Toronto’s Lizard King


Paul Collier, owner/operator of Earth Echoes Reptile Centre, takes us inside his lizardly lair to explain the benefits and challenges of reptile-pet ownership, and to show off his deep stock of chameleonic creatures. Come in, if you dare…
Like many who find themselves working in a highly specialized and somewhat esoteric field, Paul Collier, owner/operator of Earth Echoes Reptile Centre (1192 Bloor St. W.), has been interested in his preferred subject matter for as long as he can remember. “I was always interested in reptiles, but information when I was young was not as plentiful as it is now, so they were always more of a foreign thing,” he says. “Small animals really interested me more than the big animals—I like the intricacies of the little animals.”

Baby Veiled Chameleon  

Baby Veiled Chameleon Although Collier didn’t actually have a proper store-bought lizard of his own until he was nine years old, he found other ways to feed his curiosity early on. “I used to find snakes down at the Humber River. I used to put the snakes together and a lot of the time they would breed… I used to let them breed and then let them go. I always felt like I was doing a service in that way, like a matchmaker—that ‘hook up’ was helpful for them.”

  Pair of Cuban Anoles
Pair of Cuban anoles This affinity for matchmaking in the reptile world continued into Collier’s 20s, when he found himself the proud owner of three veiled chameleons, which ultimately proved to be the foundation of his present enterprise. “They lay pretty large numbers of eggs,” he says, “so I had to find places to sell them and I started to sell them to wholesalers. To date, I’ve bred almost 10,000 veiled chameleons and it allowed me to get to know everybody in the industry, just because they needed chameleons—they’re not a very common thing. I got more involved in it and followed up on my connections that I made and generated it into a store.”

Spot the Savannah Monitor  

Spot the Savannah Monitor Collier believes that reptiles make an ideal city pet. “They’re a very civilized, simple alternative to having cats and dogs,” he says, explaining that they require no walks, they’re not expensive to feed and demand much less attention than a furry friend; “they’re fairly durable, even if you don’t get to them for a day.”

  Spot the Savannah Monitor
Spot the Savannah Monitor Despite what you may think, a lizard can actually interact with its owner in a way not unlike a cat or a dog. While at first the connection might just be a matter of cold-blooded -vs.-warm-blooded physiology—”they like the warmth that you’re providing for them in handling,” says Collier—over time this can result in a real bond, as they become “familiar with your scent” and, in fact, “come to you if they recognize your voice.”


Reptiles Collier’s testimonials stand in opposition to the more widespread view of reptiles, especially snakes, as dangerous and aggressive animals. “Most of the misconceptions we run into is about their maliciousness and stuff like this,” says Collier. “People tend to think that snakes are malicious but, really, snakes are just frightened little animals that need to be understood, supported properly if they’re being held and approached a certain way, so that you can make it feel at ease.”

  Spiney Tail Iguana
Spiney Tail Iguana To get started, it’s probably best to go small and easy, in which case Collier would recommend a gecko. “They’re really good little starter lizards,” he says. “They’re nocturnal, they’re not demanding for UVB, which is natural sunlight; it makes them really simple.” A gecko and a full starter kit will come in at under $200.

Paul Collier Shows Off Veiled Chameleon

Paul Collier However, do keep in mind that, just as with any other pet, reptile ownership is still a serious responsibility. For this reason, Collier keeps a number of full-grown reptiles on hand. “It is a lot about education,” he says. “[Buyers] should know the scope of what the animal turns into as an adult.” There’s also the question of just how long you’re going to be responsible for your new little pal. While there is a quite a range to reptile aging, the commitment is still rather significant. “The lifespan of a leopard gecko is about 20 years plus,” says Collier, while “a chameleon will live three to eight years.”

Republished from The GridTO – How’s Business?: Toronto’s Lizard King by Ian Worang

2 thoughts on “Toronto’s Lizard King

  1. Web Wheeler

    I’m both a customer and a supplier of Earth Echoes, and I can honestly say that Earth Echoes is the best retail, reptile related pet store in Toronto. Paul, the owner, is a great guy to deal with and he really knows and cares for every animal he sells. The store can be a bit chaotic at times, which reflects the busy nature of Paul’s business as well as his commitment to continuously improve every aspect of his store. If you’re looking to buy your first reptile, or a new addition to your reptile collection, Earth Echoes is definitely the place to go. And, reptile breeders, Earth Echoes buys your captive bred reptile offspring with cash on the spot.

  2. David W.

    I bought my first reptile (a baby Bearded Dragon) from PJs Pets…they talked me into buying a load of stuff which it turned out I didn’t need…in fact, most of the information I received from PJs was completely inaccurate about how to care for Bearded Dragon’s.

    I found Paul and Earth Echoes about 5 months ago after doing a lot of independent research and after spending a lot of money buying the wrong things from the big chain pet stores.

    Paul is quite simply the most knowledgeable and animal friendly pet store owner I have ever come across. I have never seen someone turn down an opportunity to ‘make money’ because they felt the customer simply would not be able to take care of a pet…and yet I have seen Paul do this.

    It takes me almost 2 hours to visit Paul’s store for my bi-weekly cricket supply…and I have to pass by several other pet stores to get to his…but in my opinion, if you want to give your pets the best possible care, then you’ll go to see Paul.

    I’m up to 1 Bearded Dragon, 2 Golden Tree Frogs, 1 Cat and 5 Veil Tailed Goldfish….for my money…and for the health of my pets…there is simply no other place I would trust than Earth Echoes.


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