When I was young back in the 70's (and I mean 3 or 4 years old), I wanted to be a reptile vet. One of the first books I ever owned (and still have) was a field guide of North American reptiles and Amphibians published in the 50's that my dad got for me at a yard sale. Problem: Mom is TERRIFIED of snakes. Anyway, Other than being interested, and reading stuff, it never developed into a hobby.
Fast forward to 2002: I take my kids to a TVO kids live show here in Ottawa (For non-Ontarians, think PBS), and Ray's Reptiles was actually opening for them. I was surprised that Ottawa had a reptile zoo, and resolved to go with the kids sometime.
Fast forward again to 2003: Finally went to Little Ray's. Touched a cornsnake for the first time. Came back next week and bought a family membership. Came every week several times a week for a while. Bought a cornsnake. Got laid off in Jan 2004, so I volunteered every weekend for a while at the zoo.
Now I've got 14 reptiles sharing my home, and too many to mention on my "must have" list. Cant go to a pet store without handling something, and I spend half my free time reading about herps.
1 adult bull snake: "Dozer"; 1.1 juvenile bull snakes: Oscar and Phoebe; 3 baby red-sided garters; 1.1 macklot's pythons