I do not include mammals or birds in my workshops/shows.
I include a chameleon, a small Rat snake and Green tree frogs in one of my shows. These are animals that have been gradually introduced to the show and I am happy that they are not stressed. The chameleon takes food from my fingers whilst standing on the outstretched palm of a child's hand, a sure sign that it is not stressed. The snake stays completely calm if I place her on a child and the tree frog has a few leaps on the floor, sometimes lands on a child and climbs a short distance up a wall, it is not handled.
I occasionally use one of my Bearded Dragons to show predator/prey, adaptation etc. I also occasionally use Fire bellied Toads to illustrate warning colours.
Most of my shows involve invertebrates only, I do not believe for one second that a stick insect suffers from stress when placed on a child's jumper.
My shows/workshops take place in schools, museums etc with a very controlled audience. I do not do children's parties, shopping centres etc.
My animals are kept in my house.
During the Summer months the chameleon has the freedom of a conservatory, the tree frogs are housed in a large vivarium in the same conservatory, during the Winter the chameleon is moved to a vivarium in a room in the house where she has the correct lighting and heating. The rat snake is housed in a large vivarium in the same room.
The fire bellied toads are housed in a vivarium in my aquarium room.
The beaded dragons have the run of a conservatory with areas of heating and extra lighting.
The stick insects are housed in large net cages which are placed in the garden in the Summer.
The other invertebrates are kept in vivariums in my bug room.
My aim is to help people to understand the natural world and to care about wildlife and domestic animals.
I am a fellow of The British Naturalists' Association and The Royal Entomological Society.
I was Education Officer for Essex Wildlife Trust for 15 years.
I have been working in wildlife conservation and education for 30 years.
Martin Rapley. January 2018.