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Animal Conservation, Reptiles, And Herpetology with Bryce Byrd
I’ve got Bryce Byrd. In addition to being a fine young man, Bryce is my youngest son. He’s eleven years old and he’s smart as a whip. I have him on the podcast for a few reasons. Number one, he’s one of my biggest supporters. Number two, he’s my son and I love him dearly. Since I started talking around the house about this idea of doing a podcast, he was enamored immediately and has been very supportive. Now, that I’ve been recording several he’s been pestering me, “I want to come on.” He’s on spring break. It’s the first spring break that we didn’t go anywhere or do anything.
I am Bryce Byrd. I’m eleven. What I’m going to be talking about is the reptile-keeping hobby, which is similar to genres. The main base of it is reptiles and amphibians like frogs, toads and snakes. There are the invertebrates like spiders, centipedes, beetles and stuff like that. That are the main two genres but out of the main one, the most probably kept reptile out of the reptile and amphibians are probably snakes.
You bring that up and in a lot of ways, you’re probably an animal enthusiast, right?
I’m going to tell you, don’t let the age fool you. This kid knows more about all types of animals, not just reptiles but also birds. What’s that called?
Ornithology is the study of birds.
For a long time, sea animals were an interest.
I like aquatic organisms, but I strive more to terrestrial species.
You mentioned you want to talk a little bit about reptiles and reptile-keeping. Do you keep any reptiles yourself?
Yes. Mushu, a bearded dragon.
What is a bearded dragon?
A bearded dragon is part of the Agamidae family. They can get pretty big. It’s a creature from Australia and they are called bearded dragons because they have spikes under their head, which their head is actually not that pointy. It’s more round in my opinion. They have a beard that they can puff out and stretch out. When they’re stressed, it turns black or if they’re stretching out, it turns black.
You said a beard. Is this a hair?
It’s spines like evolved scales. I already have the enclosures set up for a Costa Rican Zebra-knee tarantula with the scientific name of Aphonopelma seemanni. They are a burrowing species that live throughout Central and South America. The males are more solid black, but the females have a white on them.
Do you intend on getting a tarantula?
What makes you so interested in these reptiles and keeping them?
I don’t know. When we got Mushu, he was different and then he got moved into my room. It just happened.
You know these species’ names and it sounds like you know what you’re talking about at least to start. Where do you get all of this information?
There are forums online, YouTube and stuff like that.
Do you have any books that if I was a budding reptile enthusiast that you’d recommend?
Most of my books are bird books, but what I would recommend is probably like a book that has the scientific names, like a field guide. The Field Guide to the North American Teenager if you’re going herping, which herping it’s going outside which I’ve done myself before. One was unintentional and we found a huge mud snake. The second one was intentional, but it’s where you go out into some climate, a yard, maybe a mountain or something like that, looking for amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates in that area specifically.
That’s called herping.
Herpetology is the study of reptiles. It’s herping because you’re looking for reptiles.
You talked about a mud snake. Tell me about that.
They’re long. They wouldn’t get big. They feed off aquatic salamanders like Amphiumas, most of the time, which are serpents. They look like eels but they’re actually salamanders. Mud snakes are black and with reddish underbelly.
Where did you see this mud snake? Tell us the story.
We were walking down a trail on Big Thicket.
We were in the Big Thicket National Forest in Southeast Texas.
We were walking down the Woodland Trail and then there was Big Sandy River. It was pretty big.
Me and this kid were walking through the forest and he said, “There’s a snake.” I turned down. I didn’t see it and I didn’t notice it. I looked down and there was about a 40-foot snake.
It was probably four to six feet because they don’t get too big but it was pretty big.
It had to be at least eight to ten, but it was the biggest snake that I’ve ever seen in my life and it was right by my foot.
It was close.
I freaked out. I took off running and left him for dead. You were calm about it. Why were you calm?
I knew it wasn’t going to hurt me and most likely, if it was a venomous snake or was going to try and attack me, it would have been doing some threat posture or something.
A lot of people I know, including myself, have a natural bias and dislike or even fear of a lot of reptiles. You don’t have that, do you?
Why do you think people are scared of snakes and reptiles?
Snakes specifically because they’re so strange. Some people say they’re slimy but they’re not. They’re smooth and cold but it’s so weird because they might think it’s scary or even terrifying because it’s weird. It’s a living, breathing animal. It’s not a worm. It has eyes, a mouth, it can breathe, has ears and stuff like that but it has no legs, no limbs and it can still move around.
They’re coldblooded, aren’t they?
Isn’t that the distinction between reptiles and amphibians?
Amphibians don’t have scales. They’re more wet. They have a wet skin. That’s why if you touch an amphibian for too long, oils from your skin could go into it and harm it.
Is that also why you can get warts from toads?
You can’t.You've got to know what you're getting into as you get a new honor. Click To Tweet
My mom always told me that.
It’s a myth. I was told that too. You can’t. They’re just poisonous. They have poison glands on their neck area or where the neck would be.
Is that harmful to humans?
Don’t eat it or anything. It can get in your eyes, irritate it and irritate your mouth.
It’s not going to kill a human.
It’s not going to be where you touch it, you’re dead. It’s probably not enough to kill you.
The snakes on the other hand, the reptiles they could be deadly to humans.
Cobras are dangerous. They get big, especially king cobras and they’re venomous and some can spit. That’s a big death sentence.
Cobras aren’t natives to North America, right?
No, but in South America they have colubrid. Colubrids are like corn snakes and garter snakes that is called a false water cobra. It can stretch out a hood on its neck like a cobra, but it can also scratch out the rest of its skin on his body.
Is that dangerous?
That’s why it’s a false cobra. Are there any of these snakes native to North America or even Texas that are poisonous and deadly?
They’re not poisonous, they’re venomous. A poison is a chemical inside the body or produced from a gland. Venomous, it’s injected from a stinger or the fang. That’s the difference.
Snakes are venomous, not poisonous.
Not poisonous. If you read a book saying poisonous snakes, there’re no poisonous snakes.
It’s a misnomer.
Are there any venomous snakes in our area or North America that people should watch out for?
Coral snakes definitely.
Why coral snakes?
Coral snakes because they’re very dangerous. They have extreme venom even if they’re very small.
What do they look like?
Black and yellow. If black and yellow, killer fellow. I say killer because I’ve always heard it like that. Yellow and black, friendly jack. It’s referring to milk snakes.
That’s referring to the colored bands and how they appear.
One of my favorites, the Pueblan milk snake, it was the first kind of snake I ever held. I love them. They look a lot like coral snakes.
Have you ever encountered a coral snake in the wild? I think your brother and sister found one, didn’t they?
That was a copperhead. Copperheads are way more common. These coral snakes are tiny.
Copperheads are venomous. Would it be deadly to human or harm?
I think it’s deadly, but I know you can live from it. I know there was this kid, he went to his grandma and he got bit by a copperhead but he lived. He got rushed to the hospital.
We’ve had some copperheads in our own backyard. What about other venomous snakes in North America?
Rattlesnakes and copperheads are both vipers but rattlesnakes are pretty dangerous. You don’t want to mess with them. There are a lot of different kinds of rattlesnakes though. The biggest one in the world is in Houston, the Rattlesnake Roundup. They say it to get rid of the population, but I see it as people don’t like rattlesnakes so they kill them. They kill them and they’ll eat them. They are in the hundreds of thousands. It’s very non-ethical thing.
Why is it non-ethical to you?
It’s non-ethical to me because it’s not an invasive species. It’s a native species, so there’s no problem with there being more.
Do they play a role in the ecosystem here?
Yes. Everything plays a role. There are keystone species and there are other species. A keystone species is something, for example, a woodpecker, like different kinds. Some woodpeckers will make sap wells, that’s sapsuckers. In the park, I saw one of those. It might’ve been a sapsucker. They make wells and that also provides to insects and stuff like that. Woodpeckers, in general, are keystone species, but we need snakes because we do not want rodents and they’re going to eat the rodents for us. We definitely don’t want rodents.
All these snakes we’re talking about, are they carnivorous?
All snakes are carnivorous.
There are no omnivores or vegetarians?
The closest thing to that is the African egg-eating snake. They eat all the eggs.
That’s still carnivorous, for the most part.
That’s the closest thing to non-carnivorous they have.
If someone wants to get a reptile, what’s a good starter reptile for someone to start with?
Most people consider a bearded dragon, but I wouldn’t because they get expensive. You’ve got to get large cages, lights and stuff like that. Before you go out and buy something, you’ve got to do your research first obviously.
What kind of research would you recommend?
Forums, designated things for reptiles, you can go on YouTube but look for reliable sources.
What are some reliable sources you’ve used for information on the reptiles?
Arachnoboards, stuff like that and then there are YouTube videos like GoHerping and AfroHerpKeeper. Those are pretty good. Other apps are good but I haven’t used, like Amino for reptile care. Normally, there are forums for certain animals.
These are all easy to find with a basic Google search. Other than a bearded dragon, what else is good for someone to start out with?
I don’t consider bearded dragons. They’re good pet reptiles but they get expensive.
Absent the expense, are they easy to care for?
They need to eat a lot of insects then you switch them over, right as they become an adult from 80% cricket insects and 20% greens, switch around. They have lights and a cage.
How time-consuming is caring for something like a bearded dragon?
I don’t consider it time-consuming because it’s fun. I like it. A good beginner reptile would be a Leopard gecko. If you’re getting a reptile pet, do not buy from PetSmart or PetCo.
They’re chains and then they get from mills. Mills are a whole different story. They’re a horrible place.
Tell us about that.
There’s one mill that they have groups of bearded dragons to breed but are in cramped spaces. They’re not sexually mature. They have poop everywhere, they keep frogs in water bottles.
These are places that are set up simply for breeding and reproduction of these animals for sale.
For sale, not even thinking about the animal.
A mill is something that’s pumping them out without any ethical treatment or standard of care.
If you’re going to look for someplace, you’re going to have to first look at the care and then you’re going to have to find a good breeder or a local place. We have Pet Den, they breed other animals. They do it because they like animals. They do shows too like public events. They specialize in snakes especially. I go on their Facebook but they’re in Nederland. They sell bearded dragons, tarantulas and stuff like that. A common misconception with bearded dragons and Leopard geckos is that you keep them on the sand, which you do not. Sand can cause impaction, which is not digestible. It gets stuck in the stomach, they get sick and harmed from it if they eat it.
Is there any danger of people keeping these reptiles as pets, especially when the reptile is not native to this continent?
Just don’t let them go because in Florida we have a huge problem. People have released green iguanas, which are detrimental. Burmese pythons which get huge, anacondas which get even bigger and are probably going to eat baby alligators and then Argentine black and white tegus.
What’s a tegu?
A tegu is like a monitor lizard but from South America. They come in different colors depending on the species, but they’re pretty large. Monitors can have long neck but they don’t and are extremely aggressive eaters in fact. That’s why they’re so invasive.
What’s the problem in Florida?
There are not that many Anacondas, but Burmese pythons since they’re so big, they’ve been eating dogs and stuff.
Down in the Everglade areas.
Green iguanas are aggressive and they eat a lot of vegetation.
They could become invasive and tear things up.
They’re invasive in Puerto Rico.
It’s a great example. We went to Puerto Rico and what did we see?
Everywhere in the mangrove, as far as I can see, there are green iguanas.There should be laws for making it criminal to poach or harvest endangered species. Click To Tweet
They were not natural to that island.
A lot of people get them as little babies. It’s like, “It’s a cute little lizard. I love it.” It gets big if it’s a male and it’s not neutered. You actually sometimes have to neuter these animals. If they’re male, they get territorial, aggressive and have powerful tail whips.
That’s what I was going to ask you. These iguanas can get mean.
They can get mean.
I’ve heard people having them as pets but you wouldn’t recommend that.
At least not for a beginner, correct?
You’ve got to know what you’re getting into as you get an iguana.
How do we combat for instance in the Everglades, the overrunning of these non-natural species?
Tegus are invasive because they’re aggressive eaters. They also eat dogs and cats. They’re also omnivorous actually.
What do we do about it though? How do you put the genie back in the bottle?
A lot of people in South Florida are actually going out and catching them. A large kind of tree frog is invasive to South Florida. Also, the same problems happen in Hawaii.
What’s going on over there?
They have iguanas, they have brown tree snakes that the government released. They are mongooses, they have rats, but the Hawaiian goose, the Nene are getting their eggs eaten by more of the invasive species of mammals. They also have green iguanas. If you bring a Cuban tree frog into Hawaii, you get an expensive fine.
There are laws on the books. They’re probably more aggressive in some places than others.
Hawaii and South Florida are sensitive because they’re so humid and tropical.
I think a great model for that is the Galapagos. Don’t they have very strict laws? Is it technically part of Chile?
I think that’s part of Ecuador actually.
There are some strict laws.
Don’t touch the animals.
Almost some quarantine laws before you go there, aren’t there?
I think there is so you don’t bring any diseases.
I’m pretty sure there are some high standards over there.
In South Florida for example, Dubia roaches aren’t allowed. They’re not cockroaches. The difference between a roach and a cockroach is different because a cockroach invades your home. There are 30 species of this. A roach, it’s similar to a cockroach, but it doesn’t invade your home. There’re over 4,000 species of those. Dubia roaches are fed to reptiles often because they’re easy to breed. They’re native to South American stuff. They don’t need that much to live and breed. They’re sold as feeders, but they’re not allowed in Canada. I don’t know why they’re not allowed in Canada. They’re not allowed in South Florida and Florida in general, because they breed rapidly in heat and humidity. If they were in South Florida, that would lead to them breeding and also becoming invasive species.
What’s the coolest animal you’ve ever seen in person?
I’ve seen a lot of animals, so it’s going to be hard.
What’s the coolest reptile you’ve ever seen?
I know a cool one which is green tree pythons.
Why are they so cool?
I like them. They’re pretty green and have purple mouths I think. They sit like a little vine on branches. They’re cool.
What about the coolest amphibian you’ve ever seen?
I’ve got to say Vietnamese mossy frogs. Those things are cool. They basically are tree frogs, but they look like clumps of moss.
It’s probably native to Vietnam and Southeast Asia.
Also, a cool animal I’ve seen are blue-tongued skinks.
Those are natives of North America, right?
No, they’re native to Australia and Indonesia, but there are a lot of different species of blue-tongued skinks.
I’ll tell you my favorite of the herps that I’ve seen in person is that Cayman blue iguana.
They’re very endangered. We were lucky enough to see one there.
They’re only on the Cayman Islands and we saw one there at their national park.
We thought it was a marine iguana but it wasn’t because they live in the Galapagos but we were young.
Do you remember going to the Cayman Islands?
I remember that.
There are a lot of iguanas there too.
In Key West, we saw a huge hermit crab. Do you remember that?
Also, we saw these geckos, they’re actually invasive. They’re called giant day geckos and they’re native to Madagascar. They’re pretty big. They get up to like eleven to twelve inches. They get big but they mainly feed off fruit and stuff like that.
You mentioned that one reptile that’s in danger of extinction was the blue iguana. Are there several others that you know?
There are several others.
What’s causing these risks of extinction? Do you know?
A lot of capture for the illegal pet trade is a big one, tourism for some and invasive species definitely.
Another species could be introduced into an area.
Veiled chameleons and Jackson chameleons live in Hawaii invasively, Florida and California. I don’t think you could consider them an invasive species though because they don’t move a lot. They can’t really invade because they stay in one area.
Destruction of habitat as well, right?
What about climate change or global warming?
Some of it, yeah.
Have you read or heard anything about that?
Climate change? It’s a horrible thing. It kills.
I’m not asking about climate change. I’m asking if you’ve heard of any species nearing extinction or becoming extinct as a result of global warming?
There are so many. I can’t think of it. Definitely polar bears and stuff like that.
I’ll reference an author, a writer, an editor, I believe and he had a magazine or something like that. I heard him on a podcast. He wrote a book that’s on the New York Times bestseller list, that’s talking about global warming, the changes of temperature and what we have coming in. One thing he was mentioning in 2015 or 2016, was there’s this type of deer, like a dwarf antelope that’s native somewhere in Siberia. That unusually warm summer, they had some mass extinction event where the entire species died. Hundreds of thousands of them were dead.
They can’t evolve quickly. That’s a thing with invasive species in global warming.
I think what the scientists have come to conclude or determined is there is some type of bacteria that lies in the gut of this animal that changed as a result of the temperature, which then became deadly and killed them. I’m talking about this mass extinction in one summer, these dwarf antelopes somewhere in Siberia wiped out.
A bunch of deer in North America and stuff like that is also dying from a disease Zombie deer disease.
I’ve read somewhere that it was found in something like 28 States. I know we like getting on the wilderness, but my other big memory from that snake adventure we had is I got Lyme disease. That’s something that people have got to be careful out there. Should we try and protect species that are about to become extinct?
I assume most people probably feel that way. To do so, what efforts do we take to do that?
First of all, captive breeding programs, those work a lot.
What’s a captive breeding program for those who may not have ever heard of?
For example, like a zoo or something, I know this isn’t a reptile but we’re in conservation. The Attwater’s prairie chicken was native to Louisiana and extinct in Louisiana. It’s native to our area in Texas, but it’s barely alive. There is a breeding facility outside of the NASA where they breed them, they take them and then they rerelease them. They’re native to coastal prairie, that’s why they’re called prairie chickens.
What are we doing in terms of laws to protect these species that might be in danger?
The Endangered Species Act affected three species of arboreal tarantulas and the Poecilotheria genus, which is native to Asia. They’re colorful but they’re endangered. The US Fish and Wildlife Service is saying, “You can buy them and keep them until this time and then they’re not being sold again because they’re endangered species.” A similar thing that makes no sense at all is the Lacey Act.
What is the Lacey Act? You were telling me that, I’ve never heard of it.
It’s affecting people that keep tarantulas especially. What the Lacey Act is, Brazil was basically like, “You can’t import any more Brazilian only native tarantulas.”
You mean you can’t export.
They were coming out a big supplier, good breeder Palp Friction Tarantulas and they were coming to them and saying, “Take those Brazilian tarantulas away even though there were captive bred.” They were saying, “It’s still illegal because these Brazilian spiders are now illegal, but you’ve got the original spiders from Brazil before they were illegal. Technically the spiders are still illegal.”
Was the Lacey Act passed in Brazil?
It’s pretty new. It was happening. The US Fish and Wildlife Service barely knows about it. It’s been happening for a bit. It’s basically Brazil saying, “Just because you have captive bred so-and-so tarantula only native in Brazil, it still came from a tarantula that used to live in Brazil, so it’s still illegal.”
Do you know whether or not the Lacey Act was a Brazilian Law or an American Law?
It’s Brazilian Law because The US Fish and Wildlife Service had no clue what it even was.
Effectively according to Brazilian Law, reproduction through captive breeding of the species of tarantula is banned or barred.
Even though they’re captive bred, it’s somehow illegal.
It would be interesting to take a look and see the interplay there and whether or not there’s some type of treaty or other enforceability for that law in America. I’m not sure. I’ve been a lawyer for all your life and for a long time before that. I’ll be the person to tell you that we can pass laws all we want but enforcements is another thing in it. I would say in the area of this variety of species of animals, particularly when it comes to endangered animals that passing a law to save an animal, what comes to my mind is certainly there should be laws for making it criminal to poach or to otherwise harvest endangered species.
Something like that, the movie Rio 2, how they’re trying to save the Spix’s blue macaw. It went completely extinct, the captive breeding, even the movie tried to save them but it didn’t work.
Hopefully, there are a few out in the wild that are still making it.
I think they’re all extinct, but they might have some in captivity and if they do, I hope. Also, there’s de-extinction.
The point I was trying to make, we have to as well as we can provide information and get people’s mindset to understand that we should be mindful of these endangered species and not harvest some. There are only a hundred of these left. How’s it going to change the ecosystem? I think every time we destroy species we’re endangering the ecosystem and the balance.
We need to get governments to deploy agents to go into the black market pet trade and then somehow obtain those animals and either release them back to the wild or put them on a preserve or something like that.
That’s lofty, but that takes money and manpower.
About de-extinction, these extinct species that are gone, for example, passenger pigeon, they help the oak tree tremendously.
How did a passenger pigeon help an oak tree?
They were everywhere.
Were passenger pigeons everywhere worldwide?
No, everywhere across North American forests.
What happened to the passenger pigeon?
They got hunted to extinction.
When did they become extinct?
I think it was in the 1800s maybe. They would spread different tree species, especially oak trees to new areas and they run huge numbers.
We have fewer oak trees because of the loss of the passenger pigeon. Is that what you’re saying?We should be mindful of endangered species and not harvest some. Click To Tweet
Passenger pigeons were keystone species. Some researchers are saying before we bring back mammoths and stuff like that, we’ve got to bring back to the important stuff, the keystone species.
Why would a passenger pigeon be labeled as keystone species?
It would spread seeds of all different kinds, all across North America for the trees and stuff like that. I think passenger pigeons ate at the underbrush and kept it down.
What I was asking you is can the same fate reach the Dodo bird?
Some people think Dodo birds could be alive because Mauritius is an island and it could be hiding out somewhere because there was a video of the drone where it showed these three chickens like animals. They weren’t chickens though. They’re round and it showed them running and they didn’t look like anything else that would be on that island besides a Dodo bird.
They could be a Nicobar pigeon.
Nicobar pigeons don’t live in Mauritius.
What is a Nicobar pigeon? Are they the cousin of the Dodo bird?
That’s the closest thing related even though it doesn’t look like one.
I’ve seen one of those.
They’re pretty. I’ve seen one of them too.
Weren’t the Dodo birds pretty dumb?
That’s what I remember from the cartoons when I was a kid.
They weren’t. They were actually smart.
They were native to Southeast Asia, right?
No, they were native to Mauritius. There were actually three species. The ones that live in Mauritius, there was a white kind, I think. This might not be accurate. I might’ve heard this somewhere that lived on a different island, but they’re from Mauritius and they’re flightless pigeons.
They were over-hunted, right?
Yeah and not just over hunted invasive species like pigs and stuff. The gastric brooding frog that actually people in Australia are doing a great deal. They’re doing really good though. They’ve gone pretty close. What they’re doing is they’re getting a frog that’s the closest relative to the gastric brooding frog. Even though the species only breeds like once a year, they have to do it every once a year but they’re getting the eggs in doing that and making DNA from the gastric brooding frogs. There was a guy that had a colony and he happened to put the dead ones in his fridge. It turns out that the dead ones still had intact tissues.
Back to your point you were talking about, there was potential for de-extinction or reintroduction of an extinct species.
That’s what I’m talking about.
How does that happen?
What they do is a pretty hard process. You get the DNA and they artificially inseminate an embryo and then they try and raise it in like a petri dish.
Put the embryo into similar species.
For example, if you’re trying to revive a mammoth, they would put the egg in the surrogate mother that would be an Asian elephant.
Isn’t that playing God on our part though?
We’re the ones who got rid of them, we might as well bring them back.
If people have an interest in these reptiles you are talking about or any of the conservation efforts you’ve talked about, how would they find out more information?
Pick organizations and stuff like conservation or zoos.
How do we find out more about you, what you’re going to be doing and your bright future ahead of you? Do you have a website or anything like that?
Do you still have plans to make your B&B Aquatics and Exotics?
I don’t think I’ll be able to do this, but I’m striving for it to make an aviary.
What’s an aviary?
I want to somehow make a zoo, an aviary or some of those sorts.
Why don’t you think you’d be able to pull that off? That sounds like something you could easily do.
It’s mainly done by organizations.
When you talk about an aviary, are you talking about a hobby level size aviary?
Not like a place where endangered species of birds go.
You’ve been telling me in the past that you wanted to be an ornithologist.
I want to do a lot of ornithology, but I also want to focus on other animals too.
With respect to being an ornithologist or focusing on animals as a career, do you want to focus on conservation or animal care?
Captive breeding, conservation, and stuff.
You want to be a breeder.
Maybe have an aviary with some birds and maybe a room with endangered insects and stuff like that.
I know we have only touched on a drop in the wealth of knowledge you have about reptiles, birds and all animals.
What’s a beginner reptile? Besides leopard gecko, maybe a corn snake too.
I’ll say this if anybody’s got questions for Bryce, you can find us online. You can go to one of my websites, either the law firm website or go to TheByrdChronicles.com. Send me a message, check us out on Instagram, we’ll put some pictures of him up there with his bearded dragon. You can comment to that and send any questions you may have for Bryce Byrd because you don’t quite have a full online presence. Will you come back and be on the podcast again?
Did you have fun?
It was informative. I love you. Thank you for being here.
- The Field Guide to the North American Teenager
- GoHerping – YouTube Channel
- AfroHerpKeeper – YouTube Channel
- Pet Den
- Palp Friction Tarantulas
About Bryce Byrd
Bryce Byrd, 11 years old, a and fifth-grade student at All Saints Episcopal. He is a nature and animal lover at heart. He enjoys ornithology and herpetology but is very well versed in all plants and animals. He plants a summer garden, loves Camp Stewart in the summer and is a brown belt in Tae Kwon Do.