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Mobius delights kids – if not parents – with live reptiles

Jodi Rasmussen has a chat with Louie, her NorthTown Mall store’s pet iguana on Friday. Louie was part of the reptile exhibit Saturday at Mobius Science Center downtown. Rasmussen says Louie enjoys cuddling like a dog. (Dan Pelle)
Jodi Rasmussen has a chat with Louie, her NorthTown Mall store’s pet iguana on Friday. Louie was part of the reptile exhibit Saturday at Mobius Science Center downtown. Rasmussen says Louie enjoys cuddling like a dog. (Dan Pelle)

Louie, a Florida green iguana, crawled off his traveling container into the crowd, to the delight of the young onlookers.

Louie was part of Live Reptile & Animal Day on Saturday at Mobius Science Center.

Dylan Lyons, 7, said he especially liked the recently hatched pythons at the exhibit.

“I completely holded a snake before,” he said.

Quentin Vermaire, 9, was at the science center with his mother, Deb, and twin brother, Peter. He liked Louie the best, although “my mommy doesn’t,” he joked.

Louie was carried back to a perch on his container to avoid being stepped on by the crowds of people at the center enjoying the other exhibits.

Don Riefler, director of education and programs at the science center, said it was the first show the center had done. He hopes to bring in more shows over the summer.

At Saturday’s show, the owners of Rasmussen Reptiles in NorthTown Mall brought in Red, a red tegu lizard; Banana, a 17-foot, 110-pound albino Burmese python; Lucky, a veiled chameleon; and Louie.

“People love reptiles,” Riefler said. The science center has a permanent exhibit with lizards, and Riefler said it’s one of the more popular displays. They also teach classes about reptiles, such as how to recognize a venomous or a nonvenomous snake. He said one of the rules of thumb is that venomous snakes are generally brightly colored, except for rattlesnakes.

But, “Safety first,” Riefler said. “Never approach a snake (in the wild).”

Wandering through the science center was Buddy, a 17- or 18-year-old Sulcata tortoise. Jodi Rasmussen said Buddy could live to be 100 years old.

“They are faster than you think,” Riefler said.

Louie is about 8 to 10 years old. Rasmussen said at the NorthTown store they let Louie loose, but he never leaves. He lives on a diet of romaine lettuce and other green vegetables.

Red is a red tegu lizard, which is native to Argentina. Dakota Smith, an employee at Rasmussen Reptiles, said she likes to call him Jabba the Hut, because of his jowly face. Smith has brought him home, and he likes to keep company with her five dachshunds.

Red is pickier than most of his kind. He eats a lot of turkey burgers and scrambled eggs.

Rasmussen said she and her husband, Joe, have had their reptile store for about 2  1/2 years.

Although they brought in the animals during the science center’s grand opening last year, most of the shows they do are in Seattle. It is a family business run by the couple, their three sons and Smith.

She said one of the services of the store is letting people know what they are in for when they buy a reptile or amphibian for a pet. Like Buddy, some tortoises live extremely long, and there are particular foods reptiles need to eat.

Riefler said the science center has been a popular family activity since it opened last September.

One boy recently told him he got an A on one of his tests in school because of the Missoula Floods exhibit.

“How cool is that?” Riefler said.



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