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The Manifesto

Conservation Herpetoculture is more than your average reptile breeding business.  This company was hatched out of a love for all things reptile.  We are passionate about reptile conservation, reptile husbandry and welfare, and reptile medicine.  Owned and operated by veterinarian, Zach Whitman, we produce the highest quality animals available, and donate a significant portion of all proceeds towards herpetological conservation, and giving back to the herpetological community.


Working with reptiles across a variety of professional settings, has provided a birds eye view of many disjointed groups of reptile people, who often have more in common with one another than they may realize.  At Conservation Herp, we advocate for improving relationships and communication between different communities of reptile people, particularly between private keepers and the conservation community, but also between field researchers, veterinary professionals, zoo keepers, wildlife rehabilitators, and many others.  


The reptile keeping community is often viewed negatively in conservation circles. Conservationists often site the pet trade, or more broadly “over collection” (which lumps in food and traditional medicine markets) as causes of species decline, alongside other major issues such as habitat loss, climate change, and pollution.  While it is our belief that the pet trade pales in impact compared to other more major causes of species decline, none the less, these concerns are valid, as there certainly are negative impacts that the reptile keeping hobby has on wild reptiles.  The release of invasive species, the spread of infectious diseases, and the poaching of endangered species, all pose serious and legitimate conservation concerns.  


Here at Conservation Herp, we believe that these problems must be addressed through a combination of bottom up, grass roots education, and reform within the community, as well as through thoughtfully crafted legislation and enforcement, designed both to protect wildlife, and the rights of reptile keepers.  Importantly, we believe that the benefits of a more united reptile community, has the potential to outweigh many of the concerns associated with the reptile trade.  


There are millions of families in the US that keep reptiles, contributing to an industry that generates over a billion dollars per year.  This is a huge untapped resource of people who enjoy and care about herps, and yet reptile conservation, medicine, and rescue remain sorely underfunded and under studied.  We believe that whether you keep reptiles as family pets, operate a breeding collection, enjoy field herping for pleasure, or work with reptiles professionally, that anyone who relates to these unique animals has some of the same basic interests at heart, and the reptiles of the world would benefit if we could better share our knowledge, passion, time, and money in a meaningful way!  


We encourage every herper to donate directly to causes they care about.  Currently we donate at least 10% of every sale directly towards herpetological conservation, veterinary research, and reptile rescue and rehabilitation.  We preferentially direct our donations to boots on the ground conservation efforts, and research that will directly impact real world problems.  Please see more about the groups we support here, and please feel confident in giving these groups your support as well!  Note that we are not a nonprofit, but a charitable company.   


In addition to financial support, breeding reptiles in captivity, and educating reptile hobbyists about conservation issues, can augment conservation efforts in other ways. 


Captive breeding has the potential to directly reduce demand for specific rare species.  The majority of reptile keepers prefer to purchase healthy, captive bred animals when possible, and most do not want to contribute to illegal poaching and species decline.  However, the demand for gorgeous animals such as the William’s blue gecko, Kaiser’s newt, or pancake tortoise, cannot be easily legislated away, especially in light of weak law enforcement.  Species like these are at legitimate risk for extinction in the wild, yet they are still being poached at unsustainable rates, to meet the demand of people who claim to love them.  It is up to the reptile hobby to address these issues head on, and at Conservation Herp we know that a healthy, genetically diverse, reasonably priced, captive bred market for these species, is one of the best ways to relieve collection pressure on wild populations.  This is why we focus our breeding efforts, not only on common pet trade species like our ball pythons, but also on rare species that are currently being negatively impacted by trade.  


We believe that education is the cornerstone supporting the long term future of the herp keeping community.  While there have been tremendous advancements in animal husbandry in the half century since people first started breeding reptiles, our hobby also continues to attract novice keepers who must start at square one every day.  We take pride in educating our customers and our community about responsible herpetoculture.  Starting from the benefits of buying captive bred, or how to spot animals that are fraudulently represented, to the best possible husbandry, and even what to do when things go wrong and your animal needs veterinary care.  Education is our greatest tool! 



Our Passions:

  • Conservation and preservation of all reptile biodiversity and habitat

  • Uniting different communities of reptile people

  • Advancing herpetological veterinary research

  • Advancing herpetologic husbandry and welfare 

  • Providing aid to reptiles in need through rehabilitation and rescue


Our Goals:

  • Provide the ultimate care to our collection, and produce the highest quality animals available

  • Educate reptile hobbyists about current conservation issues

  • Encourage reptile hobbyists to directly support herp conservation

  • Provide educational content about best husbandry practices to improve the welfare of all captive reptiles

  • Promote a captive bred market and discourage reptile owners from purchasing wild caught animals

  • Encourage all reptile keepers to become educated about their local herpetofauna and get actively involved in supporting them

  • Discourage the release of unwanted pets and educate reptile keepers about the many risks


Our Charitable Contributions May Support:

  • “Boots on the Ground“ conservation efforts  

  • Protecting critical habitat

  • Local reptile conservation efforts, mitigations, and land use 

  • Population assessments for data deficient species

  • Creation and maintenance of in situ and ex situ assurance colonies, and head start programs

  • Veterinary research

  • Rehabilitation of sick and injured wild reptiles

  • Rescue and adoption of exotic pet trade reptiles


Thank you for your support!

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