OWNERS of a pet shop say they are “really excited” to start offering exotic animal experiences to the public.

DJL Exotics, a five-star licensed pet shop in Kirby-le-Soken, is offering chances to handle and interact with several reptile and invertebrate species.

Included in the DJL Exotics collection are leopard geckos and royal pythons, as well as a Dumeril’s Boa considered one of the strongest snakes in the world and a Vinegaroon, an arachnid which is a cross between a spider and a scorpion.

Their new licence from Tendring Council allows small groups to have exclusive access, with DJL Exotics offering one-hour slots throughout the week and school visits from September.

Gazette: Hello - a friendly gecko in the DJL Exotics collectionHello - a friendly gecko in the DJL Exotics collection (Image: David Lowbridge)

Reptile experts Dave and Helen Lowbridge kept reptiles for 20 years before being inspired to start their own business five years ago.

Dave, 38, said: “It’s both of our dreams to help people appreciate reptiles and see how wonderful they are.”  

They have been planning to offer experiences to the public for the past two years and are “really excited” to do so.

Dave added: “It’s very rewarding passing on the knowledge and experience, because we can teach people and help them understand reptiles and what makes them special.”

He compared reptiles to more common pets, and said reptiles are “as personable and as affectionate as any dog or cat.”

“Our experiences are a great way to celebrate a special occasion, to enhance home-schooling, or as a fun activity for the family,” he added.

Gazette: Bright- a yellow gecko from DJL ExoticsBright- a yellow gecko from DJL Exotics (Image: David Lowbridge)

“Unlike other pet shops, we breed everything ourselves,” Dave said.

"So people can see the parents, keep the hatch date, and keep track of the whole process.

“Pet owners do keep in contact with us, and we get emails of update photos from people who got pets a year ago or more.”

Dave and Helen take care of the pets by making sure they breed within their natural rhythms, which helps improve the health of the babies and the parents.

Since their announcement, Dave and Helen have already had interest from multiple groups who are keen to book after September.

He said: “We’re looking forward to people being able to understand the lovely personalities of these creatures and how special they are.”