VMS is located in the Colorado Rocky Mountains near Westcliffe, Colorado. VMS is currently owned and operated by Sean Niland.
Sean has been involved in herpetoculture and the pet industry since 1977. In 1990, we focused on producing quality reptiles at reasonable prices for wholesale distribution to pet retailers. We sold only to legitimate licensed dealers; we did not sell our animals to individuals. This single-minded approach allowed us to concentrate on volume production of many species while protecting the pet retailers' business as well.
While this concept worked well initially, we began to discover that few retailers could provide accurate care information to the customer. Indeed, many seemed unable to care for our animals properly themselves. As a result, we began offering our animals directly to retail customers via the internet in 2000. This proved so successful that today we seldom wholesale animals at all, they almost all sell at retail. Retail customers can enjoy receiving the same quality animals we are known for, as well as getting first pick on 'special' animals. Additionally, retail customers receive the full benefit of our skills and knowledge to ensure their success with the reptile of choice.
Sean's interest in reptiles was rekindled in 1989. At the time, Sean had not kept reptiles for a year or two. Even so, cleaning out the savings account to purchase the first known amelanistic Prairie Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis viridis) was done without a moments hesitation! It was an animal he had always hoped to field collect, but being first to breed it would have to suffice. With his interest rekindled, the house quickly began to fill with cages and herps of several kinds.
Having fulfilled management roles at retail, wholesale, and distributor levels, Sean has frequently been called upon to assist in legislative issues surrounding herpetoculture and the pet trade. Having kept just about every snake specie present in north American collections over the last three decades, his favorite will always remain the Cornsnake.
In 2004 Sean constructed the current home and VMS breeding facility in the Colorado mountains near Westcliffe. Other interests he pursues are mountain biking, hiking, bird-watching, artifact-hunting, and snow-shoeing. Sean also enjoys fly-fishing for trout in the local streams and rivers. Riding quads through Colorado's mountains is also a favorite past-time.
What does VMS stand for? We get asked that a lot. Usually Sean quips that it stands for "Very Many Snakes". However, the truth is a little stranger:
While field collecting in the summer of 1989 Sean and Monica Niland, along with friend Vern Veer, discussed the concept of a full-scale breeding facility to supply wholesale reptiles to the pet trade. Improbable ideas often sound plausible in the middle of the night on a dreary road through the desert, vanishing as quickly as bats at sunrise. But this one struck a chord with Sean. Vern, now pursuing a successful career at the Denver Zoological Gardens, is not involved in the business, but is still the 'V' in VMS. Although Sean and Monica divorced after 23 years of marriage, and she is no longer involved in the business, Monica remains the 'M' in VMS.
PS - After four long years of waiting, the amelanistic Prairie Rattlesnake produced a litter of babies. All were female, like the original albino. Three years and three litters later, the results were the same. Sean realized that even if a male were born the following year it would still take four years to reach maturity. This would be an investment of eleven years before a single albino was ever produced! Fearing pending changes in Colorado wildlife laws, and wondering if he possessed enough stamina to see it through, Sean relented and sold the project off. Moral of the story: It's a lot of work bringing some of these projects to fruition - so don't be surprised at breeders asking high prices for the newest color morphs or rare animals. They are simply trying to recoup their investment.
Here's some interesting shots of some of the things we see and do around here:
Sean, holding one of his friends - a Rainbow Trout taken and released on the South Platte River at Deckers.
An elk herd is in the foreground of this view of the Sangre De Cristo mountains taken from the front deck.
Avid bird-watchers, Sean took this photo of a Cackling Cackling Goose (B. h. minima); the first photographically documented occurrence of the subspecie in Colorado.
Hummingbirds are always draining the feeders! Broad-Tailed, Rufous and Calliope Hummers frequent the area.
VMS employees (RJ & Mimi) are useless. Here one sleeps on the job while the other is below acting as a lookout.
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All XHTML/CSS coding by Sean Niland, VMS Professional Herpetoculture. Any errors or problems associated with it are most likely my fault. After all, I did teach myself to do this. Too cheap to even buy a book! (OK I did finally buy a book, but I held out for years.)
All graphics (except animations) by Sean Niland, VMS Professional Herpetoculture. Any yucky stuff here is my fault again. Bought one of those new-fangled digital camera thingies and had to take it back to see how to put the film in it.... While today we shoot a Nikon D-series DSLR, many of the older (and blurrier) photos on the site may date all the way back to the days when you actually inserted a floppy disk into the camera to hold the photos. Someday perhaps we'll find the time to shoot new pics of everything that needs it...