Adam Wickens of Wickens Wicked ReptilesGrowing up in Ontario, Canada, Adam launched his very popular YouTube series, Wickens Wicked Reptiles, on January 14, 2019. Photo courtesy Adam Wickens

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Adam Wickens of Wickens Wicked Reptiles

Knowledgeable and funny, Adam presents with a dynamic screen presence and his channel has since grown to more than 296,000 subscribers

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Who do you get when you cross a bodybuilder, comedian, and reptile enthusiast who has a knack for producing quality YouTube videos? You get Adam Wickens. Growing up in Ontario, Canada, Adam launched his very popular YouTube series, Wickens Wicked Reptiles, on January 14, 2019. Knowledgeable and funny, Adam presents with a dynamic screen presence and his channel has since grown to more than 324,000 subscribers. In addition to enjoying the popularity of his videos, Adam has also become well known for his travels with Dāv Kaufman as well as frequent collaborations with other well known influencers in the reptile keeping community.

FR: Hello Adam and thank you for agreeing to participate in this interview.
AW: Thanks for having me Foster, it’s a pleasure to speak to you.

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FR: Growing up did you ever keep any reptiles or amphibians, or is this an interest that developed as you grew older?
AW: When I was a kid I was obsessed with dinosaurs. I quickly realized you can’t keep a pet dinosaur but these reptiles sure are similar, or at least it seemed. Then in kindergarten a reptile presentation rolled through and I was hooked. I wasn’t allowed to keep any pet reptiles as a child unfortunately.

Adam Wickens

Adam has also become well known for his travels with Dāv Kaufman as well as frequent collaborations with other well known influencers in the reptile keeping community. Photo courtesy Adam Wickens.

FR: What was your first reptile?
AW: My first reptile was a bearded dragon named Jackson. A friend from work needed to rehome him so I got all the stuff I needed to keep a beardie and that’s when I began my reptile journey at 19 years old.

FR: What was the first species that you ever bred?
AW: The first species I ever bred was for a leopard gecko project. I got a male leopard gecko named Cheech in 2011 and still have him to this day. He’s the father and I kept the first baby to hatch, I still have her. Her name is Littlefoot. Coming full circle here.

FR: They can live a long time. I still have a female from my original group that I acquired circa 1988. When did your collection really begin to take off?
AW: I had only three reptiles until about 2015. Jackson, Taz (another beardie) and Cheech the leopard gecko. In 2015 I got into hognose snakes and then ball pythons and more leopard geckos, and I was gifted a boa a few years later and just kept getting more and more involved in the hobby.

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FR: Which species are you currently focused on?
AW: This is a tough one to answer because I’m not really that type of keeper. My reptile family is diverse and that’s what keeps it fresh for me. Sure I have several leopard geckos and hognose snakes and some other species but the monkey-tailed skinks and Fiji banded iguana and the more unique stuff is a big focus of mine too.

FR: Brachylopus fasciatus is a species that can only be fantasized about keeping here in the US. During the course of your travels between the US and Canada have you noticed other species that are illegal in one country but not the other?
AW: I am very lucky to keep a Fiji banded iguana and honestly this may be the most beautiful lizard I have ever touched. My fantasy is the rhino iguana. Cyclura are not around in Canada but to have one would be a dream come true.

Wickens Wicked Reptiles

Wickens Wicked Reptiles has more than 300,000 subscribers on Youtube. Photo courtesy Adam Wickens

FR: Do you ever have any opportunities to sneak in some field herping?
AW: I don’t get out much for herping. Where I live there is very little to find and I usually save the herping trips for my travels.

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FR: Do you keep any other pets in addition to reptiles and amphibians?
AW: I keep three dogs. Aeris the Australian shepherd, Stevie the golden retriever and Flutie the pomeranian mix. I love these dogs!

FR: Many other popular influencers in our hobby also breed stock to sell. Have you ever given any thought to expanding into commercial breeding?
AW: Yes but not right now. Breeding reptiles in Canada is more challenging than breeding in the USA. Simply because there is a much smaller market, less shipping options, etc. So maybe one day, but right now I’d say I’m a “hobby breeder.”

FR: I could not agree more. Watching your videos, it is obvious that you do well with naturalistic, planted vivariums. Have you always had an interest in plants or did this element develop with keeping dart frogs?
AW:I’ve always been interested in plants and actually worked at a plant and flower wholesaler for most of my 20s. However the interest in more unique and rare plants is rather new. I’m a bit of a Troy Goldberg fanboy and watching amazing content about these cool plants and planted enclosures really sparked my interest more than before.

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FR: What made you decide to initiate a reptile-themed YouTube channel?
AW: Honestly it’s really lucky circumstances. A comedy promoter that I have done tons of shows for was talking to me one day and I told him I had three weeks between quitting my last job and starting my new one and I was bored. He said “You have a zoo in your basement, you have a camera and you have a big personality! Start a YouTube channel!” So I did, that day. The next day I uploaded my first two videos. I really believe I wouldn’t have even tried if it wasn’t for that conversation.

FR: That is a great story. Your videos are very well made, do you have any previous background in cinematography?
AW: Thank you, that’s very kind! I don’t have any background really. I did learn how to use iMovie and make silly little videos in high school Com-Tech class and was the video announcements presenter in grade 12 so I’d say that made me realize I liked video production. But truthfully my education came from watching YouTube videos about how to make YouTube videos.

FR: Beginning with the initial research and ending with the final edit, what is the average amount of time involved when producing one of your videos?
AW: It totally depends on the type of video. Sometimes I can rip through an edit in 8 hours if it’s a Top 5 video and all the B roll is easily found in my now massive archive. Sometimes a video might take two working days. But the travel videos, oh boy, those take a week or more. Very recently I hired a couple of editors and they do a great job editing some videos while I cut the more involved ones myself still.

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FR: Despite showing off cool herps, having fun on camera, and traveling the world, there undoubtedly has to be less glamorous aspects of your work.  What is a typical day for you?
AW: Well there certainly is a lot of work that goes into keeping so many reptiles and making these videos. Every day includes cleaning reptiles and feeding them. I reply to comments every single day, I answer messages and emails, and just regular business stuff and of course coming up with fresh ideas takes a considerable amount of time. Overall it’s a lot of work but I know what I signed up for and I wouldn’t change it.

FR:Who are some of the people that influenced you the most when beginning this endeavor?
AW: I’ve always been a big fan of Brian Barczyk and truly believe he’s the original guy who gave so many of us the inspiration to try this. I’ve also been watching guys like Mike Tytula, Lord Elion, Kenan, Reptilian Garden and so many more forever. It’s such a crazy thing to me that I now travel the world with some of the channels I used to watch as a fan before I started. I’m very lucky.

FR: What advice would you like to give to others aspiring to create a YouTube channel?
AW:I love answering this question. It’s really about one question; do you actually want to be a “reptile influencer” or not? It’s a lot of work and it takes a long time to get anywhere. If you’re serious, start today. I started the day I got the idea and if I didn’t I wouldn’t be here talking to you. Start right now! Setup your socials, the channel, create a logo or get one made today. Shoot and produce five videos and release them all at once so when someone finds one they have more to watch. It usually takes two to three videos watched for a viewer to hit subscribe. Next, figure out an upload schedule and NEVER EVER MISS A SCHEDULED POST! This is SO important. Once a week, twice a week, whatever, just never ever miss. Then get better at one thing every week. This week it’s audio, next week it’s lighting, the week after it’s editing transitions, then lighting again the next week. Just keep learning and getting better. Lastly, keep going. It took me seven months to get my first 1,000 subscribers and that’s fast. It’ll take a while but you must keep pushing. The grind is worth it. Look at me, I’m doing an interview in the magazine I’ve subscribed to for over 10 years.

FR: Are there any plans for creating future channels?
AW: I’ll be launching a new channel soon. It’s not reptile-related but I think my current audience will love it and it’ll appeal to a much broader audience too.

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FR: Wickens Wicked Reptiles obviously stands well on its own. This said, I am sure that many readers are going to want to know about your relationships with Dāv Kaufman, Emily Roberts, and many of the other popular influencers. How did these relationships begin? Were any of you friends or associates before the launch of your respective channels?
AW: I’m very lucky to call all of these amazing people friends. Before the channel I was just a fan. As the channel grew I started getting some attention and would notice things like “Clint’s Reptiles subscribed to your channel” and it would blow my mind! I travel with Dāv a lot and hilariously the first time I ever spoke to him was on a zoom call after a podcast on Brian Kusko’s channel. He and I have a similar sense of humor and we kind of tossed jokes or jabs back and forth and I think that made a good first impression and we became friends. I’d say the first Snake Discovery Build Off was huge for me when it came to creating these relationships. I met Dāv in real life and Emily and so many more for the first time. Even Dayyan from Reptiliatus I met there (In Minnesota) for the first time despite him living an hour from me here in Canada. The build off, the Canadian Reptile Breeder’s Expo and Barczyk’s AnimalConUSA were the main things that standout when I think about where the majority of the relationships I am so lucky to have started.

FR: Adam you are well known for your world travels with Dāv Kaufman. What is it like traveling with Dāv and what are some stand out moments from your adventures?
AW: Dāv is a character and traveling with him is a lot of fun. He’s a go-go-go type and so am I so I think that works well. He’s an expert planner and that makes the logistics of these trips go smoothly. Dāv is a seasoned herper, and good at it. I am not and I have terrible vision, so it’s usually a bunch of him finding stuff and me. . .  not finding stuff. But in Thailand we were looking for a species of flying snake. I wanted to find it so bad and he needed to find it to complete a video he was working on. We looked and looked, up in the trees, in bushes, everywhere. And as we walk to a restaurant at the edge of the National Park for lunch, Dāv walked right by this snake that is supposed to be rare and elusive and in a tree for sure… right on the concrete in the parking lot. I pointed at it and gasped “Dāv, what’s that!?” He turned around, exclaimed and we all made a mad dash to catch the snake to show the camera. I don’t find much but I did find the coolest species of the trip and the guy who sees everything walked right over it. We had a great laugh about it and it’ll be the feather in my cap forever.

FR: Comedy is an element that you integrate well on camera. Tell us about your background as a comedian.
AW: Standup comedy is my favorite thing on earth to do. Having a large group of people show a visceral reaction to something you wrote and crafted in your head and then delivered on a stage is like no other feeling I’ve experienced. I started standup a few years before the channel and I think performing on a stage with just myself and a microphone is an art that requires skill in improvisation and quick wits. It has really helped my YouTube career too. Plus it’s a lot easier to reply to negative YouTube comments with time to think when you’re used to having to shut down hecklers immediately. Comedy has made me a better YouTuber.

FR: Adam, the energy and enthusiasm for our hobby that you radiate on camera is infectious. Is there anything else that you would like to share?
AW: Thank you! I try to make the videos fun to watch. I hope we can all learn about reptiles together and if one person found the channel and was convinced to love reptiles because of it, all of the work was worth it.