Dinosaurs completely fascinated Dr. Mike Kiedrowski as a young boy and he dreamed of devoting his life to the study of these “Great Lizards.” You can only imagine his utter devastation when he found out, at age seven, that dinosaurs were dead. After overcoming the devastating news) Dr. Kiedrowski emerged with a new vision: to study the current reptiles and amphibians of today as a herpetologist or to become a veterinarian. Those two aspirations led him to become the first “reptile and amphibian nut” veterinarian in the Greater Phoenix area, with an interest in exotic pets as well.
In college at Northern Arizona University, Dr. Kiedrowski was pursuing five majors: zoology, chemistry, physics, math, and business, still deciding whether to pursue herpetology or veterinary practice. When he was accepted to the veterinary program at Colorado State University at Fort Collins his senior year, the decision became clear and he followed the path to becoming a veterinarian. His love for reptiles remained strong, however, and Dr. Kiedrowski continually sought out ways to incorporate herpetology into his studies and practice.
In his early days of marriage, Dr. Kiedrowski and his wife (who shares his love for reptiles) traveled around the country doing reptile shows. With over 180 adult snakes, three dozen turtles and tortoises, and a separate building for breeding mice and insects to feed their diverse tetrapods, the couple had an incredible array of animals. In a single season Dr. Kiedrowski hatched out over 1,500 reptiles. Dr. Kiedrowski’s favorite creature is the San Esteban Island Chuckwalla, or Sauromalus varius (which means flat, speckled lizard). Dr. Kiedrowski became enamored with the largest member of the chuckwalla species through a professor at Colorado State who was researching this highly endangered San Esteban Island dweller. Due to their endangered status, it took him over ten years to find one for sale legally. Before long, Dr. Kiedrowski had become one of the most successful private breeders in the world, working with the Population Management Plan in the United States for this calico-colored vegetarian lizard and distributing them to zoos around the country.
With two children, ages eleven and fourteen, there is less time to roam the country educating people on reptiles. Their home still boasts a reptile room that houses sixty snakes, two dozen lizards, and a dozen turtles and tortoises but the family spends more time outside boating, waterskiing, camping, and hiking with their three golden retrievers. Twice a year, the Kiedrowski’s host a massive airsoft party at their home, setting up an elaborate course with 120+ barricades, bunkers and other obstacles. Over 150 friends and family members rotate through their home for the multi-week event, perfecting their aim and having the time of their life. “I hope to have about 85 years on this planet and I intend to enjoy every minute of them,” affirmed Dr. Kiedrowski.
Outside of airsoft challenges and reptilian care, Dr. Kiedrowski enjoys playing the thrill of a good pinball game. Since playing in tournaments in his younger years, he now plays primarily at home one of the thirteen machines he has collected over the years. His favorite is the American-made, one-player 1976 Gottlieb El Dorado–a highly challenging edition with an asymmetrical playfield that relies on both the angle of the playfield and the speed of the ball curving around a corner to take out your goals. With non-resettable targets, this frustrating yet captivating game takes a few minutes to learn and a lifetime to master.
Dr. Kiedrowski’s passion for life and love for animals is evident in everything that he does. Working closely with Arizona Game and Fish, the local parks department, and zoos as well as pet owners of every kind means he never knows what is going to come through his door each day, from Gila monsters, alligators, toads, and lizards, to dogs, cats, and even ravens and hawks. “Every day brings something different,” shared Dr. Kiedrowski. “The most rewarding thing is helping animals that truly give unconditional love to their owners, dedicating each day to giving animals and their human companions a better life–what more could you ask for?”