This is a question I've heard many times and there's not an easy answer. I think to answer this I have to ask more questions. Why do I hike and camp? Why do I like the art and music and movies that I find appealing? Why do I like the sound of a well-tuned engine? Why do I like building models? Examine any person who's passionate about a hobby or their career and you will probably find some connection to their childhood; some happy bond. Look at the engineer and you'll probably find that he loved taking things apart as a child and seeing how they worked. The gearhead probably remembers helping his dad or older brother wrench on an old muscle car. The musician grew up appreciating the complexity of other artists.
For me, I can trace my fascination with reptiles to one specific memory. It was '78 or '79, probably, so I would've been 3-4 years old. I was riding shotgun in my dad's sky-blue-and-rust '72 Chevy pickup. I had always called it "Blue-cher" because when I was learning to talk I couldn't say "blue truck." The dust from the country road clouded through the holes in Blue-cher's floorboard making my eyes itch. There was a field on the right with a barbed-wire fence. Suddenly there was a black streak darting across the road in front of us.
"Look, it's a snake," my father said.
He was already applying the brakes and mashing the wheezy clutch by the time I yelled, "Catch it for me, Daddy!"
The truck might have come to a complete stop, but I'm not so sure, because as the snake disappeared into the ditch Dad was already out of the truck and halfway across the road. The snake emerged from the ditch and glided under the fence but my dad just jumped. He cleared the ditch and landed on the little ribbon snake.
A minute later we were rolling again and I held my new captive with pride and wonder. It was, as far as I can remember, my first reptile.
Dad was never into snakes, or any other reptile for that matter. But that never stopped him from bringing home any little critters he found crossing the road or lurking about the many construction sites he worked. No matter how hard his day was, if my dad found a reptile, he brought it home to me.
My dad always instilled in us an appreciation for the outdoors and nature. A true appreciation that you can only get from actually exploring and experiencing nature first hand. So maybe that's why I'm not content to just read about reptiles and watch documentaries. Maybe that's why I've always surrounded myself with cold-blooded creatures. Maybe reptiles are a link to the best times a little boy had with his dad.