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Thread: Keeping reptiles before the Internet

  1. #1
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    Keeping reptiles before the Internet

    How many of you kept reptiles before the Internet was a thing? Any crazy stories? Thoughts on internet, good and bad for the hobby?

    I remember when your knowledge of a particular animal was based strictly on the info your local pet store employee(s) could give you. If you were lucky, someone working at the pet store was into the reptiles you were into. You were really lucky if you had a store that sold reptiles only. You were extremely lucky if they had a book or magazine on your reptile. Most times it was just general info about feeding and “here buy this light to keep it warm.”
    I know this still happens today, but before the internet your local store is where the info basically stopped. I remember going to the library to get info, but the info was always so outdated it was silly. For the general public, there was NO other way to learn about your exotic pet. You basically had to know someone who knew someone that knew about your particular species.

    In the late 80's I remember going into a feed store when I was fifteen and seeing my first monitor lizard. I noticed a small dark purplish black lizard with yellow stripes and spots sitting at the back of a small glass aquarium. I had never seen a lizard with colors like that. I was familiar with gila monsters (I lived in the southwest) but the only other large exotic lizards I knew about were iguanas. I asked if they could open the cage. I immediately reached in and grabbed the lizard. I remember when I quickly snatched the lizard the lady started to say something but stopped. I had the lizard in my hand as I looked over at her and she was looking at me. Thinking back, I’m certain she was going to tell me it bites but I already had it in my hand. So here I stood with this beautiful little lizard and it was eyeing me. It flicked its tongue out and seeing that dark forked tongue sold me.

    I had that Nile monitor for about a year in a horribly cramped homemade setup, feeding it twice a week if it was lucky. All husbandry pointed towards keeping it like a snake. How it stayed alive that whole time is a testament to the tenacity of monitor lizards. I eventually offered it for sale by putting an ad in the local paper. The best thing that ever happened to that lizard was I sold it.

    Since this was a longwinded post, here are two random pictures of pictures of a water monitor which was my 2nd monitor (before digital cameras were offered to the public)

    010316 004.jpg
    010316 002.jpg

  2. #2
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    Don't apologize for the length of your post, Chris. It is a great topic of discussion.
    We got our first bearded dragon in those dim dark days pre-internet. The only information we had was from the seller, and from the local aquarium shop , that also sold reptile supplies. The only books available from the library were old, and from America; there was nothing written about Australian reptiles by Australians unbelievably. Luckily, the advice we did get was good, as the beardie lived for about 12 years. Looking back, probably the only thing I would change is not use a CHE, as I was recommended to.
    Now, we are at the other end of the spectrum with an almost information overload, lol.
    It's an addiction!

  3. #3
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    Agreed, I love seeing a post like this

    My first experience being among reptiles in the house was back in 1975 (not my reptile as I was just a 7 year old kid at the time) but my brother bought a green iguana. I literally grew up with that wonderful iggy. My brother and I were always out catching garter snakes in the school fields back in the day. At a time finding garter snakes was still a fairly easy thing to do in the city. Despite having absolutely no such thing as a home computer or the internet back in those days, his info was all taken in by the pet store he bought that girl from. And despite having what would be considered horrid care advice in todays standards, that iguana lived to the ripe old age of 27 years old. He did make a pretty nice cage for her but not as appropriate as you would see true iguana enthusiasts make for their animals in todays standards. She must have had some great genetics to have had such a long life because it certainly was not due to his care, although he did love that iguana with all his heart and soul....he doted on that girl her whole life. It was a great experience growing up with a reptile and I'll never forget her. It sucks that we didn't have a camera because so much of her life is just a memory in our minds. Hardly any pictures.

    I personally didn't keep any of my own until my early 20's. I got a smooth green snake and it was the same type of thing. I bought a few books at the store and went off of what the pet store told me. The poor snake was doomed because the clerk was just feeding me bs info and I was completely ignorant in proper care otherwise...even that books were quite outdated. I later got a leopard gecko (still in my 20's at the time) but because I was so young and not settled into any sort of permanent living arrangement I gave the gecko to my friends friend who bred them after a few years of keeping him myself. I didn't get back into having reptiles again until my 40's and started off with a few adopted snakes from a reptile rescue. This was when everyone had a computer and researching the animal in my care was a lot easier. That led to fostering a savannah monitor for them once and since then, monitors have become my passion. I still have all the snakes I had adopted over the years but my main love is my monitor lizards.

    As crazy as it is with this day and age of info at everyones fingertips, there is still a lot of ignorant people out there (intentional or not) because the amount of info available is geared towards what makes a sale. Easy to care for sells rather than the proper supportive conditions, so there is still a lot of crap passed around. And the insatiable appetite of the pet trade is not making things any better either. Ever since Jurassic Park movies came out, everyone wants their own badass mini dinosaur of their own regardless if they know the first thing about how to care for it

  4. #4
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    "dim dark days pre-internet" lol nice. Did I help paint that picture? Pine, I agree with you on the information overload. That's why forums like these are so important. Reptile husbandry is changing constantly and what we believe is correct one moment can change the next. Forums like this can help people separate the wheat from the chaff.
    Lori, to have an iguana for 27 years is awesome. I don't personally know a single person that has kept a lizard that long. I tip my hat to your bro. For you to be using your local reptile rescue tells me you're resourceful and really care about your animals.

    I don't want to make it sound like "oh man you don't know how bad we had it before this internet thing came out" lol. The hobby was just as fun. People were breeding reptiles long before any computer stuff and many were making a living at it. Information about care just spread at a slower pace. Speaking of forums, did any of you belong to any hobbyist forum during the dial-up days? A time when if you posted a few pictures you were courteous and added "pic heavy" to your post title so everyone knew to click on your post and then go make a sandwich, go to the bathroom, and take a nap before coming back to see if the pictures loaded up yet. fun times.

  5. #5
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    Here in Australia, back then a lot of reptile breeding was hit and miss. I do believe that proper monitor care and breeding was developed overseas before here.
    Never joined a forum until a few years ago. Occasionally searched them for information though. Besides the great way to share correct techniques and info, the forums have been excellent for making friends in the hobby that may not have been possible without the internet.
    Lol, and just what did we do in general before the internet? How did we know anything before Google or Wikipedia?
    It's an addiction!

  6. #6
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    Haha I was not really a part of forums until I got back into reptiles again when I was in my 40's. My first home computer was bought in 2001. I was using it mostly for web surfing and fun little online games, not really a part of any sort of group of like minded people. Chit chatting with local friends instead of actually calling them on the phone or seeing them in person like I used to. Weird thing to see the world trade center attacks happening in real time as I was just getting up for work that fateful day. I thought the internet was weird and I was reading some sort of spoof or internet joke because my head was still so foggy from just getting up.

    My reptile experience prior to even getting a computer was I was me and my brother were the only weird ones with them. Then I was the only weird one out of my group of friends to keep them. But rarely did we have the chance to sit around and talk reptile talk. I joined my local reptile club forum when I got back into keeping snakes, but it was a really low key forum...nothing worldly with advice or care at all. It wasn't until I got to foster that monitor that was surrendered to the reptile rescue where I began to get serious about reaching out to the world in terms of expanding my own knowledge and the need to learn more. The rest is history.

    I have met some of the most respectable people through monitor forums and groups, I feel quite lucky actually to have found myself on this path not only because of the passion I found in keeping monitors but the privelige it is to have gotten to know some incredible people out there who I can relate to on many levels

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