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ID Press: Would you give a boa a home?

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Posted by: W von Papinešu at Sun Dec 23 17:53:51 2007  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by W von Papinešu ]  

IDAHO STATESMAN (Boise) 23 December 07 Would you give a boa constrictor a home? The Hutchinsons did. And when other reptiles or amphibians need help, Idaho's Herpetological Society is there.
Photo at URL below: Steve Hutchinson and his wife, Rhea Hutchinson, members of the Idaho Herpetological Society, hold Killashandra, a 9-foot, 37-pound common boa constrictor. The Hutchinsons, who live in Nampa, adopted the boa after its original owner could no longer properly care for the snake. They now use Killashandra in educational visits to area elementary schools. (Darin Oswald)
Humans don't dine in the Hutchinson dining room in Nampa. Reptiles and amphibians do.
Fifteen creatures - snakes, lizards and turtles, most of them animal rescues - live there.
The two exceptions in Steve Hutchinson's menagerie of rescued reptiles are a bearded dragon that he bought and a blood python he's fostering for a friend. Three "sweet cats" live in the house, too, but that's another story.
Interest in reptiles as pets ballooned in the 1980s, said Hutchinson, a volunteer with the Idaho Herpetological Society. Unfortunately, education about how to care for them lagged behind their popularity.
Some reptile owners, unprepared for the work of raising them, give them up.
Most members of the society, Hutchinson said, open their homes to the scaled, slithering, shelled and needy.
"People don't realize that while a dog or cat lives for 10 to 15 years, reptiles can live between 20 and 70 years," Hutchinson said.
He's 50 and fully expects his four rescued turtles to outlive him. At some point, he may have to make provisions for them in his will.
The society gets a call about a reptile in need about three times a month. Most recently, that call was from a man wanting to get rid of four reticulated pythons.
"Four babies," Hutchinson said, "one of the world's longest snakes."
Indeed. They can reach close to 30 feet.
Most homes are not set up for that kind of situation. A society member took in the young pythons.
Besides his job as a security aide at Nampa High School, Hutchinson spends 20 to 30 hours a week cleaning reptile cages, looking for homes for adoptable animals, doing public outreach at Zoo Boise and at schools and caring for his own pets. Does he know how to give a snake a shot? He does.
He wants to help the public know what to expect from reptile adoption and to dispel the myth that reptiles have no personalities.
They do, he insisted. Different reptiles have their own quirks, just like dogs or cats.
"Some are sociable. Some are not."
How You Can Help
The Idaho Herpetological Society includes people from a wide range of professions and ages with one thing in common, Hutchinson said: a firm affection for reptiles and amphibians.
The society needs volunteers to foster animals and help with public outreach and educational presentations.
The group meets at 7 p.m. on the third Sunday of every month at Zoo Boise. The next meeting is Jan. 20.
Contact Steve Hutchinson: 249-7428.
Would you give a boa constrictor a home?


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