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Very long! But has to do with getting my first retic in 1977

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Posted by BrianSmith on April 27, 2003 at 13:47:30:

In Reply to: How did you guys know you were ready for a retic? posted by JeffG on April 27, 2003 at 07:14:17:

My story is a little different that most herper's stories, so I am by no means posting this account as "how it should be". But I caught the reptile fever at a very young age. It started with catching lizards, of course, as a very young boy, probably at the age of 5 or 6. Alligator lizards immediately became my favorite as they were the meanest and bit the hardest. I got my first gopher snake when I was about 7. He was awesome, and he ocassionally bit, but to me that only added to my excitement. I'll never forget the first time I popped teeth out of a gushing wound to my friend's amazement. I now had the obsession and had to have everything. In my young mind I had no clue as to what a "species" was, or how many were where. I had to go by what my mother knew,... which turned out to be next to nothing. It was during that year that we went on a family outing in the local mountains. Sometime during that day I was walking away from "Camp" to take a leak and I almost stepped on a baby rattlesnake. I had no idea what this tiny little, highly aggressive thing was, but was amazed by it instantly. I called out and the others came to see what it was. That's when I learned that it was a "deadly rattlesnake" and boy was I hooked. I had to have it. I begged and pleaded and probably cried with frustration all the rest of that day. My mother, who was terrified of snakes kept saying "no". But towards the time we were supposed to leave, her boyfriend of that time, who was a very cool younger guy, gently talked her into it. I will love him forever for the huge role he played in my future with reptiles. It was this little snake with one tiny little pre-button that is directly responsible for what direction my life took. Why? Because it was that snake that made me crack open the Encyclopedia Britanicas and obsessively seek knowledge about snakes. And what I found blew my mind. All these other snakes around the world,.... some that reached 30 feet,... I was in heaven. And I had to have them. My memory is a little fuzzy, but I think this is the order in which I got my first boids,... When I was about 10 I got a Boa Constrictor for a birthday or christmas present. Not too long afterwards I got another boa as a mate for the first. (though I knew zero about breeding or even that they could, or even how to sex) (it turns out they were two completly different species, lol) Later that summer I learned of a pet shop a few cities over that kept and sold pythons. So I stole my sister's moped and with a friend on the back we rode the 20 or so miles to see these snakes. As I was about 11 this was quite the adventure for me. When we reached the place and I walked back to see the pythons I saw my first burmese pythons. By this time in my life I had absorbed all books had to offer and so I knew a good chunk about these snakes. I remember being amazed at how tiny they were. Plus, they were 80 dollars, a lot for a kid to have in the mid 70's. And my family was pretty poor. Fortunately for me this was the year that I learned how to make my own money and after a few short weeks I had my 80 bucks. Again I stole my sister's moped and I went to get my burmese. I was SO excited. The girl that worked there (whom I envied to no end) told me that the python was a female and showed me the spur area and lack therof. I was overjoyed to say the least. I had read about females becoming larger than males and this was what I wanted. So I got my burmese. I took really good care of her and she was over 10 feet at 2 years old (a lot to me at that time). But back to my first retic,... About a year passed after getting "burmuda" and in that time I got several more burmese and scores of other snakes, mostly rattlers, but still no retic. I would go into that pet store at least once a month to see what they had and finally one day they had retics. I remember thinking that they were quite ugly in comparison to the burmese, and extremely skinny. I wasn't drawn to them in the same way. But to have another species of python,... I still had to have one. The prices had gone up and now the pythons were well over 100 each. I didn't have that much money. I hate to admit this, but I stole my first retic. When the girl was out of sight I opened the cage, reached in, grabbed a retic and shoved it under my shirt. It was biting the crap out of me, but I walked out with a stolid expression and said goodbye as I passed the girl. I rode home on the moped with one hand, the other bleeding badly from a very fierce retic biting it. I kept him under my shirt to keep him from getting cold. I feel bad to this day about stealing him. It was not a planned thing. It was just a sudden desperate need to have a retic, and I was 12. If that pet store wouldn't have gone out of business a year or so after that I would have certainly gone back at some point later in my life and paid for that snake. At that time I was a sociopathic thug and didn't care much about right and wrong. Anyhow,... as most everything in the 70's was imported this retic was mean as hell and he stayed mean. He never ate enough to really grow noticeably or gain much weight and I think even after a couple years he was only about 6 or 7 feet and as big around as a garden hose. He was quite the escape artist and would continually get out of whatever I kept him in. And one day he got out and I never found him again. It still haunts me how he must have died one cold winter because of me. Throughout the rest of the 70's and through the 80's I did acquire and keep many more retics and burmese and countless other species. As I got older and more responsible my care and housing for them also evolved and improved. By the early 1980's I learned that there was little trick to breeding them and it was not long before I was making good scratch at breeding pythons and boas and other species. The rest is history. Sorry for the overly long post. I just really felt the need to tell my story and how it all led to my first retic. Hopefully younger herpers can learn from this that I was actually not ready to own them at 12 and as a result one got out and undoubtedly died a miserable death.

:Since first seeing retics i have been in love with them. This happened with a few other species of snakes i saw as well lol. I would love to get a baby retic but i dont think im i? What did you guys do to prepare for him/her? What housing steps did you have to take? Where do you get food and how often are you feeding?

: I know the generalized answers to these questions, but i would like to see what you fellow herpers are doing. I dont think im ready yet, but i would love to add a retic to my collection someday later on.

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