I’m going to start out saying that I do feel the community is a wonderful place and a great tool for learning! My question is how to find one (or possibly more, but not many) mentor or a place to work close to reptiles? I have one person who I can ask (and do about a certain project) but they are no longer keeping reptiles. Is there such a thing as an internship or business aid that pays but I can also have extra hands on experience more than just my small collection? I really want to learn and grow in the hobby but I feel like I need more information and experience from a long time keeper. Where could I find such a thing?
I reached out to my local breeders when I started collecting over a decade ago. Once I figured out that this is a real passion on mine, and i built that collection into a breeding project, I reached out to them and asked for advice and help. Eventually 2 of them became good friends of mine and I was able to mentor under them, but without receiving pay. Depending on where you live, you may be able to find a internship with one of the large scale breeders. If you’re close to NERD, he sometimes is hiring out so you could always ask. No harm in reaching out.
But besides some of the big breeders, most I’ve herd offer mentorships without pay. The experiences and learning aspect is how they compensate you in the start I’ve found.
Aside from reaching out to people individually, put yourself out there. Here was a good start maybe someone in your area is looking for someone already. I might try Craigslist and some other classified like sites. I would like to find some more hands on experience in exchange for labor or whatever is needed myself. Pay would be amazing but it also comes down to “fit”. I’m more of a loner and it has been hard to gel with anyone or find the right person to learn under. A lot of breeders are the same way. Maybe even a reputable exotic vet would be a good place to ask or get your name spread around. Even someone to learn with and share the hobby with would help. Good luck finding your place.
I’m totally fine without pay! Just a hopeful thought lol. I don’t have a local exotic vet, and I don’t want to be a burden or make a fool of myself to the “big” breeders around me. I’m meeting my rodent supplier this afternoon and I’ll see what he thinks, he knows everyone it seems lol.
I don’t think anyone who respects the hobby or enjoys the hobby would ever think that of you.
You’re showing interest to learn, and a will to make what you keep and project come out with success. That’s never a burden, and if you run into a keeper or breeder who you get that feeling from, I would say those are the ones to avoid. And in the end it’s their lose not yours :).
If you’re close to any AZA accredited zoos I would look there. I interned at Como zoo in MN and that’s where I got my start working with reptiles. How to apply medications, probing, conservation projects, etc. Those are some of the things I learned/helped with and I wasn’t even one of the reptile interns
I know in past threads it has been brought up that people with larger collections are going to be more guarded which is understandable. Also the type of breeder your dealing with or find for “mentoring” might not be the type of breeder you want to be. I’ve lost respect for people fast in the short time I’ve been in the hobby.