A trip to the Indian River Reptile Zoo

Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake

Speckled Rattlesnake (Crotalus mitchellii) at the Indian River Reptile Zoo.

Thursday was Jennifer’s birthday. As it was also a provincial holiday and Quebec was closed for the day, we decided to mark it by a little trip to the Indian River Reptile Zoo, which we hadn’t visited in five years. It’s a little more than three hours each way, without stopping.

The Indian River zoo has always been a little different from other reptile zoos in Ontario. For one thing, the collection reflects the interests of the owner: if you like rattlesnakes or New World pit vipers, say, you’ll love it; if you can’t appreciate the distinction between a speckled rattlesnake, a rock rattlesnake and a black-tailed rattlesnake, you’ll probably walk around the zoo and say, “Huh, another rattlesnake.” That said, there are some interesting turtles there, as well as Gila Monsters, woma pythons and a black mamba, so if the collection’s emphases are eclectic, they’re at least different.

For another, the zoo markets itself a little differently from other zoos, highlighting its work in rescuing unwanted reptiles and emphasizing that it’s the only reptile zoo in Ontario that doesn’t sell reptiles. I’m uncomfortable with the latter, because it’s obviously a shot at Reptilia and Little Ray’s, and I don’t think zoos need to take public shots at one another to stay in business.

Anyway, I took nearly 200 photos there, but posted only four (such as the one above), which I’ve added to my existing Indian River Reptile Zoo photoset. Taking photos in reptile zoos is difficult: the lighting is generally low, the glass is generally dirty or very reflective, and you’re generally shooting macros with very shallow depths of fields. But some of my rattlesnake shots turned out very well indeed despite all this.

I also seem to be moving away from posting dozens of photos of an event to posting a few of the better ones — quality instead of quantity. In five and a half years I’ve uploaded more than 1,600 photos to my Flickr account; I guess I don’t need to post quite so many any more.

The photos that turned out best came from my new 105mm macro lens, and, looking back over my recent photos, I’m getting my money’s worth: over the last two months, nearly two-thirds of the photos I’ve uploaded to Flickr have been taken through that lens.