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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Professor hosts reptile show

In a small building crawling with boa constrictors, large lizards and other exotic reptiles, a man stands in a corner with a shirt that reads: “Got Wood? I do.”

Outside of teaching at Chico State and writing for the Chico Enterprise-Record, Bruce Smith-Peters, a multicultural and gender studies professor, sells varieties of wood for terrariums at reptile shows.

Smith-Peters hosted the first reptile show in Chico at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds this weekend that drew several hundred people.

“The success was so good we are going to try it again next year,” Smith-Peters said.

Reptile shows appear to be gaining popularity, he said. There are large shows in Sacramento and San Jose and for the first time this year in Lodi, Pleasanton and now in Chico.

“It’s something that’s really taking off,” Smith-Peters said.

A few years ago, when the economy headed downhill, the professor decided he needed to make some extra money. He would do this by collecting grape-wood for reptile terrariums.

“It was just something that I needed to do,” he said.

Smith-Peters said his first show was successful in part because of other vendors like reptile expert Ron Greenberg.

“Ron and his wife Donna have spent years educating people in Butte County,” Smith-Peters said. “Without their pioneering work, the reptile show would not have been so successful.”

Greenberg owns Ron’s Reptiles, a local business that has been active in Chico for about 18 years. Their business has done presentations at Chico State’s summer camp for kids and at the Anthropology museum.

Greenberg, a Chico State Health Science graduate, has worked alongside Smith-Peters for several years in the reptile business.

“He is a really neat guy to do business with,” Greenberg said. “I was totally blown away when he said he wanted to do a reptile show.”

The professor’s love for reptiles began when he was a small boy. He also had reptiles had reptiles for his kids when they were growing up, Smith-Peters said.

He now has six varieties of brown mantella frogs from Madagascar along with turtles and axolotls and a Hog Island Boa at his home.

Smith-Peters attends reptile shows about five to six times each year. He will be attending the one coming up in Sacramento in two weeks, which attracted about 15,000 people last year.

The furthest he has traveled for a show was to Los Angeles. He has also attended shows in San Jose, Reno and San Diego.

“There’s kind of a California circuit,” Smith-Peters said. “We’re kind of adding to it here in Chico.”

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