As the proud owner of a lizard and many other reptiles over the years, I am well aware of how difficult it can be to find a good pet store. Too many exotic “specialists” treat reptiles like cattle, buying from sketchy dealers and storing them in cramped cages. Or, as at a couple of chains that will remain unnamed, the animals frequently pawn off impulse-buying customers who may have seen a great YouTube video or two but really have no idea what they’re getting into.
Lucky for us, the Pet House in Goleta is one of those rare places where snakes, lizards, turtles, and other wonderful scaly things are kept humanely and sold to educated buyers. “We know where we get our animals from,” said owner Andrea Navarro, “and we always make sure our customers know what kind of care they need.”
Navarro, who started at the Pet House as a cashier 19 years ago while majoring in aquatic biology at UCSB, purchased the Calle Real store in January 2021 from its previous owner, Wendy Guyer, a licensed veterinary technician with meticulously high standards for the animal care. Navarro upholds that tradition and, as a lifelong lover of all animals, but especially frogs, is the perfect person to oversee the store’s happy and healthy collection of reptiles and amphibians, not to mention its rich collection of birds, fish and rats. , and other small mammals.
Pet House primarily sells the types of snakes and lizards that are hardy, easy to handle and make great first pets, explained Navarro, who also met her husband at the store and now has two sons, ages 9 and 11. That means leopard. geckos, bearded dragons, corn snakes, and ball pythons. They are beautiful, docile, and you never have to worry about walks or litter boxes. Plus, there’s the undeniable cool factor. “They’re definitely great,” Navarro agreed, “but I definitely encourage people to think before they commit, because some of these guys can live 10, 20, 30 years.”
For those looking for something a little more advanced, the store also carries veiled chameleons and rainbow boas, as well as more “eccentric” offerings, as Navarro described them, like pink-toed tarantulas from Guyana and hissing cockroaches from Madagascar. . They intentionally don’t carry anything that gets too big, like monitors or sulcata tortoises, she said.
The staff takes pride in designing and building their terrariums in-store, Navarro continued, and they source plants from the nearby Terra Sol Garden Center. Their “feeders” (ie crickets and mice) come exclusively from a vendor in Agoura Hills whom they have known for years. While the pandemic caused the price of reptiles across the country to double and even triple as people took up the hobby and supplies suffered, the market is finally starting to stabilize, Navarro said. And while his business overall suffered, Navarro and the Pet House staff of 10 managed to always keep the doors open. Now they also offer pick up and delivery service.
For more information visit pethouse.org.
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