JOE Teoh is certainly not your Average Joe. This guy loves snakes.
He developed a liking for the reptile and other animals since his childhood days and by his teenage years, was playing with wild tree snakes and baby pythons which he caught in a rubber estate in Kedah near where he grew up.
Teoh, 48, said he released these snakes after playing with them.
It was only in his 20s that he began collecting species of the reptile.
“The first snake I owned was a brown Burmese python I bought for RM600. I could afford a pet snake then as I had started working,” he recalled.
He now has a collection of about 80 snakes from more than 50 species.
Unlike other pets such as cats and dogs, he said rearing snakes was much cheaper and easier.
“You only have to feed a snake once or twice a month,” he said, adding that depending on the species, their food included mice, chicken, geckos, crickets and frogs.
Teoh said although it was very convenient to own a snake, there were several things the owner must know to look after the creature well.
“Other than the basic knowledge and handling techniques, the owner has to always play with the snake to know its characteristics,” he added.
He said a snake would be tamer once it got used to the owner.
“My knowledge of snakes came from reading up about them and advice from friends,” said Teoh who is an operations executive of a handphone company.
His interest for the creature deepened through the years and he began breeding them 10 years ago.
“I learnt a lot from my snake breeder friends in Europe and with their help, I have successfully bred five species of snakes,” he said while proudly showing a nine-year-old Albino Burmese Python he bred.
The other species of snakes he had bred were the corn snake, temple viper, racer and tree python.
Teoh, who has been invited to join the Herpetological Club in Kuala Lumpur, explained that he had always wished to find a way to educate the public not to be afraid of snakes.
“Although some of them are venomous, snakes are not aggressive and will not attack unless they are provoked,” he said.
On his future plans, Teoh said he hopes to successfully breed the rare Malaysia Red Mountain Racer in Penang.
“It's not easy to breed it in Penang’s hot weather as the species is usually born in places with lower temperature,” he added.