As the story goes, as it is for every rescuer, I have loved animals for as long as I can remember. I would rescue frogs and salamanders out of my in-ground swimming pool on a daily basis so they didn't drown, and I would make sure someone was there to do it if I was not able. Of course my friends were terrified of the fact that I absolutely loved amphibians, which I could not understand their disgust, but I did it anyway. I am hesitant to say it, but I was always a little excited when I was able to rescue a snake out of the pool, because we did not get to see many scaled reptiles in Minnesota. When the pool was no longer used, I was a little saddened, yet a little relieved that my daily job was over!
After high school I attended college and majored in biology with an emphasis in animal science. I then obtained my A.A.S. in veterinary technology with an emphasis in exotic and wildlife medicine. I further studied avian and reptile medicine on my own time, which is when I realized how important it was to educate the public about their care. As I worked at a veterinary clinic that saw exotic animal patients, it saddened me to see the lack of compassion given to a reptile just because he had no fur, and therefore was tortured to death very slowly and painfully. Of course the owner didn't know that they were doing it, but the ignorance was the killer and after seeing so much of that, I do not believe ignorance to be excusable anymore. So, I decided I would try to educate the public about exotic animals, or any animal for that matter, as much as I am able.
Feathers, Fur, Scales and Tales is currently an LLC, in the process of becoming a 501(c)4 non-profit organization, which differs from 501(c)3 by allowing lobbying for animal rights.
Aside from rescuing and relocating exotic animals, mainly reptiles and birds, we also visit schools to try to educate children, and hopefully their parents, about how difficult these animals are to take care of in captivity. We also breed certain reptiles.
Why We Breed Reptiles
As I spend my time trying to dissuade people from owning reptiles as pets, many people wonder why I breed certain reptiles. The answer is simple. Reptiles are given very few rights an have very loosely monitored importation/exportation regulations, therefore the reptiles that are sold in the pet trade are taken from the wild, given the term "wild-caught." People are going to buy reptiles no matter what we try to tell them, but if we try to increase the amount of "captive-bred" reptiles on the market, the amount of wild-caught animals will slowly decrease. The problem with wild-caught is that these animals are taken from their home, the only thing they know, the place which they could have lived many years, then they are placed in a container for sometimes months at a time with no food or water. Many times there are hundreds of other reptiles piled on top of them, causing a vast majority if them to suffocate and die. They are held at these holding stations in other countries for several weeks or months without food or water because the exporters want the weight of the shipment to be as light as possible. When the animals arrive to the quarantine stations in the U.S. or the other countries to which they are exported, most of them died of starvation, dehydration, being crushed from the weight of those atop of them, etc. Most of them are in such poor shape that when they finally make it to a pet store, and then to their new owner's house, they last for a month or so. The reason they can live so long in these conditions is that reptiles, unlike mammals, are able to survive for long periods of time without food or water, though internal organ damage can result. This ensures their survival in times of environmental troubles in the wild, but ensures for a long, tortuous death in these horrible conditions in captivity.
Captive bred animals do not suffer so horribly and they can survive for years in captivity compared to a wild-caught reptile. Captive-bred reptiles cost more than wild-caught reptiles and therefore the people who are buying them and the people who are selling them tend to be more educated about their care, or at least willing to learn about their requirements.
Our goal, in this area, is to breed only those animals that are imported/exported in the greatest numbers and therefore suffer greatly.