“Herpetoculture was founded by eccentrics, misfits really, who for mysterious reasons (our parents are still puzzled, wondering what they did wrong) were neurologically wired to be captivated by nature in the form of beings with scales and gold irises. All herpers experience an initial moment of revelation, that instant of exposure to reptiles that triggers a surge of neurotransmitters that, like a drug, addicts us. At that moment, life suddenly becomes infused with existential meaning. We enter a doorway, a connection, into the mind of nature. Like biting from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, once that Pandora’s box is opened, there is no turning back, one can no longer live an ordinary human life isolated from that experience. For the few of us chosen by invisible cosmic forces (very likely relic and archaic hunter-gatherer genes) to carry the herper banner, one’s path, insane as it may seem, is to feed the passion and spread the message. We are going to bring the golden-irised beings in captivity and we are going to breed them to assure that that experience becomes readily available to oneself and to others. We will maintain that connection to the mind of nature at all costs. We will addict others.
Bert Langerwerf was one of the foundation pioneers of the hobby and his life reflected this pattern of the herp-altered existence. Here was a man with an intelligence that qualified as genius, with advanced degrees in physics, and able to speak at least eight languages, who chose to stray off the beaten path, and eventually leave his native Europe to live a difficult life in the United States to pursue his passion.”
– Philippe de Vosjoli
So why LIZARD MAN?
During the COVID-19 outbreak, I was meandering through Facebook and noticed that Bart Spanoghe, a veterinarian from Belgium, had posted a photo of the cover of LIZARD MAN: The Life and Adventures of Bert Langerwerf , my 2009 book about one of the most influential men in the world of keeping and breeding reptiles. Within a few minutes, Bart was joined by a number of other lizard keepers searching for a copy of this book.
In 2009, a few months after Bert’s death, I printed the original version of this book to honor my friend’s life using print-on-demand. In these days, I was only able to afford to print a few copies and in black and white.
Now, a decade later, I was pleasantly surprised that so many people were still eager to learn about the amazing life of my friend. I decided to update my book and offer it to interested readers in a full-color format with many additional photos from Bert’s collection and also from reptile keepers around the planet that knew Bert and wanted to add their images and memories to my new project.
Bert Langerwerf traveled the world in search of his precious lizards. This book chronicles his travels from his home in the Netherlands to South America, South Africa, New Zealand, and other wild places. He was an adventurer like few others and his projects knew no roadblocks… He created the world’s first lizard-only zoo on the side of a volcanic mountain in Gran Canaria on the Canary Islands and eventually settled in a small town in Alabama and created the world’s first and largest lizard breeding facility, Agama International.
In this new version of LIZARD MAN, I have (with great effort and determination) tracked down, translated, and included, through the generosity of many others, a second volume which features Bert’s journal and magazine articles as well as his Agama International care sheets and other interesting notes and writings from 1971 to 2008, chronicling his long history with lizards. Early notes of the needs of captive reptiles for UVB light and his early work showing that incubation temperatures can affect the sexes of incubating lizards (TDSD) is historic and has been exciting to capture in Bert’s many articles. Also included are memorials from friends and colleague around the world who mourned his early and tragic passing.
So, these two books are for those who knew Bert well, those who met and spoke with him at reptile shows and expos, and for those many new herpetoculturists who did not get the opportunity to know him. As you will see in this book, he was eccentric and his sense of humor was wonderful… and a bit dark. His knowledge of lizards and their husbandry and behaviors was inspirational. I hope you all enjoy getting to know my friend and I hope his knowledge shared here will inspire your husbandry and appreciation for the reptiles and amphibians that he loved so much.
$125 shipped in the USA for hardcover two-volume set * Limited to 100 sets
$165 shpped internationally for hardcover two-volume set * Limited to 100 sets