The Moderator
Written by Ava100   

Sounds like a movie huh?

We have a very special member spotlight on the horizon.  We have another Andy in our midst (apparently you RFUK members like that name, I've already encountered three of you) but this one's a MODERATOR! 

His name on the forums is Bothrops.

Andy Wootton has been on the RFUK forums for almost three years now and was recently invited to become a moderator.  He's still not sure what he did to deserve it, but we have a few ideas swimming around.  

Want to know why? You'll have to read the rest of this spotlight! 

Andy grew up surrounded by cats, dogs, and rabbits and early on in his existence, he attempted to persuade his parents for a snake.  They wouldn't allow him to keep one for excellent reasons (he was 5 years old at the time and his mother had a fear of them!) but he continued to persist until the ripe ol' age of 9 when he brought in stick insects, European tree frogs, and green anoles.  Still no snake. By age 12, his mother changed her tune to, "I'll think about it and the next day he was the proud new owner of a yearling classic corn snake.  Thus, a snake affinity was born.

Since then, he's collected reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates.  Not surprisingly, he went to University to study zoology (due in large part to the herpetologists there) and went on to his Masters and post grad.  

That's where he came in contact with the world of forums but after a few years, he encountered the RFUK--and as you can see, the rest is history!

"Being part of the biggest and best forum on the net meant I could exploit the knowledge of a vast range of fellow herpers, share some of the knowledge I had gained during my studies and experience and make a few friends," Andy explains.

Andy is currently a lecturer in Animal Management and has a house is full of animals. He breeds feeder rodents, has a range of spiders and other inverts, and a few lizard species.   

But snakes have always been at the top of the list and Andy currently owns around 25 individuals.  He breeds boas and corn snakes and recently started to become more interested in the rare kep species.  He also added an African sand racer and am hoping to add sunbeams and pipesnakes to his collection this year.

A veteran to the world of reptiles and the world of RFUK, let's hear what Andy has to say about his ability to manage it all.  

Why did you move to snakes as opposed to other animals you loved like dogs, cats, rabbits...

I've always loved all of nature and am passionate about all living things from the smallest microbe to the largest of multicellular creatures and the world they inhabit.  Reptiles have always had that extra draw....the primitive, primeval feelings they evoke yet once you know a bit about them and find they are far from primitive with highly sophistated and fascinating adaptations.  I'm also always one to support the underdog and couldn't understand why others didn't understand my interest and why so many were repulsed by just the mention of the word 'snake'....I've spent a lot of my life trying to dispell the myths surrounding these creatures and its something I will continue to do for as long as I can....  

What did you learn about reptiles after studying them in their tropical habitats?

A lot of my work looked at the evolution and phylogeography of some quite specific species, none of which are commonly kept in captivity.  That said, my first experience of boa constrictors was during my field work (Boa constrictor nebulosa) and as soon as I had the room, I added Bci's to my personal collection and to this day remain one of my favourite captive snakes.

What is your favorite type of snake or your favorite in your collection?

That's a very difficult question to answer!  Every snake has it's own merits and fascination...I love venomous species but, despite my username, have limited experience with them 'hands on'.  My all time most wanted snake for my collection is a black headed python, and I guess my current favourite is my adult female boa as she is such a tame, handlable snake and has been responsible for many peoples overcoming of their phobias.

What advice would you give beginner reptile owners/breeders?

My best advice is to research well and choose an animal that suits your needs and wants as a keeper.  I see a lot of new keepers coming onto the forums wanting people to tell them what snake to get.  For me, it is such a personal thing I can't see how anyone can make that decision for anyone else..that said, you will always find plenty of people willing to give their opinion on the forums!  Once you have an animal in mind, and have researched that you are capable of keeping it (especially if its likely to grow big or has specific needs) then use the forums to source a good breeder and buy quality.  Finally, stay on the forums to share your ups and downs as a keeper!

We know you love RFUK, but how did you get to become a moderator?

After being on the forums for almost three years I was invited to become a moderator.  I'm still not quite sure what I did to deserve the honour of the invitation but I hope I have continued to make a valuable and positive contribution to the forum. 

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