Reptile keeping with disabilities

Continuing the discussion from Looking to buy first Boa (BCI):

I’m highly interested in every aspect of how you manage to keep reptiles.

Anyone else with disabilities of any kind that would like to share their experiences, feel free!

Some questions I have, though I’m sure other will have many more.

  1. How do you know your temps/humidity are right? Do you have a device that gives you a signal/feedback?

  2. How do you picture your snakes patterns in your mind? As a solid shade or have you created a image of what you imagine it to look like?

  3. Does the above question change with different snakes? Do you picture one dark and another light and so on?

  4. How many times have you been bitten?

Thank you for this opportunity for us all to learn @taylor-s :blush:


Glad to give my answers!

  1. How do you know your temps/humidity are right? Do you have a device that gives you a signal/feedback?

Yes, luckily not long after getting into snakes, I was able to find a talking infrared temp gun. Before that, I used one of those wireless weather station things.

Those work for 1 or 2 animals, but when your collection starts to grow beyond that, a temp gun makes life so much easier.
The one I personally use is

I’ve seen other thermometers that advertise a talking feature, but I haven’t needed to try any of them out thankfully.
It does make me nervous that one day this one will be discontinued, and it’s back to the dark ages. lol

  1. How do you picture your snakes patterns in your mind? As a solid shade or have you created a image of what you imagine it to look like?

I do try to imagine what they look like, with the saddles ETC, but I’m not going to lye, it is hard to keep it straight.

  1. Does the above question change with different snakes? Do you picture one dark and another light and so on?

Yes exactly.
For example, I can remember that animals like the sunglows ETC are a light cream color, and they can have orangish markings, or the IMG stuff is nice and black.

I was able to see up until around the age of 8, so I do know what the main primary colors look like.

  1. How many times have you been bitten?
    Lol, several. :slight_smile:
    Outside of feeding accidents, not very often though.
    From a boa, I don’t think it happens more than maybe twice a year.

It’s so cool that this came up! I’m disabled myself, it’s why I can’t work anymore (I’m a retired veterinarian). My case is very different though, because my hands are the limiting factor. I was bitten at work in late 2017 (my right hand- blood spurting and everything :grimacing:), and it developed into CRPS (complex regional pain syndrome) that then spread to my other hand.

I’m not going to take up peoples’ time explaining what CRPS is, as I can’t imagine it’d be too interesting to non-medical folk. The main thing is that both my hands are always painful. It never goes away, I never get completely used to it. I have a caregiver that comes once every 2-5 weeks that helps me with taking out the garbage, vacuuming, litter pan of my cat, laundry, etc. My hands are also a bit swollen and red and shiny, which is embarrassing, but doesn’t really affect my reptile-keeping.

I’ve had to make a lot of adjustments, as I’ve kept reptiles for about 20 years, but was only injured a few years ago. Now, I have to plan how I’m going to do things much further in advance. It’s kind of hard to find the sweet spot where I’m using my hands enough that there won’t be any serious muscle atrophy and loss of function, but I’m not doing so much that I won’t be able to move at all the next day.

For example, let’s say it’s time to top up all the gecko water dishes. I have to take a second to think about what water container to do it with, and how heavy it will be full of water. Then I think about whether I can rest part of the ‘watering can’ on a forearm (which doesn’t hurt much), and if any squeezing is involved.

Thus far, I have found this works the best:

Though I hate that I have to squeeze it, it doesn’t require much pressure, and it’s good to use those muscles sometimes, to prevent contraction/atrophy. The angle works perfectly, so I can shoot water into the dish even if I have an excited gecko jumping up and down (it’s so cute- some of them have taken to jumping at the stream, or drinking from it like a dog!).

The other thing that happens a lot is that I can only do so much before I have to take a break (unless it’s an emergent situation, of course), so I am trying to get better about pacing myself. Basically, I toodle around with my reptiles & their feeders and maintenance all day, on and off.

Oh and another thing! I have to think very carefully about which pain meds I have or have not taken before doing something. Though I don’t take opiates, I do take medications that affect concentration at times, especially in the evenings (when I know I won’t need to drive anywhere for a given day).

I didn’t take this quite as seriously as I should have at first, and once (only time in my life thus far) I put a leopard gecko back into the wrong enclosure. Trust me, two old lady geckos over 15 years old who have lived alone most of their lives do NOT like having visitors, and one of my girls lost part of her tail. I am lucky it wasn’t more serious.

Oh, and another thing is that it has affected which animals I’m able to keep. For years I’d dreamed of getting a blood python later in life, but now I know it’s almost certainly not a good idea.

The effect is also indirect- because I can’t work, while still having to pay off my veterinary school loans, I’m not in a great situation financially. So I have to be content with a small apartment with no air conditioning, which limits which species I can keep. Thus my Uroplatus dreams are on hold, potentially permanently. I am one of those ‘if you can’t afford the vet, you can’t afford the pet’ people, so my financial situation also limits how many pets I can have at a given time. I want to be able to care for each one as a beloved pet.

Oh, and last thing- I’m not able to do the intensive cleaning of my guys’ cages anymore. I can do daily stuff, or maybe one cage intensively cleaned as needed, but I can’t just ‘soldier through’ a day of cleaning- eventually the pain gets so bad that I can’t focus on what I’m doing at all, and I start dropping things.

Thus, though it was a major blow to my pride, I had to suck it up and talk with my caregiver about it. Fortunately, she is awesome, and is totally ok doing the deep cleaning, so long as I hold the geckos. It even gives me an opportunity to give them a mini-exam.

Just some random thoughts from another differently-abled person. :wink:


I didn’t even know they existed. But thinking about it, I went to a restaurant years ago that had blind chefs. I’m guessing this is the type of device they would use aswel to check food temps :thinking:.

Buy a spare while you can, considering the state of the world’s economy right now it isn’t guaranteed that that brand will exist next year :joy:.

This is extremely cool and interesting. Its amazing that you have your own view on these animals that is completely personal.

That’s not as much as I expected :joy: boas are calm and quite forgiving though so you have definitely chose the right species.

Thank you for taking your time to do this :blush: you are a inspiration to anyone that thinks that their disability will get in the way of their dream. I really appreciate it.

I’m going to dive into the comments and see what other questions you have been asked.


This sounds terrible, especially given that you were a vet and your hands were your most important tool.
You have mentioned it before but I never quite understood to what extent of pain you go through on a daily basis.

As horrible of a experience it probably was for yourself, that really made me laugh :joy:. Pain meds can really blur your straight thinking at times, it’s a completely understandable mistake that I’m sure more than a few can relate with :joy:. Just be glad it was geckos and not something that would need pulling apart like monitors :yum:

She does sound awesome. But then again she must feel the same about you. You have a house full of geckos… That’s damn cool, and surely got to be one of her favourite work days.

Thank you for sharing this Marla, it was seriously insightful and nice to know how you deal with everything. :blush:


Everybody has their own challenges though. I’m very lucky- I have a very supportive family…

It should be noted that being supportive does not preclude them driving me insane at times! hehe :grin:

I actually have a ton of geriatric leopard geckos that have VERY strong personalities. Even my mom, who is a cat person, has mentioned how surprised she’s been by how each of them is such an little individual. For example, I have Lucretia (the reclusive old lady that hates children), Adonis (the dumb blonde- it should be noted that blonde is my natural hair color), Lemmy (the friendly, pretty, but quite dim-witted one), Binky (the savage eater), Mew (the shy and sweet one), Pablo (the cyclops), etc. My younger ones have plenty of personality too, but there’s nothing quite like a senior leopard gecko. Maybe my soft spot for elderly companion mammals is getting carried over, heh.


Hi guys, figured I’d update this thread with some good news, and some bad news.

I’ll start with the bad.

The talking thermometer I linked too, and currently use is no longer being made. :frowning:
So, if you need one, the only alternative is to buy a talking health infrared thermometer.

I have one, but it’s not as smooth to use, so I honestly haven’t done a lot of using it. lol I’m just going to use the discontinued one until it dies.

Maybe if anyone has the ear of a company like Zilla or Zoo Med, they could put a bug in their ear about making a small run of temp guns that announce the readings…?

Now to the awesome news… thermostats!

I picked up one of the WIFI capable Spyder robotics herpstat spyderweb 2 thermostat… and was able to configure it 100% of the way, with 0 sighted help.

So, if your blind and need a smarter thermostat, this is the one for you. If you can see, then you don’t really need the WIFI, unless you just want to nerd out on it… because it’s pretty nifty.