Reptiles are who have been seized, rescued or surrendered are finding a new home at the Maritime Reptile Zoo in Dartmouth – the first reptile zoo of its kind in the Maritimes.

Assistant curator Lindsay Giles says many of the reptiles were pets whose owners failed to realize how big they can get, or how much work is involved in caring for them.

“For instance, with our little iguana here in the background, he was someone’s pet given to a child as a birthday gift and these animals can grow to be six or seven feet and can be extremely temperamental and dangerous, especially during breeding season,” says Giles.

Each province and municipality has different regulations about keeping reptiles as pets; many are kept illegally or in enclosures not suitable for the species.

“Not only is it that an animal is going to die because of something that somebody did, so a person decided to take them out of the wild, or someone decided to keep them when they’re not supposed to, so, it’s not the animal’s fault,” says zoo curator Mike MacDonald.

MacDonald says the zoo’s curators are hoping to educate visitors and bust myths about reptiles through entertainment and are pleased to offer children and adults a rare glimpse of the species up close.

“It’s really rewarding, especially when you have some of the older people in their 70s, 80s come in and they are terrified, and by the time they leave they are actually holding a snake,” says MacDonald.

As well as being the Maritimes’ first privately-owned reptile zoo, the facility is the only reptile rescue sanctuary in Nova Scotia.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Kelland Sundahl