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Florida has always been famous f

Florida has always been famous for the reptiles and amphibians that live here. When Spanish explorers arrived on the East coast of Florida in 1513, they were shocked to see big "lizards" they called "El Lagartos" - from this corruption of Spanish we have the English word Alligator. This vintage Florida post card is from the 1930's. 

Who We Are

The Central Florida Herpetological Society​ (CFHS) is a diverse group of individuals who share a common interest in reptiles and amphibians. Our members come from all walks of life and include hikers, animal breeders, pet owners, professional scientists, artists, photographers, veterinarians, wildlife law officers, children, teachers and students alike. Together, the group serves as a collective voice for the reptile and amphibian community of Central Florida.

For over 30 years, the Central Florida Herpetological Society has been a reliable source for reptile and amphibian information by connecting hobbyists and communicating with the general public. Before the days of the internet, this was a truly vital service to those who kept reptiles and amphibians as pets. Today, the club continues to serve as a voice for education, conservation and the captive propagation of rare species in the pet trade.

The Central Florida Herpetological Society holds free, monthly meetings on the fourth sunday of every month at the Orlando Public Library, Downtown branch. We also plan fun, group field trips that appeal to reptile and amphibian enthusiasts of every age. The club continues to survive into the 21st century as we collectively work together to advance our hobby by promoting best practices for the care and keeping of reptiles and amphibians as pets.

Our Mission

"To advance the keeping and breeding of reptiles, amphibians and arthropods while educating the public about local species and promoting conservation issues at home and abroad."

What is Herpetology?​

Herpetology may sound like a funny word, but it is actually a serious science. Herpetology is the branch of zoology that studies reptiles and amphibians. The word "herpetology" comes from the word "herpeton" which means "a creeping or crawling animal" in Greek. People with an avid interest in herpetology often refer to themselves as "herpers". Luckily, modern science is far wiser than it was millennia ago and we now know that reptiles and amphibians are not sluggish, dimwitted or boring animals. In reality, herps are among the most successful, exciting, capable and interesting creatures ever to walk the earth, fly in the sky and swim in the seas.  

 


Reptiles have always been looked at as mysterious creatures. They are very different from mammals and many can be dangerous or downright deadly. Early explorers of North America often wrote about dragons living in swamps that spouted water and swallowed men whole. This illustration is of the American alligator, taken from John & William Bartram's America. Circa 1780's. (original held in British Museum, London). 

Who Manages the Central Florida Herpetological Society?

In over 30 years of existance, dozens of volunteers have dedicated thousands of hours of time to this great club. Without them, this group would not exist. The current members and the people of Central Florida are indebted to their hard work and service to club over the decades. Now, almost 40 years ​after the first reptile and amphibian "interest group" sprung up, the Central Florida Herpetological Society is in yet another phase of evolution.

In January of 2012, the club rebooted and re-imagined itself as a modern organization geared towards young and old alike. This new century has new concerns and the Central Florida Herpetological Society needed to adapt to the times. Public education and conservation are now major initiatives of the society and we believe that they are among the greatest services we can offer the community. In particular, youth education and exposing them to nature and native species is a vital to re-connecting kids to nature.

As a volunteer run, non-profit organization, the Central Florida Herpetological Society is managed by a publicly elected board of directors. These un-paid "employees" manage all of the various club business, records, services, meetings and field trips. Because they freely give so much time, effort and leadership to the club, we think it is only right to highlight the 2012 board of directors below. * If you are a past board director, please reach out to us. We would love to feature your past service on this site as well. You have earned your place too! 

Board of Directors

President Jan 2012 - Present: Clayton Louis Ferrara​
​Email: Clay@ThinkTerraFirma.org
​Telephone: (772) 486-8280

Clayton Louis Ferrara grew up exploring the habitats of Stuart, Florida during the housing boom of the 1990’s. Slowly but surely, the patches of woods he explored to find frogs and snakes became swallowed up by rampant development. This was the time when developers could still pay to pave over Gopher Tortoise burrows and suburban sprawl ruled the landscape of South Florida. Luckily, enough wild places survived the slaughter. The rolling fog of early morning mangrove swamps, and the quiet dusk of pine flat wood forests made a profound impact on his soul and helped to make him the person he is today. Through he holds multiple degrees as a formally trained biologist, he prefers to think of himself as a self-taught naturalist and poet. He belongs to a multitude of environmental organizations from Tallahassee to Key West and he has lectured all over the world. As a seasoned explorer, he has traversed Barbados, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Brazil, Panama, Costa Rica, 33 states in the USA and even across China while pursuing his studies in zoology, ecology and wildlife conservation. He has served as the director of education and head curator of a nature preserve, participated in sea turtle research and currently holds the position of national science director for a global United Nations accredited NGO. His favorite animal is the Loggerhead Sea turtle (Caretta caretta). He currently lives in Winter Park, Florida. If you would like to contact him, please do so.


A life long reptile lover, Clayton Louis Ferrara received his first box turtle at age three. His Chinese Marginated box turtle (Cistoclemmys flavomarginata) was purchased at a Downtown Manhattan market in 1990. Clayton credits his childhood box turtle and the Tyrannosaurus Rex on display at the American Museum of Natural History as being "almost entirely responsible for my decision at age three to become a professional biologist". 
       

Vice President April 2012 - Present:Terry Wise Jr.
​​Email: vicepresident@centralfloridaherpsociety.org


When I was 14 and working for my mother’s horse rescue, I received my
first herp, the Avicularia avicularia. Today, I believe this creature
was the gateway to the herp world currently in my life. A few years
later, I would leave my little tarantula behind to join the U.S. Navy.
While in the service, I had the opportunity to visit many foreign
countries. While traveling, I would always notice the herps. Whether
it was the Cuban rock iguanas fearlessly taking lettuce from my hand
on the base at Guantanamo Bay, or the sea turtles feeding on the
jellyfish in the Atlantic, I always found myself fascinated with the
herps I was privileged to observe and encounter. Upon my discharge
from the Service, I would travel home to find my teenage companion,
“Pinky” the A. avicularia, had passed. Shortly thereafter, I met my
beloved, Amy. This magnificent woman motivated me to begin my studies
to become a doctor and she simultaneously introduced me to the world
we herpers know and love. Having only been involved with the herp
community for little more than two years, I believe I have learned
more about reptiles, amphibians, and arthropods than some are
privileged to learn. Through this I feel being a part of CFHS allows
me to reach out and teach others, learn more from others, and make
available the tools and techniques we need to become well-rounded
herpers.

 

 

Treasurer March 2012 - Present: Amy Devilbiss
​​Email: treasurer@centralfloridaherpsociety.org

I have always had animals as a part of my life, beginning with multitudes of guinea pigs, fish, dogs, and birds. As I grew older, my brother and I would go out into the wilds of suburban Deltona and
capture various snakes and lizards, such as anoles, black racers, and once, a rattlesnake. My mother, however, was not as enthusiastic about  ophidians as my brother and me. In my teens, I begged my mom to let me get a reptile. I wanted a snake, but her ophidiophobia was too powerful to let me keep a snake in the house. So, I decided on a Dumeril’s monitor. She acquiesced to my request and we shopped around for the right pet. I ended up with a sub-adult Varanus dumerilii,  which I named, “Thin Lizzy”. I had “Lizzy” for many years and ended up  with more pets in my zoo. After I graduated high school, I started  college for my pre-medicine degree and began to work at a reptile importer/exporter/wholesaler as well as working at reptile shows nationwide. It was at the importer’s that I got two black throat monitors, named “Monty” and “Mordos”. They were my introduction to
large monitors. They were already 5.5 feet long when I got them and they only got larger. After they passed, I downgraded my collection and moved around for a few years before I settled and was able to keep snakes. I had access to all sorts of reptiles at this point and learned their care from firsthand experience. I have had most of the animals that were imported as pets at one point or another. Then, at a Jacksonville reptile convention, I found that for which I had been searching: a blue tegu. Since then, I have expanded my tegu knowledge and collection and am currently breeding tegus. Through breeding, I am attempting to help preserve blue tegus which are currently rare in the American market. I joined CFHS to expand my knowledge, share my experiences with others, and spread the word of conservation and preservation.

 


 
Secretary March 2012 - Present:  Jennifer Hensley
​Email: secretary@centralfloridaherpsociety.org

 

When I was young my father worked for the railroad so we always lived near fields and train tracks.  The fields in Ohio were teaming with life. I brought home jackrabbits, American toads, feral kittens, and finally a few garter snakes much to my mother’s chagrin. She was however a trooper putting tanks outside for me to keep my finds and allowed me to try to feed them for a few days but somehow they always mysteriously disappeared after a few days!

I grew up in small town Ohio and got married right out of high school to my late husband who was in the Air Force which took me away to Ft Meade Maryland for 9 years of which I was a Post Mayor for 7 of those years. He and I had many fish, a Ferret and a Dog. We went camping in VA with his family and they were screaming about a snake near the fire. This lil red snake was not harming anyone. I quickly went and got a stick and picked up the baby copperhead and moved it from the area after studying it for several moments. I got several lectures that night on how stupid that was LOL. I don’t think so at all!

I met Peter online 11 or so years ago as a friend and as we got to know each other we found we had the same love of animals plus many other common goals in life. After 2 years of knowing each other and figuring out we could try to make a go of a relationship I moved to Minnesota and we joined the MN Herpetological society together and adopted our first Boa. Many adoptions later and 2 years as VP and 3 ½ years as President I have learned much about Herpetoculture. The MN Herp society and myself were featured in the 2009 Documentary Herpers along with Slash, Chad Brown, Marc Bailey and many more.  I look forward to further growing within the Central Florida Herp society!


		

Members At Large

Club Branding, Art Director of The Cageliner:StephanieWrong​
Email: ​Stephanie@ThinkTerraFirma.org 

​ Stephanie Wrong is an artist and holds a BFA in Graphic Interactive Communications from the prestigious Ringing College of Art & Design. She works as the Marketing Director at Kelly Price & Company, where she produces all the marketing and advertising materials for this full service, boutique real estate firm on Park Avenue.  She also works with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation- a 501(c)(3) non-profit, where she is currently producing the marketing and advertising materials for the Baldwin Park Food & Wine Festival. She currently uses her talents in graphic design, typography and layout design to create the "The Cageliner, The official publication of the Central Florida Herpetological Society" newsletter. When she's not tending to the animals, Stephanie spends her time painting, drawing, traveling or volunteering for various charity groups around Winter Park & Orlando.


Stephanie Wrong devotes much of her free time to taking care of her beloved animals- her rescued Chinese Box Turtle "Pickle", hatchling Sri Lankan Star Tortoise "Nugget", and her African Clawed Frog "Betty Croaker."

Animal Story Coming Soon...

Sargent at Arms: Neil Drury
​Email: sargentatarms@centralfloridaherpsociety.org


​ Bio Coming Soon. 
Editor-In-Chief of Newsletter: Brooke Kelly Mitchell​
Email: editor-in-chief@centralfloridaherpsociety.org
​ Bio Coming Soon.

Animal Story Coming Soon...
 
Animal Story Coming Soon...
Member at Large: Domenic Valenti
​​Email:  domenic@centralfloridaherpsociety.org

​ ​Bio Coming Soon. 
Membership Director: Peter Kazek
​​Email: membership_director@centralfloridaherpsociety.org


  My fascination with reptiles started in grade school when the local zoo brought some snakes to the school and I got to handle a small boa constrictor, I’m guessing it was maybe 2 ft long.  It wrapped its tail around 3 of my fingers to hold on and I was surprised at how an animal of that size was so strong !  I was also amazed that I could not really move my fingers, it did not hurt, the boa was just hanging on. 1998 I started volunteering at the Minnesota Zoo.  One of the areas the volunteers would work was the Zoolab, where we would handle and interpret the animals they had there.  Among them were Prehensile Tailed Skinks and large boa constrictors and it was these that really got me interested in reptiles. I’d always thought reptiles were cool, I just never thought to keep one as a pet.  Until after I met Jenn in 2003 and we’d gone to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival and met some of the members of the MN Herpetological Society at Como Cottage. The cottage is an area they have on the festival grounds where people could see, touch and ask questions about all kinds of reptiles and amphibians that the MHS members had brought out.  Jenn and I talked to the members there, checked out some of the reptiles and decided to go to the next meeting.  Approximately 3 months later we adopted our first snake, a Common Boa ( I say that because since he was an adoptee I have no idea what his genetics are ), he was about 4 feet long and we named him Amaru – which according to info I found on the web at that time is Mayan for “large snake”.  It’s 9 years later and Amaru is the largest snake in my collection at 8 feet. In 2005 I started working part time for Twin Cities Reptiles, owner/manager Bruce Delles and general manager Sara Sazbo.  I learned TONS from both of them and had the opportunity to work with a very large number of different reptiles and amphibians during my 5 years there. Everything from large constrictors, a 16ft Lavender Albino Retic named Oscar, yellow and green anacondas, large and small monitor lizards and a large breeding colony of Bearded Dragons.  All types of medium and smaller snakes, Hondurans, Carpets, Ball pythons, Blood pythons, corn snakes and of course all kinds of amphibians and lizards.  One of the most memorable reptiles was Tinley .. a female water monitor that was the shop mascot.  I really loved caring for and especially feeding her – we’d sometimes play tug of war with her pre-killed rodents.  I also had the opportunity to work with TCR’s breeding pair of Black Dragons !  I worked with both of them and held the female several times, I just wish I’d taken pictures of them. Our collection has grown over the years and we have and have kept Bearded Dragons, Leopard Geckos, Uromastyx and we fostered a juvenile Iguana for a year until it was adopted.  And of course we have a few different species of snakes.

 
In my snake collection I have kept, Boa Constrictors, Corn / Red Rat snakes, Honduran, Black and Pueblan Milk snakes, Carpet Pythons, a couple of different species of Asian Rat snakes and Western Hognose.  I used to have an 8-9 Ft. Patternless Green Burmese python named Shamus but when we moved to Florida we gave him to a friend in MN where he can be happy
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©2012 Central Florida Herp Society