Exotic animals abound


VERONA — As more prospective pet owners look towards the exotic to fill their home, passionate people like Shelley Kemp, owner of PetZotics in Verona help fill that need.

PetZotics opened its doors in early November and offers a wide variety of exotic reptiles, from bearded dragons and iguanas to snakes and chameleons. On top of this, furry critters like hedgehogs, guinea pigs, and ferrets await at PetZotics for someone looking to take them home.

Kemp has been keeping and caring for reptiles for over a decade now and has bred crested geckos, horned mountain dragons, bearded dragons, and

“We sell a lot of stuff you wouldn’t exactly find at a Petsmart,” Kemp said. “And when it comes down to it, some people like the scaly and some don’t. So I wanted to go both ways and have something for everybody.”

When asked how business has been these last six months, Kemp said the community has been so good to her.

“I’ve had some many people come here and say such wonderful things and show their love,” Kemp said.

Among those visiting PetZotics was Kaylin Curro, an Oneida High School student going into her senior year. It was her first time in the store, but her mother has visited the store for months now and came in to pick up some live crickets for her leopard gecko.

When asked what made her want to own a reptile, Curro said it started because of her dad.

“My dad is allergic to dogs and cats or any animal with fur, and my sister and I really wanted a pet,” she said. “So we got a lizard instead because he’s not allergic to those.”

With her leopard gecko getting up in age and a fondness for the reptile world, Curro said she might just stop into PetZotics in the future for a future purchase.

But for Kemp, it can be somewhat difficult to let her animals go out the door.

“I love these animals and care for them like they’re mine,” Kemp said. “And for many, I’ve raised them since they were babies. So when I see them go, it feels like I’m giving people a part of myself.”

Animals at PetZotics are well cared for and housed in hand-made enclosures that are light, temperature, and humidity-controlled.

“Any animal that leaves here is healthy, happy, and given a full evaluation,” Kemp said. “And any furry critter gets vet checked.”

And any time someone purchases an animal, Kemp makes personally sure people know how she’s been caring for them, so they know exactly what to do. “We go over everything before they need before they even purchase it, so they understand and I answer every question they have,” she said.

Among the reptiles that call PetZotics home are a few that Kemp keeps as her own personal pets — like Frank the bearded dragon or Lucy, the red iguana, to name a few.

Kemp said children love to swing by just to hold and pet Kemp’s own scaly critters. But getting involved with teaching isn’t something new to Kemp. For example, two hedgehogs found their way from PetZotics to the Museum of Science and Technology as an animal exhibit.

And just recently, PetZotics was offered to make educational videos for the Rome School District over the summer, showing students different kinds of reptiles and how they’re cared for.

“I’ll feature an animal, how it’s taken care of, and how they’re taken care of,” Kemp said.

For more information, visit https://PetZotics.net or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PetZotics-106701204477659/

PetZotics is located at 5633 NY-31 in Verona off of Route 365.


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