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Cave Spider (order Amblypygi) / Tropical and Subtropical

Also known as tail-less whip scorpions, these fascinating arachnids are related to both spiders and scorpions.

Although their thorny pedipalps may be intimidating, these guys lack venom and are completely harmless to humans. They are nocturnal predators, mainly hunting small insects.

Unlike spiders who have 8 eyes, cave spiders have none! Their elongated pair of legs act as feelers to help them find their way around dark caves.

Cool Facts

  1. Cave spiders do not spin webs!
  2. They have sticky feet and will hang out on the walls or even ceilings of caves.
  3. Cave spiders were featured in the film Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Cave Spiders


Chinese Water Dragon (Physignathus cocincinus)| China and Southeast Asia

water dragonFound living along riverbeds in the forests of China, these gorgeous, bright green lizards can grow to sizes of 1 meter long!

Stormfly has a small kink in his tail that was seen as undesirable. We love him just the same and think that his tail makes him special!



Cool Facts

  1. They have a spot between their eyes called the “pineal eye” that is sensitive to light, aiding them in finding suitable basking spots.
  2. Often found near water but can also live in trees.
  3. When threatened, they dive into water and can remain submerged for 25 minutes!!



Harris’s Hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus)| South Western United States to Brazil

harris hawkHarris’s hawks are known for their unusual behaviour of hunting in packs. Their social nature makes them easy to train and popular among falconers.

Icarus was born in 2016 and is practicing showing off his flying for people! Birds of prey save as much energy as they can when they fly, so Icarus will often swoop low over your head when he flies above you.




Cool Facts

  1. Unlike many mammals, female Harris’s hawks are around 35% bigger than the boys!
  2. They live in sparse woodlands and semi-desert areas. The tough scales on their feet allow them to perch on top of cacti!
  3. Groups of Harris’s hawks are often seen “stacking” – this is when they sit on each other’s shoulders, up to 3 birds high!!



Bengal Cat 

Bengal cats look just like miniature leopards! They are very intelligent and can be trained to display many behaviours. 

We got Tyra in May 2017, and she has since won over the hearts of all of our staff! She loves to prance about on her leash outside, chase her tail, and pounce on toys! When she’s not playing, her favorite place to curl up for a nap is on your lap.

Tyra can be added on to any package for an additional $50. Ask our office about availability!

Cool Facts

  1. Bengals are low-allergen. Many people with cat allergies are not affected by Bengals.
  2. Bengals are very mischievous and can get into a lot of trouble! They are often too much of a handful for the typical pet owner.
  3. The Bengal breed originated as a hybrid of the Asian Leopard Cat and the domestic cat. It’s these wild genes that give them their spunk and distinctive pattern.


Sulfur Crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita)| Australia, New Guinea, Indonesia | Least Concern (IUCN)

214076-40Sulfur crested cockatoos are very intelligent birds, making them very demanding as a pet.

Sampson was born in 1995, and came to Hands on Exotics in 2014 as an ex-pet. He is a big show-off and knows many tricks including showing off his wings, flying, dancing, and playing dead. He loves to talk and tells us goodnight when we turn the lights off at the end of the day.




Cool Facts

  1. They are very long lived and can live over 70 years in captivity! For this reason most pet cockatoos don’t stay in the same home for their entire lives.
  2. Although they naturally live in forested areas, they have adapted well to urban environments – even becoming a pest in some areas.
  3. They often forage for seeds, grains, and fruits in large groups. Typically one cockatoo will keep watch for predators by perching high up in a tree, keeping the rest of the group safe.


Pied Imperial Pigeon (Ducula bicolor) | Southeast Asia | Least Concern (IUCN)


Named after their beautiful dual colouration, the pied pigeon is found in coastal island forests in New Guinea and Thailand.

Dinozzo is a bit of a goof ball – his favorite spot to perch is on his handler’s head! His favorite activity is to be misted with water – he will often hold his wings out one at a time to ensure you mist all of his feathers!

Cool Facts

  1. Unlike most pigeons that feed on seeds, the pied imperial pigeon eats mainly fruits and berries.
  2. They have been known to live up to 20 years in captivity!
  3. They can swallow large fruits – the seeds are spit out after the flesh has been digested in the bird’s crop.


Senegal Parrot (Poicephalus senegalus) | West Africa | Least Concern (IUCN)

GilliganSenegal parrots are known for their bright, beautiful plumage of green and orange. They are very gregarious; always chattering in a range of squawks and whistles.

Gilligan is one of our older residents – he was born in 1997! However hes not an old man just yet – they can live up to 50 years in captivity! Gilligan lived in a loving home for 18 years until they  could no longer care for him. He loves meeting new people and will happily perch on your arm and wave at you.

Cool Facts

  1. Although they are endearing parrots are very difficult pets; requiring a lot of attention and often out living their owners.
  2. Senegal parrots feed mainly on fruits, seeds, and grains.
  3. In some parts of Africa they are a farm pest due to their preference for corn.

Goliath & Munch

African Spurred Tortoise (Centrochelys sulcata) | North / Central Africa | Vulnerable (IUCN)


African spurred tortoises get their name from the “spurs” on their legs. Living in desert and grassland habitats, their sandy colouration helps them to camouflage.

Goliath and Munch are both ex-pets. These guys are extremely difficult to take care of – they need a lot of space to roam around in and can live to 100 years old!!

Cool Facts

  1. Although they eat mainly grasses, they can grow to massive sizes of over 100 lbs!!
  2. Spurred tortoise populations are rapidly declining due to habitat loss resulting from urbanization, livestock grazing, and climate change.
  3. They are also captured for the pet trade and for traditional medicines. This practice is of great concern as it takes 15 years for them to reach maturity, making population renewal a slow process.


Goliath & Munch


Burrowing Parrot (Cyanoliseus patagonus) | Argentina


Burrowing parrots nest by forming  burrows on the sides of a cliff faces. Pairs expand their burrow each year – these burrows can form zig-zagging tunnels up to 2.5 meters long before opening into a chamber where the chicks are raised!

Ollie is one of our oldest resident animals. Her exact age is unknown, but we estimate she was born sometime around 1987. She was a pet before being surrendered to a vet clinic where she lived for many years. In 2014 Ollie found her permanent home at Hands on Exotics and has since won over our hearts! Ollie loves to perch on people and whistle.

Cool Facts

  1. Burrowing parrots feed mainly on seeds, fruits, and grains.
  2. They form large flocks exceeding 1000 birds
  3. The largest colony in the wild extends over 9 km of sandstone cliff and contains ~35,000 active nest burrows!




Military Macaw (Ara militaris) | Mexico to South America

Military macaws get their name from their green plumage, which resembled military uniforms.They are a vulnerable species in the wild, mainly due to deforestation for wood / paper products as well as capture for the pet trade.

Elmo was born in 1999. He was owned by a nurse at a seniors facility that we visit regularly, but they were finding it hard to give him the attention that he needs. Elmo loves to dance and flap his wings, but his favorite game in peak-a-boo under a blanket.


Cool Facts

  1. Military macaws are found in forested areas and eat mainly seeds, fruits, and nuts.
  2. When they are excited, their face flushes a pink colour, just like when we blush
  3. They are extremely difficult to care for, requiring several hours of interaction daily. Their large, strong beaks make them very destructive.




Scarlet Ibis / Central and South America

As their name suggests, the scarlet ibis is covered in bright scarlet-red feathers over most of their bodies. However, they are not born that way – the bright pigment comes from a diet rich in shrimp.

Ginny is very playful – she often will tickle your feet with her beak looking for a tasty snack. She also loves to fly and land on people’s heads – making an encounter with her very memorable!



Cool Facts

  1. The scarlet ibis has a very sensitive beak that they use to probe the ocean floor for shrimps and crayfish.
  2. They are the national bird of Trinidad and Tobago
  3. Ginny’s favorite treat is a tasty meal worm


Pepe, Flower, and Thumper

Skunks / North America

Striped skunks are found throughout North America, and are easily identified by their bold stripe on their back. This stripe is a warning to other animals to stay away or get sprayed!

Skunks have non-retractable claws that they use dig. They love to dig up the ground looking for one of their favorite treats – a tasty grub or bug! They will give several warnings to predators before spraying; including raising their tails and stomping their feet. The spotted skunk from South America will even do a hand-stand to ward away predators!

Cool Facts

  1. One of their only predators in the great-horned owl, due to their very limited sense of smell.
  2. Skunks will cuddle in groups of up to 20 skunks to keep warm in the winter.
  3. The powerful odor from their spray can be easily removed with a simple mix of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and dish soap.

Pepe, Flower, and Thumper


Red Lory / Indonesia and Australia


This intelligent bird has a playful personality and a colourful appearance. They’re often described as flamboyant, theatrical and pugnacious birds.

Rapunzel is still very young, we are teaching her to be very friendly and social with humans. They can develop affection toward more than one person, but red lories often pick a favourite flock member. In the wild, Lories eat nectar, pollen, fruits, and occasional insects.

Cool Facts

  1. They are the second most commonly kept lory in captivity, after the Rainbow Lorikeet.
  2. Its natural habitats are tropical moist lowland forests and tropical mangrove forests.
  3. Their bills are narrow and less powerful than other types of parrots and their gizzards are generally thin-walled and weak.


Umbrella Cockatoo / Indonesia


Umbrella Cockatoos (aka white cockatoos) are often kept as pets because they can be very affectionate, bond closely with people and are valued for their beauty. Although that may sound like the makings of a great pet, they are also among the loudest birds in the world, require constant attention, and often scream when their owner leaves the room until they return. You also don’t want to get on the wrong end of her sharp and powerful beak!

Annabelle lives with some of our other parrots here at the zoo. She is very touch friendly, she loves to be held and pet. Her favourite things to say are “Hi Cookie” and “Pretty Girl”. Her favourite food to eat is sunflower seeds.

Cool Facts

  1. The undersides of the wings and tail have a pale yellow or lemon colour which flashes when they fly.
  2. The male White Cockatoo usually has a broader head and a bigger beak than the female.
  3. In the wild, White Cockatoos feed on berries, seeds, nuts, fruit and roots. When nesting, they include insects and insect larvae.


Red Kangaroo / Australia

*Please note that kangaroos are NOT currently legal in the City of Toronto for educational programs including birthday parties. These bylaws are strictly enforced and the fines can be thousands of dollars. Our kangaroos are only available for professional film, and for select events in communities where they are permitted by law*

The red kangaroo (Macropus rufus) is the largest of all kangaroos, the largest mammal native to Australia, and the largest surviving marsupial.

Although large as adults, the babies are born the size of jellybeans. The baby, known as a joey, spends 6-9 months inside the mothers pouch before emerging to explore the world.


Cool Facts

  1. The word kangaroo stems from an Aboriginal language (Guugu Yimidhirr). The Aboriginal word gangurru described the Grey Kangaroo.
  2. The adult male Kangaroo is called buck, boomer or jack. Adult females are called doe, flyer or jill.
  3. A group of kangaroos is called a mob.




Black and White Ruffed Lemur / Madagascar

*Please note that lemurs are NOT currently legal in the City of Toronto for educational programs including birthday parties. These bylaws are strictly enforced and the fines can be thousands of dollars. Our lemurs are only available for professional film, and for select events in communities where they are permitted by law*


Similar to the type of Lemur you see on the popular kids show Zaboomafu, these lemurs are clownish and extremely playful, in addition to being super soft and fluffy!

Larry and Zaboo are best friends and are always seen play- wrestling with each other. Whether they are hanging upside down by their feet or pouncing on toys, these two are always clowning around and having a great time.

Before Larry came to live with Hands on Exotics, we was privately owned as a pet. As well as being illegal to own as pets in many municipalities of Ontario, lemurs make terrible pets and are very difficult to care for properly. They are highly social and intelligent animals and if let would likely destroy your house, knocking everything over and smearing their poop on the walls like finger paint. Don’t let their cuteness fool you- although a visit from one of these guys is unforgettable, you do not want one as pet!


Cool Facts

  1. Despite looking very cute, they have a loud, scary call.
  2. They are critically endangered and are extremely close to extinction.
  3. Lemurs have rubbery foot pads that allow them to grip tree bark and make daring leaps from tree to tree. Lemurs can jump up to 12 times their body length!
Larry and Zaboo


African Crested Porcupine / Africa


*Please note that African Crested Porcupines are NOT currently legal in the City of Toronto for educational programs including birthday parties. These bylaws are strictly enforced and the fines can be thousands of dollars. Velcro is only available for professional film, and for select events in communities where they are permitted by law*

African Crested Porcupines are a species of rodent in the Hystricidae family.

Velcro came to us as a baby, he is a sweetheart and has captured the hearts of many of our staff.

The crested porcupine is a terrestrial mammal; they very seldom climb trees, but can swim. They possess a rattle on the end of their tail made of hollow quills that they use to ward off predators.

Cool Facts

  1. For the most part herbivorous, eating roots, bulbs, crops.
  2. They occasionally consume insects, small vertebrates and carrion.
  3. In order to ingest calcium and sharpen incisors they often gnaw on bones.


Caiman / Central and South America


*Please note that caimans are NOT currently legal in the City of Toronto for educational programs including birthday parties. These bylaws are strictly enforced and the fines can be thousands of dollars. Our caimans are only available for professional film, and for select events in communities where they are permitted by law*

Caimans are native to tropical regions of Central and South America, where they live along rivers, streams, and lakes.

Caimans are a four-legged reptile of the alligator family. Caimans closely resemble alligators in appearance, with long, thick, tapering tails and elongated snouts. Caimans are generally somewhat smaller, averaging about four to six feet in length.


Cool Facts

  1. Their bodies are covered with bony plates and are blackish or brownish with various lighter markings.
  2. Females lay 20 to 30 eggs in a mound-shaped nest.
  3. Their bodies are covered with bony plates and are blackish or brownish with various lighter markings.
Jaws & Snappy


Blue and Gold Macaw / South America

These birds can reach 30 to 34 in long and weigh 1.9 to 3.3 lbs, making them one of the larger members of the macaw family.

Vega loooves food, her favorite snack is whatever you happen to be eating at the time. If she sees you eating, she will try to get your attention by saying “HELLO” very loudly. Vega was privately owned before she came to live at Hands on Exotics, and was donated as her previous family did not have enough time to give her the attention she needs. Macaws are highly intelligent and need constant stimulation to keep them happy. As such, they are not appropriate pets for most people.

Cool Facts

  1. Average life span is 60-80 years.
  2. Macaws typically mate for life. They not only breed with, but also share food with their mates and enjoy mutual grooming. In breeding season, mothers incubate eggs while fathers hunt and bring food back to the nest.
  3. There are 17 species of macaws, and several are endangered.

Buttercup, Morpheus, and Monty

Burmese Python / Southern and Southeast Asia


*Please note that Burmese pythons are NOT currently legal in the City of Toronto for educational programs including birthday parties. These bylaws are strictly enforced and the fines can be thousands of dollars. Our Burmese pythons are only available for professional film, and for select events in communities where they are permitted by law*

This is one of the biggest snakes in the world! Burmese pythons can grow to an amazing 19ft! These snakes are excellent swimmers and need a constant source of water. As they reach such large sizes they are extremely difficult to care for and are illegal in many areas as pets.

Buttercup used to live at a private home until he got out and scared the grandmother living in the home; he now lives happily with us. When we first got Buttercup there was big debate on what to name him. At the zoo there was talk about naming him Snowflake, but in the end Buttercup won. Buttercup currently weighs in at around 75 lbs and requires 2 of our trained handlers to safely take her out.

Morpheus came to us from another institution. He weighs in at around 40lbs and is a staff favorite!

We also have 4 juvenile burmese pythons that were seized from a private owner. Unfortunately they are thought to have been wild caught, a practice which has contributed to the burmese python being listed as threatened in the wild. As their exact origin is not known, they cannot be released. Although they are still young, they are growing fast and already measure around 6 feet!


Cool Facts

  1. The use their rearward teeth to catch prey and kill them by constriction
  2. Often found near water but can also live in trees.
  3. As they reach large sizes, unwanted pets are often released into the wild. This irresponsible practice has resulted in burmese pythons becoming an invasive species in Florida.
Buttercup, Morpheus, and Monty


Ferrets / North America

213011-11WEBThese mammals are territorial, like to burrow and and prefer there sleeping area to be enclosed.

Since coming to our zoo, our ferrets have enjoyed their new home where they get lots of attention from our staff and volunteers.


Cool Facts

  1. They have a quick metabolism that has them eating constantly..
  2. They sleep 14-18 hours a day, waking up at dawn and dusk.
  3. Like other mammals, ferrets have scent glads that allow them to mark their territory.


Vinegaroon / Tropical and Subtropical

213011-10WEBAlso known as whip scorpions due to their resemblance to true scorpions as well as their whip-like tail.

Our vinegaroons might seem scary to most, but unlike scorpions they are not venemous. They are nocturnal predators, mainly hunting insects, although they have been known to take on scorpions.

Females lay around 40 eggs at once, which remain in a brood sac on her abdomen which she protects from harm. When hatched, the babies crawl onto her back where they attach themselves with specialized suckers.


Cool Facts

  1. They are called Vinegaroons because spray a secretion that smells of vinegar when attacked.
  2. Have 8 legs, with 6 used for walking and 2 modified to serve as antennae.
  3. They have 1 pair of eyes on the front of their head and 3 pairs on each side of their head.


Silvery Cheeked Hornbill / Zimbabwe, originally

213011-12WEBHornbills have a look like no other with their prehistoric looking beaks and their shimmering black feathers.

Maggie is our first bird of her kind. She has been a great addition to our family. Maggie enjoys catching grapes in her beak and helping us hand out business cards.


Cool Facts

  1. Their call sounds similar to a ‘honking’ noise.
  2. You can tell a male and female apart by their size and beaks; Females are smaller with a reduced casque.
  3. Silvery Cheeked Hornbills enjoy a variety of fruits and nuts in their diet.


Yellow Headed Amazons / South America

Amazon parrots are arguably the best talkers in the world, often learning vocabularies of hundreds of words. They are extremely difficult to keep as pets, and are endangered in the wild due to the pet trade.

Poncho and Kolby have been living together most of their lives and were adopted as a pair in 2011. They know over a hundred words and four songs! Their favourite song is Old MacDonald had a Farm; sometimes it is hard to get them to stop singing it. They were also kept by a teen-aged girl in the past so they also like to say `oh wow` and `oh my god` once in a while.


Cool Facts

  1. They live 40-60 years on average.
  2. Sunrise and Sunset are their favourite times to be noisy.
  3. Amazons and African Greys are among the smartest animals in the world, and certainly the best talkers.
Poncho and Kolby


Kinkajou / Central and South America

*Please note that kinkajous are NOT currently legal in the City of Toronto for educational programs including birthday parties. These bylaws are strictly enforced and the fines can be thousands of dollars. Kinka is only available for professional film, and for select events in communities where they are permitted by law*

Also known as the ‘honey bear’ (a name it shares with the sun bear), is a rainforest mammal of the family Procyonidae related to olingos, coatis, raccoons, and the ring-tail and cacomistle. Kinkajous may be mistaken for lemurs or monkeys, but are not closely related to either.

Kinka loves climbing, exploring, and generally being mischievous. She loves going on shows where she gets some of her favorite snacks – figs! She spends the majority of her day sleeping but once she is awake, her mission is to open every door, cupboard, bag, backpack, and garbage can and empty the contents she finds on the floor. She does this either to look for fruit or to enjoy creating more work for her caregivers, scientists are not sure which.

Cool Facts

  1. They normally live 20-25 years, but in a Hawaiian zoo they had a kinkajou that lived for 40 years!
  2. Scent glands near the mouth, on the throat, and on the belly allow kinkajous to mark their territory and their travel routes.
  3. The kinkajou’s peak activity is usually between about 7:00 PM and midnight, and again an hour before dawn. During daylight hours, kinkajous sleep in tree hollows or in shaded tangles of leaves, avoiding direct sunlight.




Red-Footed Tortoise / Northern South America


Red-Footed Tortoises are extremely popular pets, these guys are harmless, adorable, and eager to eat your spare greens, fruits, and veggies.

Periwinkle and Pansy are our resident tortoises. They love showing off all of the features that distinguish them from aquatic turtles, teaching kids and adults alike the differences between these land dwellers and their water based counterparts. They are so tame that they love eating banana right from your hand!


Cool Facts

  1. They take a long time to grow up, almost as long as a human.
  2. They can easily live for 50 years or more.
  3. If they get turned upside down in the wild, other tortoises will come help to push them over – how sweet!

Periwinkle and Pansy


Boa Constrictor / Mexico to South America

Alejandro, Julio, and Rosie are our current 3 boas. They range from 4 to 5 foot in length and from 5 to 10 pounds in weight.

All of our boas are rescues or re-homes that are now happily living at Hands on Exotics, and visit people all over the GTA.

Boa constrictors live in a wide variety of habitats, but prefer the tropical rainforests due to the ideal temperature and humidity, abundant tree cover to hide from predators, and the wide variety of prey available. They are great climbers and swimmers, and are often seen living in rodent burrows underground to hide from predators.

Although they are often feared, they pose no threat to humans.

Cool Facts

  1. The only animal we can find where the common name and Latin name are the same – boa constrictor.
  2. Maximum lengths of 12-14 feet are extremely rare, though they have been recorded.
  3. Our largest boa eats only once or twice a month.



Chinchilla / Andes Mountains

Chinchillas are best known for their use in expensive fur coats, however we like to think of them as the cutest and fluffiest members of the rodent family.

Mochi and Tak were adopted from a private home in Oshawa. These are difficult animals to keep as pets – they can live well over 10 years, with the oldest chinchilla on record living to almost 30! They are also very active, capable of jumping from the ground up on top of your refrigerator!


Cool Facts

  1. They an jump up to 6 ft high.
  2. They take dust baths to keep moisture out of their coats, essential to keeping it soft and lovely.
  3. They are critically endangered due to the fur trade.

Mochi & Tak


Guinea Pig and Skinny Pig / South America

One of the most popular and easy exotic pets today. Though in their native habitats they are often caught and cooked for food.

Oreo and Hippo are both Guinea Pigs. Hippo has a common mutation that makes him mostly hairless and is commonly referred to as a Skinny Pig. Though he still has a cute moustache which loves getting rubs.


Cool Facts

  1. Like rabbits they eat their own feces and this is a very healthy behavior for them.
  2. References to Guinea Pigs are found all over literature, television, and other media.
  3. Skinny Pigs require a higher level of protein in their diet to help their bodies generate more heat to compensate for the lack of hair.

Oreo & Hippo


African Pygmy Hedgehog / Central Africa

Since they are covered with sharp quills for defense, these small mammals do not need any offensive weaponry to stay safe.

African pygmy hedgehogs originate from Africa and despite their small size, are among the fiercest animals living there! Their high tolerance to toxins allows them to hunt for scorpions and small venomous snakes, and their sharp quills keep them safe from large predators including lions!


Cool Facts

  1. Hedgehogs need to be kept warm or else they go into a semi-hibernation from which they may never return.
  2. When provoked or scared, they curl up into a ball, covering themselves completely with sharp, erect quills.
  3. When they are born their quills are soft to allow for a less painful birth, but the quills harden within hours of being born.



Scorpions / Worldwide

These animals strike fear into the hearts of many people and venom into the blood of other animals.

Not all scorpions, and not all arachnids, are the same. Some you should definitely run away from, others can make great, easy, pets, and are not difficult to handle. We commonly work with Desert Hairy Scorpions, Emperor Scorpions, and Flat Rock Scorpions, a wide range that showcases the diversity of scorpion lifestyles from tropical to desert.


Cool Facts

  1. Most scorpion stings are “dry stings” meaning no venom is injected.
  2. Most scorpion venom is no more potent than that of a bee sting.
  3. They are arachnids, close cousins of the tarantula, with 8 legs and 2 main body segments.



Sudanese Plated Lizards / North Africa

These are knights of the lizard world, covered with a tough suit of armor from their head to their tail. But they are more interested in sitting on your lap than lancing you through the torso.

This little guy is one of the easiest lizards to work with. As calm as a bearded dragon, but with very different and interesting features. Kids love feeling his tough armored skin and learning about protective adaptations.


Cool Facts

  1. Only half of his body is armored. His belly is soft and vulnerable.
  2. They are omnivores and eat everything from veggies to other smaller lizards.
  3. They can grow up to 70cm long.

Sir Lancelot & Dark Knight


Russian Glass Lizard / Asia

This may look like a snake, but take a closer look. As it blinks at you, you’ll realize it cant be a snake. It has the face of a lizard and it is, indeed, a lizard! A slithering legless hunter, the glass lizard hunts insects and small animals.

We love bringing out Legs to teach people the differences between lizards and snakes. He looks and feels like a fake snake, but he is quite alive. Kids are especially keen to guess what kind of animal Legs is.


Cool Facts

  1. Their tail is two thirds of their body.
  2. They can shed their tail to escape from predators.
  3. They get their name from the fact that when they drop their tails, they “shatter” into many pieces.



Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches / Madagascar

The cockroaches we are used to are pests. But they are extremely important to the environment and extremely interesting to learn about.

Though we have multiple varieties of Roaches at Hands on Exotics, the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach is the easiest to handle as it is the calmest. But when it gets irritated it gives off a very loud scary hissing sound!


Cool Facts

  1. They can produce four distinct hisses to communicate different information.
  2. After seeing or touching a human, cockroaches run away to wash themselves. It seems they think of us the same way we think of them.
  3. The hissing sound comes from air being pushed various holes in their body. No other animal produces sound in quite the same way.



Milk Snake / SE Canada to Northern Venezuela

No, they don`t drink milk, they like to eat whole animals like all snakes. But this thin, small snake is harmless to humans and a favourite pet among reptile enthusiasts.

Milk and Dairy are terrific first snakes to meet. 2-4 feet long, light, slender, though a little fast, even someone with a bit of a fear of snakes can handle one of these with ease. They are great introductions to the world of snakes. We like to bring out one of these before we bring out one of our bigger snakes.


Cool Facts

  1. Like coral snakes, they use colourful bands to tell other animals that they are venomous.
  2. This snake, however, is faking being venomous. This is a friendly, harmless snake.
  3. Milk snakes got their name from the fact that they were often seen in barns with cows, leading to the (false) belief that they drink milk directly from cows. In reality they like barns for the mice.
Farm and Dairy


Jungle Carpet Python / Queensland, Australia

One of the most colourful and beautiful of the Australian constrictors. These are slender and quick pythons, very agile, and good at climbing trees.

Most specimens are between 4 and 7 feet. Tigger is close to 4 feet long. They mainly prey on small animals like mice and rats.


Cool Facts

  1. Their name comes from the pattern on his skin.
  2. This snake, unlike boas, lays eggs.
  3. Like all snakes, this one smells in stereo with the use of his forked tongue, much like we hear in stereo.


Chinese Silkie Chicken / China and the Far East

A very uncommon sight in the Americas, but a staple animal in the far east. These are among the fluffiest, cutest chickens with a great deal of personality to boot.

We had no idea when we got these guys as babies that they would be so popular. Kids and adults alike seem to go nuts for these guys! Maybe it is their furry, feathered feet, maybe it is the outrageous hairdos, but whatever it is, these guys have turned out to be a big hit with the public and an easy favourite for our presenters.


Cool Facts

  1. They have an extra toe.
  2. All of our ground birds are girls. Not only do they not make much noise compared to their male counterparts but they sometimes lay eggs for us!
  3. They have black skin under their feathers.


Hocus, Pocus, Bubble, and Squeak

Rat / Worldwide

Often feared, rats make exceptionally good and friendly pets. In history they may be carriers of pestilence and disease, but as pets they are attention-seeking sweethearts.

Rats are social and playful – when they are playing they sometimes let out a cheerful sound similar to laughter. They typically use a litter box and can trained to do tricks, just like a dog!


Cool Facts

  1. Rats are extremely omnivorous, they can live on everything from seeds to insects, to vegetables.
  2. A group of rats is called a mischief.
  3. Rats like to be extremely clean, bathing many times a day.

Hocus, Pocus, Bubble, and Squeak

Bosco, Kovu, and Smaug

Bearded Dragon / Australia

Calm, cool, and collected. These laid back lizards are the perfect pet for anyone into reptiles. Easy going and touch friendly, they will happily sit with you for hours, basking in your warmth and happily accepting pats

Cool Facts

  1. Also goes by the name Pogona.
  2. Despite looking quite ferocious Bosco eats mostly leafy greens, though she loves to chase insects every few days.
  3. Their beards help scare away predators by making them look bigger.

Bosco, Kovu, and Smaug


Domestic Rabbits / Belgium (Origin)

We have many rabbits at Hands on Exotics, ranging in size from our 2 pound dwarf rabbits to our 15 lb giant Flemish rabbit.

Most of our rabbits are ex-pets, but some are retired show rabbits. Rabbits can make good pets, but require lots of supervised exercise time, and can live for 8-15 years. As their lifespan is often longer than people expect, many rabbits end up in shelters at the age of 2-3. If after research you decide that a rabbit is a good pet for you, consider adopting a rabbit that needs a home instead of purchasing one from a pet store.

 Cool Facts

  1. Although rabbits enjoy carrots as treats, they have a lot of sugar and should only be fed occasionally.
  2. Their diet consists of mostly different types of grasses. As grass is hard to digest, rabbits often eat their own poo to digest it for a second time!
  3. Rabbits have teeth that never stop growing. If they aren’t provided with things to chew on, their teeth often grow too long and need to be trimmed by a veterinarian.



Sugar Gliders / Australia, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.

The sugar glider (Petaurus breviceps) is a small, omnivorous, arboreal gliding possum belonging to the marsupial infraclass. Sugar gliders are named for their preference for sugary nectarous foods and ability to glide through the air, much like a flying squirrel.

Although they have a preference for sweet foods, most of their diet consists of insects. Sugar gliders almost never leave the trees for their entire lives – they can glide up to 50m, which is twice the length of a typical swimming pool!

Cool Facts

  1. Sugar gliders are marsupials; the young are born very immature and grow in a pouch on the mother’s abdomen.
  2. Sugar gliders are very social and need and crave lots of companionship.
  3. The sugar gliders body is about 5-6 inches long, and the tail adds another 6 inches. They weigh only 4-5.5 oz (100-160 grams).


Sugar Gliders


Tarantula / Worldwide

Most people would recognize a tarantula, but few know just what an interesting spider a tarantula can be. These big, beefy spiders strike fear in the hearts of arachnophobes everywhere, but in truth, tarantulas are some of the least aggressive and dangerous spiders around.

We care for a variety of tarantulas from common Rose Hair tarantulas to big Salmon Bird Eaters!

Cool Facts

  1. Female tarantulas can live 30 years or longer in the wild.
  2. The largest tarantulas have a leg span of nearly 10 inches, or about the size of a dinner plate.
  3. Tarantulas are quite docile and rarely bite people.