Egos and Eggshells | Reptile Expert

Authored by Jennifer Hemby Davis Director of H.E.R.P Wildlife Rescue

Egos and Eggshells | Reptile Experts

(does size really matter?)

Natrix tessellata hatching

Courtesy of Christian Castille

More and more, I find myself sitting back with a bag of popcorn and a stiff Bloody Mary as I peruse social media.

Are there really that many reptile EXPERTS in this industry/hobby? What is a reptile expert?

Reptile Expert Defined

Does such a status even exist, or is it a label we place on ourselves and others as part of some massive hero worship exercise.

Who gets to even determine such a level?

According to Webster’s Dictionary, the word “expert” means:

  • having or showing special skill or knowledge because of what you have taught or what you have experienced.

That being stated, there very well may be quite a few experts running amuck in this industry. Certainly, there are a few people I consider extremely knowledgeable and elite. However, it seems this is a title being thrown around and sought by so many without the knowledge or even basic experience to back it up.

If you can’t tell the difference between a rubber snake and a live specimen, you got some issues to work on. If you believe that oviparous and viviparous snakes are able to interbreed and create some sort of mutant super snakes…again, there are some issues here indicating you could very well be contributing to the problem and reason why no one will take you seriously.

Reptile Elitist

On the opposite of the spectrum, we have the elitist mentality. Some of the most respected men and women in their fields, arguing like little brats over who did this first or how their way is best and belittling anyone who dares to do the same thing.

Why does there have to be such segregation? Can’t we all just get along?

When we are working towards the same goal, even if we have different methods, doesn’t the end justify the means? Since when did collaboration become so difficult? Are we that stuck on our own notions of our abilities? Are we looking for sole recognition? Are we truly concerned about the issue at hand or the ego stroke coming with the task?

In an attempt to answer a few of those questions, let’s see if we can figure it out.

Why does there have to be segregation? There does not have to be, we choose to do so. Whether it’s ignoring due to gender, ethnicity, or egomania at its best, it is a choice.

Can’t we all just get along?

Seriously, how hard can it be? It can be extremely hard; not everyone has the same agenda. Some agendas reek of malevolence and have absolutely no intentions of working towards a common goal. When we are working towards the same goal, even if we have different methods, doesn’t the end justify the means?

Reptiles and Ethics

Having different methods can be as innocuous as following a different protocol or using cheaper resources, to finding an “easier” “ethically challenged” ILLEGAL way of achieving results. While the results may be the same or similar, what are the true intentions? Are there implications or serious ramifications negating and maybe harming the end result?

Collaboration: Furthering Herpetoculture

Applegate, Taylor

Godfather of Herpetoculture & The Herpfather

Since when did collaboration become so difficult? As stated above, the “intention” of the parties play a huge part. Different methodologies are fine, but the intent of both parties and HOW they intend to produce results is the larger part of the question.
Are we stuck on our own notions of abilities? Of course we are. We’re all legends in our own minds, right? I think everyone has the dream of discovering or creating something to live on forever becoming our legacy passing down through the generations (Editor’s Note: Robert Applegate and his Applegate line breeding of snakes comes to mind). Something to be proud of, but is it really worth the cost of true conservation, team work, and sound science. Do we always have to be THE one to discover, name and then exploit all that is holy, just to have our name associated? Which leads right into and helps answer the next question.

Are we truly concerned about the issue or the ego stroke that comes with the task…to be honest, I think there may be a bit of both in some cases. As previously stated, I believe we are all guilty of wanting to be the one to make it all happen. The proverbial big pat on the back leading to the smug smirk and daily dose of disdain we tend to pass on to those we deem of less calibre in our community. So sad, but so true.

Important points to remember are that we all have to put our pants on, one leg at a time. There are certainly some of us who are more advanced than others, doesn’t mean we are smarter or the infinite source, just a little more experienced. More of us should be willing to share our experience with those who are WILLING to learn.

We can all be mentors as well as students.

Those with less experience should realize our limitations and strive to improve and contribute as much as we can. In my very humble opinion, there is no such thing as an expert. The implication is, we have nothing left to learn; this is far from the truth. When we get to a point where we can no longer learn anything or have no room for improvement, then the end of the world is here as we know it. What is the purpose? Why go on? THERE IS ALWAYS ROOM FOR GROWTH, to LEARN and IMPROVE!! I don’t give a damn who you are.

It’s time for this industry to put on their “big kid undergarments”, drop the ego and work together. It can be done, it’s all up to us.

Do you want to truly be part of the problem or part of the solution? The choice is all yours.

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