Face Time: Mr. Drew Desjardins (and his animals, too)

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A friend of mine has a pet lizard that suddenly took ill. She didn’t have to think about it: She called Drew Desjardins.

My editors decided that I should eat some dried crickets and mealworms and write about the experience for the paper. I didn’t have to think about it: I called Drew Desjardins.

Sick pet? Burning curiosity about an exotic species? Around here, anyone who has any contact with animals at all has probably heard of Drew Desjardins, better known as Mr. Drew and his Animals, Too.

A former pet store owner, Mr. Drew has gained a reputation through vast experience with a variety of creatures, great and small. If it slithers, hops, creeps or crawls, Desjardins has probably nursed one back to health during the course of his beastly career. In fact, he may have a critter at home and maybe another sitting atop his head and posing for a picture.

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Snake, bird, lizard, spider, crab, insect? Mr. Drew’s got you covered. And us, too, now that we caught up with him long enough to ask a few questions about the company he keeps.

How did you become Mr. Drew and his Animals Too? It is my legal birth name. My parents had a warped sense of humor. No. Actually, it IS my mother’s fault. As a child, I always loved animals. Art classes: I would draw animals. Library: I would always take out books on animals. Scouting: first badges earned – reptile study, bird study and mammal study. I was always in the woods, bogs or tidal pools looking for life. You get the idea.

Growing up, we had a few pets but not many and not for long. My mother was nervous around animals, so we really never had any. As I got older, I would keep asking and she would say no. Would I sneak in animals I would catch outside? Of course.

It never worked out because I didn’t have the right enclosures and they would get out and find my mom. Snake, ants, salamanders . . . They would go to her like a magnet. When she finally had enough, she said, “When you grow up and move out of this house, you can have ALL the animals you want!”

Well, here I am.

Is there any creature, big or small, that you’re actively afraid of? The only animal I am afraid of is the IRS. Other than that, no. I respect animals, not fear them.

Do you get bit, stung or chewed very often? No. I don’t get bit too often, and when I do, it is ALWAYS my fault. Having a healthy respect for the animals and knowing their body language is a big help.

The most common thing is scratches on my arms from the animal clinging on tightly.

What’s the most misunderstood creature you deal with? The most misunderstood animals I work with are most definitely spiders and snakes. Spiders are the No. 1 fear in the animal kingdom, followed by the IRS and No. 3 snakes. It does not help that movies make them out to be evil or that the Bible says that Satan took the form of a serpent.

The truth is they are the most beneficial of animals. We need them. I always say to people, you don’t have to like them but please respect them.

How many pets do you have at home? Back to the mother’s curse. The number of animals I have fluctuates because I re-home some, some die from severe neglect experienced before I got them, some die from old age. I also remove illegal species out of the state about four times a year. I am constantly getting in new animals, sometimes as much as six in a week. Currently, I would say I am close to 150 exotic animals.

Where can we find more info about your work? The best place to find more info about my work is to follow me on Facebook. I am always posting new animals and public events, and I am always finding new ways to improve and expand what I do.

Just a few things I do besides the educational outreach and the exotic animal rescue: I have a classroom pet program, pet consulting for families that are thinking of getting an exotic pet, working with IF&W on starting my “Be Responsible” program on a state level to help prevent the release of exotic animals in the wilds of Maine. I help therapists help people with phobias, and the list goes on and on.

I am working on a website, but Facebook has been awesome for me.

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