Jeremy Hartman, chef manager for Bon Appétit at McMaster-Carr in Atlanta, always loved dinosaurs and reptiles as a kid. His love for these types of animals hasn’t diminished—he and his girlfriend now collect exotic pets such as lizards, snakes and turtles.
Jeremy Hatman, Bon Appetit, McMaster-Carr“Growing up we always had pets—dogs and cats and whatnot. We lived in Alaska for a little while so I was around a lot of interesting animals there. When my dad retired from the military he bought a farm in Tennessee where we had a variety of pets, from rabbits and dogs all the way up to cows, pigs and horses. So I’ve always been into animals. I was also into reptiles like all boys are, as well as dinosaurs, and my father always let me have snakes and stuff. My current girlfriend had some reptiles too, so we shared the same passion for reptiles, and we started collecting them.
We really have a zoo at this point. We have three chinchillas named Angie, Becka and Shasta; a red-tailed boa constrictor named Twiggy; a leopard gecko named Abe; a tokay gecko named Olive; a blue tongue skink named Al; a bearded dragon named Hurley; two red-eared slider turtles named Donatello and Fatty Arbuckle; a painted turtle named Pedro; a lung fish named Link; two ferrets named Berry and Toby; and a large community guppy tank.
The three chinchillas were given to us so we kind of got lucky with having those. Our friend just couldn’t take care of them anymore. My girlfriend and I go to reptile shows and are always at pet stores and if we see an interesting lizard we will probably buy it.
Our most rare pet is probably the lung fish. Most people don’t keep them as pets. We got it at a pet store and it looks almost like a large eel. The pet shop was like, ‘hey, do you want this? If you buy this aquarium we’ll give you this fish for free.’ So we were like, awesome! I don’t know if the pet store just didn’t know anything about it or what, but it kind of eats everything. I put it into a community tank at first and it [ate] the entire population. Normally they are found out in the wild, but I guess with the hurricanes and such in Florida they are having to come more inland. They are fish, but they have what look like little legs so they can walk on land. As the hurricanes drove them further north people started finding them and keeping them as pets. Once we did our research and found out what it ate then it became one of our prized pets. Its name is Link because they are kind of like the missing link because they breathe in the water and on land.
I think [I like these types of pets] because other people don’t have them every day and they make good stories. They are fascinating to me. As far as obtaining them, we seem to be the wayward home for pets. If anyone I know can’t take care of their pets anymore, they call us and we end up with it.
My dream pet is a sulcata tortoise. Those are the ones that live 150 years and they grow to be 200 pounds. You have to have room for them. You are supposed to be able to let them outside and build them a little hole so they can roam around. Some of the exotic pet stores around here have some, and they are about three feet in diameter so it’s a pretty impressive looking tortoise.”