Arts

Scaly Tailz shelters reptiles

POSTED AT 11:38 PM ON Feb. 18, 2013  (UPDATED AT 10:07 AM ON Feb. 19, 2013)

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Scales and slithery tongues run the home of Sheryl Mitchell on South Walnut Street.

Scaly Tailz, a reptile and amphibian rescue and demonstration organization, started 16 years ago, when Mitchell was working in the reptile and amphibian section of a pet store.

“I really got interested in them. At the time, my son’s teacher asked if I could bring in the animals to show the students,” Mitchell said. “That’s how the demos started.”
Mitchell attends events in Bloomington to teach people about the care and preservation of reptiles and amphibians.

“I talk about how to be a good reptile pet owner and conservation,” Mitchell said. “I teach all the kids my favorite word: research. I wish people would research these animals better on how to properly care for them.”

Scaly Tailz incorporates the volunteer efforts of Darin Bagley, her assistant, and Mitchell’s sons, 19-year-old Wes and 9-year-old Claude.

“Most of the time we’re dealing with school children when we’re doing the presentations, so we’re trying to get them to learn about and understand the animals themselves,” Bagley said. “Less so about our organization.”

Along with providing informational demonstrations, Mitchell also uses her home as a rescue center for abandoned animals and animals that need a new home.

“Five or six years ago somebody contacted me and had a reptile they needed to re-home. And I started taking in reptiles,” Mitchell said.

The calls continued coming in from in and around Bloomington.

“We get a lot of calls where students have moved out, and they have just left the animal behind,” Mitchell said. “Unfortunately, the ones that get called to rescue quite often are too sick, and I just have to deal with what I’ve been given.”

Scaly Tailz never charges a fee for demonstrations and accepts donations in monetary supplements, as well as supplies for the animals.

Mitchell said she closes her demonstrations with a quote from Steve Irwin, a famous reptile and amphibian rescue enthusiast.

“If you don’t understand something, you don’t know about it, you’re gonna fear it and hate it,” Mitchell said, quoting Irwin. “But if you understand about animals, whether or not you learn to love them, you’re going to understand that they need protecting.”

 

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