Rural Missouri - May 2019 - 36



One couple's mission to help
people overcome reptile fears
by Heather Berry |


eering into the aquarium at eye level, only darkness stares back. Wood
shavings are pushed against the glass. As eyes adjust to the tank's dimness, the outline of a water bowl can now be seen. Suddenly, something
moves in the back of the tank.
The young cobra coils its body, neck expanded, ready to defend, as the viewer takes one giant step backward.
Micky and Tamara Meyer, owners of Show Me Snakes, look at each other
and smile.
"That's one reaction many people have," says Micky. "People either love
snakes or hate them. Owning a reptile isn't everyone's idea of the perfect pet."
"When we host reptile shows, people usually come because they're curious
or because their spouse came to the show," says Tamara. "It's not everybody's
Tamara says she grew up as a tomboy collecting lizards, frogs and snakes
for fun, but it's really Micky who's been the snake fan for decades. "I've owned
just about every snake you can own at one time or another," says Micky, who's
a carpenter by trade. "They're like cats. They're pretty quiet, which made them
a perfect pet for me."
Since 2015, the couple has made it their mission to help educate people of
all ages about reptiles - especially snakes, the one which seems to strike the
most fear in onlookers - through a business called Show Me Snakes.
"They're really one of the most misunderstood groups of reptiles. And it
doesn't help that movies often paint snakes in a bad light," says Tamara,
noting "Snakes on a Plane" was one of the worst.
"You wouldn't believe how many people think snakes will chase
them," the educator says, shaking her head. "They don't have legs!
They'd rather scoot away from you than to come to you. They're
usually as frightened of you as you are of them."
Curious questions the couple often hear from onlookers
include: "Do snakes have eyelids?," "Do they sleep?," "Can they
hear?" and "Are they slimy?"
The answers are no, yes, no and no. Snakes don't have eyelids or ears, and their skin is usually dry or rough to the touch.
They do sleep but observers might not know because, again,



they don't have eyelids. But they do have clear
membranes which cover their corneas to help
them catch some ZZZs. They don't have ears like
people, but do have sort of an inner ear that helps
them hear. They mostly know what's going on by the
vibrations around them.
While they hold full-time jobs unrelated to their
scaly hobby, the couple spends a great deal of time
preparing for several huge "Show Me Reptile & Exotics Shows" which they host in St. Louis and SpringÀHOGWKURXJKRXWWKH\HDUDVZHOODVJRLQJWRVPDOOHU
educational shows at fairs and schools.
The Meyers, who are members of Cuivre River Electric Cooperative, want
people to realize you can't just go out and capture snakes to own one. "We are
Class II Wildlife Breeders so these snakes, venomous or non, are legal for us to
own," says Micky.
In a keypad entry room, the couple keeps hundreds of snakes live in separate snake apartments which boast all the comforts of home, temperature controlled with fresh water, comfortable bedding and all the mice they need, fresh
or frozen. "They are treated better than many people's pets, believe me," says
Some of the snakes are bred for sale, but are only sold by prior arrangement
or at shows.
"We really don't like selling snakes unless we know that they're serious about
the care and handling of a reptile," says Tamara. "We don't want people to think
snakes are like a puppy or a colorfully dyed Easter chick, where the snake gets
bigger and the owner gets tired of them and releases them. Snakes aren't for
you, if that's what you think."
Show Me Snakes even offers "after care" for buyers, constantly trying to educate owners about the breed they purchased and how to properly care for them.
As part of that education, the couple recently pioneered the Gateway Herpetology and Entomology Club in St. Louis.
"We help people get over the 'creepy crawly' thoughts they have of snakes,"
says Tamara.
In Missouri, the native list of venomous snakes includes cottonmouths, rattlesnakes and copperheads. Nonvenomous types include garter, racers, rat,
hog-nose, black snakes and more.
"We tell everyone the best education is to learn the patterns of the snakes
you might see around where you live," says Micky. "We also tell them to be
smart and act like everything they see is venomous - just don't mess with it.
Remember, when you're outside, you're in their environment. The snakes don't
want to bite unless you've given them no way out or instigated the reaction."
The couple is so diligent in educating about reptiles they've received several
nominations as Business of the Year from The Reptile Report. They even offer
jobs may include encounters with reptiles.
The couple hopes one day to take their reptile education show full time. Currently, they host a dozen shows across the state and go to as many schools and
clubs as their work schedules allow. Tickets are $5 per person.
"Honestly, snakes are living art," says Micky, admiring a bright-green squam
snake hanging from a branch inside its enclosure. "We want people to learn
about them and be able to appreciate them in safe environments."
For more information, call Micky and Tamara at 660-349-8427, email tammick@
Above: Tamara and Micky Meyer, owners of
Show Me Snakes, pose with a tegu, a stocky
lizard that is native to tropical forests of
South America. Clockwise from
left: A tiny gargoyle gecko doesn't
mind coming out to meet folks at
shows. A colorful corn snake is a
favorite of both kids and adults
alike at shows because it is
scaleless and is smooth to the
touch. Ball pythons are often a
choice of those who desire a
snake as a pet.

Scaleless Corn Snake

Ball Python


Rural Missouri - May 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - May 2019

Rural Missouri - May 2019 - Intro
Rural Missouri - May 2019 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - May 2019 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - May 2019 - Contents
Rural Missouri - May 2019 - 4
Rural Missouri - May 2019 - 5
Rural Missouri - May 2019 - 6
Rural Missouri - May 2019 - 7
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Rural Missouri - May 2019 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - May 2019 - Cover4