A slithering experience to be had at OBX Lizard land

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Andi Hopkins, co-owner of OBX Lizard Land in Currituck, shows off Wally, a tegu lizard and just one of several reptiles on display at the new reptile exhibit.

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By William F. West
Staff Writer

Sunday, June 24, 2018

CURRITUCK – Those wanting to see lots of exotic reptiles resembling those creatures from prehistoric times don’t have to drive all the way to a big city or faraway zoo.

Paul DiDario and his fiancée, Andi Hopkins operate OBX Lizard Land off Caratoke Highway adjacent to the Currituck County Judicial Center.

The two presently have 24 lizards on display in enclosures designed to resemble their natural environments.

“Oh yeah,” DiDario said when asked about the large number. “I mean, you can definitely spend a good hour or more looking at everything because we do have quite a bit.”

“You won’t see one of the same thing in a different cage. Every single cage has something different in it,” DiDario said.

DiDario and Hopkins have lizards they call “ambassador animals” at the ready because they are docile. He said he and Hopkins do have a couple of lizards the public can interact with and touch.

He said a lot of the lizards are from Africa, Australia and Indonesia. He said most of them are some form of rescue animals found via Craigslist and Facebook links.

DiDario said some of the animals were quite poorly taken care of and required lots of medical treatment and rehabilitation, while others were quite well taken care of. Some of the previous owners either fell on financial hard times or were moving elsewhere and couldn’t take their animals with them, DiDario said.

He also said there were drop-off cases in which the owners simply didn’t want their animals any more.

“They all have unique stories,” he said.

DiDario and Hopkins also have 12 snakes for viewing at OBX Lizard Land.

DiDario was asked what he thinks is the reason for the fascination with lizards.

“Just the fact that we don’t know much about them and they look like dinosaurs,” he said.

OBX Lizard Land opened in mid-July of last year, but began to attract more attention after a Currituck Chamber of Commerce gathering at the business on April 17.

DiDario said although the main reason the business was established was to attract tourists and vacationers en route to the Outer Banks, he also wanted to have such a place for Currituck, Elizabeth City area and Hampton Roads area residents to go.

OBX Lizard Land is located across Caratoke Highway from the Currituck Dollar General and in a two-story house his mother owns. The reptiles live on the first floor and the second floor serves as an apartment for DiDario.

DiDario’s mother owns Eden Day Spa and Salon. The house was once the home of the salon and for a time was the location of a consignment shop.

Eden Day Spa and Salon has locations slant ways down Caratoke Highway from OBX Lizard Land and at Corolla.

DiDario, 27, owns OBX Lizard Land and is presently manager of his mother’s business.

Hopkins, 24, is from the Hampton Roads area and had worked in advertising sales. She created OBX Lizard Land’s website and helps OBX Lizard Land by being the contact point via Facebook.

DiDario grew up in a house somewhat tucked away behind the Currituck Judicial Center and along the Currituck Sound. He said being near a large body of water, reptilian creatures became a passion of his, and as a child, he always had his hands on something.

“It has always been a huge part of my life. So, I wanted to share it with the rest of the world,” he said.

OBX Lizard Land is located at 2815 Caratoke Highway and is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Admission is $5 for adults, $3.50 for children ages 12 and under and $3.50 for senior citizens ages 65 and over. The business can be reached by phone at 435-4209 and also is on the Internet at https://www.obxlizardland.com/