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'Reptile Guy' out of business: Shelter provider puts animals up for sale

Mike Hopcraft says government regulations have spelled the end to his reptile shelter in Abbotsford. - John Morrow
Mike Hopcraft says government regulations have spelled the end to his reptile shelter in Abbotsford.
— image credit: John Morrow

The Reptile Guy is out of business.

Mike Hopcraft has 100 different animals at his warehouse on Peardonville Road, including a 15-foot Burmese python, tortoises, a camen, an American alligator, spiders, scorpions and other creatures.

Now he has listed many for sale, and is looking to find homes for the others.

“I don’t have the funds to keep it going, unless some miracle funding comes through.”

In March 2009, the provincial environment ministry unveiled new laws to monitor exotic species, and Hopcraft says they have seriously impaired his ability to earn income from his animals. Citing safety concerns, the ministry prohibits Hopcraft from being allowed to have people tour his facilities to see his animals.

“You can’t look at my facility, you might get killed,” he said sarcastically.

He is also not allowed to have volunteers help with the animals.

“I’m fed up with all this sh...,” said Hopcraft.

“The government won. They’ve been trying to get me gone, and they did it.”

Hopcraft, 28, has had a lifelong interest in reptiles. He originally wanted to open a pet store, or breed animals, but focused on caring for animals in bad situations.

“I realized there’s more of a need for rescue than for a breeder,” he said.

Last April, complying with the new regulations, he applied for prohibited species permits for the animals he has rescued and otherwise acquired over the years. He is allowed to keep them, but displaying and transporting them has been curtailed.

In December he was investigated by ministry of environment officials for transporting an American alligator without a permit. Under the Controlled Alien Species regulations, that could result in fines of up to $100,000 or a year in jail. Hopcraft said he had received verbal approval from officials.

Showing the animals to an interested public was how he paid his bills. Without that income, he has fallen behind on rent, and his landlord is ready to evict.

Hopcraft agrees there should be regulation regarding exotic pets, but said the government “went to the extreme on this.”

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