A survey and chat with the larger than life critter – Collie Ennis

I had the great fortune of meeting Collie roughly around May 2013, during one of my nervous breakdowns in my MSc. In short, I stupidly decided to go for a desk-based thesis where I was meant to be supplied raw data secondarily (story for another day). It was a stupid decision because I love fieldwork and because it wasn’t a herpetology project I just thought working on this particular data could benefit me in the future. The data never arrived, I regularly emailed requesting it so did my academic supervisor to no avail hence the nervous breakdown. I decided it was getting to late in the day to continue like this so decided to try figure out a Irish herpetofauna project, I’d no idea where to start. Que Collie Ennis. Collie is a research associate of the Trinity College zoology department and one of the country’s best herpetologists, not just that but he’s one of the most approachable and friendly people you could meet as well. I rushed to him in a mini panic, but after a short conversation I left calm and with a semi solid idea and plan for a thesis! (the detailed methods were just a matter of further work). I went onto try examining the effect of urban sprawl in the Greater Dublin Area on its common frog populations, and in the end got a grade I could be proud of. 

Me and Collie basically started our herpetological lifestyle (if you will) in a very similar fashion. Very interested in nature and being outside, but most importantly being obsessed with ponds frogs and newts. Through picking up books as we went we began to realise just how huge and fascinating the world’s reptile and amphibian diversity is. Through looking at these exotic animal’s pictures in books and reading about them we were determined to physically get our hands on some of these animals. Through the podcast you can listen how we began and continued with the pet keeping and hobby side but also are personal feelings and mixed views on the pet trade, but in short, an outright ban is not the answer correct regulation is. 

Above Collie in his critter cave, Ireland’s most exciting shed, and his recently acquired very interesting jungle nymphs.

We had our chat in Collie’s “critter cave” and that is basically what it is or as I said the most exciting shed I’ve ever been in! It is literally floor to roof tanks with fascinating critters in them lizard’s snake’s tarantula’s and one I only got introduced to the jungle nymphs, which if you listen will find out have some very interesting reproductive adaptations. Collie in his position as science officer of the herpetological society of Ireland (HSI) is one of Ireland’s most knowledgeable people concerning Ireland’s native herpetofauna as you’ll discover from listening to our chat, which I’ll let you all listen to and experience for yourself!

Above some of Collie’s happy collection a rosy boa and a couple of his rescued tortoises enjoying the last of the Irish summer.

We left the chat on a positive note that basically everyone can get involved via citizen science for the benefit of our biodiversity. First and foremost, dig in a pond! Again, you’ll hear it all in detail as you carry on listening to our chat, but the long and short of it anyone and everyone can help make life easier for individual animals of Irish wildlife.


One of Collie’s fantastic natural ponds an oasis for Irish Biodiversity, not to mention some Axolotls!
About Dr. Cormac Price 15 Articles
Editor, contributor and content curator at BioWeb.ie. Post-doctoral researcher in herpetology at University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Cormac's research focuses on the ecology of urban snakes in Durban specifically the black mamba, Mozambique spitting cobra and southern African python populations, he works in conjunction with Nick Evans of KZN Amphibian and Reptile Conservation on this research. Cormac completed his PhD at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, his PhD research focused on aspects of the ecology of two species of freshwater turtle in KwaZulu-Natal. With a BSc in Zoology from University College Dublin and an MSc in Biodiversity and Conservation from Trinity College Dublin, Cormac has also previously worked as a Conservation Field Coordinator in the Annapurna Conservation Area (ACA), Nepal.

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