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NV Press: Society unites enthusiasts

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Posted by: W von Papinešu at Wed Dec 22 11:41:29 2010  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by W von Papinešu ]  
   

GREEN VALLEY/HENDERSON VIEW (Nevada) 14 December 10 Society unites reptile, amphibian enthusiasts - Members aim to educate public about exotic species (Maggie Lillis)
From novice to expert, young to old, reptile, amphibian or human, all are welcome in the Southern Nevada Herpetological Society.
The nonprofit organization is dedicated to educating members and the public about everything reptile and amphibian. The society meets monthly to discuss the proper maintenance, treatment and breeding of the creatures. The group also discusses the history of the exotic animals.
But at their root, they're animal enthusiasts eager to pass on their passion to anyone with a desire to learn more.
"We have people who are professional zoologists, herpetologists and those who just own a corn snake," said Kimberly Foose, membership secretary and treasurer.
Foose's husband owns Exotic Pets, 2410 N. Decatur Blvd., Suite 160, the unofficial club hub. She, like many of the 200 group members, plays keeper to a host of reptiles and amphibians.
"I like lizards," Foose said. "A lot of people are amazed (these animals) are like a big dogs. They want to lie there and be pet."
Member Chuck Meyer keeps about 15 exotic pets, and although most eat only once a week, there are tricks to being a good owner.
"It's not as simple as a dog or cat," he said. "Each species has their own needs."
He's experienced his share of snake escapes and bites -- it took about two weeks to find in his finger 10 missing teeth from his pine snake.
"It's a little bit dangerous, which makes it exciting," he said. "The squeamish factor is kind of fun."
The group also fosters the future of herpetology, the scientific study of reptiles and amphibians. The Junior Herpers group is open to young people ages 4 to 17.
Todd Gadol-Tait, 14, and his family have filled their home with frogs, toads, geckos, lizards, snakes, turtles and tortoises -- and hedgehogs, cats, dogs, bird and ferrets.
Todd joined Junior Herpers last summer and tries to attend informational presentations put on by the society and show-and-tell events. He brought a few members of his collection to a club event at a nursing home.
He showed off his corn snake William, and his grandmother brought her turtles Thelma and Louise.
"It was a really good experience," he said. "A lot were telling stories of when they had pets."
He and his grandmother scour craigslist for pets in need. Todd has a soft spot for disabled pets.
"We have a bearded dragon that couldn't see and had broken legs. We had to hand-feed her crickets," he said.
Their snake, Alberto, was deprived of food and water by a previous owner and is still recovering from self-mutilating bite marks, Todd said.
Club board member and UNLV professor ML Robinson said he thinks common mishandling or abuse of the unique animals could be avoided by attending a Southern Nevada Herpetological Society meeting.
Most people don't take into consideration the longevity of the animals, which can be a death sentence for them when owners lose interest, he said.
"Some of the snakes can live 30 or more years; some tortoises can live 50 or 80 (years)," he said. "It's a long-term commitment. We want people to know what the commitment is."
The group is open to new members. Meetings are held at the Nevada Cooperative Extension, 8050 Paradise Road, Suite 100.
The club plans a San Diego Zoo field trip set for Jan. 14. The fee for transportation and a zoo ticket is $95 for adults and $85 for children 3-11.
The next main group meeting is 7:30 p.m. Feb. 4 at the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, 8050 Paradise Road.
For more information, visit snhs.info or call 203-0841.
Society unites reptile, amphibian enthusiasts


   

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