THE dragons have arrived in Morpeth — along with snakes, spiders, lizards, frogs and all manner of exotic creatures.
Businessmen Andrew Douglas and Stephen Brooks have stirred up interest across the town with their signs warning that ‘the dragons are coming’.
Last week, they finally settled the mystery when they opened their Dragons’ Den Exotic Pets shop in Grey’s Yard, off Oldgate.
The outlet offers a range of exotic pets for sale, as well as the food and specialist equipment needed to care for them.
Mr Brooks has run a similar shop in Newcastle for about a year and after inviting Mr Douglas to become a partner, the pair were keen to expand into Northumberland.
“We did a customer survey at the Newcastle shop earlier this year and we found that a lot of customers were from Northumberland so we thought that opening in Morpeth would better serve them,” said Mr Douglas.
“We put ‘the dragons are coming’ signs up, which got a lot of interest and if people looked it up there was a website.
“The shop seems to be working well so far. There are more exotic pets in the country than cats and dogs so we know there is a demand and we have had a lot of people coming in to have a look, especially the kids from the high school.”
The shop is a dream come true for the 29-year-old, who lives in Felton, as he is finally able to put his animal care qualifications to good use after a previous career in road safety.
“I have always kept exotic animals as pets and I breed tree frogs at home so the interest has always been there,” he said.
“I got a National Diploma in Animal Management at Kirkley Hall ten years ago and I wanted to work with animals then, but it didn’t work out like that so it’s good to come back to working with animals now.”
The shop owners are keen to help others with an interest in the business and are planning to offer work experience to Kirkley Hall students, as well as provide free school visits with some of their animals.
They will also be at hand to help with unusual animal emergencies.
“We are sometimes called out to Newcastle Airport to identify animals that have come in in people’s luggage and things because the RSPCA doesn’t have the experience with reptiles that we do,” said Mr Douglas.
“There was also a strange experience at the Newcastle shop when some kids found a huge python and brought it in so we can deal with all sorts.”
The new shop will initially be staffed by the partners, but another full-time worker may be taken on later.
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