Matt Ricklefs

I was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to Gayland and Carol Ricklefs on February 9, 1970 - the sixth anniversary of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. I have an older sister, Michele. I have lived almost all of my life in Cedar Rapids and graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in 1988.

I started working for the local newspaper, The Gazette, in 1989 and then after 18 years my position was eliminated. After a brief stint at a local print and mail house, Cedar Graphics, my position was eliminated from there. I soon started work at Iowa Farmer today and am currently acting Circulation Coordinator. Itís been an interesting ride.

I have been interested in animals, especially reptiles and amphibians, as long as I can remember. I started out as many young boys do; memorizing the names of the dinosaurs I saw and read about. This then turned to an interest in all animals. The local neighbors would bring me insects to identify and soon I gained a reputation of being a ìgo toî on critters of all kinds.

Through elementary and junior high my interest and knowledge grew. I began to focus my interest more on herps. I spent many nice spring, summer and fall days having my dad drag me around to look for herps. My parents were very supportive, even when the occasional ìescapeeî was lost in the house. In junior high I met someone with the same interests and also some herps at home. This really set the fire going. At the age of sixteen, I was introduced to a man named Byron Arnold. Byron was a local retired teacher who was as close to an ìexpertî on snakes as I had met to this point. Byron introduced me to Timber Rattlesnakes and how to find and work with them and helped me learn more about herps and nature in general. Unfortunately, Byron passed away a few years later, but he had set me up with knowledge I still use and am very grateful of.

I met Jim around 1988 while working in a local pet store. We had common interests in music, later on being in a band together. We of course also shared an interest in herps. This has set up a life-long friendship.

I do have other interests besides herps. I have been in different bands as a singer and bassist and have released 2 CDís of original music (Salamander Dreams and Serpentís Moon) that Jim also played on and helped put together. I have an appreciation for all kinds of music, but tend to lean toward classic rock and roll. I also like movies of many kinds, but tend to like horror and science fiction movies the best. I also enjoy animation, and you can usually get a ìSimpsonsî or ìFamily Guyî quote out of me fairly easily. Recently I lost 100 pounds (from August 2010 to March 2011) and this was quite an accomplishment as I had never been able to maintain any loss for any length of time. This has helped considerably in my herping stamina.

I am fond of interacting with people of all kinds and like to help spread an interest and appreciation, or at least a tolerance of herps, through the website and personal communication.

I currently live in Hiawatha, Iowa, a Cedar Rapids ìsuburbî, with my wife Janie and our Pug, Wiley. I have kept a number of different herps over the years, and currently have a Hermanís Tortoise (named Zeus) which is captive bred.

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