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Idea !

Discussion in 'Herp Awareness' started by Dragoness, Feb 28, 2011.

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  1. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    With my upcoming move, I am hoping to do a lot more things, possibly start a small business doing educational programs using my animals. Now, I am thinking of also hosting a class (probably once a month) that if minimal charge (or free, if I can find a suitable location that I don't have to pay for) as an introduction to the very basics of reptile husbandry. I know many of the local pet shops would gladly hand out cards referring their customers.

    I'm intending to cover the basics, just so people can get their feet wet with herps, whether they are first-time owners, or just interested in the possibility of owning one, but want to learn a little more first.

    I'm hoping for a few hours (maybe 2-3 at most) to cover all of the following topics:

    Heating - Why heat gradients are important, appropriate heat sources for different types of reptile, etc.

    Lighting - Is your herp Nocturnal or Diurnal? Do they require UVB?

    Humidity - why it is important, how to get it right, balancing it with ventilation.

    Diet & Nutrition - the importance of proper diet, and results of improper diet. Calcium and other vitamin supplements. Also want to cover why F/T or P/K is so much safer than Live vertebrate prey for carnivorous reptiles.

    Common ailments, disease, parasites, and quarantine - Briefly discuss MBD, Mites, worms, stomatitis, RI's, etc. How they can occur, and how to prevent them.

    Enclosure layout - is your reptile arboreal? do they prefer to dig? how to lay out an adequate enclosure for your species.

    Dangers - things to avoid, from Pine, to calci-Sand, to Hot-Rocks, etc.

    I would intend to bring one of my herps to the class, as a demonstration, probably something small, so I can show how I have it set up, and why each feature is the way it is.

    There will be a lot of emphasis on learning the specifics of your species - this is just intended to give people a better understanding of things that may not have occurred to them before, and give them something to start with, and think on, and maybe help them to take better care of their herps.

    Can you guys think of any other important points I am leaving out (this is still just a brainstorm.)?
  2. mld

    mld Subscribed User Premium Member

    Wow, sounds really great!

    Building your own enclosure or purchasing one
  3. Dragonflies

    Dragonflies Banned User

    That's a very commendable idea Jen, I can see it being successful if you get the right exposure and start things off right..
    I'm not seeing anything you've left out, I think with this kind of thing you can't be fully prepared right off the bat, but you have all the basics so things should be easy to tweak once you get into it.

    I do have a couple of suggestions though.
    Consider getting an assistant, that gives you the opportunity to take more animals to demonstrate with, and it also gives you backup by spreading the load, sometimes it's hard (especially with handling animals) to demonstrate and talk at the same time.

    Get involved with schools if you can, even pre-schools have animals. A lot of classes have animals that aren't looked after properly. Getting into the classroom would help ensure these animals are cared for properly, and the information gets taken home to benefit the animals there as well.

    There's probably quite a market in doing demonstrations at birthday parties and suchlike as well. My nearest reptile store does this quite often, they have a set fee, then charge so much per mile as well.
    Note: If you went down this road, you could also get extra income by taking pictures of the kids holding snakes, lizards etc.
  4. aquarles

    aquarles Elite Member

    I wish I was in your area, I would so be there and would love to pay to take that class! I'm a first time snake owner and LOVE gaining all kinds of information about my snake and other snakes!

    Keep up the good work on this, I know it will be successful!
  5. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    Yes, shedding! Which herps eat theirs, and which don't, how it should go (snakes in one piece) and tips and tricks to assist with problems. Pillowcase trick anyone?

    Definitely emphasis on how easy it can be to build enclosures if you are so inclined!

    I'll probably end up referring people here, and using our care sheets.
  6. gapeachkatie

    gapeachkatie Elite Member

    I would put an emphasis on proper enclosure size. I hear people at pet stores telling other people a 10 or less gallon tank is fine for many herps all the time!
  7. missabrat

    missabrat Elite Member

    Sounds like a great idea!-

    good beginner herps vs. bad, and how the animal fits in your lifestyle(fed every day, can be left for several days at a time etc.

    Myths- reptiles don't grow to the size of their enclosure etc.

    Properly Locking the enclosure-all too often we hear about escapes
  8. Rob

    Rob Elite Member

    I'm sure the pet stores would be glad at first. Until they find out you're bashing their setups and half the things they sell. There is really no way around bashing these things and still giving a good program.
  9. Flint

    Flint Elite Member

    That is an awesome idea!!

    Few things I would definitely discuss:

    Financial expectations in herp ownership. One big thing I never expected was just how much vet bills can be. They get big, quickly lol.

    How to buy a healthy herp. Talk about the dangers of trusting pet stores. And the benefits of buying from a breeder or expo. And while each species has specific signs of health, there are general questions that should always be asked when buying herps. CB or WC? Last feeding? Last bowel movement? Last shed? Age?

    Beginner, Advanced, and Exp Only herps. No herp has this kind of tag on it, and no one likes to be told they are not ready for that really pretty snake in the pet store. The problem is, most pet stores will not tell them. People need to be shown that just because they saw pictures on the internet of someone snuggling with their fully grown nile monitor doesn't mean they can do that too. I would argue that any herp can be a wonderful and rewarding pet, but only to the right person. Corn snakes can be wonderful and rewarding to lots of people. Reticulated pythons require a special kind of experience and respect.

    edit- i started typing this then had to go to dinner, I promise i wasn't trying to steal your idea Missabrat :p
  10. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member


    Anyone know of any other common myths or urban legends that can be addressed? Another one that comes to mind is live mealworms eating their way out of a lizard.

    Security definitely - not only for keeping the reptile in, but keeping people out, which can be just as important. I know another member here just had her quarantined animals all infected because of the careless handling by family members, despite her wishes.

    Definitely! a list of what to look for that indicates health, and what indicates ill-health in herps. I know a lot of people will want to rescue or save the poor gecko from the store, but they should be aware that it will be an expensive undertaking (vet bills) and will encourage the store to continue their poor care.

    I could use examples of my own vet bills - just take in laminated copies showing the itemized receipts for various services, etc.

    Thanks guys, these are awesome ideas!
  11. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    And you might want to keep the sessions short. Maybe break them down into multiple sessions.
    Most people aren't going to sit still long enough for a 3 hour session.
  12. gapeachkatie

    gapeachkatie Elite Member

    These are the main myths I hear from idiot pet store employees:
    Snakes don't need to eat more than once a month.
    All lizards have legs.
    Lizards do not need a heat lamp.
    Fire-belly Toads are toxic enough to kill you through touch.
    Only Venomous snakes have teeth.
    All lizards need strictly vegetarian.
    Best of all:
    Reptiles and Amphibians make perfect pets for young children...

    I agree with that. I have trouble sitting through my 3 hour classes, and several people have trouble finding the time to take hour plus classes due to having young children and work schedules.
  13. mld

    mld Subscribed User Premium Member

  14. aquarles

    aquarles Elite Member

    Michele, i'm actually glad you brought the pet insurance up! I'm looking into it right now! lol
  15. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    Yeah, as much as I want this to be a beginner class, I know I'll have a hard time keeping it short. Much over an hour, and you need to have breaks for meals, snacks, restroom, stretching, etc. Maybe I'll do a course every month, consisting of 2-3 sessions all in one week.

    I want it to be accessible, very affordable (or free) so people will actually be inclined to attend. It will definitely be interactive - I will be taking a herp or two of my own to let people see, touch, etc, and demonstrate with. Will have props, like snake skins, pictures, etc. My goal is to get basic herp husbandry awareness to as many people as possible. I might be able to host them at a local library if I offer to do a few free programs for the library each month in exchange (another idea). At any rate, if this goes even half as well as I'd like it to, I will need to find a place to host the classes.

    A lot of people are going to have the mentality "why should I take a class if I can just ask the guy at the pet store everything I need to know?" I'm trying to figure out how I can get them to maybe consider a class. As someone mentioned, I can try my best not to bash the pet shops, but some things are unavoidable. Pet shops certainly won't want to refer people to me if I refer people not to use pet shops. I might start doing a booth at reptile shows to get my idea out there, if this goes well.

    Here is another question to pose - I am amenable to teaching all ages, but not at once. I think the class will be available to everyone, but require that children under a certain age (14?) have an adult with them. What do you guys think of age? A 6 year old probably won't enjoy a husbandry class as much as a teenager - and won't understand most of it. I don't mind if parents want to bring their kids, so the whole family gets the experience, I just don't want them dropping off 4 year old johnny thinking I am a babysitter, or expecting him to learn everything.
  16. Moshpitrockchick

    Moshpitrockchick Subscribed User Premium Member

    This sounds like a great idea and if you can find a good reputable pet shop to help sponsor you you would be golden.
  17. Dragonflies

    Dragonflies Banned User

    Just saw this on my local craigslist, thought it might be of interest to you. I know you are interested in doing things from an educational standpoint, but doing parties would help finance the educational aspect.

  18. missabrat

    missabrat Elite Member

    I agree on an age limit, I would definitely set it for 14 or 15 and above, with an adult for anyone younger.

    Has anyone mentioned how to properly handling a reptile, supporting body, don't pick up by the tail, jerky movements= possible bites etc. not allowing large snakes around the neck, lizards on top of the head etc.
  19. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    And I would cut it off at about 10. Much younger than that they are too fidgety
  20. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    Good points!
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