NANFA-- Snakes in the Dorm!

Jeffrey Fullerton (
Wed, 31 Jan 2001 02:30:25 -0500

> From: "Denkhaus, Robert"
> Subject: RE: NANFA-- worms in the dorm & kudos for Travis
> "I wonder if they allow worm boxes in dorm rooms?"
> Travis,
> What they don't know won't hurt them. Put a plant in it and voila, the worm
> box is just a planter used to spruce up your boring old dorm room.
> FYI. The guy in the dorm room next to mine (many years ago) kept a timber
> rattler and a 16 foot long, 130 lb reticulated python in his room without
> the powers that be knowing! However, this is not recommended!

That brings back memories.

I've kept just about anything you could keep while in the USAF from 1986
thru 1993. Fish, amphibians, and reptiles (no venomous or giant
constrictors). Generally the rules and the willingness to enforce them
varied from place to place and aquariums were allowed up to a certain
capacity. At March AFB (SAC) in California they allowed small birds and
for the most part turned a blind eye to reptiles in aquaria. Most stuff
would just disappear a few day when we were having a special like
command level inspection - the First Shirt would say - get rid of your
rabbits and snakes and whatever else you have and we would.

At Andrews (MAC) they were surprisingly less tollerant. To this day I
saved the inspection checklist they left in 1988 that has written on it
- "Lizards GO"!!! - or was that supposed to be a cheer "GO Lizards"!!!
So I had to send my newly acquired breeding colony of Five-lined Skinks
home to PA. But that did not deter me or my new roommate- NANFA Member
Mike Quispe. That summer will forever live as one of the most awesome
herp adventures we ever had- he moved in about the same time as Sparky
the Spotted Turtle (who was as ugly as sin but cute and personable) and
had young marbled salamanders just raised from larva (I was raising
white worms and getting live brine and blackworms- and then small
crickets)- a full grown Barred Tiger Salamander that ate nightcrawlers,
goldfish and pinkies! And as time went on - we had a full blown
menagerie going.
I'm talking kingsnakes, corn snakes, a northern pine, coastal plains
milks, a Sinaloan milk that cost $100 - we went halfers on it and it
escaped when I took it out to show a lady friend and forgot to secure
the lid properly. A pair of Broadhead Skinks that handled pinkies like
Velociraptors did the cow in Jurassic Park! But that was just an
occasional treat since their diet is primarily insects. Have a picture
of a pair of wood turtles copulating on our floor. The tank that started
out with salamander larvae went to tropical fish- then back to natives
-some blackbanded sunfish from Ft Dix NJ. then Red Shiners from a local
pet shop. Then back to turtles again when Sparky bred with a couple
females back home and I broght the progeny back to raise them since they
needed more attention than the adults which were being watched by my

We almost had some problems with a new First Sergeant who got to messing
with us about failing some room inspections. Thanks to a wonderful gal
named Michelle who also got into snakes and gave us the key to her room
so we could hide our collection there and maintain it until the heat
passed. She lived in Glen Burnie MD and never used her room. Luckily we
got our stuff back out of there just in time - she got a roommate a few
weeks later.

The party ended somewhat in the fall of 90 - not long before the onset
of Desert Storm. They kicked off a Morale & Welfare inspection around 2
AM one morning. I was busted. Surprisingly the First Shirt was not as
bent about it as expected (the way he was ripping me for having uniforms
with no stripes sewn on them- I figured he'd have us for breakfast if he
knew we were keeping snakes and other critters), That's Article 92
stuff. Obviously it was the tail end of the inspection and they were all
tired- and from what I heard they had turned up alot of more noteworthy
stuff like unauthorized overnight guests- maybe even some of the same
sex! Still had to go see him with my supervisor that morning and got an
LOR - letter of reprimand. So had to be alot more careful from then on.
Desert Storm made things less worrysome since everyone had more
important fish to fry- Lucky Mike had moved out just before the
shakedown and sold his snakes to Michelle. Then he got traded upstairs
to the medical center and was deployed to England. He returned in March
1991. I stayed. My unit was responsible for staging causalties that were
expected - but fortunately things never got as bad as expected.

That summer was our last summer of herping at Andrews. We had a fairly
good time - visited a really awesome wood turtle location in Central PA,
plus taught the fine art of road hunting by an eccentric fellow named
Chuck, went to the HL/SSAR confrence at Penn State, broke up with a girl
over a trip to Erie and a few good trips around Maryland and to the
Dismal Swamp and the Philadelphia Zoo which had a much more impressive
herp collection than Pittsburgh. We also befrended the late M. Graham
Netting- unfortunately in last months of good health before a
debilitating stroke. He passed away in 1995 I think. It was kind of neat
when he introduced us to his successor -also late- CJ McCoy as "the two
Air Force Herpetologists"!

Mike left Andrews early in 1992. He kind of got shafted - they made him
work the evening of his last duty day and he was unable to accompany me
to visit a fellow who had an awesome collection of venomous snakes -
vipers and elapids from all over the world - obviously on the sly since
I do believe that it is illegal to keep venomous herps in Maryland. Mike
who does not keep venomous does have an interest in them and it was a
dirty rotten shame he could not go. We kept in touch over the years
following. Did quite a few trips to herp with him in Florida where he
went back to that year. We did not bother at all with fish until 1996
when I finally joined NANFA. Now I've gotten him into fish as well as
herps! Mike moved back up here in 98 and has been a great help on some
of my more recent trips and projects. We have shared a colorful trail
with some rather colorful people in our time.

One in particular I would like to comememorate is the recently departed
Bob Levendusky of Scottdale PA who passed on last week. Big Bob was a
wonderful friend and mentor and will be missed. He helped us see alot of
things beyond the scope of a feild guide. There are many things in
herpdom - and fishdom too that you won't read in a book- at least not

Good Night all

Jeff from PA

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