Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Staffer Scores Scaly Sidekick


We like fish. We also like corals. Inverts? Big fans.

Our love of animals stretches far and wide, beyond what can be kept between the glass (or acrylic) walls of an aquarium. We even opened up a sister-site, PetStore.com, so we could begin catering to all the other animals in our lives.

Jason, our customer service supervisor, is no exception. In fact, he may be one of our more pet-centric employees.

Maybe you know Jason. He regularly answers your telephone calls and emails, although his main role is to ensure your order is processed smoothly and that you are 100% satisfied with our services.

Like most of our staff, Jason has a saltwater tank at home. When asked how large, he sheepishly replies "only 90 gallons." But Jason has, shall we say, a few more pets than just those living inside his reef. His pond is home to two koi and several turtles, including a slider, painted, cooter and map. Jason also counts two Jungle Carpet Pythons and a Western Hognose snake as members of his family.

The most recent addition, the fellow you see crawling on the cover of our latest catalog, is an Argentine Black and White Tegu.

"I've always loved fish and reptiles," Jason explains. "Although I've cut back the past few years by consolidating tanks inside my pet room. Yes, I have a pet room. Once you are bitten by the pet bug, it always comes back at sometime or another."

A few months back, the bug bit Jason once again.

"I was online 'window shopping' for reptiles, nothing out of the ordinary, when I stumbled upon monitor and tegu lizards. Soon I was pining for a Salvator Monitor because it had gained a reputation for being very tame despite its intimidating size."

After more serious consideration, caring for and feeding a lizard that will eventually grow somewhere between 6 and 10 feet long no longer seemed like a good idea.

"I narrowed it down to a Savannah Monitor or a tegu," Jason recalls.

Because Savannahs are considered a "beginner" monitor, Jason hadn't initially considered one as a pet. Additional research revealed they are not only fascinating but affordable, two criteria that weigh heavily in Jason's decision-making.

"I did more research and found Columbian Tegus as low as $40 on the Internet," Jason shares. "I had no idea what the differences were between tegus at that point, other than cost. Argentines were $100 and up."

Tegu owners praised the Argentine's size, appearance and tameness in online message boards. Most owners recommended buying from breeder Bobby Hill of Vanyard Herp, widely considered the best breeder of the species in the United States. Hill also owns and moderates TeguTalk.com, an online forum where Jason acquired most of the information he needed to make a final decision.

"By the end of May, I was hooked," Jason confesses. "I contacted Bobby and reserved an Argentine Black and White Tegu. I paid a deposit for an egg that hatched in July and arrived here yesterday. Now the adventure begins!"