The Reptile Guy has a new lair.
Mike Hopcraft was busy carrying boxes, box turtles, computer monitors and a monitor lizard into his new location at Unit 7-34366 Forrest Terrace this week. It’s a warehouse space, right beside the freeway overpass, where Riverside Road goes under the Trans Canada Highway.
It is “by far the best” space he has had for his reptile rescue venture. So, he was as busy as a bearded dragon – whose heads were bobbing excitedly behind the glass of their new tank – getting it ready for the first visitors this weekend.
He was arranging aquariums in the nocturnal room, where he will turn day into night for the denizens, so visitors can observe them at their most active. He clicks on a red light over an aquarium, and a trio of scorpions glow green. There will also be tarantulas, gecko lizards, some frogs and other animals in the room.
There is a 1,400-gallon turtle pond, populated by pets that were once the size of loonies, but grew into dinner plates.
In a terrarium there is a coil of six boa constrictors. Another will house a pair of iguanas.
Hopcraft has a quarantine area and an office in a mezzanine that overlooks his operation, which he considers near perfect for his purposes.
It comes after a public appeal resulted in $6,500 in donations.
The publicity also netted him several new rescue animals, like the boa constrictor that came in a week ago.
It is only about six years old, and will likely live for 30 or 40 years.
It’s not the fact that it has grown to seven feet in length that discouraged the snake’s former owner. Rather, he told Hopcraft he has chosen to live remotely, “off the grid.”
“We reptile people are an interesting bunch,” he observed.
He will host birthday parties and school presentations, and also sell supplies that reptile owners need – like crickets and other feed.
He is optimistic that this time, with proper commercial zoning and falling in line with the province’s exotic species legislation, his business idea will take off.
“This is the most excited I’ve every been about the reptile thing.”
Hopcraft hosts a grand opening of his rescue and education centre on Saturday, Nov. 10 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for children three to 18.Visit reptileguy.ca for more information.