I don't even remember first becoming interested in reptiles, I think I always had the bug. It started, like it did for many of us, with a fascination for dinosaurs. Some of my fondest early memories in the 1950's were trips to the Museum of Natural History in NYC. I could never see enough or assimilate enough information, I always wanted more.
Finally, as a Brooklyn teenager in the late 1960's, my parents relented and let me acquire my first snake. My sponsor in this endeavor was my uncle (pictured to the left) Father Robert Hume, who essentially became my "guarantor" to my parents - if I didn't take care of the snake, he would. He was a real renaissance man who was interested in, among other things, whatever his nieces and nephews were interested in, and over the years we shared a passion for snakes. Believe me, the concept of a Catholic priest who kept pet snakes in the rectory raised many eyebrows over the years! My uncle passed away in 2002 and I owe whatever success I achieve in this hobby to his impetus.
Father Hume, circa 1970
I also have to acknowledge my wife Janet, who is the most tolerant person I've ever known. Although I have many times tested the limits of her patience with my obsession with snakes, she has always been a good sport and a willing partner in all my reptilian escapades. Thank you, Janet!
Here is a picture of Janet from the 1970's practicing her snake handling.
Although I kept many different species of snakes over the years, the concept of breeding them never occurred to me until the early 1990's. Around that time, I met Lou Coronesi of Long Island, who introduced me to the "recipe" for breeding snakes. Once I got that bug, I was "born again" into the hobby. Soon afterward, I became a board member of the Long Island Herp Society and had the good fortune to become friends through the Society with Vin Russo (visit his web site at www.cuttingedgeherp.com) who got me started on some of my more esoteric breeding projects that have carried forward to this day. Over the years we have formed a partnership on numerous corn snake and hognose projects. Many of the photos on this web site were taken by Vin.
Daytona 2003 - that is Vin Russo on the left hawking snakes.
Daytona 2004 - will forever be remembered as the "hurricane expo" as Charley hit Daytona on Friday night, just before we arrived. It was a wild night, and pictured above are some shots I took Saturday morning of the storm's devastation right outside the hotel. The expo did go on, and the middle pictures above are Vin Russo, Bill Love, Don Soderberg and myself at Vin's table.
In 2007, besides our annual Daytona excursion, Vin and I also had the opportunity to attend the Hamm (Germany) show as vendors. It was a great experience meeting reptile enthusiasts on the other side of the Atlantic. The three pictures on the right were taken in Europe.
Daytona 2012 - with my nephew Jimmy Watson, our friend Paul Pipes, and Vin.
One of the best aspects of taking an annual excursion to Daytona is catching up with some friends that I typically get to see only once a year. The above pictures are from 2009. I would encourage anyone who has the "bug" to get down there at least once, it really is quite different from the run of the mill reptile show.
Pictured above, from left to right from the top, are:
Jeff Mohr - Katie Haluska, Walter Smith & Carol Huddleston - Bill Love - Kathy Love - Chuck Pritzel
Tony Ignatz & Alaine Soave - Louise & Rob Stevens - Walter & Diane Smith - Eugene Bissette - Jeff Nemanius & Chad Fuchs
Rich Zuchowski - Carol Huddleston and yours truly - Don Soderberg
Bill and Kathy Love stopped by to visit during a trip to Long Island to speak to our local herp society.
This is my daughter Jessica modeling some of her latest fashion "jewelry"
My granddaughter Josephine, already working on honing her skills in the snake business by helping me take telephone orders.
Thanks for visiting my web site - Rich Hume