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Dragons and lizards and snakes, oh my!

Staff writer

Burns will boast an all-around cycle-of-life learning center when Deborah and DeLane Kellogg finish building a reptarium they are working on.

D’zz Spot Reptarium and Educational Center Inc. already has some animals on display and will become a learning center with creatures from pollinators to 20-feet long pythons and boa constrictors.

The effort to build the center began in 2021. The organization got a 501(c)(3) designation, making donations tax-deductible, this year.

“It started out originally when we got a couple of snakes as pets,” Deborah Kellogg said. “We became hobby breeders for ball pythons. People started asking, ‘Well, you’ve got snakes, can you take this one?’ So we got an assortment of various kinds of snakes.”

Ball pythons, reticulated pythons, Burmese pythons, Amazon tree boas, bearded dragons, iguanas, tortoises, turtles, and an albino python already are among the animals in the Kelloggs’ collection.

The couple own four houses in Burns and tore down one to build the center.

A house on the corner of the block will be converted into a breeder facility.

“We’re in the process of cleaning things up and putting in the big things,” she said.

Already the couple uses the animals for education. A boy the couple knows has behavioral issues in school, and DeLane started taking a snake to the boy’s home on Saturdays if the boy had not had issues that week.

The Kelloggs plan to develop a venue where people not only can visit and learn about animals, but also have children’s parties and gatherings.

The facility will have flowers, fruit trees, a butterfly garden, and other garden plants that will help children learn about the circle of life, with pollinators helping the plants grow, flower and vegetable plants spreading beauty and producing food for animals and humans, and so on. Also planned are koi and turtle ponds.

“We’re kind of a circle of life thing,” Kellogg said. “It will give the kids a place to go to learn things.”

The reptarium itself will be in a house located behind the house where their daughter lives.

“The house we’re living in will be half a quarantine area and half a medical treatment area,” Kellogg said.

Some of the snake owners who have given animals to the Kelloggs were not prepared for the realities of owning such a pet when they first acquired one.

“People don’t realize the pythons live 30 years,” she said.

Visitors frequently ask if snakes will bite them.

“We try to tell people the snakes are like dogs,” she said. “You can tell when a dog doesn’t want to be messed with. If you pay attention to the snake, you can tell that.”

Another thing the Kelloggs teach people is that tortoises can long outlive them.

“People don’t realize those cute little tortoises that can sit in the palm of your hand can live to be 150,” she said. “We had it at Walter’s Pumpkin Patch. We had some kids come up and say they want some. We told them, ‘OK, you’ve got to make sure you can take them with you to college.”

Not only will the reptarium be good for education, it’s already good for DeLane Kellogg. He suffered a heart attack a few years ago. That was followed by further vascular problems, including stroke.

Because of damage done by the stroke, he lost ability to do many things he’d done before.

Learning about different things, such as reptiles, was something he could master, so that’s what he did. In fact, DeLane is better at snake identification than Deborah is.

Ball pythons, for example, come in hundreds of different colors.

DeLane Kellogg is the primary caretaker for the snakes, iguanas, turtles, tortoises, and bearded dragon in their collection.

One thing he does to help the critters bond to him is talk sweetly to them when he enters the room. That way, they hear his voice and become calm when he is around.

“My wife says she wishes I talked to her like I talk to them,” DeLane said.

Deborah Kellogg soon will start seeking grants for the reptarium project.

The couple is working to become licensed as a reptile rescue center so if someone takes a reptile from someone, it can be brought to them for care.

“We love the animals, and they’re so misunderstood,” Kellogg said. “With the reptarium, we’ll be able to give them the best life and educate people at the same time. We have plans to get an old ambulance to transport the animals in for presentations and to go ‘rescue’ when need be.”

People interested in donating may make checks or money orders to D’zz Spot Reptarium and Educational Center and mail them to Community National Bank, 207 N. Washington, Burns, KS 66840.

Last modified Dec. 13, 2023

 

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