Open Letter to Herpers
Dear Herp Friends,
I don’t need to tell any of you that the animals that we are so incredibly passionate about are feared and hated by a large majority of the human population. On a daily basis we have to endure hearing ignorant comments like “The only good snake is a dead snake (or lizard or frog, etc.).” We also endure the eye rolls, furrowed brows, grimaced faces, scoffs, and whatever other displays of disgust people want to throw our way on a regular basis. It gets frustrating. In fact, it gets REALLY DAMN INFURIATING! I recently had someone tell me that if she ever saw my tarantula she’d step on it and kill it (I know, I know, it’s not a herp, but still…). It cut me to the core. I, as a grown woman, was so hurt and angry that I actually almost started to cry! At work! Where I’m a manager! People don’t get us. I get that. I really do because I am right there with you.
I’ve recently been very dismayed when scrolling through comments on various blogs and Facebook pages. There are a lot of people out there who are not educated in the ways of herpetology. They make ignorant comments. New hobbyists ask stupid questions. Again, I get it.
The reasons why I’ve been so disgusted with many of my fellow herpers though are the nasty, condescending, and downright rude responses these uneducated folks get from some of you. You need to remember that there was a time when you did not know so much about a particular species. How would you have felt back then, if you had asked a question, seeking help and wanting to learn more, and had been made to feel like a complete idiot? It’s disheartening. And when you respond this way, it may make you feel better to know more than someone else or that you sure showed that dumbass, but what you’re actually doing is not only damaging our reputations as a group, but also making many animals suffer in the long run.
I recently read a blog post from an individual seeking help regarding the condition of a pet tortoise. In reading the description of the tortoise’s care, it was very, very clear that the individual had absolutely no clue how to care for a tortoise properly. However, rather than trying to provide helpful advice, people blasted this individual and pretty much said “congratulations, you’ve killed your tortoise”. I was horrified! Does anyone think that telling the person how stupid he/she is will get the tortoise any help? I’ve got news for you, it doesn’t. It’s also going to discourage others from asking questions because they don’t want a bunch of strangers telling them how dumb they are either. When you make negative comments you are turning people away, allowing their fears and ignorance to continue. You make us all look bad. You are putting an animal’s life at risk because you’ve discouraged someone from asking questions on how to provide or seek proper care for it. The negativity has to stop! We get enough of that from every non-herper in existence. We need to EDUCATE people! Take our passion and make it theirs as well! All I ask of you is this: next time you see or hear a question or comment you don’t like, just stop, take a breath, and then remember how much you love your herps and then make those crazy people love them too (or at the very least not hate them). And give some helpful care/ husbandry advice. It may save the life of a herp someday.
Julie from The Tortoise Garden