Who has influenced your herping hobby?
Our “Creature-Teacher-Winner” contest comes to a close in this issue. As is so often the case when we hold a contest, we were happy with the results, though many great entries always makes it harder to choose one winner. Check out the contest on page 50. I hope you’ll agree that the official REPTILES Creature Teacher deserves this lofty title!
It was terrific to learn about so many teachers who help their students learn about the natural world using herps as examples. There’s no denying the inherent fascination of these animals as well as the enthusiastic response they typically bring about in people. It’s no wonder herps can be instrumental in the classroom.
Teachers are well-situated to develop interest in reptiles and amphibians, and other people can assume this role, too — especially these days. Hundreds of reptile breeders and professionals are within easy reach via the Internet and reptile shows. In my case, it was pet store owners who played a large part in my herp hobby development. I became hooked after encountering herps in the woods as a kid and through books, such as John Breen’s Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians and a series of early care guides titled Enjoy Your Turtle, Enjoy Your Newt, etc. But it was store owners who opened my eyes to new animals. This especially took off once I moved to California in 1970. I suddenly came across cool herps I had never seen before, including the desert iguana (Dipsosaurus dorsalis), yellow-spotted river turtle (Podocnemis unifilis) and other no-longer-common species. The owners of the stores I frequented would often point out new animals for me to drool over.