Peter Rushton, owner of PT Reptiles, has been entertaining and educating people about all things reptiles since 2001. Customizing presentations for groups of all sizes, ages, and expertise, Peter has been able to share his lifelong love of reptiles and give his students the opportunity to see, touch, and interact with some cool, cold-blooded creatures. If you’re looking for a fun and educational presentation for a school group or entertainment for some birthday party fun, Peter can customize his presentation to fit any scenario. Read on to find out more!
Q: Tell us about PT Reptiles and the programs you provide.
A: I started PT Reptiles in 2001 in Columbus, Ohio, inspired by my two sons, Peter and Taylor. (They are the ‘P’ & ‘T’ of “PT Reptiles.”) When they were quite young, my oldest son Peter (now 26) caught a snake in our back garden and, like most children, had absolutely no fear and a love of nature – like myself.
Most of our family time was spent outdoors, fishing, hiking, and exploring nature. What started out as a hobby for myself and my boys in 1997 officially became our family business in 2001 when my wife told me, “You love snakes. You love talking to kids about nature. This is your passion, and you need to do what you love. Let’s build something around that.” We have been educating, informing, and entertaining people of all ages about reptiles ever since, teaching about their role in nature and how important it is to understand and cherish them for the valuable role they play in our ecosystem.
Over the past two decades, PT Reptiles has customized presentations for groups of all sizes, ages, and expertise in Ohio, and we are very excited to now be launching in PA. I’m also very, very proud that my oldest son Peter now carries the original – PT Ohio – that we started together way back when. He does his own programs and presentations. He’s amazing.
Q: How long have you been working with reptiles? What is your background?
A: I’ve been working professionally with reptiles for over 20 years, but my love for nature, animals, birds, and fish has been a lifelong passion, like my children.
Before becoming a FT Educational Presenter & entrepreneur, my background in both the U.S. and England (I was born in London) was in business, sales, and marketing.
Q: What interests you most about reptiles?
A: The most interesting thing about reptiles is how diverse they are in every way and how incredibly versatile they are in their adaptations to ever-changing conditions in their environment. All animals or breeds have many morphs – adapting to where they live, what food supply is available, climate, predators, you name it. They can change their appearance, their heart rate, their diet, whatever it takes to survive. That some species are truly dinosaurs is a testament to their resilience, versatility, and ability to adapt to changing conditions on the ground. They are incredible.
Q: What type of animals can your students expect to see?
A: The selection of animals we will bring out to your location may include snakes, lizards, tortoises, turtles, frogs and toads, spiders, and scorpions. We’ll meet any specific requests you have, both what to bring and what NOT to bring!
Some crowd favorites include: ‘Shelby” (African Spur-thigh tortoise), “Avocado” (green Burmese python), “Mick” the monitor (lizard), and “Curly” (curly hair tarantula). “Blue” (blue-tongued skink) is a longtime favorite and the honorary program closer, among others.
Q: Are the programs interactive?
Q: Can students touch and experience the animals?
A: Yes! Audience volunteers can participate by holding and touching the animals during the presentation.
Q: What types of groups do your programs appeal to most?
A: Our audiences have ranged from 2-80+ in age, 10-300+ in group size, novice to expert, from diverse cultures and backgrounds, and hosted by public libraries, every kind of school, scouts, corporations, families, churches, and festivals. We’ve even worked with entrepreneurial groups, where we talked about snakes, but also about how to turn a passion (snakes) into a profession (educator/presenter/entrepreneur).
What ALL groups do have in common is a deep curiosity and true interest in understanding these amazing creatures and the desire to learn about them in a hands-on, experiential environment while having fun.
Q: You work with both public and private groups, correct? Not just schools, camps, and education groups, but parties as well?
A: Yes, that’s right. I work with schools, libraries, daycares, camps, church groups, corporate events, and fundraisers. I also do personal/private bookings such as family birthday parties, showers, family reunions, and holiday gatherings of all kinds. It’s a real honor to be part of these family milestones…and also pretty cool to see how creative so many families get with “reptile cakes.”
Some unusual bookings have included, a Mensa group, a baby shower, a surprise birthday party for a 70-year-old dad, and a homecoming dance. Some of my creatures and I have even been in a heavy metal rock video for MTV2’s Monsters Ball. (I never could have imagined that one!)
Here in the Poconos, I’ve been privileged to support local chapters of the American Cancer Society’s “Relay for Life,” and the Rotary Club’s “Concert in the Park.” Though I am just getting underway with our new adventure here in PA, starting a new chapter and new business, I could not be more excited.
Most special to me are the programs I’ve done for children (and adults) who are developmentally disabled. It’s amazing how animals can reach people, no matter their health, age, mental or physical capacity. It’s truly wonderful to be able to bring nature’s creatures to those who would never have had the chance to get out and experience them on their own.
Is there a particular age group or gender that enjoy your programs, or do they appeal to everyone?
Pretty much everyone. Young and old, boys and girls. Even many different cultures. An international homeschool group was fascinating because of the many languages I heard in the audience, but by the end they all spoke reptile!
Q: How frequently do you get new animals?
A: We are constantly acquiring new animals for program participation, as well as adopting and rehoming displaced animals.
Q: What is something unique that you would like our readers to know about PT Reptiles?
A: The reason I left Ohio and am starting new in PA is because my wife, Cherylyn, had been caretaking for her father (since passed) and continues to care for her mother, now 92, for years. (Some of you may know ‘Mum’ as your former teacher at Barrett Elementary.) Cherylyn is also a graduate of Barrett Elementary and Pocono Mountain. She stayed in Ohio to help raise Peter & Taylor before heading back home to Barrett to care for her parents. It’s a privilege to now help her care for Mum, or as you call her, Mrs. Bullock. I guess what PT Reptiles is really all about is family.
PT Ohio started as a way to take care of, and spend time with, sons Peter and Taylor. PT Pennsylvania now launches as a way to take care of, and spend as much time as possible, with my mum-in-law, Isabelle Bullock.
You asked what makes PT Reptiles unique, but I should tell you that what I have found here in the Poconos is a very family-focused community, filled with great people and a warm welcoming atmosphere. I look forward to meeting all of you and introducing PT Reptiles to Pennsylvania. It is the last move we will make and already feels like home.
P.T. Reptiles, PA
PO Box 371 | Cresco, PA
570.234.8410 | firstname.lastname@example.org
ptreptilespa.com | facebook.com/ptreptilespa