Petting Reptiles

By Brynn Bielsik

“Her favorite food is fish nuggets and tilapia,” Keith Gisser, the man who has 25 years of experience traveling around the country with various types of reptiles explained. He wasn’t talking about his wife or friend, he was speaking for Gator, a five-foot-long,  25-pound Asian water monitor, otherwise known as a giant lizard. Gisser was on campus Monday October 3rd educating students and staff about the foundation called “Herps Alive Foundation,”one of the best reptile rescues in the country. It’s the 40th anniversary of the program that has strived to educate people on reptiles. Though he is strictly a traveling educator, there is a more permanent place that people could go to look at about 225 reptiles that are also adoptable in South Euclid.

“They’re trained to eat frozen thawed food, rodents that are killed humanely, and it’s also better for the animals,” Gisser explained as he held the biggest snake at the display, an albino Burmese python named Silas that was about nine feet long. Along with snakes and lizards, there were also tortoises that munched on bananas and let anyone pick them up with graceful acceptance.

Later on, Mike Sheridan, llama owner, joined in on the fun by bringing his llamas Jack Daniels, 20 months old, and Silver Colossus, 13 months old. Jack Daniels was the more friendly of the brothers as he gave kisses and nuzzled a few people, while Silver Colossus looked like he just wanted to go home and take a nap. However, both were extremely cute and awkward looking and did not spit on anyone. If anyone ever had the hankering to go so the majesty of these fluffy creatures, they could always go to Hemstreet Farm Llamas that is known for more than 24 Championships for breeding brilliant llamas.

Since it is said that petting dogs can reduce stress, maybe petting a 9-foot-long snake has some good psychological effects, too. Either way, it was a unique experience that many captured with their phones because, really, who can say they’ve ever gotten to take a selfie with a llama?

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