Sunday, February 04, 2001

Boutique specializes in retail reptiles

By Lew Moores
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Erin Robinson holds Argo the alligator, which isn't for sale.
(Tony Jones photo)
| ZOOM |
        COLERAIN TWP. — The door to its den was open, and Desi Rybolt headed for it. The 10-year-old's mother watched in horror.

        “Desi, don't get in there!” said her mother, Terri Friel.

        Instead, Desi dropped to her knees, reached inside the den and began stroking the 17-foot Burmese python, more than 170 pounds and as big around as Desi.

        The python, a gentle creature named Babe, is not for sale. She's a member of the Robinson family. But there are other pythons and boa constrictors for sale at Robinson's Reptiles, a boutique for the herpetologically-inclined (in other words, those who like reptiles) thatopened Saturday at 3110 Springdale Road in Springhill Plaza.

        The opening of the shop is the story of a passion that's grown into a business.

        For the past 10 years, Jerry and Erin Robinson have kept reptiles as pets — breeding, trading and taking in animals whose owners have either grown tired or alarmed at how large their pets had gotten.

        At their new store, they will continue the practice. Indeed, Babe the python is a rescue, given to them by someone who was moving. So was a full-grown green iguana named Elvis.

        “We're more than willing to take them,” said Ms. Robinson. “We rescue them and

        sell them. We get a lot of calls from people who say, "We can't take care of this, will you take it?'”

        They have a coatimundi (it resembles a raccoon) that prefers sleeping in a hammock. They have a 60-pound African sulcata tortoise that follows them around like a puppy.

        They also have four alligators — not for sale. One, named Argo, likes to be stroked on its head.

        Ms. Friel and her daughter, Desi,were in from Indianapolis visiting a friend, Linda Ross, in Sharonville. Ms. Ross suggested visiting the store because of Desi's affinity for reptiles.

        Ms. Friel has allowed Desi to raise three frogs from tadpoles, but what Desi really wants is a snake.

        “Any kind of king snake,” said Desi.

        Robinson's Reptiles is open noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Information: 522-6592.


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