Chilly-blooded, however cuddly? The Potts brothers discuss reptile pets.

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OLDSMAR — Bob and Andrew Potts turned a passion right into a enterprise once they opened Herp Pastime Store Reptile Breeding Heart in 1991.

The store on 700 St. Petersburg Drive W, sells lizards, snakes, turtles and even tarantulas, together with one often called the Goliath birdeater. The store additionally provides boarding providers to your pet reptiles and arachnids, and can even decide their intercourse.

They obtained their begin when three Potts brothers moved from Texas to Florida in 1975. It was Bob and late brother Robby Potts who first began attending herpetological society conferences, then Andrew began going.

“Once we began promoting reptiles we had a fold-out card desk and 4 10-gallon tanks in our storage,” stated Bob Potts, 54. “And we’d run adverts within the St. Pete Instances in categorized – child boas, $25. That’s the way it began.’’

He and older brother Andrew, 61, talked with the Tampa Bay Instances about reptiles and their reputation as pets.

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What are the preferred reptiles?

Bob Potts: Your massive three are your bearded dragon, leopard gecko after which your veiled chameleon. And in snakes, its palms down the ball python due to all of the totally different colours, and it’s the final word snake: It’s pleasant, it by no means bites, it reaches a complete size of three to 4 ft. They’re very hardy. They infrequently get sick. They’re the proper snake, they are surely.

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What’s the most somebody might spend on a single reptile?

BP: Final 12 months or two they discovered a few leucistic king cobras (a venomous snake coloured white as a result of it’s lacking pigments) over in India, and these animals out of the wild are fetching $50,000 to $100,000.

Right here on the Herp Pastime Store now we have (animals) from $20 as much as $2,000. We now have them in each value vary.

A trio of geckos hand around in a terrarium at Herp Pastime Store Reptile Breeding Heart at 700 St Petersburg Drive W in Oldsmar. Brothers Andrew and Bob Potts have owned the pet store for over 30 years. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

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What do folks like about reptiles? They don’t appear cuddly.

Andrew Potts: They are often. As an example, the bearded dragon. I’ve obtained children, they go to the mall, go to the seaside, they watch films and the bearded dragon sits on their laps or sits on their shoulders, by no means strikes, sits there for hours at a time. And so they do get to acknowledge you and numerous these animals, the extra generations that they’re bred in captivity … they begin turning into domesticated. So they begin choosing up sure issues. They begin to see you.

BP: I like to check them to a parrot or a macaw. They are surely. They’re birds with out feathers. As birds will be very affectionate, many lizards are affectionate the very same approach.

(The) bearded dragon, we name them the lap dog of the lizard world.

An exterior view of Herp Hobby Shop Reptile Breeding Center at 700 St. Petersburg Drive W in Oldsmar. Brothers Andrew and Bob Potts have owned the pet shop for over 30 years.An exterior view of Herp Pastime Store Reptile Breeding Heart at 700 St. Petersburg Drive W in Oldsmar. Brothers Andrew and Bob Potts have owned the pet store for over 30 years. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

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Why are they referred to as bearded?

BP: Properly, once they get excited they puff out their (throat) and it’s black. It seems like they’ve obtained a black beard.

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What’s your response to reviews of pet homeowners releasing pythons within the Everglades?

BP: It’s approach overblown. … The information doesn’t show it.

AP: Most reptile (homeowners) I’ve identified during the last 35 years would slightly let their youngsters go hungry than let their animals go. Do animals get out? Sure, however, once more, it’s the uncommon exception.

In the event that they’re escaping, we’re speaking about one once in a while, and for it to fulfill one other one which in some way escaped and breed they usually occur to be in the identical space is fairly – like I say, most individuals are very, very accountable.

Bearded dragons pictured with various terrariums in the background at Herp Hobby Shop Reptile Breeding Center at 700 St Petersburg Drive W in Oldsmar. Brothers Andrew and Bob Potts have owned the pet shop for over 30 years.Bearded dragons pictured with numerous terrariums within the background at Herp Pastime Store Reptile Breeding Heart at 700 St Petersburg Drive W in Oldsmar. Brothers Andrew and Bob Potts have owned the pet store for over 30 years. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

The thought of releasing them, I discovered it fascinating: Everyone releasing them, they had been driving right down to the Everglades to launch them. That’s insane. Everyone knows why these reptiles are right here from a serious disaster referred to as Hurricane Andrew. Earlier than that, the (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Fee), which is the governing physique, didn’t make you will have a hurricane evacuation plan. After Andrew, they stated you’ve obtained to have a hurricane evacuation plan. You understand why?

Due to Hurricane Andrew, I believe each main importer in South Florida was destroyed. 1000’s upon hundreds of animals had been launched concurrently. U.S Fish and Wildlife (Service) as (normal working process) takes DNA samples. They’ve traced all these unfastened Burmese (pythons) which can be being caught again to those who obtained unfastened in Andrew. It’s an entire fiction.

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In a latest report, somebody broke right into a Southwest Florida reptile breeder’s enterprise and stole 18 turtles price $30,000. Are turtles price that a lot?

BP: Oh yeah. It’s extra profitable to smuggle unique animals than it’s medicine. Often, the fines or penalties are far much less extreme as a result of they’re simply reptiles and never harmful narcotics, they usually’re straightforward. They don’t test for them in the identical approach.

It’s massive enterprise, and that’s why industrial breeding is such a giant enterprise. The recognition of those exotics has simply exploded. And that’s simply what drives all the pieces else.

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How do you identify the intercourse of reptiles?

BP. Probing. It’s a scientific time period used for lots of animals. You stick a steel probe contained in the rectum space and relying on how far it goes in determines if it’s boy or woman.

Bearded dragons snuggle in a terrarium at Herp Hobby Shop Reptile Breeding Center at 700 St Petersburg Drive W in Oldsmar. Brothers Andrew and Bob Potts have owned the pet shop for over 30 years.Bearded dragons snuggle in a terrarium at Herp Pastime Store Reptile Breeding Heart at 700 St Petersburg Drive W in Oldsmar. Brothers Andrew and Bob Potts have owned the pet store for over 30 years. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

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How did you two get into this enterprise?

BP: I went over to a buddy’s home who had a shed in his yard, and he was simply breeding just a few widespread king snakes, however he had the infants and the eggs. (I assumed) ‘oh, wow,’ you possibly can really maintain snakes in small areas and breed them. The method was very fascinating. I simply fell in love with it from the start.

AP: It was my brother. I used to be married on the time. I imply, we’ve at all times been reptile guys. We moved down right here (from Texas in 1975), we had been catching all the pieces. They met this man, joined the herp society or attended (conferences, and Andrew Potts began going.) After which they confirmed me (an albino Burmese python), and I stated, hey, that’s cool. From there it was only a passion, after which really in the future they — not me – spent some huge cash on what they name funding kind animals. And from there that was it.

BP: We did it on the again porch, then we went to a warehouse.

AP: All the things occurs for a purpose. We obtained evicted from there as a result of considered one of our little king snakes obtained unfastened and a neighbor referred to as the HOA. They threatened to throw us in jail endlessly. It was somewhat king snake, however it was nonnative, it was (from) California. However the neighbor had a conniption. So we needed to go and get a warehouse in order that’s once we took our passion and went skilled.

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What number of reptiles do you will have?

BP: It fluctuates, however at any given time simply 2,000 or 3,000.

Andrew Potts, 61, on left, displays two bearded dragons as his brother Bob Potts, 53, has a trio of geckos climbing around in his hands at Herp Hobby Shop Reptile Breeding Center at 700 St Petersburg Drive W in Oldsmar. The brothers have owned the pet shop for over 30 years.Andrew Potts, 61, on left, shows two bearded dragons as his brother Bob Potts, 53, has a trio of geckos climbing round in his palms at Herp Pastime Store Reptile Breeding Heart at 700 St Petersburg Drive W in Oldsmar. The brothers have owned the pet store for over 30 years. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

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