FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) Fairbanks Alaska is a place where it's unlikely to see exotic reptiles, that is, unless you live in the Lankford household.
Located in Fairbanks, Kevin and Allison Lankford have a serpentarium called '40 Below Reptiles’. (Carly Sjordal/KTVF)
Located in Fairbanks, Kevin and Allison Lankford have a serpentarium called '40 Below Reptiles’.
Kevin Lankford is a licensed psychological associate who provides psychological testing services for people with disabilities or cognitive impairment. Kevin himself has cerebral palsy. He discovered his love for snakes at age 6 when his mother sent him to a special disabilities summer camp.
"We were gathered in the mess hall for a program and a man came in with reptiles. I was sitting in the aisle seat and the man passed me with a, I think it was a black racer was a black snake. To me it was huge, it was probably only 6 or 7 feet and so, my very first impression: Wow," said Lankford.
Lankford's serpentarium includes a Boa constrictor, Albino reticulated python, and 2 anacondas. The pair of anacondas just gave birth to 30 baby snakes one week ago, making this the first successful anaconda breeding in Alaska.
"I've been wanting to be the very first person to breed green Anacondas in the sub-arctic of Alaska. It's never been done before and it's taken 8 years to do it," said Lankford.
Young anaconda snakes are known to be naturally very aggressive since they are common prey, though this snake seemed pretty friendly.
The Lankfords’ serpentarium also includes a white albino alligator named Max. He is 1 of 100 currently living in the world.
Kevin says that given his disability and spasticity it can be difficult to handle animals but, "Even [with] that, I can give him a kiss right on the lips."
According to the Alaska department of Fish and Game it is legal to have domesticated alligators and anacondas as pets in Alaska. Although the Lankfords don't suggest these exotic pets for just anybody.
"They do not make good pets. They are very expensive to house, very expensive to keep, unless you have the research and the knowledge base, do not get these big giant reptiles," said Lankford.
Kevin and Allison hope that in the future that they can use their exotic pets at public school events to teach children about reptiles.
According to the Lankfords, Max the alligator will continue to grow a foot a year for the next 3 years. Their next planned addition to the family is a monitor lizard.
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