reptile collection

Just so you know, you matter a lot

[submission] I’m an animal person. Well, mammals specifically. Worked with them for years and never really *got* keeping reptiles, but I didn’t knock it. I live in one of those big apartment complexes with indoor hallways, and about a week and a half ago I was just chilling, minding my own business. I got up to grab a snack… 15 minutes into netflix and chill I walked by my foyer and a random noodle gave me this look

I….was…a bit taken aback. Reptiles aren’t my thing but I surmised he was A) not venomous and B) probably not from the united states east cost. 

I discovered he was scared but not aggressive and I figured he’d escaped from someone, and since I knew snakes needed to be kept warm I put him in my bra and went to knock on some doors. Nobody knew anything about him and eventually I went back, and looked up reptile rescue centers and the closest one was a hundred miles away. This was on a Sunday and I wouldn’t be able to get him there till Saturday, and I couldn’t just keep him in my bra for a week. I did a google search and came up with your normal rubbermaid and paper towel setup and…it seemed…idk. Reptile person I wasn’t, animal person I WAS and I decided to browse the tungle to see what I could see. 

I found your blog. 

I learned he had stuck shed like crazy, and that there was much more to keeping a snake than $20 worth of stuff from target. I also figured if I was going to shell out to give a temporary home…well…I’d just make it his permanent one. I didn’t have the chance to scour your blog as much as I wanted, since I felt bad for keeping him where he was for so long, but I went to the pet store and set up this

(it’s heated from underneath and 2 temp and humidity monitored) it’s not exactly what I want it to be, but I did what I could with what I had and since then I’ve made a few modifications (bigger water bowl for a start) 

I’ve been all over your blog and your frustration with the people who claim ball pythons are completely sedentary are starting to anger me too, because from what I learned and what I can tell this dude is doing a lot better. 

The fact that there are people who just their snakes nearly immobile and tucked away astounds me. 

(ignore old tape, tank was sanitized and salvaged from apartment recycling room)

He climbs. Sometimes when I stay up I’ll take a peek at his tank and he’ll be all over his bamboo pole or plants or on his hide. 

He choses places to chill other than his hides (that’s a super low powered heat lamp I used to warm up my budgie for spray baths; wondered if he’d like some ‘sun’ on his scales)

He has, thus far, been nothing but an enthusiastic eater.

I went from seeing people collect reptiles like trading cards and thinking that was all there was to it, to being absolutely fascinated by this chill little noodle and loving to see what he’s up to . I went from complete ambivalence to becoming more and more passionate about proper reptile husbandry. 

You don’t have to post this, I just want you to know that for every asshole who should probably stick to those morimo moss balls, you inspire another person to learn everything she can about properly caring for these guys, enriching and monitoring their environment, and trying to make sure they are as healthy and happy as possible. 

You ARE making a difference.

I really dont have any words that describe how i feel, but this is one of the sweetest things anyone has ever sent me. Thank you so much for sharing!!!

For NTs: Manic Impulse Explained

It’s not what it looks like. It’s not wilful self destruction. It’s not a cry for help.

Imagine the most important moment of your life, the pivotal decision, the fork in the road that changes everything 

- accelerated.

So I want to instantly (this very hour) do a thing… this very, VERY important thing.

This is the thing that I have only realised RIGHT NOW is so incredibly imperative. I know it’s impulsive but it’s utterly, utterly brilliant. This is what I need to do. It’s such a great idea. Besides I’m young, this is supposed to be my time, I am allowed to be spontaneous! I can’t believe I’ve only just realised how much I really, really need to do This thing. This is absolutely what I was supposed to be doing all along!! I’m going to do it right now, no point waiting, I’m more sure of This than any decision I’ve ever made before! I have absolute freedom, I am without restriction, I will accelerate to euphoria and success.

Possibilities for ‘This’:

◻️ Drop out of college to pursue something I’ve never even heard of before.

◼️ Resign from a good job I actually enjoy.

◻️ Classic ‘Sex, Drugs and Psychosis’ brand of mania.

◼️ Viciously abandon every friend I have because ‘they’re holding me back’.

◻️ Literally run away to live with someone I’ve only just met.

◼️ Buy business supplies in bulk, for an idea I’m bound to have later.

◻️ Dump my boyfriend/girlfriend on a complete and utter whim, to revel in the turmoil.

◼️ Abandon life, buy a one way ticket to a country I have nothing to do with, have nowhere to stay, no way to get back and no money or safety when I get there.

◻️ Tattoo of something so profound I can’t even articulate why I want it.

◼️ Drink all the spirits in the house alone for literary ‘inspiration’.

◻️ Play with knives to feel the power of taunting mortality.

◼️ Seduce this romantically committed person, chronic boredom likes challenges.

◻️ Buy 14 pairs of these same shoes: it’s an investment.

◼️ Stop taking my meds because they’re stealing my potential. Manic me is the true me, they’ll take her away . After all, what if the Doctor’s are wrong? Maybe I function in a higher plane, all great innovators do, and there must be a misunderstanding.

◻️ Open water swimming, alone, at night, in a very angry sea.

◼️ Start collecting reptiles… I think I’ll start with five… I’ll be going to the shop now.

At the time these decisions don’t appear reckless, ridiculous, risky or wrong. They seem like the most sensible and obvious thing in the world. We are not attention seeking. We don’t have a death wish. Our ability to judge risk is just monumentally impaired and the urgency of these actions becomes overpowering. This is why unintentional death is so notably high in rapid cycling bipolars.

We are brave and inspired and running on double time to the people around us. We are the glorious and the invincible… and sometimes we are running into traffic for the joy of the adrenaline hit.

We’re hitting the ground running… hard… and usually in the face.

If you’re able to help us, please do, but know what you’re looking it. Stare the ugliness of mania in the face but know, with doubtless certainty, that for us, it is most beauteous thing, the most precious place we’ll ever be.

And it’s going to be heartbreaking to leave.


When Charles Darwin was off observing wildlife in the Galápagos Islands, he wasn’t just looking at finches. In fact, one of the most striking creatures that Darwin found was the Marine Iguana (Amblyrhynchus cristatus). To Darwin, this species was strikingly…stupid.

Marine Iguanas are necessarily dumb, but when Darwin and his fellow shipmates reached the Galápagos, the iguana species was so far removed from human contact that it didn’t consider them a threat. One of my favorite Darwin anecdotes is about the famed naturalist repeatedly throwing a single iguana into the ocean, only to have it swim right back to rest in the same place.

These are huge, huge lizards, reaching over a meter in length, so the idea of one being tossed into the sea is a bit of a strange one. It really does make one wonder what other animal species might be like without the constant threat of predation or disturbance.

Photo credit: Ash Boudrie

The Squad

1) Crowley - Mexican Black King Snake
2) Lucifer - Masque Ghost Lavender Stripe Corn Snake
3) Cas - Anerythristic Caramel Corn Snake
4) Lola - Amelanistic Corn Snake
5) Mammon - Carolina/WildType Corn Snake
6) Jake - Anerythristic Corn Snake
7) Lilith - Butter Royal/Ball Python
8) Bowie - Pueblan Milksnake 

Pepper has gone through her second shed with me!! I feel very blessed to have her as my first snake, so far she’s never missed a meal, had healthy shed, and no health problems. It may seem a bit soon, but the end of May, I may be getting one last reptile for my collection, a albino ball. Once I get that snake, I won’t be getting any more reptiles for a longggg time :)

I haven’t finished the next page yet, due to the turmoil in my life right now, but it’s in progress, and I’ve kept you waiting long enough.

You know when you’re nervous about doing something, and you hesitate, and then you do it, but its like your body decided you were ready and your brain totally disagrees?

I have these moments talking to my mother about my endless reptile collection. Or the rats I snuck home from Florida.

I think Noah’s having that moment here.

Anyways, I both love this page, and am so so happy it’s done and I never have to draw it again. I don’t know why but it was exhausting to work on.

Taking Care of Tortoise

by Mallory Vopal

Carnegie Museum of Natural History houses a living collection of animals that serve as important educational ambassadors in many of our programs.   Our Russian tortoise Natasha is part of this collection. She lives in the lobby of the Earth Theater where she is frequently seen watching visitors, climbing up on top of her log “house,” and digging in the coconut substrate in her enclosure. All of this activity causes her to work up an appetite, and the Lifelong Learning staff at the museum are tasked with making sure she gets the best diet possible.  

We go shopping for her food about twice a month and buy different types of greens to give her a well varied and nutritious meal.   This week, I purchased kale, endive, radicchio, and red leaf lettuce.  We prepare her meals for the whole week at once and store them for when we are ready to feed her.   Before serving, a little sprinkle of a special reptile calcium supplement is added to make sure she stays healthy and strong.  Purple radicchio is her absolute favorite, and she sifts through her food to find it first!

Mallory Vopal is Gallery Experience Manager at Carnegie Museum of Natural History and also manages the Living Collection.  Her animal husbandry background includes reptiles, birds, amphibians, mammals, and invertebrates.