Herp Queries: Difficulty Seeing Reptiles In Their Zoo Enclosures
Question: My zoo here in Houston has a great reptile collection. I love going there. The problem is, it’s hard to see some of the reptiles in the cages because they hide most of the time. I know they feel safer that way, but shouldn’t zoos avoid giving them so many hiding places so it’s easier for visitors to see them? I’d ask some of the zookeepers, but I’m a little embarrassed to do so.
Chandra Lopez, Houston, Tex.
If you can't see a particular reptile in its enclosure at the zoo, don't be shy to ask for help in spotting it.
Answer: This is an issue zookeepers deal with every day, so it’s quite reasonable for you to talk to the people who take care of the specimens in the herp house. Don’t fret, they won’t be annoyed. Au contraire, they’ll probably be pleased that you noticed their hard work in regard to vivarium décor, and would likely appreciate some feedback at how well their displays are perceived by the public.
Want To Learn More?
If elaborate dioramas at zoos allow the animals to “disappear” a little too well, it may be a situation that could be remedied. Live plants, for instance, sometimes grow too well and become too abundant without the keepers noticing, especially when they get used to checking their charges regularly and know exactly where to look for them in the animals’ favorite hidey-holes.
Don’t be shy to ask for help spotting hidden animals. The herp people I know are usually happy to help visitors who have a genuine interest in the herps. The next time you visit the zoo, knock on one of the doors inside the reptile building and tell whoever answers how much you enjoy the naturalistic exhibits. Then ask if they can help you locate the specimen(s) you’re having trouble locating. It’s more than likely you’ll get some enthusiastic help, along with some additional information about the species. And your asking may even result in some plants being trimmed back, or rocks being moved to make the herps inside the enclosure slightly more visible while still allowing them to remain feeling secure while still partially hidden.