My New Sulcata Tortoise From CCSB Reptile Rescue

My New Sulcata Tortoise From CCSB Reptile Rescue

sulcata tortoise
sulcata tortoise

Last week I had the privilege to visit Chad Griffin of CCSB Reptile Rescue in order to purchase a rescued Sulcata tortoise from him.  While we were there Chad graciously agreed to let us interview him and film his operation.  I was like a kid in a candy store, around every corner there were amazing creatures happily looking on as I explored the expanse of Chad's basement where they were housed.  Chad's rescue, CCSB, serves as a place or refuge for animals that are often feared and misunderstood.  Many of the animals in his care were from coordinated raids by local and state law enforcement agencies.  Often people will take on animals that they are ill equipped to care for and whether they're injured, seized, or just surrendered to CCSBChad cares for them all.

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We got to witness everything from harmless chameleons and boas to the potentially fatal cobras, vipers and crocodilians.  I just couldn't stop smiling.  As someone who shares a passion for animals I was also encouraged that Chad and I share a faith in Jesus Christ.  Chad considers himself a preacher first and his faith and integrity in this regard are unshakable.  We learned that CCSB offers certification classes to help address local and state laws regarding wildlife, animal first aid and treatment, as well as many other things.  This is definitely something worth checking into and I know I for one will be enrolling in one of his classes in the future.

 

I met Chad several years ago at a reptile show and I was encouraged that I wasn't the only weirdo on the block with a love for Jesus and these creepy crawly friends of mine.  I have been wanting to get a larger Sulcata (aka African Spur Thigh) tortoise for my Catching Creation programs for some time now and when I heard that Chad had a few in need of a new home I jumped at the opportunity.  This amazing creature is going to be a hit with kids and families this year in my programs.  I can't wait to share him with you all!  Did you see our last EPISODE about my Argentine Tegu "Bucky?"  Click HERE to check that out!  Have you seen our "Possum Catching 101" video and article yet?  Click HERE to check that out!

To check out Chad and all CCSB has to offer click HERE

Until Next Time,

Have a great adventure and remember Jesus Loves you!

Tegu Enclosure Build

Tegu Enclosure Build

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What the heck is a Tegu?  I've had that question postulated to me several times over the last week or two as I posted progress reports and pictures on my Instagram while building a large enclosure for my tegu.  Basically a tegu is a large lizard similar in stature and behavior to a monitor lizard.  My specific tegu is an Argentinian black and white tegu or Tupinambis merianae if you're fancy.A good friend of mine and fellow Catching Creation team member, Thomas LaVine, decided around 6-8 months ago to get himself a tegu and while ordering one for himself Thomas decided to also get one for me.

Thomas donated "Bucky" the Argentine tegu to me for the purpose of using in my ministry.  Little did we know that our tegus would be so wild when we got them.  The tegus both came from a guy in south Florida who runs a reptile rescue of sorts for tegus.  Basically since they're running wild down in Florida several people have taken it upon themselves to offer a "service" of capturing these wily beasts and shipping them across the country to the pet trade.  It solves the problem of the tegu being a burden on the ecology of native wildlife and reptile enthusiasts like myself can get a normally expensive animal for a fraction of the cost.  That all seems well and good, the only catch is that you have to spend quite a bit of time taming these animals in order to be able to throughly enjoy them.

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When I first got Bucky the tegu he was missing the last quarter of his tail, he was around 18 inches long and full of thrashing energy.  I fell in love with this little guy immediately.  Bucky hid for the first 10 days I had him.  I decided that in order to tame him I had to first build his trust so I left him alone, I didn't bother him and I just trusted that he was ok while inside of his hide for those first 10 days.  He would eventually start to peek his head out of the hide while I was in the room, but if we made eye contact he would dart back inside his dark hidey hole.  Eventually he got brave and would bask when I was in the room but if I made a motion towards his enclosure he would bolt back into his hide.  I would inch slowly towards his enclosure day after day until I built trust with him and I could get all the way to the side of his enclosure and he would stay.  This process went on for weeks and months.  I finally got where I could pet him while in his enclosure and most recently I've gotten where I can hold him with gloves for a minute or so before he starts to thrash wildly and wants to be let back into his cage.  Since we aren't on any sort of time table I'm comfortable letting him warm up to me at his own pace.

So with all of that back story and trust building you can see that I have a vested interest in this amazing creature.  I spent the last week building what most consider the appropriate sized enclosure for an Argentine tegu.  The total size of his new home is 4 feet wide, 4 feet tall, and 8 feet long.  He has an elevated basking post laid with tiles, a hide box under the second level of his enclosure and a ramp connecting both levels.  I placed the whole enclosure on a 2ft high stand so that when I open the doors to his enclosure Bucky will be at eye level.  The theory is that since I've made so much progress so far with him that being at eye level now when we interact will hopefully eliminate his fear of me.  He will no longer see me as a predator coming from above but as a friend coming at eye level.  I'm hoping that by spring I will be able to consistently handle Bucky and begin to use him in my programs by summer.  That would be a huge miracle and great testimony for this animal.

Tegus are incredibly intelligent and typically a very docile animal.  Since Bucky was wild collected in Florida he doesn't come with the good positive human interaction that a captive bred animal will have but since he is such a highly intelligent animal it is possible to tame him down.  I'm excited for this process and all the progress I've made with this wonderful animal.

If you've ever tried taming an animal, consider taming your tongue, check out this devotional from my book "Whispers In The Woods" here http://catchingcreation.com/can-tame-tongue/

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DCIM100GOPRO

Catching Creation Adventure Playlist

Catching Creation Adventure Playlist

I have decided to make a playlist on YouTube to make it easier to find our adventure episodes since I post a variety of clips and teachings on the site.  This is around 20 videos and approximately 5 hours of creepy crawly good stuff!  Check it out!

 

 

If you'd like any of these adventures on DVD make sure to visit www.CatchingCreation.com/store

 

Elon University Radio Interview

Elon University Radio Interview With Alex Rose

Recently I was contacted by Elon University radio host Alex Rose about my ministry, Catching Creation.  He was intrigued with what I do and made the hour or so drive from Burlington, NC to Winston to come record an interview about Catching Creation.  I think he did a great job with the interview and editing.  Check it out.

Anti-Bullying Program With Snakes

I was able to partner with L.I.T. City youth and do an Anti-Bullying program with my snakes at Wiley Middle School in Winston Salem NC 

We got to shoot this in a middle school gym so please forgive the audio quality.  During the course of the program we talked about animals that have been bullied since the beginning of time, the snakes.  Hognose snakes would hypothetically get picked on by other snakes because of their funny looking noses but the thing that makes them stand out is what makes them special.  I talked about the adaptations of the hognose that help it overcome being bullied (or preyed upon) by other animals.  I used corn snake morphs to talk about genetic diversity and how the differences between the snakes are only skin deep.  Lastly I used a large boa constrictor to illustrate the heaviness of what we are carrying around when we are bullied and that if we partner with someone else we can help share the burden and turn our hurt into hope.  I hope you enjoy this and if you're interested in having Catching Creation at your public school feel free to contact Info@CatchingCreation.com

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Keep An Eye Out For Box Turtles!

I've been seeing several box turtles lately on the highway and busier streets that border wooded areas.  The mild weather has them out moving around foraging as well as looking for winter hibernaculums.  If you see one of these gems please remember that they are in decline due to habitat loss and could really use your help across busy streets.  Remember to move them in the direction they are traveling and DO NOT take them down the road to what you consider a better place, these guys have a very small home range and even a few miles down the road could disorient a box turtle enough to cause them harm.  Always put your safety first and only move a turtle if you can do so safely.

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I'm Not Sweating, I'm Thermoregulating!

Me and the CC team decided to go hiking on this first week of Autumn to see what we could find. We learned that snakes thermoregulate by basking, dogs by panting and me by sweating...a lot. 

Have you enjoyed the new Catching Creation videos incorporating the rest of the team?  Would you like to see more of them?

Leave us a comment and let us know where you'd like to see us film next, what topics or animals we should cover, what pranks we should pull on each other and anything else you'd like to see us do.

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Red Salamander

I found a Red Salamander down in Blacksburg, SC. This is a clip from Catching Creation Volume 3 DVD from our episode about salamanders. 

The music was used with permission "Between The Now And Not Yet" by The Eager Seas ©2012 The Eager Seas http://theeagerseas.bandcamp.com/

 

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redsal

Snakes In The Church!!!!

If I had a dollar for every weird look, awkward pause on the phone and email that went unanswered regarding my particular brand of ministry I think I would at least be able to buy a new snake...  I absolutely love what I do.  Somehow God has allowed me to combine my two passions into a job that really doesn't seem like a job at all.  I get to do what I love, how many people can honestly say that?  God is growing this ministry exponentially all of the time and I get to experience more and more things that I otherwise wouldn't get to experience.  The draw back is that most people don't share my love for ALL of God's creation.  I get asked to leave on occasion due to my scaly ministry partners, people often gasp or run out of the building when I pull out Rosie the rather large red tailed boa constrictor.

  I see the faces of parents grimace when I talk about the hognose snake's toxic saliva and cane toad's poison glands (both of which are harmless to us!) but the best part of what I do involves the joy on the faces of children when fear is replaced with wonder.  And in the end even the most squeamish of spectators is at least intrigued.

You see I firmly believe that God created everything inherently good in the beginning.  Sometimes it may take a moment for us to realize the goodness of say venomous snakes (which I do NOT use in presentations!), but God is good and so is his creation.

The curse of sin obviously changed the nature of everything that God created BUT the hope is that we can still see the good in everything and give God the glory for it.  My job is one part evangelist and one part conservationist. God has entrusted us with some pretty awesome natural resources and I think he takes pleasure in our responsible stewardship of said resources.  At a very basic level if I can illustrate the unconditional love of our heavenly Father and explain the effects of sin, separation caused by the curse and redemption in Jesus Christ and that snakes (and other creepy creations) aren't evil; then I have done my job.  My heart is to teach you, your child and anyone else that God not only loves you but he has a plan for your life and wants you to be made into a new creation.

 Jesus desires a relationship with you and it all started in that garden both before and after the temptation that came in the serpentine form.  After saying all of that I sincerely hope you will consider having me at your church, public or private school, vbs, summer camp, youth group, family service or really anywhere that has a captive audience and wouldn't mind my animal ambassadors.  Thanks for your prayers and support from the bottom of my heart!

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Are You Royal Like A Ball Python?

Are You Royal Like The Ball Python?

          If you have spent any time in your local pet store or flipped through a book about snakes, you have probably seen pictures of the Royal Ball Python; more commonly just called the Ball Python.  Did you know that the Latin name for this snake is Python regius?  The scientific names of animals often will give us a more descriptive name of the animal and it also eliminates the confusion with common names.  In the case of the Royal Ball Python, aka Python regius, we know that the genus name Python refers to a class of constricting snakes and the species name, regius, actually means “of the king or belonging to the king.”So let me ask you again, are you royal like the ball python?  If you are a believer in

          Jesus Christ the answer is YES!  Let me break it down for you.  John 1:12-13 says “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”  Galatians 3:26-27 says “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”  Jesus Christ is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and if you are among those called children of God you too are heirs to royalty.  Romans 8:17 says Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” 

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If you liked this devotional be sure to pick up a copy of "Whispers In The Woods" to have a collection of 52 similar devotionals for your spiritual growth and encouragement.  Click HERE to order a copy!

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Holy Turtle

I found a turtle with a hole in it's face, sad reminder of our own mortality and how simple things can lead to our demise but there is hope with Jesus Christ!

 

 

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Corn Snake Hatching Time Lapse

Check out my first corn snake hatchling of the year.  I set up the Gopro Hero 3 camera and let it go for a couple hours and then sped up the footage.  First corn of the year is an A melanistic, not too shabby. 

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Are You Patient Like An Alligator?

Are You Patient Like An Alligator?

Have you ever watched an alligator move ever so slowly while stalking its prey?  They seem to have a large measure of patience while gradually inching closer and closer to their target.  Some will even lay on the bottom of the swamp with their mouth open and patiently wait for an easy meal like a fish to swim into their toothy trap.  Then just at the right time SNAP!  Their jaws will lock down on the meal they have been waiting all day for.  The end result of their wait is the reward they were hoping for, a meal.

Romans 8:24-25 says, “For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”  As believers we are waiting patiently in expectation of the return of Jesus.  We believe He is who He says he is and live our lives accordingly.  The reward for our faith and patience is an eternity in Heaven with our creator.  Just like the alligator waits in anticipation of his next meal, we as believers wait in expectation for the Lord.  Are you patient like an alligator?

Alligator

If you liked this devotional be sure to pick up a copy of "Whispers In The Woods" to have a collection of 52 similar devotionals for your spiritual growth and encouragement.  Click HERE to order a copy!

 

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Spotted Salamanders and the Church

Check out this clip from our first Catching Creation shoot of the year down in Blacksburg SC.  We shot video with what we had and the cameras ranged from Iphones, Gopros and even a Sony DSLR, we strongly believe in using what you have and know that God honors our faithfulness in the little things and is preparing us for the better equipment to come.  I'm really excited about this new DVD coming up and the team God has given me to help shoot new episodes of Catching Creation.  We are 1/2 way funded for our new Canon XF100 pro camcorder package that we've been saving and raising money for!

 

Check out a recent devotional about Salamanders HERE

Camp Grace Snake Bite!

I got to visit Camp Grace this week to do a few presentations, take kids out to listen to frogs at night and teach about creation and the creator.  While there we caught several awesome reptiles and amphibians.  Here's a video of me getting bit by a red bellied water snake.  Enjoy! 

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camp grace swamp
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basilisk
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slimy
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red belly

This Is Why I Do What I Do!

Check out this awesome promo and testimony video from Channing Guest down in Macon Ga.  I will be speaking at his church, Christ Chapel in Macon, GA on May 19 and at Pine Forest Baptist that evening.  Invite your friends and come experience the wonder of God's creation!  It's such an encouragement to see that this ministry is impacting lives both young and old for the sake of the kingdom.  Isn't God great!  I am humbled and honored that he took the time to make this video and blessed that the Lord set it all up.  It's hard not to have a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes when I think about what this ministry can accomplish for the sake of the Gospel.  YOU are special and YOU are loved and I want you to know that in Jesus name! 

Seeing lives changed for Jesus and being a positive influence in a world littered with filth is why I do what I Do.  My prayer is that the Lord will continue to use me as an effective minister of his Gospel.  I'm so thankful that of all people the Lord chose me, transformed me and can use me for his glory!

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Snappy Snap Oh Snap I found A Snapping Turtle

While hiking around the Reynolda Road wetland near Bethabara Park in Winston Salem I saw this little snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) scurrying into the woods in the direction of the wetland and away from the busy road.  I love seeing these guys and they never really seem as happy to see me.  What a great find. If you will notice, I'm holding him by the back of his shell and NOT his tail, this is very important as if you hold them improperly by the tail it can cause spinal injury in extreme cases.  So always remember IF you are going to handle an animal make sure it's done in a way that won't cause injury to the animal!

Check out the Devotional "Do You Live Like A Snapping Turtle" HERE

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Do Conditions Have To Be Perfect For You To Come Out?

Do Conditions Have To Be Perfect For You To Come Out?

Several years ago I had the amazing opportunity to see spotted salamanders breeding.  I know what you’re thinking, but I promise it’s not gross. The salamanders look as if they are all dancing underwater and you see flashes of bluish black with speckles of yellow and white spots glimmering in the moonlight. The conditions required to get spotted salamanders out en mass to breed need to be almost perfect.  The vernal (or temporary) pools that they lay their eggs in have to be the correct depth and PH, the humidity and temperature have to be just right and it typically follows a heavy rain.  Once their annual “dance” is complete they go back to their subterranean burrows and are rarely seen again until the next breeding season.

Hebrews 10:24-25 says, And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  The writer of Hebrews is encouraging us to not only love one another and do good works but to also not forget the purpose for meeting.  We don’t just go to church to keep up appearances, at least I hope not!

The real reason we assemble together is to mutually encourage one another so that we can do the work of the ministry that we ALL are called to do.  The Lord has given us all specific gifts in which we are to use to help edify the body and grow the kingdom of God.  We meet together so as to help one another from falling by the wayside or getting discouraged and giving up.  Do conditions have to be perfect for you to come out?

If you liked this devotional be sure to pick up a copy of "Whispers In The Woods" to have a collection of 52 similar devotionals for your spiritual growth and encouragement.  Click HERE to order a copy!