Where scorpions, spiders and snakes find a home – Freiburg

If exotic animals are found or confiscated by the authorities, the Dragonshelter Society in Freiburg takes them in. At the clubhouse, the animals find a temporary home and, ideally, find a new owner at some point.

Pascal slowly and deliberately climbs the edge of the glass, takes a few more steps and then sits on Leah Haines’ elbow. The chameleon continues to crawl cautiously until it finally stops on the 24-year-old’s arm and looks around. Leah laughs at the reptile and returns it to its pond after its expedition.

The Pascal Terrarium is one of about 60 terrariums located in the buildings of the Dragonshelter Association in Freiburg on Dreikönigstrasse in Wiehre. Here reptiles and amphibians find a new temporary home.

The bond was formed when the animals became too many

The association has been in existence since 2019 and it all started with the idea of ​​first president Johannes Buxtaler and Leah Haines. At that time, both worked in a pet store in Freiburg, where customers frequently wanted to return or sell reptiles that they had bought privately. At first, the two of them took some animals alone in their home. When everything took on larger dimensions, they decided to establish an association. “Before, I would never have imagined keeping snakes,” Leah recalls. However, over time, she became fond of reptiles and now keeps four balls of snakes in her apartment.

“Before, I would never have imagined keeping snakes” Leah Haines

Snakes also slithered into Dragonshelter’s rooms in some terrariums. They lounge among the trunks of young trees and thick green leaves or warm themselves under a heat lamp in the sand – always behind a thick pane of glass, of course. He crawls or crawls behind almost all parts of the Dragonshelter’s terrariums. The whole room is full of frogs, snakes, spiders and scorpions. They all have stories about how they ended up in Dragonshelter. “Lola’s owner is dead,” says Johannes Buxtaler, pointing to a large turtle crawling across the thatched floor of the enclosure to the right of the front door. Lola is over 70 years old, and she is young for a turtle.

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Dr. Allan Grant, a monitor lizard shyly hiding behind a tree trunk, has become too big for its old owners to handle. He now lives with Dragonshelter. Previous owners contacted the association and described their problem. He has taken care of a monitor lizard and hopes to be able to give it to new owners or a zoo at some point. The animals remain with the Dragonshelter until they are placed. They will only be delivered after the new owners have demonstrated that they can give the animals a good new home and that the animals have lived with them for a while on an experimental basis.

“We find beautiful animals quickly,” says Johannes Buxtaler. Dark brown snakes or lame chameleons often stay with the club for years.

To the club

The Dragonshelter Association is a non-profit association for the protection of reptiles, the shelter of animals, specialist advice and mediation in Freiburg. The association is voluntary and has an educational mission.

More information at dragon-shelter.de

And on Instagram.

The association was recently recognized as an animal shelter. “This allows us to receive funding and better position the animals,” explains Johannes Buxtaler. People have been waiting for this since the association was established, and Corona extended the processing time. In the long run, this should have an impact on visitors. “At some point we want to make it possible for people to simply come and have a look,” Johannes Buxtaler says. So far, this is only possible by arrangement, because all the members of the association are volunteers in addition to their main jobs in Dragonshelter. Then they clean terrariums and feed the animals – sometimes letting chameleons, tarantulas or geckos crawl on their arms.

Reptiles and spiders partial team members

Some of the animals that end up in the association find not only a temporary home there, but also a permanent home. Leah explains, with a laugh, that some snakes and spiders are “part of the team.” They come when the association organizes training sessions for firefighters or workshops for school classes. “I’ve really managed to get rid of some people’s fear of spiders,” says Johannes Buxtaler proudly. From his trick: All spiders have old ladies’ names. “And who’s afraid of healthy running?” asks Johannes Buxtaler, laughing.

“I’ve been able to get rid of some people’s fear of spiders” John Boxtaler

In a small basin next to a tarantula sits a frog the size of a fist, hiding behind a few leaves. “This is Martin Hornfroch,” Johannes Buxtaler offers. He couldn’t resist naming the horned frog after the mayor of Freiburg. “But this does not mean personally,” he asserts. All the animals in the Dragon Shelter have strange names. It is one of the jokes that club members allow themselves. Leah Haines says the community on Instagram can sometimes have an opinion. She manages the club’s social media account. The team is also sometimes mediated by animals. But what they care about is public relations. “We also want to show that you don’t have to fear many reptiles and amphibians,” explains Leah Haines.

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