The herptile blog.

All about the herpetological world.

Just don’t call them ‘slimy’

Posted by Miqe on April 4, 2007

TEN years ago, Phil Elliott got bored with breeding fish. From that, developed a penchant for pythons.

It started with two baby pythons. Now his backyard reptile haven accommodates 30 pythons, four dragon species of lizard, two legless lizards, five goannas and two geckos.

In addition, he has a dozen guinea pigs, a couple of rosellas and two cats.

“It’s quite a little menagerie,” Mr Elliott said last week.

The modest Newport home he shares with his “very understanding” partner is soon to be extended, along with the wildlife accommodation

During peak season, Mr Elliott breeds up to 100 mice and rats each week just to feed the pythons.

“It’s a full time job on its own,” says the former engineer and now maintenance manager.

He is treasurer of the Victorian Herpetological Society, a reptile appreciation group with 130 members.

Members share a love for creatures regarded by many as slimy and damp.

“In actual fact they are clean and smooth,” Mr Elliott said affectionately.

Mr Elliott has always had some sort of animal, but first discovered his love for fish and reptiles during high school in Wales.

“I started to expand 10 years ago with fish, but I wanted to breed a more difficult species.”

“When I achieved that I lost interest in them, so I went back to reptiles with the thought of two.

“I found out fairly quickly it was even more addictive than fish.”

These days, the pythons occupy the couple’s spare room, the lizards have taken over the back shed, and the rodents sleep in the laundry.

The reptiles are treated as if they were in the wild, some weeks being fed a lot, other weeks not at all.

“It’s constant research – I’m building up a collection of books,” Mr Elliott said.

Visitors to the couple’s home tend to end up in one of two categories: freaked out or converted.

Because Mr Elliott “never shuts up” about his unusual passion, most of his friends know what to expect.

But when it comes to visiting tradesmen – of whom there have been a few lately – things can get interesting.

Mr Elliott said a kitchen renovator recently left the house with a new-found love of snakes, swearing he would soon start his own collection.

On the other hand, a visiting air conditioning expert couldn’t pack up fast enough, not even cleaning up after himself before darting out the front door.

For more information on reptiles, see the Victorian Herpetological Society website at www.vhs.com.au

From Star News Group

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