A Norwegian entrepreneur is hoping to snap up some new customers after opening a new store.
Tom Halvorsen has opened exotic animal store, the Pet Outlet, at Royal Quays Outlet Centre in North Shields, and includes reptiles, such as alligators, spiders, snakes and exotic fish.
The 43-year-old, originally from Bergen, is well known throughout the UK as being one of the foremost authorities on exotic animals and as an established reptile trader.
Tom said: “I have always been fascinated by nature and animals since I was a small child and I knew that this was something I wanted to develop into a career.
“To help me gain an appreciation for business, I studied for a marketing degree and established myself as a reptile trader.
“In Norway, you can’t keep exotic animals as pets nor can you sell them, so I moved my family over to North Tyneside 12 years ago. I began supplying pet shops and zoological gardens in 2003 with tropical fish and reptiles.
“Exotic animals are the UK’s fastest growing pet industry, this sector is in high demand.
“I wanted to continue to be a trader but I also wanted to open my own store and in August this year we officially opened the Pet Outlet.
“I have two trained experts working alongside me and we have had a wealth of visitors wanting to learn more about the animals.
“So far tortoises and chameleons are proving to be the best sellers.
“In the store we have animals from across the globe – a South African Cobra, South African baby alligators which will grow to 5 foot, a West African python plus much more.”
Royal Quays centre manager, Judith Ramshaw, said: “the Pet Outlet is proving to be a huge success so much so, that due to popular demand every Thursday, we hold a ‘Children’s Petting Corner’ from 5pm to 7pm, where youngsters get the chance to handle the specific animal of the day and receive a personalised certificate.
“It is a chance for them to see how the animals are very much looked after, how they live and what foods they enjoy eating.”