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Garden Club hosts reptile enthusiast

The Desert Rose Garden Club of California City hosted a very interesting speaker to their February club meeting.

Jessica DeMumbrum.

Greg Watson, reptile enthusiast and speaker.

Greg Watson, from Ridgecrest, has been a reptile enthusiast his entire life and has a vast knowledge of many desert critters. He provided an excellent Power Point presentation of all of the desert life he has personally photographed. Each photo held a story of the reptiles he has observed, and sometimes caught. Being bitten by a Sidewinder Rattlesnake did not sway his interest in searching for snakes to record and understand them. Greg presented 122 pictures that reflected his 40 years of reptile photography.

Biography submitted by Greg Watson:

By formal education, Greg is an electronics engineer, retired in 2015 after a 40-year career. He has lived in the desert all of his life: 24 years in New Mexico and the past 46 years in Ridgecrest. Very much at home in the outdoors, Greg enjoys backpacking in neighboring mountains and hiking in the desert. He is always eager to learn anything he can about the many animals and plants that he encounters.

That learning process focuses on legitimate, objective sources of information instead of hearsay that's often exaggerated or fabricated. Those educational resources and many decades of experience have given him a fond appreciation for all of our desert reptiles, including those that are feared and maligned. He contributes reptile photographs and sighting details (date, time of day, GPS location) to iNaturalist, a global network that allows wildlife enthusiasts to mutually educate one another and to support wildlife research by professionals.

It's important for those who live in our desert to know about its reptiles, especially the ones that can harm people and pets. That knowledge can let us safely and comfortably interact with desert reptiles without fearing them. This presentation provides a fairly comprehensive photographic guide to reptiles in our area, while also listing some excellent references for anyone interested in further learning. Each photograph is captioned with the reptile's common name and scientific name to aid identification and further research. The presentation also addresses common falsehoods about rattlesnakes, their behavior, effects of their venom and first aid for bites.