Sunsets in them? I had another week before the next clutch could be piped, but the end results were the same. In all honesty I can’t even remember if I piped the third and last remaining clutch? By that time I was so depressed that it didn’t prove out and I was trying to figure out how BHB would survive taking two huge hits with the Sunset and the Viper both striking out within such a short period of time.
I really don’t recall what the ratio of all the babies were, but I was 100% convinced it would not be recessive and had little excitement about raising up a bunch of possible hets. I had just raised over 30 female “het” Vipers just to prove that he was an insane looking “normal”. I really didn’t feel like going through that process again. I put a few of the females on the self, marked them Het Sunsets and slowly sold most of the others off to the local pet shops as they needed pet Ball Pythons. To think back now and realize I was selling real ”het“ Sunsets for $25 make me want to throw up, but I also know those animals went into the pet trade along with hundreds of others that I sold that year and will never surface again. I’m sure somewhere little Billy Bob is playing with a really expensive pet snake at this very moment with no knowledge of what it’s genetics are.
For the next four years not much happened with the project, the male Sunset sat alone in his cage never being bred to a female and the “het” girls slowly got to size.. emphasis on slowly. Finally as I was getting breeding groups together in October of 2011 we came across one of the Het Sunsets that was plenty big enough to breed. I’m not going to lie, she was in my “normal” rack and I had plans on breeding her to a Champagne just to make cool babies. My python room manager Josh Roberts implored me to breed it to the Sunset male. Seems that I remember me preaching to him about what a waste of a clutch that would be and so on.. He was persistent and I think I finally gave in just so he would stop nagging me about it.
Over the next few months I put the Sunset male in for a few days and took him out for a few days or longer. He always seemed to hook up, but again my enthusiasm for the breeding was far from at a fever pitch. Our first ultra sound of the year and the het Sunset had some big follicles, wouldn’t you know it, the girl I barely cared about was going to produce. A few months later she laid 4 good eggs and 3 slugs. I’m betting the infertile eggs had something to do with the fact that I put zero effort into working the project and truth be told was lazy about getting the male in at the right times. Josh was probably more excited about that clutch than any other clutch we had at that point of the season and again I warned him to not get too excited because it would just lead to disappointment when they hatched all normal.
I’ll let you in on a secret, with Josh’s enthusiasm for those eggs and his constant banter about how cool it would be if we hatch Sunsets, I actually started to believe we had a chance. I never told him, but I was starting to get a little excited as well.
Breeding reptiles for a living is much like riding a rollercoaster; there are so many ups and downs it’s hard to explain to anyone that hasn’t experienced it. This past several months it seems that the rollercoaster had been tipped in the down direction for me and this particular week was especially brutal. It was a Friday and I came home and needed some good news to get me out of my slump. The Sunset clutch was on day 52 and I normally do not cut eggs until day 55, but I REALLY needed something to make me feel better about some of the bad news I had been getting this week. Trust me as much as I was hoping for a miracle I was still skeptical that it was recessive and was expecting to have another thing to add to my misery. I slowly cut the first egg with my razor blade and peaking into it and what did I see? Was it a Sunset? I think I was in disbelief, it was an actual Sunset! I cut the remaining three eggs and there was one more Sunset and two normal siblings. I can’t totally recall what happened next, but I can be glad there was not a camera in my incubator because I think there was some dancing and even possibly a tear or two. It finally happened after almost seven years of buying the project as well as completely writing it off as not genetic, I was now staring at two baby Sunsets in the egg.
It wasn’t until an hour or two later, and after I called and told Josh along with breaking the great news to Lori, that it all started to set in.. Wow, I had messed this project up, by now I should have had an army of hets. I should have had him bred into every mutation I worked with. But the truth was he sat in his own cage for years while my stubborn opinion on him lead me down the wrong path. Can I be upset with myself? Sure, but the truth is there’s nothing I can do about the past and in some ways it probably strengthens the projects future. Although my payday seems like forever away now, I haven’t really thought too much about the money that the project will bring as much as the crazy mutations that will possibly be produced by adding this new color pallet into the wonderful world of Ball Python mutations. Think about a Pinstripe Sunset, an Albino Sunset, a Pied Sunset…. and so on…
In the end I always say it’s not me if a project is successful, but everyone else that expresses interest in buying into it. So far the response has been incredible and I am humbled by it. There is a long road ahead with this project with so many awesome possibilities. So, from here I will put my head down and do my best to work the project as hard as I can and take away a valuable lesson from losing hope in something that I believed in so much in the beginning. I’d love to know what your opinion is of our latest triumph for us here at BHB and where you think we should go with it. I guess I can chalk this up to another good chapter in my growing book of the life of a reptile breeder! Thanks for reading and sharing this story with others… Brian
Balls aren't the only game in town
Over the past decade BHBreptiles has become known more and more for specializing in Ball Pythons and that’s great, but not entirely accurate. Although I have been obsessed with Ball Pythons an continue to pour tons of energy (and money) into them, the truth is that 2/3 of my collection is comprised of colubrids. That’s right, I have way more corns, kings, milks and ratsnakes then anything else I work with.
It all started with my very first snake I bred, which was a cornsnake. Sure I had been keeping Boas, Ball Pythons and even Burmese before I ever owned my first Cornsnake, but it’s still a fact that the first baby snake that I ever saw crawling out of the egg was a normal cornsnake. I had been facsinated with snakes for as far as I can remember, but I think that first baby snake head pipping out of that clutch of 23 eggs was what sealed the deal for me. From that moment on there was only one thing that I wanted to do with my life, and that was breed snakes, and become an astronaut, but seeing as I get motion sickness, sticking with snakes was the better option.
As the years have went by my colubrid collection has always been the backbone of my business and also the lion share of what we produce each year. To me it’s just about having the variety.. Don’t get me wrong, I love all the incredible paintjobs that Ball Pythons come in and they still probably are my favorite snake to work with, but lets face it they are not exactly setting the world on fire with personality. Now I’m not saying they’re bad animals, but they can be a bit boring. On the other hand each species of colubrid seems to have a completely different behavior. I guess I like the fact that in a 3000 square foot room I can not only keep 5000 snakes, but 140 different species. They don’t get huge, they are easy to keep and breed and they are full of energy. I can walk down one of my colubrid room isles and pick up a snake that is so mellow and enjoys being handled like a cornsnake or a hognose and then walk a few steps further to a spunky Ratsnake that gives me a rush trying to tame it. There’s also the size difference that comes along with the wide variety of colubrids, from the 50 gram 12 inch adult male hognose to the 8 foot long King Rat! And that’s not even taking into account the hundreds and hundreds of different colors that cover the spectrum with this amazing family of snakes.
Over the past 24 years of working with snakes as a profession, I have seen the colubrid market cycle in and out of favor, heck I’ve seen a lot of animals gain and loss popularity. Some years they seem to be the most sought after snakes and other they lose favor to animals like Leopard Geckos, Boas, or of course Ball Pythons. With that being said this past four or five years has been the toughest market for colubrids that I have ever seen. Were these animals just going to be on the fringe of the popular snakes being kept in this country? Well last year there seemed to be a little life left in the market for these amazing animals. It started back in August at the Daytona show, we had our best colubrid show that we’d had in almost five years, but it didn’t stop there. Each show we attended we sold more colubrids then we expected and the online sales mimics the show results.
Going into this years production I was curious to see if Colubrids would gain popularity like I expected them too. Sure enough we are just starting to get eggs and we have the most pre-orders of Corns, Kings, and Milks then we ever have had. Now I’m not saying that they are on pace to take over the reptile world, lets face it they are still inexpensive and will have a hard time stepping up to the plate with the big projects like Ball Pythons, but I for one am so happy to see Colubrids starting to make a come back. I know that as more and more people start to work with them again they will see the beauty and enjoyment that I have been able to see since I laid eyes on that baby cornsnake hatching when I was just a kid. In the end I just glad to see people expanding their horizons and trying to work with snakes other then the ones that take up most of the forums and blog post. Trust me if you get a cornsnake or a hognose snake you will be as hooked as I am on them.
The whole idea behind the late winter NARBC show in Tinley is to have a summit for USARK, PIJAC and our community about the “State of the Union”. After all it was a summit put on by the NARBC that spawned USARK in the first place. Over the last few years the reptile hobby has come under attack on many levels, but the legislation that has been proposed and passed has been the major concern, hence this summit. I think we all had high hopes that something good would come from this meeting.
A lot of the major players in the reptile community made the trip to the show in support, even if they were not vending, but what was more impressive to me was the reptile hobbyist that showed up, not only show their support, but hoping for answers. Did they get many answers from the “panel” summit? In short.. no…. The night was filled with information, things like how we dealt with past proposed bills, the NOI for Lacey and so on… but not nearly enough time was spent on where we go from here. I think it’s simple, people are passionate about their reptiles and want to know what they can do to help the cause in protecting our hobby. Unfortunately not much came from the nearly three hour summit. It wasn’t a total lost, Justin Mietz delivered a passionate talk about heading up a National Herp Society and Andrew from USARK explained the path that the organization has taken the past few years along with a great opening by Kenan Harkin from the Burmese Python Initiative.
In my opinion, too much time was spent on where we’ve been and not enough on where we were going? By time the “panel” was excepting questions more then half the audience had left. Do I blame them? Not at all, it was far from exciting for the most part and relatively boring to be honest. I’m not saying that there was not great information, but maybe just not the right forum for long winded dissertation about policies and best practices. In the end the people wanted answers, needed direction and leadership. As one of the panel members I will be the first to say that neither was really delivered.
When the meeting finally wrapped up I left with a bad feeling in my stomach. We were given a forum to lead and for the most part we failed with arguing about silly things such as “Are you sure we can’t take Burmese Pythons across State lines” and “We can’t get insurance for our Gators”. While both are important topics, we beat them to death spending more then a half hour on each topic. All while avoiding the real issue… What can we all do to help…
I know I wasn’t the only person that felt the night was a failure and I certainly was not the only person that felt we had to take something positive out of this meeting. We need to unite as a community and this summit was a perfect example of the in fighting and division within the leadership of the hobby. Then Kevin McCurely from NERD came to me with an idea on how we can bring the community together and have a place for everyone to go for answers and resources to help put a positive face on the hobby, just what we need. We will take as many of the industry leaders and unite them on one mission. Listen, we’re all are working hard individually, but together we can be ten times stronger, maybe a thousand times stronger? This sounded very promising.
The rest of the weekend was spent brainstorming and meeting with as many people as we could. It’s still in the early stages and tons of details need to be worked out, but the unity amongst the leaders of the hobby was inspiring. People that I know have had differences put them aside and sat side by side willing to work together for the better of the hobby. I’m not going to lie, I was starting to losing hope, but after this weekend I see the potential for great things. I don’t want anyone to think for one minute that this “new” project is about industry leaders alone, it will be set up where we will need each and everyone of you. We want to reach the kid that bought his first leopard Gecko from Petco, the biology teacher that wants to introduce reptiles to their classroom, the wildlife educator, the serious hobbyist as well as the law makers and everyone in between. We’ll be in support on USARK and PIJAC and will help them in their fights. We’ll be able to give them guidance along with be the vehicle to reach the masses when they have answers to all of our questions.
I can assure you that we’ll be sharing more information as things move along. This will be a monumental task to get rolling, but I can tell you this… I believe that each and every person we spoke to will do whatever it takes to make this happen. Whether we want to except it or not, people expect the leaders of the community to guide the hobby, and it’s about time that we step up and start doing what we can to keep this hobby alive! While this is only the first step, and on the surface the NARBC summit seemed to be a dud, there was some major successes hatched. Now you guys need to keep our feet to the fire and make sure we follow through. And if you see someone that you respect not doing their part you need to speak up! Most importantly don’t forget… you are the most important part of this whole thing. Get ready for a wild ride people! It’s going to be epic!
It’s a hard feeling to describe when you have a vision for something like a TV show or a Web show and you put all your energy into trying to make it a success, not because you are narcissistic or have to pad your ego, but because you want to reach people with your message. What message you might ask? The message that “we” are here and we’re not the underground evil killers you think we are, nor are the animals we love so dearly. I wanted to put a fun face, a human face on my beloved hobby, so that all the people in the World that would stumble upon our show while searching through the YouTube vaults would realize that they have had the wrong opinion about what they thought about reptiles as well as reptile keepers.
Now over four years into the show and over 50 million views web wide, I find myself still trying to find that magical combination of entertainment and education. I wonder if the amount of time, effort and money that I have invested in this endeavour has been worth it? Have we made a positive impact? When it comes to good old fashion fun, there’s no doubt that it’s been a great adventure and more then I could have ever expected it to be, but still, have we made a difference? After all, that’s what my original mission statement was for the show, wasn’t it?
As I reflect, I think we’ve had our moments of going too far, but we always had the bigger picture in mind, and that was changing peoples minds about what we love, what we are passionate about, reptiles. Unless you’ve ever been in the position where you are trying to entertain people it’s hard to describe the feeling. There’s excitement, dread and pressure all wrapped up into one little package. Then you can add your detractors, the people that can’t wait until you upload your video so they can hit the “dislike” button without even watching the show. Or get on a forum and spew hatred for you and your show, while they sit back and do nothing to help the cause. Or maybe they ask “Where’s Kel for the 35th week in a row”. Memo, I fired him…. and no I am not going to say anything bad about him, no matter how much you want me to!
Maybe I take it too serious, certainly not the on camera part, but the message part. Each week we have to come up with a show idea, a funny part to keep people watching all while keeping in mind that there are as many critics out there as supporters. What’s unique to my situation is, we run a reptile breeding business, I don’t make my living making videos, might be an epiphany to some… To be honest there are times our show helps our business with exposure and at times it hurts our business because of the backlash. In the end I have to keep seeing the bigger picture and not let the pressure steal the fun from what we are trying to accomplish.
Lets face it, SnakeBytesTV has never been about BHB, you have never heard me tell people to buy from BHB, or flashed our website on the show for prospective clients to buy from us. I have always viewed it as our communities show and never an infomercial for my company.
Now what’s facing me is, where to go from here? Do I keep going the way we have for four plus years? Do I try to take it to the next level? Whatever that means.. or do I step back, regroup and decide what we want to do next? When you’re producing a show week in and week out there is little time to change things, you spend all that energy working on the next show, the next idea…
Now don’t freak out…I can assure you that my heart is more then 100% dedicated to our show, our supporters and the reptile community. That being said, I sometimes do need a little help from YOU, our viewers. What can we do to make you more proud of us and get you more involved with our movement? What direction do we need to go in to get you, the foot soldiers to help get more and more people interested what we do? Think of it this way, our FaceBook fan page has over 12,000 likes, and the outreach, which means all the friends of the people that “like” our page is over 3,000,000 yes that’s 3 MILLION!! Yet we only get a million views a month. Yet we put out four plus shows each month along with all our back libraries of shows. That’s less then 10% success rate for out outreach. Every time we reach one more person on FaceBook our outreach number goes up by 50, 100, 1000 or even 5000! But we can only reach those people if YOU are proud enough of what we are doing to tell all your friends about it. If they find out about our show from you, they tell their friends and so on… that’s what going VIRAL is all about.. But it always starts with YOU….
At some point we all have to make decisions based more on what the value of what we are doing and less on what our heart is telling us to do. In no way am I saying I want to shut the show down, far from it, but I do need to start to figure out how to make it worth the time, energy and money we put into it. I just can’t imagine life without my now “normal” Wednesday morning routine of uploading the show, posting it here and there and then sitting back and interacting with all the incredible people around the globe that support us. My vision is to take the show and our hobbies exposure to the next level. But with that I’ll probably need more help from all of you. What do you say? You ready to take a ride? But this trip requires more then just sitting back and watching, it requires some participation on your part. My ears are open and I’m waiting to hear what you guys want me to do….. Yours truly… Crazy Snake Dude on YouTube…
Time to wake up
I posted a video of Roy Garber from the hit series “Shipping Wars” on A&E tv. I was shocked that on the main page of A&E’s website there was a video about this guys love for his pet alligator along with his love for snakes, frogs and turtles. In my eyes this was a huge win for the reptile community. A public figure speaking out about how cool these animals are. Did I think we need to appoint this guy the face of our community, of course not, but I think there might be some people that enjoy his show that might give reptiles a second look after his testimony.
Surprisingly a lot of repsonses were extremely negative about Roy’s husbandry of his alligator. Don’t get me wrong, I was not impressed either, but it wasn’t like they were being neglected. The gator certainly should have been bigger and a larger environment was a must, but again… this guy was pouring out his love for reptiles and our communities repsonse was to attack him. I tagged him in video and if for some reason he decided to pop in and see what “we” the reptile community were saying he would have seen the attacks and probably never wanted to have anything to do with our fight.
Some responses said that we needed to be careful who we want to respresent our hobby. Are you kidding me… This guy is not a rapist…. He’s a guy that has a successful TV show that for no personal gain decided to tell everyone how much he loves reptiles. Do we need to get in touch with him and tell him to never talk about reptiles again publically? Come on people, we need all the help we can get. We can’t sit back and tell someone that has a much bigger voice then all of us combined that he is terrible for our hobby and a reason that HSUS has ammo for more laws to be passed.
We can sit back in our small community on FaceBook and bitch to one another how we are getting our rights taken away from us, while we push people away because we don’t agree with the size cage they have or the amount they feed their animals. In the meanwhile the special interest groups are paying Michael Vic to do commercials on the importance of dog care.. Funny how our standards are higher then theirs.
Again, I’m not asking for this guy to be the “face” or “voice” of our hobby, but we need to embrace anyone that loves reptiles and if we don’t agree with their husbandry then we need to reach out them and try to educate them rather then shun them as terrible people for our cause and attack them on public forums.
I’m fighting so hard for ALL causes in the hobby.. my question to those that don’t want this “type” of exposure is… What are you doing to change anything??? Go ahead bash me for the way I keep my animals, bash me for Chewy getting bit, bash me for calling you out… In the end I’m fighting for your rights to keep reptiles and my love of my hobby and I’m not just sitting back bitching…. As always sorry for the rant….
Are mites the kiss of death? Seems that a lot of people in the reptile hobby equate mites with being the plague… As if mites are as bad as IBD, respiratory infections or Herpes for that matter. Of course nobody wants to deal with mites, they are a pain in the butt and are something that everyone that keeps reptiles hopes to avoid.
It’s not secret that we have had issues with mites popping up in our baby Ball Pythons. There’s been plenty of conversation on the forums about it along with colorful threads on the BOI. First off let me say that as a reptile business it is inexcusable that I ship a snake out with mites.. This should NEVER happen, but it has and at some point in the future probably will again.. Uh.. Oh.. did I just admit that I will send out a snake in the future with mites??? Would you guys feel better if I lied and said “BHB will never send a snake out with mites in the future.. .ever!” As a matter of a fact I am willing to guarantee that every major and most minor snake collections in the country, at some point, has dealt with a mite problem. There was an old saying that says “If you haven’t had snake mites, you haven’t kept snakes long enough”. They come in on bedding, they come in on live rodents, they some in on “new snakes and they hop a ride on snakes that have been to reptiles shows. With a small collection they are very easy to treat and get rid of, normally gone within one treatment of Prevent A Mite.
Now let me take a minute before your guys head explode and tell you that we have had mites, and we are doing our best to rid of them 100%. But they’ll be back at some point and we have do to do better job of not only irradiating them from our collection, but certainly NEVER sending them out to your collection. But when someone tells me they will never do business with us because we sent someone a snake with a couple of mites by accident, then I lose my mind. When someone contacts me that has had an issue with a snake we sent them with mites, I offer to take the snake back with a complete refund, I offer to pay for the treatment and I offer them a discount on future business for their hassle with the problem that I created. Of course this is bad business for us and something we “will” get ahead of, but lets take a look at things with a level head. Mites are terrible, but as long as you take care of them they are harmless and nothing more then a inconvenience. Yes they “can” transport disease when not eradicated, but lets hope your “other” snakes are not disease ridden. Other then being a pain in the ass, are they the plague? Are they so vile that a snake business with mites should be ostracized and black listed? Come on people, if you get a great snake at a good price that is followed by good service, but unfortunately the animal has a mite on it, does that mean you should never do business with that person again? Especially when that company is willing to bend over backwards to help you get past it.
Listen, I hope I never have another snakes leave my place with a mite, but if I stopped dealing with people because I got an animal with a mite on it, I would have to throw my address book out and scratch off 90% of the biggest breeders in the countries names from the list of doing future business. We ship out tens of thousands of snakes each year and have had a very “few” leave this place with mites. When I say a few I mean less then 5-10 animals out of the 20,000 plus animals we have shipped. Of course one is still too many…
Certainly mites, suck… but if I was sending out a “sick” snake, then I think I would deserve the bad wrap that seems to be following us around because of a few animals that slipped out of our place with those pesky mites. I’ll do my best to stop it from happening again, but I think people need to be educated on what some “real” health issues are when it comes to their reptiles.. Until then I guess I’ll just keep working on better procedures to stop this problem while my competitors talk people out of buying snakes from us because of the dreaded mite problem.. I wonder if those people will be willing to do all the things we do to help promote and protect our hobby? Lets hope we never have to find out!
Idea for educating/ promoting the hobby
I had this idea a couple of years ago and never followed up with it, after all I have a few irons in the fire you know. Here goes… We pick a date in the spring, best around the end of the school year, where as many people from all over the country contact their local schools and libraries, asking if you can bring animals and do an educational show for the kids. We call it “Snake Appreciation Day”. If we get thousands of people to all schedule an educational “programs” on that day we can not only change a lot of peoples minds about reptiles with the “hands on” approach, but this would certainly be news worthy for the major network news and major print papers.
We can start a website, have people register where and when they are doing their “talk” for Snake Awareness Day, so people can see how this movement is growing. Once we start to get impressive numbers we can reach out to the News agencies around the country and bombard them with request for stories. When the day comes we can have local news out at events across the nation. We can have every local news agency doing “local” stories about this event and blow up the national News at the same time.
We can use the momentum to not only show people that our community wants to educate the masses and get away from the satanic death metal stereotyping, but also use the opportunity to fund raise for organizations like USARK and PIJAC…
What do you say…. You want to join me on this ride???
You can almost hear the champagne corks popping at HSUS with this latest victory, and trust me it was a victory for them. They put together a masterful job of selling the public, the media and the law makers that there was a threat to humanity with “killer” pythons. Let’s take a step back and look at this from a “non” snake keepers stand point. You turn on the news and you see pythons invading Florida, they say they can eventually take over 2/3 of the country… You have no information saying this is not true, it’s the news, it’s in the USA today paper, of course it must be true. Then you hear claims from a Senator in Florida that there are up to 200,000 killer Pythons taking over Florida..and moving north! The USGS put out a paper with all kinds of unfounded scientific evidence that supports all these claims.. Of course the only action is to put a nation wide ban on these snakes before they are knocking on my door in south east Michigan, right….
Now let me ask you… Was the truth ever reported? Did we take this to the public and make the USGS report and the claims from “said” Senator look foolish? Did we contact the major newspapers and get them to print the other side. Sure, they probably wanted to run with the more sensational story, but did we press them to show the other side, the truth? Isn’t it just as big of a story to show the corruption of the system as it is to report false claims? It’s not hard to see that the initial claims from Senator Nelson where he said there could be a few thousand Burmese in the Everglades and within one year it went up to as many as 200,000! Now I’m not a genius, but I have stayed in a Holiday inn select once or twice. I don’t think the reproductive habits of the Burmese Pythons are that intense. Mind you that in the years that permits have been issued to find and kill these “killer” snakes, very small numbers of Burmese have been found, so where did they come up with these infalted numbers? Why did the estimated numbers of Burmese in the Evergaldes grow from a few thousand to up to 200,000? What about this “Super Snake”? The African rock Python x Burmese Python… the one that has no growth inhibitor and can grow to 30 feet and kill everything in it’s site? Is it just me or did this come out of a science fiction movie and have absolutely no scientific proof behind it. As a matter a fact, there have been plenty of African Rock x Burmese that don’t even resemble the “monster” that these “experts” described, and the media ran with. Heck there was a show on History channel about it and there is a show being developed for Discovery channel right now about it… Opps, was I supposed to know that? In the meanwhile did anyone do anything to show the truth?
I’m not sitting here on my high horse, I didn’t do a good enough job of trying to get the word out either. I tried on a number of occasions to get on Late night shows, Fox TV and in the New Times, but again, I’m just a guy with snakes and a YouTube show. I think our biggest problem is our efferts are spent on trying to convince people that already know the truth. We post on snake forums, facebook our reptile friends, do email and letter campaigns within our community, never trying to reach beyond the boundries of the people that already are on our side. At the same time HSUS and the other special interest groups are winning over the people that “don’t” have a clue. They are believing because they have never been showed the other side, the truth.
I’m not 100% sure who we look at to get this message out, but we had better figure that out pretty quick. If it’s USARK, then we better find them funding to bring on a PR manager, if it’s someone else, then we need to address them and get started right away. The one thing I know is, right now as we speak there’s a victory party going on at the HSUS and other special interest groups headquarters. They will be smelling blood in the water and you better not be fooled into thinking this is over.. Now that they won, and handed the reptile community the hugest defeat in it’s history, they will be back for more… I promise you that.
My question to you is, what are we going to do about it?
R.I.P. big snakes
In reality I probably thought I’d see this day come, yet I was still in denial. Maybe it was the promise of “fight” that we were putting up, maybe it was me just being naive. Yet, when the announcement came and four species of the “big” snakes that I have kept and bred for most of my life are now on the Lacey act and will be banned from crossing state lines, I was till shocked. How did we come to this? Last I checked our country was in pretty bad shape financially. Unemployment at high rates, housing market in a mess, yet our government feels that one of the most pressing things to worry about are “big” snakes. Mind you the only problem with big snakes are in South Florida, not “all” of Florida, but south Florida. Their brilliant solution for this so called problem that takes up less then 1% of our country…. is to punish everyone and stop the interstate traffic of these four species.
Sure you can still keep your pet Burmese Python, but pray you never want to move out of state or get a job transfer to another state. Because that long term “pet” snake will not be making the trip with you… What about our military? People that are willing to risk their lives for our freedom, yet will not have the freedom to take their pet snake when they get transferred to another base. Have the politicians really thought this out? Do they have a clue what they are doing? The short answer is… NO. What they have are special interest groups like HSUS that have done an incredible job of “selling” their snake oil to the law makers. Of course if you read or listen to their argument, it’s ridiculous, but the law makers are eating it up like it’s written in the bible. Do they really believe what they are being sold, or do they just follow those special interest groups because of huge donations? I would think the latter. Should be we mad at HSUS? Not really, in a way I respect them. They are better then we are at selling their agenda. Of course they have deeper pockets, but I think it’s as much about “selling” what they think. Let me ask you… When was the last time “our” message was on a late night show? How about a national radio show? Have we tried to reach out to these news organizations to “sell” our message? Not that I’m aware of. Truth be told, I have tried personally, but I’m just a guy that breeds snakes. We need our organizations to do a better job of “selling” the public on what we believe and know to be the truth.. There is no victory here…. We lost four species of snakes from our hobby. We should not be chest pumping that we saved anything… I’m a supporter of USARK and PIJAC and I can not imagine how hard their job is, but we can not try to spin this as a victory. This is so far from a victory it’s not even funny.
For people that have been in this hobby for as long as I have, you might remember that this hobby was born from the explosion if the Burmese Python market. That’s right, if it wasn’t for the “investment” boom of albino, green, labrynth, and other Burmese Pythons in the 90’s this hobby would look completely different, yet we can sit here and say that it’s okay that we just “lost” them for the rest of eternity? Well, I’m not calling this anything but what it is. We got our asses kicked by the other side…. Now the question is, are we going to do something about it or are we going to continue business as usual? Because if the best we can do is send emails off to the president then we might as well give up now. Do you think our president cares one bit about your “big” snakes? Come on people…. wake up. We have to change peoples perspectives on snakes and what they mean to all of us. We have to educate the public on the income they bring into this country, the jobs they create. I’m not bashing the organizations for dropping the ball, they did the best with the hand they were dealt. I’m just saying if we as a community don’t start joining together and stop the bullshit that we have been doing for the past several years, then we are all doomed and we might as well give up now. If people in this hobby spent 10% of the time they spend posting bullshit on the BOI about stupid shit and spent 10% of the time that people use lying about competitors just to make themselves look better and instead used that time on helping save our hobby, then USARK and PIJAC could actually have the resources they need to “win” these battles.
I’m so frustrated with so many things that have happened in the hobby in the past several years. The way it’s turned into a grade school mentality. This is not what it once was, when we respected others, we appreciated the success of our rivals. If we don’t get our shit together people there will be no hobby to protect ten years from now. I’m willing to do way more then my share…. But we have to all be in this together. I pray that this is the turning point where we can look back and say we started to take our hobby back. But that means we all have to change, we all have to do more. We have to be on the same team. You can’t tell me we can’t fund raise more? We can recruit people in the limelight better. I know for a fact that tons of celebrities keep reptiles, yet I have yet to see a commercial with them saying they like or respect reptiles… If we do not change public perception we are doomed.
I’ll apologize for my rant, but today feels like a look into the dismantling of our hobby. Is this the first domino to fall or are we going to stop this shit now…….
2012 high hopes and challenges.
I’m really not one to think of the New Year as a new start, after all it’s just one day after the last day in December and what really changes? With that said, I can see it as a way to put things in perspective, to kind of look back and inventory what the last twelve months have meant and what you hope the nest twelve will have in store.
There is no doubt that 2011 was the year of plenty of “highs” and “lows” for me and my business. I hate to admit it but there were probably more “lows” then “highs” in all honesty. Our production was not what we normally count on and I was not happy with the direction our company had been taking so we moved on from some of our crew that had been with us for a long time, which was personally hard to do, but the right decision to get things back on track. Bringing new crew on is always tough because I look at BHB as a family. We have been fortunate to find some key people that have really helped change the way we do things. Our production for 2012 looks more promising then ever. Of course there will be disappointments, but I think this will be our biggest year ever. We also have been trying to improve all other aspects of our business from a brand new website to bettering our quality of animals and service. It’s hard when things start to slip and you have to figure out how to get back to where you were before things started to go in that direction. When things start going bad it doesn’t happen overnight and the “fixes” don’t happen overnight either. We ended the last few months of the year working harder then I can ever remember. The turn around is slow but is obvious in the animals health and certainly worth the effort. To say I’m not excited to see how things turn out and looking forward to being 100% proud of my business like I had in the past would be an under statement. Again, it’s a process and we’re working our way through it as quick as we can, but I know that soon we’ll look back and be so happy with all the work that we have put into getting back on top of the way things run around here.
It’s not all about “my business, our hobby has been under major attack this past few years, but 2011 might have been the most pressure our hobby has seen to date. I don’t just breed and sell snakes, but I work hard for the community, if that means promoting the hobby or being involved with “behind the scenes” work to protect the hobby, I am all over it. I put a lot of pressure on myself because I love what I do and I love this hobby and I am willing to do whatever it takes to keep this hobby alive. I’m not going to lie and say there aren’t times when I think that going back to just worrying about “my” business and not having to have all the pressure of trying to be one of the “front men” for the hobby. It was a lot easier life, but I can’t imagine not being as involved if not more involved then I have been. The love of the reptile hobby drives me, even when the weight seems too much. Sure it sucks when you work so hard and you hear people bashing you for one reason or another, saying the our “show” is hurting the hobby when you see the people flooding into the hobby because of your efforts. But then I get all the positive feedback, the tons of emails, messages, comments and it makes it more then worth it. I just have to not let the negative drag me down, because I know that my heart is in the right direction and that’s all I can do.
We’ve been working towards a TV deal for more then four years, with our “web show” growing in popularity it seemed like it would be easy, but trust me it’s not. Finally a few months back a network “green lit” a project that we would be involved with. We hoped to be in production by fall of last year and as with the whole process we have yet to film one scene. Once again, I realize how tough this TV industry is… Our producer promises that we’ll be filming the very first part of this year and with any luck we’ll make it to the TV screen sometime in mid 2012. The biggest reason why I even care to do TV is to expose people to our “world” of reptiles. To open the doors for us to get our word out. Who’s out there representing our hobby to the masses? Sure there are some that are trying and even making some progress, but I want to be even louder then that. I want people to see our passion for what we do, so they can understand that these animals are not dangerous monsters. Sure, there will be people within our hobby that will “hate” our show, they will continue to say that when we get on TV that we are hurting the hobby because we will be doing some extreme things. I can bet you that chewy WILL be getting bit from time to time, we will be showing the “ugly” side of running a family business, but we’ll also be showing how much we love the animals and how passionate we are about working with then. You have to remember it’s a fine line between entertaining people enough for them to watch so you can get your message out and boring people to death and nobody watching and your show getting canceled. If we go down that path then what did we do to help our hobby? You “have” to stay on air in order to get your message out. I always say you can have the best message in the world and if nobody is listening or watching what difference does that message make? We’ll do our best to represent our hobby in the best light we can. Trust me, I do not take that lightly and will not do anything that I feel will hurt us in anyway. And with the exposure that hopefully comes with it, I will use it to really change the peoples minds that don’t understand what we , the reptile community, are all about.
As you can see, this next chapter in my life is full of change, full of possibilities, from getting our business back to the standard that I will be proud of to trying to lead the reptile revolution to the masses… I have my work cut out for me and there will be many many sleepless nights to go with my always long days. In the end it’s all of you guys and all your support that empowers me to live my dreams and fulfill all my desires. If there is such a thing as a “New Years resolution” then mine will be to try to make all of you proud of what we are trying to do. I thank you for being part of this and I hope to make you all proud in this new year!