Are you looking for a pet but don’t have the time to engage with a dog or a cat? Or looking for something a little different?
A reptile can be a good alternative for those looking for a substitute for traditional furry animals, said Patricia Toshok, owner of Animal Jungle Pet Shop, 5007 Fishcreek Road in Stow, which it opened about a year and a half ago. .
“It’s not just a great hobby, people actually use it as an educational tool for their kids while they’re at home,” Toshok said. “He teaches them to take care of things.”
Toshok, who lives in Stow, said reptiles in general can be easier to care for than a dog or a cat, “or even a hamster or a gerbil.”
Plus, just because reptiles are cold-blooded doesn’t mean they can’t be warm-hearted, Toshok said.
“They give back,” she said. “Reptiles can recognize their owners, they like to be handled.”
Toshok said she knew someone who has a snake who is a pet registered for therapy.
For those who wish to obtain a reptile or three, they will have another option to find their new scaly family member. Toshok said a second Animal Jungle is tentatively scheduled to open on May 1. The new store is at 10333 Northfield Road in the Northfield Plaza.
“We had hoped to open in December, [except for] COVID, “Toshok said.” Summit County was behind on all permits. “
The new Northfield Village store will measure nearly 5,000 square feet, offering more space than the 1,500-square-foot Stow store, Toshok said.
“There will be a lot more reptiles, a lot more room,” Toshok said. “We will be able to organize birthdays, educational events and we will be able to offer more services there.”
Toshok is not her family’s first pet store owner.
“My aunt and uncle owned a pet store 50 years ago, and it’s literally four doors down from the Northfield location,” she says.
Working with animals was “something I’ve always wanted to do,” Toshok said.
In addition, his daughter Adria Toshok manages the stores.
Plans for a third location, somewhere around Parma or Brook Park, are also underway, Toshok said.
So, do you want to own a reptile?
Toshok said Animal Jungle only deals with reptiles and generally purchases their animals from local breeders. All of her employees “are trained in reptiles and all have a different skill set,” she said.
Customers who enter are polled to see what they are looking for. In addition to turtles, tarantulas, snakes, geckos, and other animals, Animal Jungle also carries supplies such as habitats, props, and live food, like crickets and mice.
“Everyone takes a little tour of our house,” Toshok said. “An employee will guide them in a direction they think will be appropriate. We care for every reptile. We want to make sure that what they get, they will have the best ability to care for. We care about that. The reptile. too. We want to make sure they’re looked after. “
So what reptiles does Toshok suggest to the first owner?
“Bearded dragons are always very good,” Toshok said. The same goes for the Russian turtle. They are very hardy, can withstand handling, they are not picky eaters, and their food is easy to obtain. You can set them up in a classroom for a teacher. The blue-tongued skink and leopard gecko are good too. “
Toshok said she would recommend beginners to stay away from reptiles like the African Sulcata tortoise.
“They can get really big,” Toshok said. “They can be very destructive. An African Sulcata tortoise looks cute when it’s younger, but it’s the third largest tortoise in the world, and they get huge quickly. I have one that weighs 150 pounds. My smallest male is around 55 to 60 pounds. I have him at the store to show people what they can get. “
Iguanas are also not good for new reptile owners, Toshok said.
“Iguanas are definitely not a starting pet and not suitable for a child,” she said. “They can get big, they can get aggressive, and they need a bigger cage. In the store I have full sized iguanas of mine, so people can see how good they can be. grow.”
Some snakes can also be problematic for those unprepared for a larger pet, Toshok said.
“I have a reticulated python on display at the store,” Toshok said. “He’s 2.5 years old, but he’s already 12 feet long. They’re pretty and reasonably priced, but I want them to understand that they might have a 12-foot beast on their hands. feet, even I wouldn’t handle it. unless I had someone with me. I would never give a reticulated python to a child or anyone under the age of 20. “
Even after the purchase, Toshok said she and the staff were available if the customer had any questions or concerns.
“Once they buy, it doesn’t end there,” Toshok said. “I can’t be an expert in everything, but I have access to experts.”
Toshok said she had received visitors from West Virginia, Kentucky and other states.
“People travel for hours to see us,” she says. “The reptile community is a tight-knit bunch of people. You meet some really cool people.”
Many customers have left rave reviews for Animal Jungle on the store’s Facebook page. Akron’s Paul Snyder said the store was “hands down the best reptile store I’ve been to.”
“Everyone is friendly and very knowledgeable,” he said. “I cannot recommend it enough.”
Lisa Decapite-Rodriguez, who lives in Valley View and works in Northfield Village, said she could barely wait for the Northfield store to open.
“Patricia and all her staff are very knowledgeable and helpful,” she said. “I love our Hingeback turtle that we got from her, she’s booming.”
Jeff Shaffer of Streetsboro said he and his family “will definitely be back and support them with all of our needs.”
“My son was looking for a bearded dragon and the Animal Jungle team have been very informative about care and everything related to owning a dragon,” Shaffer said. “Larry the bearded dragon is doing fantastic and we can’t thank you enough for everything.”
The hours of operation for the Animal Jungle Pet Shop in Stow, 5007 Fishcreek Road, are 1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday. Sunday from 1 pm to 5:30 pm The boutique is closed on Mondays.
Northfield Village store hours will be 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday. Toshok said hours at this location will increase once the pandemic is over.
Call 330-501-6208 or visit animaljunglepetshop.com for more details.
Journalist April Helms can be reached at [email protected]