Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Snakes, spiders, scorpions and turtles roam inside small habitats at Rossville’s Wild Things Turtle Pond Exotic Pets and Supplies.
Store owners Cathy Shaw, her son Tony Smith and his wife Julie Payne all own the business, which opened nearly a year ago in February.
“It’s a family venture,” said Smith, who not only works but also lives in Rossville. “We opened it for me because I could not find work, so I made work for myself by opening this store.”
He had a Wild Things store years ago on the other end of Rossville Boulevard in Tennessee and said he would eventually like to reopen a second location across the state line there to complement his Georgia business.
Smith noted that some pets that can’t be sold in Tennessee can be sold in Georgia. For example, turtles cannot be sold or owned by Tennessee residents. However, in Georgia, Smith can sell turtles that are more than 4 inches in diameter to Georgia residents.
“All of my turtles are farmed to be sold in the United States in the states that they are allowed to be sold,” he said. “I opened this store to save turtles from being captured in wetlands so people can buy the ones farmed to sell instead.”
He currently has three turtles for sale and said he plans to purchase more in February.
Other pets for sale in the store range from reptiles to amphibians to fish to hamsters, gerbils, chinchillas and ferrets. Wild Things also offers a line of live and frozen food for some pets, such as mice for snakes and worms for lizards.
“If it’s legal to sell in Georgia, I can order it,” said Smith. “We will start selling birds in February.”
At the front counter, shoppers can check out small exotic pets in cages, like a baby Western hognose snake. Smith said the harmless snake imitates a rattlesnake for protection by rubbing its scales together.
The store does not carry venomous snakes, he stressed, adding that he would never carry anything in his store that could harm children.
“A lot of people can’t own dogs and cats because of pet dander allergies, so snakes or frogs or turtles would be a good option for them,” said Smith. “We appreciate the customers and hope to be friends with many people and educate more people about pets.”
Into the wild
Wild Things Turtle Pond Exotic Pets and Supplies, at 812 Chickamauga Ave. in Rossville, can be reached at 423-704-0500, by visiting www.turtlepondpets.com or by sending an email to email@example.com.