Name: Will Thomas (pictured above holding a flying lizard in Komodo National Park)
Master of Research (MRes) Natural Sciences (Research submission - Molecular Phylogeographic Origin Testing in the Tenerife gecko Tarentola delalandii). Studied at University Of Wales Bangor, course completed 2009, Distinction Attained, Winner of the Chuck Hollingworth award for best written thesis.
Bachelor of Science (Bsc) Zoology with Marine Zoology (Research submission – Investigating the effect of incubation temperature on hatchling fitness and morphology in the Mourning Gecko Lepidodactylus lugubris). Studied at University of Wales Bangor, course completed with honours in 2008, Research project part funded by the British Herpetological Society.
Reptile Trade, Having started work in his local reptile store back in 2002 Will now has over a decade of experience working in the reptile trade having previously worked in two specialist shops before opening his own.
Zoo Experience, As a teenager Will undertook a worked at Bristol Zoo giving him a chance to further his knowledge of some of the more unusual species as well as learning about the importance of stud books and long term record keeping when breeding reptiles.
Co founder of Bangor University Herpetological Society, Along with two friends, back in 2006 Will helped to found the aforementioned herpetological society; the society has grown from strength to strength and is now one of the top herpetological societies in the UK
Consultant to the BBC, During the filming of the BBC2 natural history ‘South Pacific’ Will was employed in a consultancy role when working on studio footage with some of the reptiles, including amazing footage of geckos hatching.
Over a decade’s experience keeping reptiles, Will has been keeping reptiles since 2001, to date he has kept over 150 different species and successfully bred approximately half of them.
9 Years as a Semi-professional reptile breeder, throughout college and university Will funded the upkeep of his vast collection of reptiles through breeding and selling the offspring. He exhibited at all the major UK reptile shows and even international events along with supplying pet shops up and down the country and major UK wholesalers. To date Will has bred in excess of 6000 reptiles of over 70 different species with approximately half being geckos.
Will has provided a number of seminars and informative talks to schools, societies and academic institutions on topics ranging from basic reptile keeping, ecology, reptile conservation, reptile taxonomy, reptile nutrition and at a higher academic level the use of advanced molecular statistical analysis techniques.
Field studies and conservation work
Along with numerous UK reptile and amphibian monitoring projects Will has taken part in tracking the spread of invasive Anole species in the Caribbean. In 2014 he also fulfilled a childhood dream of travelling to Indonesia to visit Komodo National Park where he was able to get up close and personal with Komodo dragons in their natural habitat.
Name: Ally Chapman
Position: Assistant Manager
Graduate of the school of life, Member of the IHS and BTS, Ally is also currently enrolled on a Photography degree
18 years keeping and breeding reptiles, Ally has bred everything from tarantulas (including a European first for New river rust rumps), various colubrid snakes, pythons an Boa’s, a host of small lizard species right through to flap neck and Jacksons Chameleons.
11 years in the reptile trade, Ally has worked in and managed a number of stores and has invaluable experience not just of the animals and their care but also the equipment and products.
Reptile Shows: Ally can often be seen exhibiting some of her own captive bred animals at a number of the UK reptile shows including Kempton, Portsmouth, Doncaster and Kidderminster.
Field Experience: Ally has taken part in a number of UK and French Herpetology and Entomology trips.
Personal Statement: Exotic pets have somehow snuck up on me over the years to steal all my spare time as well as being my job, there’s always a new challenge, new things to learn and things to improve. I love helping people along their journey towards keeping any new reptile and hearing how they’re getting on with existing ones.
I’m a firm believer in captive breeding as many different species as we can in the hobby, not only because the offspring are generally easier to care for than their wild caught counterparts, but in the long term we just can’t guarantee that the wonderful diversity that we enjoy now will last.
Name: Tom Middlebrook
Position: Senior Livestock Technician
Qualifications: BSc (Hons) Zoology
10 years keeping reptiles: Tom has been keeping reptiles from a young age and has bred more than a dozen different species including everything from corn snakes and leopard geckos through to frilled dragons and various knobtailed geckos. He is now focussing on his rhino iguana breeding projects along with Australian pythons.
Reptile Shows: Tom can often be seen at UK reptile shows exhibiting some of the species he has bred
Zoo experience: Shortly after finishing his degree Tom Worked as a volunteer in the reptile house at London Zoo which gave him an opportunity to work with a wide variety of species including the critically endangered Mountain Chickens (which is actually a large frog).
Personal Statement: Tom has had a passion for reptiles since a young age and is a firm believer in conservation and feels that the pet keeping hobby can play a larger role in saving some of the planets rarest species by increasing awareness along with stud book led breeding programs. His passion is for the rare and unusual species and his personal collection, amongst other species includes his 5 adult rock iguana’s (both Cyclura cornuta and Cyclura nubila nubila) along with his Jamaican boa’s, large number of python species and spiny tailed iguana’s. He is also particularly passionate about improving care standards across the hobby and like Ed is a regular user of forums where he is always eager to offer advice.
Name: Mike Turner
Position: Livestock Technician
Qualifications: BTEC Animal Managment
15 years keeping reptiles: Mike has been keeping reptiles since age 10, when he got his first bearded dragon George, since then he’s kept everything from various geckos and kingsnakes through to dwarf monitors.
Trade experience: Mike has previously worked in in reptile shops on the south coast where he gained much of his early experience.
Charitable work: Mike has put his artistic talents to good use supporting the reptile keeping hobby and was responsible for the enormously successful ‘Hands off our Hobby’ range of T-shirts and graphics which raised money to protect the right to keep pet reptiles.
Personal Statement: Mike’s enthusiasm for reptiles started at a young age and with his artistic talents he often combines his other hobbies of photography and art with reptiles. Much of the recent content on the global geckos Instagram feed is now uploaded by Mike who is keen to share the beauty of our scaley friends to as wide an audience as possible. His personal collection of reptiles, although modest, have what many would consider to be ‘oversized’ environments to live in as Mikes passion for perfection and only providing the best is something that he firmly believes in.