Where the Wild Things Are
Giant lizards, 80-pound tortoises, baby green-winged Macaws, hedgehogs and flying “pocket pets” are just some of what customers will get a glimpse of in this Marengo shop.
Walking into Corbin’s Exotic Pets is like entering a menagerie.
“I think it’s just the unusual people like,” said Jennifer Corbin, who owns the store with her husband Mark. “A lot of people don’t expect what they get when they come to our store. We have pretty much any animal and probably the most reptiles in McHenry County.”
Customers are surrounded by slithering and squawking—even purring and barking from the more typical pets.
“We pretty much have animals everywhere in the store,” Corbin said. “If people are lucky, they’ll be able to handle a snake when they’re here. A lot of people who are deathly afraid of snakes handle them and love them.”
Opening the shop just more than a year ago was a natural move for the couple, who bred reptiles in their home for years.
“We started breeding more and more reptiles, and it started escalating,” Corbin said. “We were up to 30 snakes [at home]. It kind of scared people.”
At their 9,000-square-foot location, the couple breeds most of the animals they sell, including hamsters, parakeets, hedgehogs, reptiles and green-winged Macaws.
Green-winged babies hatched in May and it was quite an event at the shop, Corbin said.
“Everyone got to see them since they were babies,” she said of the customers. “Everyone has watched them grow.”
Please Don’t Touch
Not all animals are as easy to have in your home as the kittens and puppies sold at the shop, she said. Customers should be well aware of what they’re buying before they bring that reptile, bird or other exotic pet home.
“Anybody buying an animal will not leave here without us providing an education about handling their animal,” Corbin said.
With 120 reptile cages to hold the different species, there’s much to learn about how each grows, what it eats and how and if to handle it.
“You have to be aware at the time of purchase how big the snake will get,” she said.
One customer dedicated an entire room for a 6-foot lizard. Even owning a bird should be given much consideration, she said
“They may be cute and fun to play with, but they’re loud,” she said.
Every animal has a different temperament, Corbin said.
“There are some animals that are tamer than others,” she said. “Then there are some animals that are pretty much a display animal and you don’t want to handle them too much.”
Some animals in the shop are just for show—like two 80-pound tortoises named Speedy and Rocket and a 4-foot Black-throat Monitor.
“He’s ours,” Corbin said, adding they are holding a customer contest to name the giant lizard. One of the more popular, unusual pets is the Sugar Glider—a nocturnal animal about 5 inches long that will jump and glide through the air. The animals are known as pocket pets, she said.
The couple takes their animals to area schools, educating students about the background, care and keeping of these exotic pets.
Which pets they take to school depends on the day, she said.
“It’s kind of who’s in the mood that day,” Corbin said of the animals. “Animals do have temperaments on them.”
The couple is in the process of doubling the size of their shop to add a classroom for school tours and birthday parties.
Visit Corbin’s at 212 Lindow Ln. in Marengo (off Rt. 20, next to Marengo High School) and see the exotic animals for yourself. Corbin’s Exotic Pets is open Monday through Wednesday and Friday10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Thursday 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.