It's-s-s-s a Reptile Rally

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During an economic meltdown that renders dogs and cats unaffordable to some folks, PETCO recommends reptiles — and its first-ever Reptile Rally celebrates the scales at PETCO stores in Emeryville, Alameda, and El Cerrito on July 17.

According to a bulletin just received from the company, reptiles cost only $10-15 per month to maintain. Moreover, "they make virtually no noise and do not require exercise or an overabundance of attention."

The Reptile Rally, which starts at 11 a.m., will bring owners and collectors to stores, where they will "show off their little (or not so little) cold-blooded friends, as well as educate the squeamish on why reptiles aren't so creepy after all. ...

"In addition to giving reptile parents an opportunity to show off their pride and joy, PETCO is inviting those who are squeamish (ahem, moms) to attend meet-and-greets with everything from the bearded dragon to the less intimidating turtle, as well as care and habitat 'how to' seminars and feeding time led by reptile specialists."

You know, reptile feeding time. That would mean crickets, live rodents....

For potential reptile shopper, PETCO suggests a few popular species:

"Leopard Gecko - This reptile is considered to be the ideal lizard for beginners. These cute little terrestrials are a smaller size, which makes it a cinch to meet their housing needs. A standard 10 gallon aquarium can maintain one or two adults for life, especially if they receive plenty of handling attention as exercise. Leopard geckos are also the lizards that show the most variety in color and pattern, with new designer morphs debuting each year to pique your interest.

"Bearded Dragon — A finer pet reptile is hard to find. Their adult size of 16 to 18 inches is ideal, their disposition is placid, their care needs are simple and their looks are perfectly prehistoric. New color varieties are emerging yearly as well! Diet is a combination of fresh fruits and veggies (well, and insects of course).

"Corn Snake — These popular pets are named for the patterning of their belly scales that resemble maize, and ancestor of modern day corn. Corn snakes come in a wide variety of colors, are beauties, docile and easy to care for.

"Ball Python — Ball pythons (also called royal pythons) are named for their habit of curling themselves up into a tight ball with their heads pulled firmly into the center when they are nervous. The name royal python is based in part on the story that Cleopatra supposedly wore the snake around her wrist. They’re smaller, usually quite docile and again, easy to care for."

Yes, PETCO is a large retail chain, but its nonprofit organization, The PETCO Foundation, has raised more than $60 million in the last eleven years to help promote and improve the welfare of companion animals. In conjunction with the foundation, PETCO works with and support about 6,200 local animal-welfare groups across the country to help find homes for more than 200,000 adoptable animals every year.

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