|Circa August 1988 : Bob
Applegate is a true pioneer of herpetoculture, and one who had a
profound impact on me (Bill) personally. He's the first
private herp breeder I had ever met back on my 'virgin' foray out
into the world after graduating from high school. Along the way, I had been given Bob's name as
"the guy to see" out west, so look him up I did! I
later rolled into San
Diego, California back in the summer of 1974 with a carload of Florida
herps to trade and met Bob in person. His
garage was a miniature herp house, looking much the way it did in this
picture below even 14 years earlier when I first entered it. I
feasted my eyes on my first exposure to custom built-in herp caging units,
constructed side-by-side to make maximum use of space and building
materials. I also saw herps I'd only previously read about ---
Gila monsters, Argentine boas, California and Arizona mountain king
snakes, huge milk snakes, and all the others that are "common"
today in herpetoculture. Little did I appreciate at the time,
Bob is one of the main reasons why they're common nowadays!
This was the first time I'd met someone who had focused his attention on captive breeding in a large and serious way. Other people had impressive collections, but this guy was getting his to reproduce for him! It added a whole new dimension to my perspective: that there was more to this hobby than just housing a living stamp collection of cool animals that I'd caught. It gave the entire endeavor new goals and meaning to me!
I remember two particular incidents best from that fateful day - one was a harmless enough-looking coffee can with the plastic lid generously punctured with many air holes sitting on a shelf in the room. It was too tempting for any herp hunter endowed with normal curiosity not to immediately notice and want to peek inside. Bob then informed me it was an unusual baby rattlesnake and encouraged me to check it out. In the can was a spring-loaded snake that exploded out when the lid was popped off. That little gag is probably responsible for a few yellow stains left on the floor by green kids taking the bait on their initial introduction to the old master and his playful sense of humor! The second fortunate event was meeting another future life-long friend at Bob's house that day -- Gary Sipperley; I'll deal with him separately later on.