From bearded dragons to ball pythons, this husband-wife team wants to rescue BR’s unwanted reptiles

During the pandemic, Meg Braud made a passing comment to her fiancé, Sean, about how cute leopard geckos were—a fun fact she’d discovered while studying to be a veterinary technician.

Things being shut down, Sean figured rescuing a leopard gecko he’d spotted on Craigslist would bring a smile to Meg’s face. It did. And so did the crested gecko he adopted shortly after from the same family.

“It just snowballed from there,” Meg recalls.

An irresistible bearded dragon was surrendered to the veterinary clinic where Meg was working a few months later. She adopted it too, naming it Toothless, like the character from How to Train Your Dragon.

Something felt right about the sudden influx of cold-blooded critters.

“I think one day Sean said, ‘I’m really enjoying having reptiles around,’” Meg recalls, “And I said, ‘Why don’t you start a reptile rescue?’”

Meg and Sean Braud founded Scales and Tails Reptile Rescue about two years ago.

Over the last two years, the couple’s Scales and Tails Reptile Rescue has cared for about 40 unwanted pet reptiles and adopted out 20, housing them in tanks in the guest bedroom of their Bluebonnet Boulevard condo.

The Brauds, who got married along the way, have since added a reptile foster program with students at LSU Vet Med, where Meg now works. And in April, Scales and Tails became an official nonprofit, an accomplishment they hope will help expand capacity and educational programs.

Education is a main goal, Sean says, since the lifespans of common reptile pets often outlast the attention spans of the youngsters clamoring to own them. And while aquarium-bound critters might seem easy to care for, they’re not, says Sean, who juggles a job as a prep cook at Mid City Beer Garden with reptile husbandry. Each morning and evening, he adjusts lights to mimic the natural world, and he’s created bioactive enclosures with leaf litter and live insects to help the animals thrive. These are strategies he teaches to potential adopters, as well.

Living with dozens of reptiles has reinforced the emotional satisfaction such pets can bring, the Brauds say. It’s also provided memorable moments, like when their stealthy ball python went missing (it was later recovered from a bookshelf), or when the couple included Toothless in their engagement photos.

More than anything, the Brauds want to dispel myths that all reptiles are threatening.

“A lot of people are freaked out by reptiles,” Sean says. “One thing that’s been really fun is seeing kids interact with these guys and learning they’re not so scary.” Find it on Instagram at @scalesandtailsreptilerescue 

This article was originally published in the June 2024 issue of 225 Magazine.