Monday, March 24, 2008

Serpent Obsessed Student Writes Snake Book

This is the title of Dusty's news article that just came out in the BYU newspaper. Their circulation is about 19,000 and we were so excited to have him in the paper. I wrote a press release about his new book coming out and sent it out to a few places and BYU picked up the story.

The newspaper director said that he has so impressed that a student would take so much time to do something that wasn't required for school that he wanted to do a profile story about Dusty and have the book be a part of it. We think the article was very well written! Here is the online version of the story.

Serpent Obsessed Student Writes Snake Book

- 21 Mar 2008
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Photo by Amy Rhoads
Dustin Rhoads pulls out a Trans-Pecos Ratsnake from one of his cages.


She agreed to marry him on one condition: the snakes had to go. And they did, for a few weeks.

Now three snakes have turned into 105, but Dustin and Amy Rhoads are still happily married.

"Where I grew up, if you saw a snake you killed it," Amy Rhoads said. "I never thought I would become the snake keeper's wife."

Dustin Rhoads, an integrative biology major from Texas City, Texas, has loved snakes since he was four years old. His first experience came when his dad found a small snake in the yard while mowing the lawn, he said.

"I ran outside in my he-man underwear, and took the shiny earth snake from my dad's hands," Rhoads said. "Wow, I thought, and I have been hooked ever since."

During the summer, Rhoads would spend long days sitting in the aisles of the pet store or library reading about reptiles and amphibians, he said. His mom would drop him off when she went shopping and pick him up again on her way home.

Other hobbies including football and baseball were activities, but not passions. At only one point in his life were the snakes neglected; when he was 16, Rhoads was more interested in the electric guitar than in his reptiles. His dad was the one to get him back on track.

"Dad's opinion was that there is not a need for herpetologists in the world, so I was surprised when he told me to stop neglecting my pets," Rhoads said. "Parents always want you to be a doctor or a lawyer."

Getting back on track included Rhoads writing out eight pages of life goals. One of these goals was to write a book about a snake species, and this goal, No. 52 on his list, is now completed.

Fittingly, the book's title, "The Complete Suboc: A Comprehensive Guide to the Natural History, Care, and Breeding of the Trans-Pecos Ratsnake," is about as long as the snake itself.

His book is the newest edition of ECO Publishing's famous "Complete" series, and is the first book to be published about this species.

"I was researching information about this snake for a Web site, and I realized that someone needed to compile it into a book," Rhoads said. "I thought, it might as well be me."

Rhoads used his own funds to research and write this book. He was already breeding the snakes as a hobby so it didn't cost much more except for travel expenses to Texas to study the snakes in the wild, he said. And he knew he would get paid when the book was published.

"I did not believe that it was necessary for me to have a degree before I made a name for myself," Rhoads said. "Your grades in school are not a forecast for how successful you will be in life."

Those who assisted Rhoads in researching and writing of the book think highly of this snake-loving BYU student.

"Dusty is very energetic and eager to learn," said Michael Price, executive director of the San Angelo Nature Center. "He is also very passionate about this particular species of reptile and the detailed information that he presents in his book are a testament to that."

"I have not known him for long, but he could not have been easier to work with," said David Barker, snake expert and owner of Vida Preciosa International, an enterprise primarily involved in the captive propagation of snakes. "He is the greatest guy in the world."

Rhoads sold his snakes before serving in the Chile Santiago mission, but a Trans-Pecos Ratsnake was the first pet he bought when he returned.

Snakes are no longer a bone of contention in the Rhoads' marriage, and Dustin is excited that he found a way to make money with a hobby he loves.

"If you love what you do, the money will follow," Rhoads said. "A life dream should make you crazy, out of your mind excited. If it doesn't, it is not worth going for."

In the future Rhoads plans to continue work in the field of keeping and breeding animals.

"If I could take anyone's job, I would take over for Steve Irwin being the crocodile hunter," Rhoads said. "I never thought he was out of his mind; I want to be jumping on crocodiles and saving them too."


Anonymous said...

Very proud of you! Not many people in this world will have this accomplishment accredited to their life's journey. Excellent article. Love, Mama Starr

Anonymous said...

Incredible Story!! Great Job!! You can work for me again anytime.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Mom and Jeremy!
Jeremy, I just you need any mail opened? LOL (Just so that everyone gets this inside joke, I used to work for an insurance company opening up mail. Yeah, very stimulating. When I started at PPC, after I finished my first day, Jeremy said, "Oh hold on, before you leave, I've got some mail for you to open...") Haha. Good times.