New reptile zoo in Utica promises 'hands on' experiences

- Just in time for Halloween, you can check out the creepy crawlies at a new, specialty zoo in Utica. But this setup isn't just for the spooky season -- it's a new, permanent home to dozens of reptiles. 

The Reptarium is a new reptile zoo in southeast Michigan, the only of its kind here. Hundreds of reptiles live here in naturalistic environments. The premise behind the zoo, though, is to get up close and personal with these extreme creatures. 

"The whole idea of The Reptarium is to get people hands on, get those animals from behind the glass into your hands," says Brian Barczyk. "We have tortoises, we have turtles; we have frogs; we have lizards; we just have about everything creepy crawly. We're even going to bring in some spiders - which I'm not exactly a fan of, to be honest with you - but we have everything you could possibly want."

Just as he's working over his fear of spiders, he says his specialty is helping his guests get over those fears, too. 

"The lack of knowledge is what fear is. So we try to educate people, we create curiosity. These aren't behind a glass, these are going to be out front," he says.

He promises to take the show-and-tells at a slow, comfortable pace -- but bets his guests will become a snake lovers just like him before they leave. 

He promises you'll see some really unusual animals, like Purdita, a cow reticulated python. Reticulated pythons are the longest snakes in the world, clocking in sometimes at 25 feet long. Purdita is just a little pup, though, so she's not that long (yet). Another snake you can meet is Sunrise, who's an albino Bermese python about a year and a half old. 

The Reptarium is located at 45559 Van Dyke Avenue, just north of M-59. It's open right now on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 4-9 p.m. Kids 3 and under are free, but otherwise admission is $10 a person. You can pay more, too, if you'd like the experience of feeding an alligator or a tortoise. You can get more information online here

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