Reptile and exotic specialty pet stores are on the front lines of the hobby.
One of my recent blogs was about the reptile houses in zoos , so it seemed logical to devote a subsequent blog to reptile stores. If not a zoo, a pet store is often going to be the first place children see live reptiles. That puts stores on the front lines of the hobby. A great reptile store – or a “standard” pet store with an excellent reptile department – can go a long way toward capturing the attention of kids and nourishing an interest in reptiles and amphibians . That’s obviously important if the reptilekeeping hobby is to continue into the eons (or even further!).
When I was a kid there were no reptile specialty stores anywhere near where I lived. I’ve written before about how my eyes to the world of pet herps were really opened wide once I moved to California in 1970. Before that I had a lot of exposure to wild herps in the New Jersey woods near my home, and I’m sure there must have been isolated encounters with anoles and maybe red-eared sliders in local pet stores. When I moved to California, though, I saw many more reptiles in pet stores and aquarium stores than I was used to seeing. Different types of snakes and lizards, and what really impressed me (aside from the desert iguanas, which were a subject of a past blog ) were the varied kinds of baby turtles I encountered. If I remember the name correctly, there was a fish store called Aquarium Imports in Topanga, Calif., which was one my brother Rob and I would frequent that stocked a lot of turtles. There were red-eared sliders, of course, but also different types of painted turtles, map turtles, side-necked turtles and others. These were all new to me (and map turtles were a definite early favorite).
I could imagine how far out of my sockets my eyeballs would have shot had a store like, say, Prehistoric Pets, been around when I first landed on the West Coast years ago. I was delighted enough with the animals I saw, but compared to the variety of animals it is possible to see today, the selection was paltry. Still, it was enough to fuel my interest.
I started the “Reptile Retailer Spotlight” column in REPTILES magazine because I wanted to be sure people knew about as many reptile specialty stores as possible. Of course, I also wanted to help promote the stores. I’ve already written how important it is to the hobby’s survival that children maintain an interest in reptilekeeping, and stores play a huge role in developing that interest. Therefore, as far as I’m concerned, the more reptile-specific stores there are the better!
Prehistoric Pets is definitely a ...