About Us


Russ Gurley is a herpetoculturist, author, and artist living in Oklahoma.

Russ has a BFA from Oklahoma State University with an emphasis in painting and illustration. He was a founding member of the American Federation of Herpetoculturists in the 1980s and served as a creative force behind The Vivarium magazine for several years. He has produced many books and articles relating to the captive care of reptiles, including geckos, snakes, and more recently aquatic turtles and tortoises. These articles have appeared in magazines and journals such as HERP NATION, Reptilia, MANOURIA, The Batagur, and on various websites.

Russ’s first turtle-related book, The African Spurred Tortoise, Geochelone sulcata, in Captivity, was published in 2002. He has authored a number of other popular books including A Color Guide to Tarantulas of the World I, A Color Guide to Tarantulas of the World II, Tarantulas and Scorpions in Captivity, Keeping and Breeding Freshwater Turtles, Baby Turtles, SULCATAS: Spurred Tortoises in Captivity, and he currently has a number of other books in progress.

Russ formed the Turtle and Tortoise Preservation Group in 1996 to promote the captive breeding of rare turtles and tortoises and to spread the most recent information relating to the keeping and breeding of captive reptiles through articles, books, conferences and workshops, and through the TTPG website. Russ and the TTPG members host the TTPG Conference on Captive Care and Breeding of Turtles and Tortoises each year in Arizona.

Russ has spent many years traveling to the most remote places on Earth, photographing the landscapes, people, and wildlife, delving into the amazing cultures, and cataloguing the artistic creations of indigenous people. He has been especially interested in the trophy and ancestor skulls created by cannibal “headhunting” tribes of Borneo, New Guinea, and other “forgotten” places. Russ creates replicas of these skulls in both real and resin for customers around the country. His pieces can be found in the collections of museums, anthropologists, haunted house attractions, movie and TV set designers, artists, and other collectors of unique objects. These pieces of art can be safely shipped anywhere in the world.

Please contact Russ for information, for a custom piece, or to add one of these ancestor skulls, trophy skulls, Aztec-Mixtec skulls, voodoo skulls, shrunken heads, animal skulls, or other unique pieces to your collection.



Ari R. Flagle’s fascination with reptiles and amphibians began during childhood and progressively developed into an avocation. Since 1997, appreciation and concern for the Boelen’s Python, Simalia boeleni, an enigmatic and secretive snake living in The Highlands of New Guinea, directed him to embrace herpetology as a career. Ari has made over a dozen trips to West Papua, New Guinea since 2007, spending time with the highland people and searching for these animals that have embedded themselves in his life.

Ari’s research and fieldwork in New Guinea led to the publication of the first comprehensive guide on the subject of Simalia boeleni in 2009 entitled Black Python and his most recent book, Serpents in the Clouds: The Search for the New Guinea Boelen's Python (2018). He has written numerous articles and has given presentations at conferences and herpetological society meetings all over the world on his field work in West Papua and on the conservation of these pythons. With the continuation of his field research, Ari hopes to shed more light on the species’ natural history and to expose behaviors and activities that could help snake breeders around the planet to reach sustainable captive populations. For captive breeding might be the only hope of saving these snakes for future generations as human populations grow and spread and habitat dwindles, even in the remote mountaintops of New Guinea.

Ari Currently resides in Texas with his daughter, Adylea. When not in the field studying these incredible animals he collects Papuan art, enjoys photography, and creates tribal skull pieces for Forgotten Times Skulls.