Authored by Tom Williams
Yvonne Wooley is a UK Insect Expert and avid invertebrate collector who helps to organise the Insect Fayre in Newark, Nottinghamshire that is taking place on the 8th of May. Yvonne was kind enough to answer a few questions for us on her hobby.
RA: How did you get into keeping invertebrates?
YW: I first started to keep invertebrates some 60 years ago, ouch that sounds ancient I know but true. When my father used to take us to the allotment we had then, I spent much of the time catching as many different kinds of bugs that I could and putting them in jam jars. Alas at the end of the day I had the tormenting task of picking just one to take home with me and letting all the others go. These ranged from earwigs to grass hoppers and anything in between that I managed to catch. The interest has carried on for all my life so some 64 years.
RA: What was your first pet invert or reptile?
YW: The first reptile I owned was when I was 13 years old was a Grass Snake Natrix natrix that I purchased from an open market in the centre of Nottingham, for the sum of 6 shillings and sixpence about 32 and a half pence now I think. This was kept in secret by my father and myself as my mother and elder sister were petrified of all things wriggly. The second was a baby Alligator 1 year later brought from a pet store in Nottingham which I think is still open today. Again my mother thought we were getting some more tropical fish!
We thought she was going to have a heart attack when she saw what we had brought home on the bus. Being convinced that we would all be eaten alive when it grew up. The love of all animals has stayed with me all of my life. The real love of Tarantulas came when I was given 2 Red Knees, Brachypelma smithi whilst working as a keeper at a small local zoo which has since closed. These were unwanted pets and in a very poor condition, but with a bit of extra T.L.C they lived a long and healthy life.
RA: Your mum and Dad seemed very understanding of your hobby! What inverts do you currently keep?
YW: Now retired, I keep about 40 Tarantulas, most in my small spider room upstairs that is kept heated. My favourites, including my T.blondi, reside downstairs in our lounge, their vivariums dressed out to please our eyes as well as giving my charges all the right environment that they need to keep them fit and healthy. These all have heat mats and thermostats as this is the coolest room in the house even in summer. I also have several 2 spot Assassin Bugs, Scorpions, a huge colony of Dubia Roaches and a few breeding mealworms, the latter two are bred for food, but these are interesting creatures themselves.
RA: Do you breed any of the animals that you keep?
YW: I have bred my Salmon Pink Bird Eater, Lasidora parahybana and am now considering breeding others. Although my interest is really just in the keeping side, and enjoying looking after my animals and gaining the pleasure of looking after them and keeping them well.
RA: What is the most common problem, if any, you come across in keeping inverts?
YW: I find that the only problem in my hobby of keeping Tarantulas and inverts is making sure that every animal that is to be kept is housed and fed correctly, giving them the correct heating and treating each one as a separate individual, not just as a collection. Also they are not toys to be played with and forgotten about when the interest has worn off.
RA: Good advice! Is there any advice you would give to anyone looking into keeping inverts as pets?
YW: My advice to a newcomer would be learn about your animals before you buy them. Get the housing ready and all the equipment you may need, try to buy from a breeder or collector,rather than a pet shop. The reason being so much poor and even wrong information is given at so many shops and many Tarantulas and also Scorpions are given any sort of name that describes them, often the wrong one!! Always get the species name not just a common name. And never be afraid to ask for advice and help if you are unsure. Join clubs and forums if you can, there is always a fountain of knowledge in them and all of you questions will be answered no matter how trivial. Often you will find that using the forums will make you new friends and lead to long-lasting friendships.
RA: What is your role in organising the show in Newark?
YW: The Kettering / Newark Entomology Fayre is are held in Newark, Nottinghamshire twice a year at the Grove Leisure Centre. The organisers are Mr Paul Holt and Mr Phil Jenner. They are a really friendly events where you will find Butterflies, Moths, Tarantulas of all kinds and also many invertebrates for sale, live specimens and also preserved specimens mounted ready for display all from hobbyists and breeders who have surplus stock, all of them will be happy to give you any advice and help that you may need. There is also a variety of equipment and housing, as well as fancy goods and some jewelry. I play a small role in the events by advertising on the internet and now designing as well as printing the posters and flyers. I also have a small page for the event on Facebook, I hope to be getting a website up and running in the very near future.
Thank you so much to Yvonne for talking to us about her awesome hobby. You can see the shows Facebook page here and make sure if you are in the UK and have an interest in our many-legged and winged friends to go over to the show and show your support.