Tutoring

Ashlee and I are quite the hit among families either at church or by word of mouth. Each week, we run the Sunday school class at our Church which we enjoy as much as the children do. Also, Ashlee is the greatest baby sitter in the world. She is literally booked weeks in advance so they know she is not taken by someone else. Ashlee and I babysit together and we are friends with all of the parents. I spend time with “the boys” and their dad either riding bikes or teaching them to shoot. We also love doing reptile shows and teaching kids what we know about reptiles. Ashlee can tie reptiles in with any biblical lesson and in the end have a reptile show for them. I have even been to birthday parties and school functions just for fun.

The other day, we were speaking with one mom about how her daughter, S is doing in school. It just so happened that she is not trying in school and her grades have been falling. God immediately lit a lift bulb in our minds. S loves reptiles almost as much as Ashlee an I, so there was only one solution… Harness that love for reptiles and turn it into motivation. Ashlee and I are so grateful to have the chance to guide the path of a young mind. Ashlee offered her tutoring services every Friday after school. Ashlee even told S she can become a “Professional Reptile Assistant” if she returned each week with a positive progress report. Of course S was excited about this proposal but Ashlee and I were even more excited. Now we get to teach S about reptiles, life science, discipline, work ethic and help with what ever school work she brings home. Also, to finish this amazing tutoring deal for S, she was given the chance to choose from 11 different reptiles as her own personal pet to study and take care of each Friday.

For our first session, Ashlee and I did not know exactly how our afternoon would go. When S arrived, I made her a snack and asked how her day went. When she finished we started on her school work. The only subject she needed help on was math. I have always been a visual learner so I grabbed all the nic nacs I could find for simple addition and subtraction questions. S’s eyes lit up when we had to solve an addition question about money adding up to 255 dollars and I was able to match the equation with cash dollars. After working for about 45 minutes on math she complained of her brain being “Fried”. I escorted her to our little reptile room that to her, was like a candy store. S was so amazed that she was actually going to become a “Professional Reptile Assistant.” We started our tour by going over the ground rules and each step of the basic care like spot cleaning and water changing. S had already seen our animals but she insisted on seeing them all today. I showed her all of the animals and explained in detail on how to pull water dishes in and out. I also showed her how to properly pull each individual snake out and safe handle them. After the tour, we began pulling out waters and spot cleaning all the cages. Ashlee and I are always on top when it comes to keeping cages clean so it was hard to leave turds I found this morning in for S to see what to do. S did not hesitate one bit in helping me clean. After about 45 minutes of tour and cleaning, I explained to S that she could pick one reptile that she could call her own. I did not let her choose from all of our collection but of course, she wanted Chloe, our 6 foot Boa Constrictor. I told her everything she would have to do for Chloe and exactly what she ate but she was not going to change her mind. I then started a life science session that would revolve around reptiles and more specifically Chloe. I started off with Linnean Taxonomy and the 7 stages of taxonomy. After that, we continued for another 30 minutes on the rest of her schoolwork. By the end of the day, S was able to recite 4 of the 7 categories of a Boa constrictor’s taxonomy and my reptile room was spotless.

In the end, I think we covered too much for her to take in in one day, but I think this is going to be a great experience for her. If all S gets out of it is a sense of responsibility and a good grade, our work will be successful. Maybe we will even be able to expand to more kids and even schools…what the future hold is not mine to say but what ever it is we will make the best of it.

Animal Hoarding

I could not help myself, I returned to the dreaded Annie’s residence. This time, my sister Jessica went with me because she is my only hope in finding a better home for one of these animals.

Before we went to Annie’s, I gave Jessica a tour of my reptile room to refresh her memory about what a reptile room should look and smell like. Jessica is a girl who does not really enjoy seeing snakes let alone picking one up but she still likes hanging out with her big brother with them. After our tour, I asked Jessica if she wanted a Beardie and she said she would love one. Knowing that I could easily get a hold of one, I decided to take her to Annie’s house. Nervous, Jessica stated she wanted to go. Jessica had seen my earlier blog post but I explained to her that she had to be as polite as possible when we went to Annie’s residence.

We arrived at Annie’s house and as soon as I could smell the Urine, I glanced over at Jessica to tell her but she had already made an awkward face. I pulled out my cell phone and instantly began recording our adventure. Annie immediately said “excuse the mess, i am just getting to cleaning this place.” I attempted to conceal my cell phone but she was in such a trans from most likely the smell, she did not comprehend what I was doing. We went straight to the baby Beardie cage. As soon as we got to the animals, Annie said she had to separate them because they were attacking each other. I looked into the cage and observed two beardies in each cage, I did not tell Annie that they were not separated. I continued recording everything she was saying in case I had to go to trial or something when I finally turn her in.

I really wanted to get as much of her animals as possible in the video and asked her to show my sister the Water Dragons. Annie then took us to a different room where she had the water dragons and when we passed the iguana cage, Jessica later advised she could not stand the smell of the iguana poop and urine mixed with the cat urine. This time, I noticed 4 cats that were an addition to the three from the previous visit. When we got to the Water Dragons, she had two males in a cage with three females. I asked Annie about each Dragon this time and she advised she rescued each one from our local pet store.

I could tell Jessica was getting sick of being here and I too was getting weezy So I decided to end our brief meeting. We left and immediately Jessica told me exactly what I had been thinking…Hoarder. I contacted the local Fish and Game Warden who happens to be a good friend of mine and advised him of what is going on. Now in reality, the animals have decent cage setups and enough food and water for all of them but it is not right. During our conversation, I advised him of the Desert Gopher Tortoise and that alone is enough to get them hooked. Here in California at least without proper documentation, the tortoise is a protected species. He agreed with me on what i have been feeling and is going to take action.

Just knowing that these animals are suffering the way they do made me very mad when I was typing my last blog and pondering on that fact. I do not know what is going to happen yet but as soon as I do, it will be on here.

Animal Hoarding

Now Ashlee and i own a lot of reptiles and critters. I love each and every one of them personally. Together we spend up to 4 hours a day just tending to there enclosures and handling anything that needs to be done. Between the two of us we really have our work cut out for us.

One day, Ashlee calls me from the pet store saying they want to give her a free bearded dragon baby. Of course she accepts it but the only problem was it did not have a tail. Someone had dropped off 20 baby beardies that because they were in a 10 gallon tank since birth resorted to cannibalism to survive. Not knowing who did this, I made room for the little guy and we nurtured him, Pascal, back to health and continued on with our lives.

When I was a police officer, I went to a lady’s house because she was “out of control.” Turns out, the lady was actually a friend of mine that I would see at the local pet store who also had a large collection of reptiles. Well, I arrive at this residence and as soon as I exit my patrol unit I smell the odor of urine and feces comic from the open door of this residence. I enter to find over 40 reptiles housed in only 12 cages. I was disgusted and explained to her family members what I thought was the problem. To me anything that was wrong with this woman was obviously connected to her reptiles. I also immediately assumed she was the baby beardie culprit and after talking with family members knew who the creator of Pascal was.

About 4 months later, I receive a phone call from this lady who I remembered from that incident. She, Annie, explained to me she was mad at the pet store for housing all the little beardies together and they had eaten each others limbs off so she quickly rescued them. Annie told me she wanted me to have one since she knew I had a collection. I just happened to be in the pet store with Ashlee and decided to show her what a real Hoarder looked like.

Ashlee and I travelled to Annie’s house and while en route, I explained to Ashlee that if she had any thoughts about us being reptile hoarders that she would soon be corrected. Upon arrival at the residence, we both smelled the pungent odor of urine and feces seeping from the front door. As we entered the residence, Annie told us she recently went to the pet store to find the had not been taking care of the baby beardies that she had given them. I asked Annie where they were and she pointed to a small aquarium that had 6 baby beardies. I immediately knew she was not seeing the critters as any sane human being would. However, I held my tongue and asked if Ashlee and I could have a tour of her reptiles.

Annie walked us to her dining room where the majority of the cages were located and what seemed to be a dining room table which was engulfed with stacks of boxes and just plain junk. She opened the first of 6 cages in that room which had two different lizards. A juvenile Chinese water dragon and a sub adult frilled dragon. I held the frilled dragon which seemed to be a little underfed but in a healthy condition. I then pocked up the water dragon which was well fed but at a closer look noticed it was missing a good portion of it’s upper lip and snout. I asked Annie why it did nit have an upper lip and she said he rubbed it off when it was outside in a cage. I placed it back into it’s cage and continue the tour.

Annie guided us around the mess of a table and showed us a second cage which had two more water dragons. Both I had recognized were from the local pet store. Annie told me she went to the pet store and saw these two dragons in a tiny little cage and felt she needed to “rescue” them from a terrible set up.

Now everybody keep in mind that the pet store does not feed and take care of animals as a pet owner does. That doesn’t mean the aren’t fed and healthy but it does mean the animals are there for a short time and are expected to sell quickly.

Moving on to the third cage, I observed four adult water dragons and a clutch of eggs. All of the dragons were missing the upper lips. I elected to hold each of the dragons and all seemed well fed but reeked of feces. Disgusted, set them down and continued the tour.

Just below that cage, the fourth cage had a single water dragon with the same snout problem. I decided not to hold that dragon because it had been urinated and dedicated on by all of the dragons above him. Still holding my cool, we continued. We passed by two other cages which had a tree frog and grass lizards. Both really were in okay condition.

Entering another room, she had housed two 4 foot iguanas and a desert tortoise in a 3 x 5 x 6 foot cage, to anybody who does not have an iguana that size is not exactly ideal for one iguana let alone two plus a desert tortoise that had iguana feces on it’s back. By the way, a desert tortoise needs a whole backyard and a place to dig not a 3×5 cage bottom. Oh and they are illegal to own in California.

To cut down on blog space, there were three other cages… Two with a total of 5 adult bearded dragons and one with a Kenyan sand boa. It should be noted that only the bearded dragon cages had lights and the boa cage had nothing but bedding. I did not get to see the bedroom full of geckos or all of her cats either.

In all, I was disgusted with what I had witnessed and could not believe her attitude toward all of them. Nearly every animal was considered “rescued” by her yet they all are suffering. I am good friends with the local fish and game warden as well as the animal control agency. I am going to see what I can do about giving all of these animals proper homes and hopefully save Annie from this addiction.

I guess all I am trying to prove is Ashlee and I have got it down!!!

Snake Hunts

Nature has always been something that I keep in touch with. Ever since I could remember I have either been camping and fishing or just spending the day in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

I am one of those people who loves to test limits. I love cliff diving and free climbing. I don’t believe in trails and will always take the hard way. But to me there is no greater thrill than to find a snake slithering across the road. As an unofficial insurance policy, I have a bumper sticker stating “I brake for snakes” although I have not had any close encounters with other drivers.

On an average week, I have spent probably 4 out of 7 nights driving around for around 3 hours just looking for snakes. Most nights I don’t see a single snake but it does not stop me from continuing on. This “snake season” as I call it, I plan on taking a lot of pictures and videos so I can show what goes on during my adventures.

It is weird to me that I have not seen anyone else out where I look for reptiles. I guess there aren’t a lot of field herpers where I live. It is a very exciting hobby and I hate the off season. In the end, I enjoy doing something that everyone else has not ruined yet.

I am counting down the days until I see my first snake crossing the road. I will be sure and document all of my adventures and keep everyone posted.

Hello

Hello,

My name is Joshua Dieterle (deeterlee) I was once a Police Officer for a now corrupt police department. I live in the central valley of California. I have a number of reptiles which I had collected over the years with my girlfriend Ashlee. During my time as an officer, I spent little time with our critters. For the time being, I spend literally hours each and every day tending to their well being.

The reason I am starting this blog is to document my work with these critters and hopefully entertain and inform who ever reads them. I am no expert by any means at what I do with our animals. However, I have researched each of my animals as well as performed several field studies of my wild caught.

Together, Ashlee and I have 9 hermit crabs, 7 snakes, 6 geckos, 2 turtles, a tortoise, bearded dragon, emperor scorpion and a savannah monitor. More specifically: a gopher snake, corn snake, viper boa, rosy boa, red tail boa constrictor, ball python, Burmese python, 3 leopard geckos, two golden geckos, two box turtles and a desert tortoise. I will go over names as I progress through each blog.

We have rescued several of our critters from inexperienced owners who would have most likely killed the animal if we hadn’t of shown up. The majority of our animals are used to educate and entertain people of all ages at birthday parties, school functions and any other group gatherings. I stress that I am not an expert by any means but I am however passionate about our animals and love to pass it on to others. I don’t claim to know everything but I am learning every day.

During the cooler parts of re year, I tend to focus on keeping all of my animals healthy and content. I do a lot of studying and online research about each of my animals. When the weather warms up, I spend hours walking around dirt paths and driving slowly around mountain roads hoping to catch a glimpse of the native snakes and lizards around our foothills. My focus with these adventures is to study the behavior of different snakes as well as thee personalities. I believe all snakes can be docile if they are treated right and tended to on a daily basis. It is getting over the first couple of days that’s the tricky part.

Anyway, I hope that you will enjoy the adventures I will share with you and use what I have to offer.