By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer
Northborough – Northborough resident Dan Rowe moved often as a child because his father was in the Navy, limiting his options for what he could have for a pet. What started with goldfish, an aquarium, a lizard and eventually an iguana as a boy has become a lifelong reptile passion. In 2017, he and his wife Ceylan co-founded Rowe Reptiles, a custom built 1,500-square-foot education facility in Northborough.
The nonprofit facility has been open for a year to the public and was built to house the growing reptile collection. The building is designed to maximize safety of the animals, including high-tech gadgets and cameras. Its mission is to educate the local and global community about reptiles and to help advance the understanding about their care and breeding.
Over the years, Rowe has networked with many local breeders, researched species and currently serves as the vice president of the New England Herpetological Society.
“Operating as a nonprofit allows for donations and grants to continue to grow the ability to teach more people, provide care of the animals, and continue research,” said Rowe.
Rowe Reptiles offers regularly scheduled tours of the facility a few times a month for a small fee. They will assist Scout groups working toward a related badge and welcome private or school tours, as well as host birthday party groups.
“It’s fun to introduce the kids to them, let them touch and hold them and ask questions,” said Rowe.
Rowe will also meet with families looking to add a new family member, such as a gecko, ball python, bearded dragon or tortoise. The pet certificate class will teach them how to properly care for it, feed it and ensure it is a good fit with the family.
For those who cringe at the thought of having a snake as a pet, Rowe assures you that “the fear of snakes is due to the lack of awareness and education and they are not out to get you.”
Rowe will provide hands-on experience and education to help people reach a higher comfort level with them.
Although he doesn’t really count the number of reptiles currently in residence, the number is large. He is proud that Rowe Reptiles is one of a few places in the state that has a permit to house an Asian water monitor, who is named Sunny. His collection comes from all over the world.
Many of the reptiles have been named courtesy of his two children, Yaz and Ibz.
Rowe works a full time job as a systems engineer so tours and classes are by appointment only.