WASILLA — Jonathan Reptiles is hosting a free community event at Black Birch Books this Saturday from 2 to 3:30 p.m.

The public is invited to bring their friends and families to the Creepy Crawly Event where they can see all kinds of insects, spiders, reptiles, and other creatures that go bump in the night up close and personal to help get in the Halloween spirit. Jonathan’s Reptiles is partnering with Alaska Bug Dealers to provide a wide variety of things that creep and crawl while offering plenty of facts and pet ownership information.

“We’ll have tarantulas, cockroaches, and all kind of really neat bugs you don’t see day to day, especially up here in Alaska. We’ll have crabs, tortoises, lizards, snakes, and a little bit of everything. The public will get a chance to learn about, and interact with and even hold some of these animals,” Jonathan’s Reptiles owner, Jonathan Huntington said.

Huntington and several volunteers will offer demonstrations and opportunities for interacting with the various animals.

“Doing public events, I call them a quadruple win because the animals win, the public wins, the rescue wins, and the volunteers have a great time. So, it’s just all-around a win,” Huntington said.

Huntington said that she’s looking forward to sharing her passion and knowledge with the public inside Black Birch’s new facility with even more space for books and future festivities. She said this will be the second time they’ve hosted this event with the owner, Taylor Jordan, and she admires her sense of community and shared passion for the written word.

“We’re super excited,” Huntington said. “I went to check out the new facility. Their old book store was great but this one is fantastic.”

According to Huntington, their homegrown operation is the only rescue service that focuses on reptiles and exotic pets in the Valley. She said their overall efforts and resources continue to grow with the unwavering need to support these animals and educate the public on proper pet handling and surrender procedures.

“I think it’s so vital and important because reptiles are underrepresented,” Huntington said. “We kind of have to be that voice for them, just sharing that education.”

Jonathan’s Reptiles had a particularly busy summer and busy year in general, according to Huntington. She said they averaged one pet surrenderers every three days over the course of 2021. She said they’ve rescued over 500 reptiles since they started in 2016.

“It’s a lot of hard work I won’t lie to you... but when I take a step back and I look at all the neat things I’m able to do on a day to day basis, I consider myself extremely fortunate to be in a position to not only have these neat experiences but to share them with others and to be able to make a positive difference for the community and the animals,” Huntington said.

Years of hard work appear to be paying off for Jonathan’s Reptiles with the recent outpouring of support from the community in the form of financial assistance for the additional storage space. Huntington said they average about a dozen volunteers who consistently help with various tasks, and they’re seeing a rising rate of public awareness and backing.

“I just want to say thank you to the community because we would not have survived COVID and be where we are without all the help and support we receive, not just financial donations, but supplies word of mouth, kind reviews, and volunteer work. We have just been overwhelming with the outpouring of support that we get,” Huntington said.

For more information about the Creepy Crawly Event, visit Jonathan Reptile or Black Birch Books Facebook pages.

For more information about Jonathan’s Reptiles, visit jonathansreptiles.com

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

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