J'cans shelling big bucks for exotic pets
Creatures that may evoke high-pitched screams and force many to channel their inner Usain Bolt are being sold in Jamaica and there is a customer base for them.
"I have customers who bought them here long time ago and still have them. They still have their snakes, iguanas because they take care of them," Patrice Martin, the manager of Hubby Hut Pet Store, said.
Snakes, turtles, tortoises and iguanas are some of the animals that have found comfort in Jamaican homes with persons shelling out hefty sums of money to acquire and maintain them.
And while some animals would become complacent living in the comfort of a warm house and having owners who tend to their needs, snakes play their part in the household by helping to reduce the population of pesky rodents.
One serving of live mice every week or two is all these carnivorous reptiles require in their infancy.
"If the snake gets bigger, you can feed him a guinea pig, a rabbit or chicken. It must be freshly killed or you give it to him it live," Martin warns.
Martins, who sells ball pythons, says that when the serpent is in stock, they are purchased rapidly.
"A ball python price ranges from about $20,000, but you may get some for $15,000," she said. Martin also noted that iguanas may cost upwards of $7,000 depending on their size.
Along with buying these exotic animals, the owners will be required to acquire special cages or aviaries to house their new pets.
Martin, however, noted that birds that are exotic (because they are not native to the island) are among the store's bestseller.
"People come to buy them every day. Everybody wants a parrot, but some people can't afford it," she said, noting that the price for a parrot starts at $25,000.