My level of nerdiness!

Most people that know me, will know me for being a plant guy, and an insect guy, or perhaps both. For a long time, however, these were only a side project. Something I decided to pursue as a means to make a living – perhaps not the wisest choice, given the low success rate – because the number one passion had an even lower chance of success. Reptiles, and snakes in particular, are somewhat of a core part of me. I have kept reptiles since I was six years old. Snakes since I was ten. It took me four years to drive my mother nuts and convince her I needed snakes in my life. Reptiles never left, so that’s almost thirty years of reptile-keeping.

I used to be pretty outspoken about my reptiles. I was obsessed with them. In primary school I made some friends that had similar interests, and a good click. Then when I was about ten, I moved to the other side of the country, and arrived in a new world. A world where I was not understood. A world where I was laughed at, ridiculed, and bullied, because I was different. I was not one of the soccer kids. In my free time, I was monitoring local frog and lizard populations, thinking that I was their local guardian angel. (I wasn’t, nothing could protect them from dumb actions from municipality and water boards.)

At high school, it was pretty clear that I wasn’t going to make friends with my reptile enthusiasm. This was around 2001, where internet became somewhat of a real thing. I developed a life in a parallel universe. Online I found like-minded people that were like me. People that wouldn’t shut up about reptiles. People that had encyclopedic knowledge of species, distributions, and behavior. I’m high school I did absolutely nothing related to school. I spent every waking hour reading or talking online about reptiles. I made friends that I still am connected with to this day. When I wasn’t doing that, I was hanging out with a small group of friends. I wouldn’t talk about reptiles, they would tolerate me in return. I’m no longer in touch with most of them these days. I learnt the hard way to shut up about my passion. Most of the people I talked to online, were far away. Although I met several a couple of times a year on reptile events, I had no close-by fellow obsessed nerds, like me.

I sort of accepted that the crazy level of nerdiness that I expressed, was a rare trait that I wouldn’t encounter often. And so for the past fifteen years or so, I have not really shared much about my love for reptiles, and many people that know me well, may not even be aware that this is ‘my thing’.

Today, for the first time in 15 years, I met two people that were exactly as crazy as me. They wouldn’t bloody shut up about their reptiles. What great people! It’s probably not surprising that I met them when I picked up a couple of new animals for my collection. It’s not every day you get invited to a basement that must have had 500 snakes, kept under perfect conditions. These people were completely and utterly nuts about their snakes. I spent around an hour with them, and this certainly was one of those ‘kid in a candy store’ moments. For the first time ever, I was invited to a reptile nerd club! A reptile Stammtisch!

The best part? They breed great animals, and are only half an hour away from me. I may have to spend a couple of hours there at least every breeding season…

Below a couple of horrible pictures of my new lovelies. These ones are already pretty as they are, but also include a bunch of greatness behind the scenes, being heterozygous for a range of fun genes that will make for great breeding projects in the future.

Caramel striped female
Caramel striped male
Pied-sided amelanistic bloodred male
Pied-sided bloodred female

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

2 thoughts on “My level of nerdiness!

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