By Laurent Fortin
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Benoît de Villonge, an animal caretaker who has worked at the Beauval Zoo and at the Sigean Nature Reserve, has just started his work advising people who have reptiles and amphibians as pets. These neo-Vallet species have been interacting with and loving them since their teenage years. Knowledge and experience that he also wants to make available to animal parks. Not trivial.
They can live in the most hostile universes, but snakes, lizards, turtles, and other batrachias are fragile creatures nonetheless. “Change their living conditions and you will drastically reduce their lifespan. And this, even if they have a very high ability to adapt and resist. notes Benoit de Villong.
Features of vivariums and terrariums
At 29, who landed in Valle to follow his wife, who works as a veterinarian in Nantes, decided to start his own company to advise people who have reptiles and amphibians as pets. Supporting them in creating a vivarium and terrarium is one of the tasks. “Today, it is estimated that almost 30% of households own one of these new pets (Nac). However, many do not know or have only general information about their needs. However, this varies greatly from one species to another. Lighting, heating, UV … it’s even very technical. Everything must be thought out for the well-being of the animal.” he throws.
“For the Herman tortoise, for example, if we prevent a period of lethargy in the winter by lowering the temperature in her enclosure, she will probably only live 15 to 20 years instead of the 60 that is her average lifespan.”
Benoit de Villong offers a service ” custom made “ and “before buying an animal.” “This avoids additional costs in the future by predicting needs (space, temperature, lighting, etc.)”, indicates someone who also plans to work with companies (pet stores, animal parks, etc.). For staff training or vivarium monitoring. “I don’t pretend to know everything, he insists. Moreover, much has improved internally with regard to knowledge about these animals, which in fact was only available for about thirty years. Professionals are becoming more and more aware. But this is a world about which we make discoveries every day. There are thousands of species.”
Six years in Beauval
The boy has a solid knowledge of these types of animals. Since adolescence, terrariums and vivariums have been part of his habitat. If today geckos (small lizards) and jaguar dendrobates (small frogs) limit themselves to being his only main pets, turtles and other snakes that reach up to two meters have long been his special roommates.
From this passion, he made it his profession. “Initially, although I had these animals at home, I focused primarily on the environmental profession,” indicates one who grew up in another vineyard between Libourne and Saint-Emilion. “Therefore, I got my first degree in biology of organisms and the environment at the University of Bordeaux. Then I started caring for animals after training at Vendôme.”
A journey that led him to be hired in 2015 by the Sijan African Reserve, where he cares for carnivores, large herbivores and small primates. “However, over time, I specialized in both herpetology (a branch of natural science that studies amphibians and reptiles) and aquarology,” trusted by those who do not hesitate to attend conferences and trainings on the topic outside their working hours.
The passion goes far beyond his personal time: Benoit de Villong even travels abroad (Germany, Czech Republic, Portugal) to observe exceptional views and improve his knowledge.
The caiman lizard experiment
In addition, he was hired by the famous Parc Loir-et-Cher at the end of 2015 to take care of the vivarium and aquarium. There are more than 200 species of various reptiles, including about twenty amphibians, crocodiles and snakes. Among the rarities of the mother are the Komodo monitor lizard (iguana) weighing almost 40 kg, the Gangetic gavial (crocodile) and the Bornean lantanot (lizard).
During his six years, he was involved in the construction of the equatorial dome, which makes it possible to recreate, on 8000 m2, the living conditions of these species, often endangered in their natural environment, such as the “box” turtles that are hunted by man. for their gustatory flesh. In the same register, he and his team manage to reproduce the caiman lizard. “For the first time in France,” he says. The interest is not only personal, but also ecological.
Herpéto-technique, professional experience at your disposal to ensure the well-being of reptiles and amphibians. From 50 euros. Contact: 06 58 78 63 21. Information at https://herpeto-technique.com.
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