There can be few shops locally that can offer such a unique experience as Amazonia Exotics. The pet shops I remember from my childhood tended to be smelly affairs that were home to a number of rabbits, guinea pigs, puppies with a few uninspiring gold fish thrown in. The most exotic thing you’d see would be a tortoise.
Amazonia isn’t in the normal sense a pet shop at all, it houses a remarkable collection of reptiles from all corners of the globe as well as the accessories and food they require. It opened two and a half years ago. Stuart had previously earned his living by being a carpet/floor layer. But he was already an enthusiastic collector and his love of animals had been with him from early childhood. Along with his wife Leanne they took the plunge and the business has been gradually building ever since. Apart from sales, Stuart and Leanne hold parties and ‘animal encounter sessions’ wth this in mind I arrived with two of my young grandchildren and a friend in tow.
Stuart took us to a room at the back of the shop and introduced us to some of his prized specimens. He started with a leopard Gecko. The children were delighted to be able to stroke his back and Stuart explained about where they came from, that they were nocturnal and fed mainly on bugs and crickets.
The Bearded Dragon was next on show and the kids took it in turns to have it on their laps. Throughout Stuart’s knowledge, obvious pride in his collection and enthusiasm kept the kids enthralled.
The Tegu was the last lizard we saw. This is a large 4 or 5 kilo ground lizard that really does hark back to the dinosaur age. I was surprised by how relaxed all the reptiles were and how they seemed to enjoy the company of humans.
Next came the snakes. First up was the python regius or the royal python. Named as such because Cleopatra used to wear them as jewellery, the small whitish snake was quite content to wrap itself around my granddaughters arm, apparently enjoying the warmth!
It wasn’t just the reptiles that were relaxed the kids were fearless. Excitable, bubbly but not in the least bit frightened even when meeting a python that must have been 10 feet in length, instead they were in deep discussion as to how they were going to fund all the purchases they just had to make!
Sweetpea the skunk made for a break from the reptiles and Stuart explained that far from being a ‘smelly’ beast she was incredibly clean. She was capable to protect herself of shooting smelly oil 10 feet across the room but in the two and a half years that he had, had her she hadn’t once.
Lastly we were treated to seeing a Chameleon being fed. Their tongues can be up to twice the length of their bodies (excluding tail) and to see it shoot out to grab a cricket was really amazing.
Amazonia Exotics really is an experience and Stuart and Leanne’s enthusiasm I’m sure will ensure it goes from strength to strength.