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The Reptile Guy has a “perfect” new location, a business plan for a reptile rescue facility, and a cadre of lizards and snakes that conforms with B.C.’s new exotic species laws.
Now all he needs is money.
Mike Hopcraft has had media exposure for rescuing an alligator and an African tortoise that had a handle bolted onto its shell. So, it is no surprise that his online donation campaign has garnered some $4,000.
But he is well short of the $10,000 he needs to raise to afford a new Riverside Road facility that will be available on Oct. 1.
His last warehouse had to be shut down. He had animals that he could not display to the public after the province banned exotic pets such as snakes over nine feet long, venomous animals and crocodilians.
Hopcraft said he will not deal with prohibited animals, and will run a business that includes selling supplies to owners of snakes and lizards, in addition to appearances at events, and running a rescue and education centre. He appears at birthday parties and schools, and visits malls where he runs a “Fear Factor” type event using big spiders and snakes.
He’s optimistic about the future if he gets the new site.
“We’ve tried and failed, and learned from our mistakes,” he said. “This is my passion. It’s what I do, and this is what I’ve always done.”
He and a friend originally started out in business to breed reptiles for sale as pets, but he soon found a far greater demand for rescue work. Often parents buy their child a pet reptile, without realizing how big it can get, how much care it requires, or how long it will live. Too often kids grow up and leave home, leaving an unwanted reptile behind, and The Reptile Guy will provide a rescue facility for these creatures.
“There’s no greater satisfaction than saving lives,” said Hopcraft.
His hobby/business has outgrown the house that presently is home to his family and his reptiles.
Hopcraft recently became a father, there is only one spare room in the house, and his 50-or-so snakes, lizards, turtles, tortoises, frogs, tarantulas and scorpions have it filled to capacity.
Anyone wishing to donate can do so through the website reptileguy.ca