Tortoise and the Hare Common to Exotic Pets is local, family- and veteran-owned exotic reptile and small animal supplier. The business specializes in everything exotic pets need to be happy, healthy parts of a family. The business focuses on having a family-friendly environment where big kids and little kids can learn, explore and develop a love and passion for all kinds of animals.
Kevin and Kari Reddin have been in business a little over a year, and even though the shop has been open since June of 2022, the dream has been there much longer, they say.
Kevin always dreamed of having a reptile shop, and the business developed from Kevin’s passion for reptiles and Kari’s love of small animals. The name was developed as a play on words to show the diversity of animals the business caters too. Animals are meant to not just be pets but part of your family, they say.
Kevin and Kari were both born in Colorado and have both lived in Montrose for a little over a decade. Kari returned to Montrose after serving in the US Army. They have two daughters, who are often seen in the shop helping out or just playing with the animals.
MBT: Where did you first learn you had a passion for exotic pets?
Reddins: Animals have always been a part of family life. Kevin was raised around reptiles and a gator farm and has worked with and studied almost every type of reptile. He has extensive knowledge of multiple reptile species. He has thousands of hours working with venomous reptiles as well.
MBT: Why do you think people seek out exotic pets, outside of the normal cat, dog, hamster, etc?
Reddins: Exotic animals are a personal preference but the people that connect with exotics have been exposed to them in a positive light in the past. Fear can be something that keeps people from owning exotic pets. Once you are able to see a reptile as a pet or an animal with a personality, you realize they are fascinating.
This is what opens their heart to new and different animals as pets, rather than parts of their family. The majority of exotic pet owners also have other “common” animals such as dogs and cats. However, there are a few trends that have significantly raised the trend of exotic animals. One is COVID, and the second is the cost of living. COVID offered people more time at home, which translated to more pets. But the higher cost of living results in smaller spaces. This means more people are turning to more “compact” pets. Some, but definitely not all, exotic pets take up less space.
MBT: What would you say to someone who wants to own an exotic pet?
Reddins: Do your research. There is a huge variety of environments and needs that go into the different animals. Not all snakes require the same environment. You need to find something that you like but also will work with your lifestyle. Be sure you are able to provide the ongoing support for the animal.
MBT: What’s your favorite animal or animals that you carry, tend to or sell products for?
Reddins: Burmese pythons are Kevin’s favorite. They are larger in size and have great temperaments., “Gentle Giants” when they are worked with properly. They can get to 20+ feet. Often there is a misconception because of their size and perceived as an aggressive snake. They have become an invasive species in certain areas of the US because people have let them go in the wild.
MBT: What pet(s) do you have at home?
Reddins: The family has a love for exotics. Buddy is a 3-year-old sand boa. The kids like to watch the sugar glider, Delilah, eat her jelly cups. Cloud is our light gray Chinchilla. She sits by the laundry room door and likes to beg for snacks every morning. Kevin moved his favorite animal to the shop, Big Guy. He is a 12-foot-plus Burmese Python. We also have two English mastiffs, Moose and Diesel and two toy Aussies, Oreo and Bear.
MBT: How would you like to see the business grow?
Reddins: We have big plans. First, we would love to offer more educational events. Basic education helps take fear out of the equation. This is essential in caring for these animals. People do not want to care for or interact with something they are afraid of. This includes adding interactive classes and birthday parties.
We want to be a destination for schools and groups to come and interact and learn about exotic reptiles and small animals. We are developing a herpetological group for kids. With all of this education comes proper care and support for these exotic animals. Tortoise and the Hare strives to supply all of the foods, speciality equipment and knowledge needed for exceptional care of these animals. The goal is to make exotic animals part of your family. We are continuously striving to update and improve our inventory of animals and supplies. With that we hope to be able to add speciality education programs.
Second, we have been working on developing a 501(c)(3) nonprofit for the last year, to help preserve and care for the neglected and miss understood animals. A not-for-profit rescue will help us take in animals that can not be cared for. We currently partner with Phoenix Herpetological Sanctuary to assist in relocating animals, strategizing for educational events and providing financial support to reptiles in need.
Lastly, Tortoise and the Hare would love to grow into a full reptile park. We want a place where people can learn about exotic animals, get over fears, and develop a love for their not so usual pets. We strive to be the go to destination for all Reptile and Small Animal needs and interactions on the Western Slope of Colorado.