A Little Bit About Me...
Terry Phillip (Serpentis custodis)
My Snake Obsession
I have been infatuated with reptiles since a small child and have kept just about every imaginable major Genus available. Working in two capacities: professionally, as the Curator of Reptiles at the Black Hills Reptile Gardens, and commercially as Black Hills Pythons, where I produce some of the finest pythons available, I have managed to preserve my lifelong obsession with these extraordinary creatures.
Fascinated with Pythons especially, my long standing passion has evolved into an incredible collection of mainly Pythons of the Morelia genus. Although my collection has changed many times throughout my life, there has been one constant - this particular genus of snakes.
Due to the growing demand for Pythons and the influx of some amazing species, subspecies, localities, and morphs, these snakes can exhibit just about every color imaginable - making them ideally suited for anyone interested in breeding snakes as investment animals or keeping them as pets. Ranging in size from small to medium, Pythons are easy to care for and breed, which also makes them excellent pets.
I am also proud to be a Core Member of the Chondro Coalition, a group of dedicated breeders promoting the captive breeding and long-term value of Green Tree Pythons.
Surrounded by the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota, I am located on an incredible oasis in the middle of the Prairie lands.
The area is full of historic interest with sites such as Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Crazy Horse, Deadwood (historical site of the famous Black Hills Gold Rush) and, of course, the world’s largest collection of reptiles - the Black Hills Reptile Gardens (the reason I ventured here from the Front Range of Colorado back in 1997).
I have great interest in numerous research and conservation projects. Please take the time to have a look at these sites and see some of the amazing work that is being done with Gharials and snake bite victims in Papua New Guinea.
The Gharial Conservation Alliance
The GCA is an international organization dedicated to saving gharials, one of two surviving members of the long established group of crocodile-like reptiles with long, narrow jaws, from extinction. Conservation efforts of the GCA include captive breeding and restocking programs, education, awareness and government lobbying.
Papua New Guinea Snakebite Research Project
I am deeply passionate about this unique project started by Australian David Williams. It's aimed at improving the prognosis of Papua New Guinea snakebite victims. Papua New Guinea has among some of the highest snakebite incidences in the world with a high mortality rate. The hope is to develop a new, more affordable antivenom that can be stable and properly managed so snakebites don’t automatically result in a death sentence for the people of Papua New Guinea.
Adventures, Experiences, and Reptile Gardens
I work professionally as the Curator of Reptiles at Reptile Gardens in Rapid City, South Dakota, where my primary interests are Venomous Snakes and Crocodilians.
Throughout the year, I average roughly 1000 interactions with venomous snakes per week.
My career at the Black Hills Reptile Gardens has afforded me many opportunities and experiences to work with some amazing people, animals and places... and some incredible projects. Live animal imports and exports for exhibit at the Reptile Gardens to/from Australia have been my claim to fame - importing many of the first legal specimens of many taxa from Australia:
- Inland Taipans
- Western Brown Snakes
- Djarra Death Adders
- Darwin Carpet Pythons
- Inland Carpet Pythons
- Australian Scrub Pythons
- Morelia carinata* (a rare and absolutely incredible Rough-scaled Python)
*I was responsible for the first captive breeding of this species outside of Australia in 2006.
Because of my experience and reputation among the worldwide venomous community, I also train both private and professional venomous snake keepers on handling techniques, captive management, and husbandry protocol - I have had the opportunity to train keepers and curators from San Diego, the St. Louis, Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, the Denver Zoo, the zoos in Dallas and Ft. Worth, the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Miami MetroZoo, and the Tampa Zoo.