Country of reptiles

One day, thirteen-year-old Stelios and his brother Spiros entered a pet-shop… A colorful beauty, a Californian royal snake, captured Stelios attention; and Spiros decided to donate it to his brother. The beauty turned out to be a handsome one and was called Diamantis. Soon Diamantis had a company: first an iguana, then pythons; and the brothers realized that they could not stop. The small unusual pets became an integral part of their life. A great love of reptiles began with Diamantis who have subsequently caused the start of a big deal―the Reptisland Museum.

For 15 years, Stelios and Spiros acquired new pets, learned to care for them and their characters, behaviors, needs. It’s good that their parents treated this hobby favorably and made it possible to turn the house into a solid terrarium.

Three years ago, the brothers decided to open a reptile museum, which we are describing now, and, of course, the family supported the initiative. In a large, spacious and stylishly decorated natural wood room are located more than fifty “houses”: each is inhabited by different reptiles and arachnids.

What determines the size of the aquarium for each representative? They all have different tastes and preferences. It is vital for someone to have a sense of narrow boundaries, feeling in a big house extremely uncomfortable; someone, on the contrary, prefers a large area where there is possibility to star into space and to move. Someone likes to be in the company, another one will not tolerate any neighbor.

In the same way, the temperature mode is different for each representative, a special one; and in each house automatic parameters are set to maintain the desired temperature and humidity, which are maintained year-round at the same level.

How do new pets appear in the museum? The brothers acquire them only in the best reputed reptile kennels from professional breeders around the world. We asked about the approximate average cost of a museum dweller, but it turned out that the price range was huge: from 50 to 10,000 euros. It is not easy for the owners of the museum to get all the necessary veterinary certificates and to comply with the mandatory rules. For example, importing an animal from another country, they are obliged to maintain a three-month quarantine at customs, where the owner provides all the necessary animal care in terms of maintenance and nutrition.

How long live snakes, for example? Under the conditions of care provided by the museum, they live for more than 50 years, i.e. their life expectancy is comparable to human. How often and what do they eat?

Snake children eat every 7–10 days, a small mouse is enough for them, but adult animals eat much less often, every 14–30 days, but they also need more substantial reinforcement (as a rule, this “reinforcement” is a rabbit).

How many times a year do they shed their skin? It depends on the age of the snake. Being a child/teenager, it grows rapidly, and about once a month it becomes cramped in its old skin, but adults take it off much less often―several times a year. Snake skin does not bring any medical benefit―it can only be used for decoration.

We asked if reptiles in the museum could be aggressive. Stelios replies that all living things must be treated with great respect, including his pets. By themselves, they will never cause harm, but if a person accidentally or deliberately hurts them, a natural instinctive reaction of self-defense will follow; and, although there are no poisonous pets in the museum, all snakes have sharp teeth and strong muscles: Stelios always shows how to properly hold his “exhibits” so that both sides enjoy the communication.

You can hold almost all pets in your hands, pet and chat with them. If you dare to do this, you will feel that your ideas about them were erroneous up to this point. They are pleasant to the touch, their skin is more like silk or an item of silk threads, they are friendly, curious, every creature has its own character. Snakes and iguanas cause special delight in children when they are allowed to gently pick them up or pet those held by their parents.

The museum plans to expand in the future, as there is an opportunity to increase the interior space; and there is a desire of the owners to show the guests new members of such a non-domestic and unknown class to the public, like reptiles. If you are interested in finding out more about a particular museum inhabitant, you can (if your smartphone has a scanner function) scan a QR code located on each house and follow the link to the page with a detailed description of the representative.

The museum is open year-round: from 10 to 14 hours in winter and from 9 to 18 hours in summer. It is located in Rethymno district, in the village of Melidoni. By the way, two kilometers from the museum are the famous caves of Melidoni, about 15-20 minutes away is a former fishing village and now a popular resort with beautiful bays―Bali: you can plan your route to visit several places of interest at once.

Prepared by Olga Morozova