Talking to the normal people ? 

Why not share your interest with others - go out and about and talk about your beasts.

Talking to the normal people is something my daughter has banned me from doing (time and again)!

But seriously, why not go out and talk snakes to the public? There's a lot of people who have never seen them before, and it can be fun.

I myself do the lecture circuit to schools, youth groups and rotary clubs.

Here's my standard spiel:

"T minus 15 minutes"

We arrive and set up the heaters for the beasts and get organised.

When you are ready

We discuss phobias - it's OK to be scared !

"T plus 5 minutes"

We talk about why people keep snakes, and about the different kinds of snakes that are available.

"T plus 10 minutes"

North American snakes, grass snakes and adders, snake poo and why you shouldn't mess with an anaconda

"T plus 15 minutes"

South American snakes, boa constrictors

"T plus 20 minutes"

African snakes, royal pythons and why they can be awkward

"T plus 25 minutes"

Asian snakes, Burmese pythons, "sand pythons", and dodgy pet shops.

"T plus 30 minutes"

Containers & vivaria for snakes, heating and lighting.

"T plus 40 minutes"

Dinner time - how and what snakes eat. (Yuk!) and I demonstrate constriction !!

"T plus 50 minutes"

Skin shedding and which vet to choose.

"T plus 55 minutes"

"Hands on" sessions with the snakes. Meet the animals, and photos taken.

Talking to organised groups can be a very rewarding experience. Most people have never seen a real live snake before, and after a little chat and letting them see you holding a range of snakes, why not have a controlled "meet the snakes" session ?
It's always the same - the audience start off terrified with questions such as "Is it poisonous - does it bite ?" and end up fascinated.

Before you start - one or two tips:


Don't worry about being scared of talking in public. It really is easy - if I can, anyone can! Most audiences will be grateful that you've taken the trouble to come.


If you're taking snakes with you, be sure that they are in escape-proof containers.


Be selective where you go: giving an illustrated talk to the local Women's Institute in the church hall is one thing, running round the village fete chasing people with a fourteen foot long retic is quite another.


Don't travel too far from home - snakes can get chilled, especially driving home in the cool evenings.


Remember the welfare of your animals - bring along some way to keep the animals warm. Also ensure that the ambient temperature is OK - I only give talks from May to October.


Don't overdo it - once a fortnight is quite enough for the snakes.


Take an "assistant snake herd" with you - especially if your grand finale is to be that 50 feet long anaconda which, at the civic ball, ate the mayor's Rolls Royce.


Watch what you say - you might think that the pet shop up the road is a load of rubbish, but they will sue if you tell that to 400+ schoolchildren.


Watch what you do - if the punters learn and enjoy, they'll invite you back. If you just make them cry and then laugh at them, word will spread about you.


Money. Claiming money for travel expenses is quite legitimate. Charging for your time is a bit dodgy, and you may well be taxed on that money.

A word on legal liability

It's a sad sign of the times that people are very quick to try to sue for any trivial reason these days.

And, to be honest, if being fanged by a forty foot reticulated python isn't legitimate grounds to sue, what is?

I started giving talks in 1997 and so far no one's been bitten, but it is only a matter of time, isn't it? So what do I do to cover myself? I feel I have two options:

Either: Take out a third party liability insurance policy that probably won't pay out when my fifty feet long green anaconda eats the vicar at the church fete.

Or: Make it quite clear that liability rests with those inviting me to talk and restrict talks to those who are happy to welcome me on those terms.

I take the second option. Implicit in that is an understanding that I will only lecture to "organised" parties - having a "scare the public" stall at the garden party is not for me.

 So how do you get started on this game ? Have a word with your children's teachers and ask if they'd like to see your snakes. Get the kids to ask the youth club leaders if they fancy a snake night. Once you've done a talk or two, word soon spreads and off you go....

If you'd like to give talks why not email me - I often get asked to go to places that are too far away from me - maybe I could pass on some talks to you.

In the current climate of hostility toward reptile keeping we need to be seen to be defending our hobby!!