|CIRCA: March 1983, Miami, Florida,
USA. "Suriname's due in this afternoon".
A message like that was like dangling the proverbial carrot in front of
the donkey when it spread like wildfire among South Florida's brotherhood
of herpers back in those days. It meant a new bunch of wooden
crates filled with undulating sacks and plastic tubs with squirming
occupants arriving from South America was en route!
Everyone wanted first dibs on the nicest specimens to either set up for
breeding, or to offer for resale. Some of those animals helped
create the well-known strains popularly bred on a large scale for pets
That particular day, a number of the peninsula's dealers and serious keeper / breeders had gathered like vultures on the front lawn at Ed Chapman's house to choose from among the goodies in the just-arrived shipment. Everyone was enthusiastically helping Ed unpack, hoping to lays eyes on some rarity coiled at the bottom of a bag and claim it first. It was exciting (and a somewhat chaotic) as everything from bizarre horned frogs, twistneck turtles, azure blue poison frogs, gorgeous redtail boas, sleek black mussuranas, elegant tree vipers, and humongous, angry Pseustes 'racers' came barreling out of their cloth prisons. In the case of the latter, they often tried to take a piece of our faces off as they lunged up and out. Other containers might contain things none of us had ever seen before --- a touch of mystery always added to the thrill of being there to see everything first! Who knows what else might be lurking inside? It certainly wasn't always exactly what was listed on the import documents!
LEFT TO RIGHT: Ed Chapman Sr., Joe Beraducci, Tom Crutchfield, Chris McQuade, Ray Van Nostrand (seated), Scott Hearsey, Ed Chapman Jr., and Bob Harding. Photo by Bill Love.