Like most of us in herpetoculture I have been interested in animals my whole life. Being born and raised in central Florida there was no shortage of reptiles to be found. My sisters and I spent plenty of time catching and attempting to keep green and brown anoles, 5 lined skinks and a variety of other animals that could be found in our back yard. But it wasn’t until 2004 that I purchased my first pet snake, a female Ball Python I named Chloe. I was 19 years old and I bought her at a local pet store. Some might say it was all down hill after that.
I immediately became fascinated with providing the right husbandry for her and began devouring every bit of literature I could find on reptiles, both caring for them in captivity and how to find them in the wild. It wasn’t long before my small apartment began filling with all kinds of different species and I was spending every waking moment either learning about new species I wanted to care for or learning about new places to go find new species in the wild that I hadn’t seen before. My sudden infatuation with reptiles led me to discover all kinds of things I never knew existed right in my back yard, from animal education and research facilities to state and national parks, it was like a whole new world had been opened up to me.
As is the case with many young people that get into this hobby it took me a little while to realize that I couldn’t keep and breed every species of animal on the planet so I eventually focused on one, and for me at the time it was sand boas. They were small and compact and I could breed many different species and color mutations of sand boas in a relatively small space. I loved being able to create and refine rack systems for higher quality care, come up with record keeping and data collecting systems so I could see what different trends arose in my colony over time and most of all being able to have animals from multiple generations that I produced myself.
As time went on and I got a few years of breeding experience under my belt I found that one of the biggest things I loved about breeding snakes was learning about genetics and the science of embryology. Unfortunately at the time there were only a few color mutations that existed in sand boas and so there weren’t many genetic combinations that could be made.
In late 2007 I accompanied a friend to go pick up some Ball Pythons at Greg Graziani’s house. I had seen plenty of Ball Python morphs at the shows, in magazines and online but seeing hundreds of morphs and combos in person and all in one place was incredible. Much like myself, the reptile hobby had led Greg to a love of the out doors and a love of science. He had multiple genetics books on a bookcase by his desk; we talked for hours about genetics and the role they play in the Ball Python hobby.
That was it, I was officially bitten by the Ball Python bug! By the fall of 2008 I was pairing up my first few Ball Pythons for the breeding season. Collecting the eggs was a blast and 60 days later when I saw those cute little heads poking out of them I was hooked!
In 2009 we started WHS Reptiles, LLC as an official business. Our first major purchase was a male Mimosa from Brock Wagner. It was pretty nerve wracking gambling such a large quantity of money on the Ball Python hobby but we knew that with out the risk there could be no reward (besides, who could resist an orange snake with black button eyes?). Brock was great to work with, he was always available to answer questions and he gave me a lot of valuable advice, something many other breeders at the time were not so quick to do. My experience buying from Brock taught me a lot about just how much real customer service and customer support means in this business.
Currently, my wife Ara’Beth and I live in east Orlando near the University of Central Florida where she studied business management and I studied evolutionary biology. We live with our two beautiful crazy twins Jackson and Sagan, dog Lily, Steve our Blue Tongued Skink, and a few hundred snakes. We don’t have a large building or a mega facility with thousands of animals but we do have a small genetically strong collection of healthy Ball Pythons, Rainbow Boas and Carpet Pythons that we work with daily.
It’s hard to believe just how drastically the purchase of a single Ball Python changed the direction of my life, but it’s what makes me believe so whole heartedly in this unique little hobby of ours. I have met hundreds of scientists, researchers, teachers, doctors, zoo curators, veterinarians and people in many other professions that impact our daily life who can track their interest in science back to that first pet reptile. For me, WHS Reptiles isn’t just about producing new genetic combinations and quality pets for people to bring into their family; it’s also about advancing the hobby of keeping and breeding reptiles.
Thanks for checking out the website and taking the time to read a little bit about me.