The animals people most often fear are growing in popularity amongst a diverse demographic, said Karen Truong, co-owner of All Reptiles
Those who may not have the time or space to look after the more traditional pet such as the cat or dog, might be inclined towards the less conventional snake, lizard or gecko.
“Reptiles require very little space and very little maintenance and more and more people are starting to realize that,” said Truong.
Located in Scarborough on Kennedy Rd, she and a friend opened the shop at the end of 2008. Over the years she’s noticed a much broader demographic coming into her shop and purchasing reptiles.
“Our main demographic use to be white males between 18-25 for the longest time, but now we get families in here, all kinds of ethnic backgrounds, people of all ages,” said Truong.
Truong, 29, owns about 15 reptiles herself, 12 of which are snakes.
Because reptiles need very little space, most people dedicate a small part of their living space or a bedroom to them.
Most people feel that reptiles are either slimy or venomous, which in fact is not the case. Truong makes sure to tell her customers that nothing will hurt them.
“Usually they are more scared of you then you are of them,” said Truong. “There are a few exceptions here and there but the majority of it, that’s the rule of thumb.”
Truong gets to know the customer’s needs better by asking if they prefer either a snake or a lizard.
“I find that there’s a really big difference in people who likes snakes and people who like lizards,” she said. “It’s something about the legs thing that really freaks people out.”
Space is also a factor in determining what’s right for you.
“I’ll show them different sizes of tanks, which determines the kind of animal can live in that specific tank, “ said Truong.
Another factor in determining the type of reptile a customer wishes to purchase depends on whether or not they’re willing to do live feedings.
“If you’re not comfortable with live food, it really limits what you can have because there are a small selection of reptiles that will be okay with live food, but the majority of them need it to live,” said Truong.
Most people wouldn’t find reptiles to be the type of pet that you would want to cuddle with and that could sometimes be a turn off.
“You’re definitely not going to get the same affection as a dog or cat, but the thing is because they’re [snakes] are cold-blooded, when you put them on your body, it’s really warm and they actually like that so they’ll stay put on you,” said Truong.
The varieties of reptiles are vast and therefore not everyone is going take to one specific species the same way
“Everyone’s going to be different,” said Truong. “I actually put the animal in your hands and ask you how does that feel.”
“That’s how I help people pick what they like.”