The short answers include fun, excitement, surprises, and the unexpected!
WHAT DOES IT COST?
The Critter Keeper and the critters have to make a living! Birthday parties start at $225 for the Greenville area, but may be slightly higher if you live more than 45 minutes from the Critter Cabin. Price increases are in $25 increments. For public performances such as schools, libraries, scouts, etc., the base price is $250, with increases as applicable. For additional presentations at the same location on the same day, the extra presentations are pro-rated at $75 - $100 apiece, again, depending on location.
The Critter Keeper and his critter crew will arrive about 30 minutes prior to the start of your event. I bring a 2 x 4 table, and a number of bins and other types of temporary enclosures for the animals brought that day. I need several feet on all sides of the table.
On occasion, a coffee table or ottoman may have to be moved to provide more space and to alleviate safety concerns from sharp table corners. The area in front of a fireplace or widescreen TV will suffice. it is best to have all free-roaming pets such as dogs or cats put away. It is best for children (including the birthday child and his/her guests or siblings) to have an activity in another room until preparation for the show has completed.
Once setup is complete, the Critter Keeper will be ready to show some extra animals to the birthday child and his family and early arrivals. This is a great time to get some photographs, as the birthday child will have the opportunity to touch and hold some animals. While the additional children there will benefit by being able to see these animals up close, the animals that are shown are intended to be handled by the Critter Keeper, the birthday child, and his/her immediate family members. The number of animals that come out during this phase may number between three and six.
There will be children arriving for the party while this is going on, and it generally segues quite nicely with the beginning of the presentation itself. The last animal to come out during the pre-show will be held by all the children who want to participate at this time.
The presentation is about an hour long, and will encompass about a dozen animals, several magic tricks, and some pretty good surprises that are intended to get some screams and adrenaline pumping. At the beginning of the program, I go over some rules that will need to be followed to prevent injuries to the animals or the children, and to enhance the experience for everyone attending. The birthday child will be a prime participant in some of the magic and animal handling. There are opportunities for other guests to participate as well, and just because someone is an adult does not necessarily make them exempt!
The five Critter Keeper Rules For Getting and Keeping an Animal are also emphasized, as are various life lessons. Frequently, the presentation is done with a Christian emphasis. If desired, speak with me directly. My goal in doing this is not necessarily to proselyte, but to reinforce values you are likely teaching your child at home anyway. The last animal to make an appearance is Julius Squeezer, a beautiful, 10 foot, 65 pound albino Burmese python. There is usually no shortage of volunteers to help bring him out. At the conclusion of the presentation, an adult helper is needed to assist in positioning Julius on the shoulders or lap of each child attending the party, so a photo can be taken of the child and Julius. This is usually done on a sofa, or on three chairs that could be lined up quickly. The children will need to line up in one area, away from the Critter Keeper table, come in one at a time, have the picture made, and then go wash their hands.
Payment in cash or check is due at the conclusion of the party. Gratuity is appreciated, but not expected. It will usually take me about 20 minutes to pre-stage the critters for travel. Total time at your home will likely be around two hours.
The next thing to expect is your child talking about this experience for the next year!
Critter Keeper classroom presentations are a great way to introduce children to the amazing world of arthropods and reptiles!
While the animals are the focal point, thats not all we learn about. Geography, adaptations, word stems, math, history, patriotism and character are woven throughout the presentation, with scares and magic to boot!
Church presentations can be done in fellowship halls, gymnasiums, and even the sanctuary itself. Depending on the size of the audience, a wireless mike may be helpful. Critter Keeper presentations are perfect ideas for similarly themed Vacation Bible School or AWANA programs, and can even be a great way to show the young people in your congregation that you appreciate them. Animals are presented in a Biblical format, emphasizing fear management, Creation, Christian conduct, and ultimately, the redemption that Jesus Christ offers each one of us. We know that God glorifies Himself through His Creation; we often dont think that he uses the most unlovely creatures on Earth to do so. But then, were pretty unlovely ourselves sometimes, arent we?
While the critters attending your event may vary, the current cadre is as follows. Guarantees cannot be made on any certain animal attending your event, although between 15 and 20 critters will be coming! They include, but are not necessarily limited to:
Albino Burmese python, ten feet long "Julius Squeezer"
Boa constrictor(s), "Athena" (9'), "Slim" (6'), "Sparky" (2')
Ball python(s), "King Tut" ("KT") and "Jasmine" (2-3')
Snow Corn Snake, "Hielo" (4')
California King Snake, "Solomon" (3')
Grey-banded King Snake, "Pecos" (2 1/2')
Kenyan Sand Boa, "Sophie", (2')
Pueblan Milk Snake, "Leche", (1')
Green Iguana, "Draco"
Savannah Monitor, "Clyde"
Frilled Dragon, "Nedry"
Blue-tongued Skink, "Big Mama"
Mountain Horned Dragon, "Rex"
Niger Uromastyx, "Nigel"
Red-eyed Crocodile Skink, "Toothless"
African Fat-tailed Gecko, "Joe-Bob"
Leopard Gecko, "Leonidas"
Crested Gecko, "Gladys"
Veiled Chameleon, "Zup"
Brazilian Yellow-footed Tortoise, "Liz"
Cane Toad, "Buford'
Chacoan Horned Frog, "Pac"
African Pygmy Hedgehog, "Oliver"
Goliath Bird Eating Spider, "Ripley"
Brazilian Black Tarantula
Chaco Golden-kneed Tarantula
Chilean Rose Hair Tarantula
Giant Asian Centipede
Asian Forest Scorpion
African Fat-tailed Scorpion
Giant Tailless Whipscorpion
Madagascar Hissing Cockroach