OBX Lizard Land
As a kid growing up in Currituck, Paul DiDario always dreamed of owning a zoo. He spent a lot of time outdoors with his dad hunting and fishing, but what captured Paul’s attention the most was the many species of snakes that could be found in Currituck. It wasn’t until seven years ago that the dream reemerged when he started their current collection with a Western Hognose Snake. OBX Lizard Land resides in a 200-year-old farmhouse that was home to Paul’s mom’s business. So when she moved her business down the road, it was the perfect opportunity to put his dreams into action. With the help and encouragement of family and friends, along with a lot of hard work and determination, Paul and his wife Andi opened the doors of OBX Lizard Land in July of 2017 with over 40 animals from 20 different species on display.
The Lizard Land website states their purpose: “OBX Lizard Land began as a crazy idea with a purpose. To share our love and appreciation for reptiles with the world with a focus on the conservation of wild populations and the responsible keeping and breeding of captive species.” Whether visiting Lizard Land in person or following them on social media, it’s not hard to see Paul and Andi living their purpose. Their passion shines through whether they give animal updates, show eggs hatching, rescue turtles or snakes from roadside hazards…or tell the story of their latest rescue bird named Pele.
Pele was rescued from a rough situation. Her owner was afraid of her, so she spent a lot of time in her cage by herself with little to do. Finally, OBX Lizard Land took her in, knowing she had a list of problems from muscle atrophy and obesity to impaired walking and badly malformed wings. In a video posted by Andi on their Instagram account, we see Pele purposely walking into the office looking for Andi. A sure sign that Pele is starting to accept her new home. As Andi says, “A little love and patience can go a long way.”
Today Lizard Land has grown to include 130 animals from 78 different species. But, Paul admits, “the possibility for future expansion is endless.” Just a few of the animals you might find when visiting Lizard Land include yellowtail cribos, uromastyx ocellata, uromastyx geyri, blacktail rattlesnakes, green cheek conure, tortoises, black chested iguana, monitor lizards, boa constrictors, black racers, and chuckwallas.
With the increase in foot traffic and their contagious passion for reptiles, they have been able to fund several different projects throughout the year. Most recently, the smooth fronted caiman was added, a small alligator species from South America, to the indoor exhibit.
They also added an outdoor display that houses two Emus named Dwight and Roger. Emus are the second largest bird on Earth. Dwight and Roger are currently 25 weeks old and are five feet tall. They will gain another 12 inches in the next month or two.
This fall, they will begin construction on seven new outdoor exhibits with the hope they are completed by late Spring 2022. The first project to break ground will be the spurred tortoise exhibit in September. The spurred tortoise is the third-largest species on Earth, weighing over 200 pounds when fully grown. They currently have two spurred tortoises named Leo and Tina – only four years old and nearly 30 pounds. Leo and Tina’s new exhibit will be 60 feet long, 15 feet wide, and 9 feet tall. It will be fully enclosed with wire fencing because they also plan on using this space as a walk-in aviary housing hornbills, a species from Africa. It’s an extensive project that will most likely take several months to complete. They also hope to add another building to the property in two years, expanding their indoor exhibit and giving their guests more space to enjoy.
“The OBX Lizard Land experience is unique. Although every guest has the opportunity to interact with three amazing animals (standard admission), we also offer private tours that include more animal interaction and a fun feeding demonstration,” explains Paul. A private tour of Lizard Land costs $200. Still, it includes one hour of private access to OBX Lizard Land (a great option if you would like to skip the large crowds), interaction with eight ambassador animals, and a feeding presentation. In addition to private tours, they also offer their services at parties and events. Lizard Land reptile presentations can range from a simple one-hour talk with 5-6 reptile ambassadors and can last more than two hours with 9-10 reptile ambassadors on showcase.
OBX Lizard Land is open six days a week: Sundays 12 pm – 5 pm, Mondays 11 am – 6 pm, closed Tuesdays, and Wednesday through Saturday 11 am – 6 pm. Whether you are a casual reptile observer or an avid enthusiast, they have several options from which to choose. Adults’ standard admission is $10, $7 for kids, and children two and under are free. “We want everyone to appreciate animals. Reptiles and birds are our specialties, but we love all forms of life.” Paul adds, “The majority of our guests leave with a better appreciation for reptiles and birds… and everyone has a great time!” OBX Lizard Land is located at 2815 Caratoke Highway in Currituck. Paul and Andi make it easy to follow along on all their projects, adventures, and happenings on Facebook, Instagram, and the website obxlizardland.com.
Jennifer Shenberger is a freelancer writer for Coastal Life Magazine.