Those of you who have followed my patch the world account from the beginning in 2017 may remember a few members of my wonderful little menagerie…. particularly those of the scaly sort. I have been incredibly fortunate to have grown up amongst a huge array of animals in my family home, which of course fuelled my love of all creatures great and small.
However, there’s one group of animals in particular that have a big place in my heart….REPTILES! My dad’s love of herpetology meant that as a child I shared my home with lots of exotic creates such as snakes, lizards and so on. Fast forward to today and very little has changed. Today I am the privileged keeper of several wonderful reptiles (amongst everything else), most of which I have rescued or adopted.
Once I had finished university, I, like many, struggled to jump straight into paid conservation work, and thus focused my efforts on increasing my experience portfolio by any means necessary. I got a job as a HR administrator which believe it or not has served me so many skills that I am incredibly thankful for. However, when you love animals and the outdoors there’s nothing else that brings you as much fulfilment as they do. With an increasing passion for reptiles emerging, I realised that spending time with my animals was my sanctum. For me home is where the animals are! So naturally, I couldn’t understand people’s shudders whenever I spoke of them, or their confusion in me wanting to keep such ‘beasts’.
Now we all know that a huge factor of fear, or dislike even, is a lack of understanding. And, that the only way to change perception is to educate. So, that’s exactly what I did. I set up a business which saw me visiting nurseries, schools and hospices such as Acorns, to educate children and offer sensory sessions with my reptiles. For such fascinating, beautiful creatures, they suffer an awful lot of demonization from society.
Alongside this I continued to educate myself, which included a night out herping with the Bali Reptile Rescue team (you can read all about that adventure here). It seems there is a clear global pattern when it comes to public perception of reptiles. Of course, in deprived countries the negative stigma and fear is far greater. Partly because the species living in such areas are of a greater risk to humans if contact is had, but a huge factor is the lack of education. In such countries, safety is promoted through propaganda. This is the narrative I want to change by opening people’s eyes to the wonder world of reptiles.
A dream of mine is to one day develop my own project for the conservation of the Grass snake (Natrix natrix). In my spare time I have been studying previous papers and books written by fellow enthusiast of this stunning species. But all in good time. Fortunately, I have been given the amazing opportunity to join a team of people working towards the conservation of the slow worm and common lizard. I was thrilled to receive the email about the project and jumped straight in!
I am going to be documenting the whole thing through my blog, starting with my next post which will cover more about the project and how you can help. Its time to put reptiles back on the map!