By Alena Martin, October 2 2018 —
Scaled, a Calgary-filmed show that makes reptiles the centre of attention, will premiere in Canada Oct. 8 on Animal Planet.
Each episode of the show will showcase intricate custom-made reptile terrariums, with an emphasis on the animals calling these enclosures home. Greg West, owner of Calgary’s Cornels World Terrariums, is the show’s lead. West is also in charge of constructing the exteriors of the enclosures. He says he’s surprised how much attention the show, which premiered in the United States in late August, is already getting.
“There was definitely a lot of hard work involved and a lot of late nights, but we’re really happy so far with the end result,” he says. “And [it’s] getting mentions all over North America and social media.”
The enclosures created on the show range from a 16-foot Mayan temple housing dart frogs to a set of whisky barrels, each hosting a different snake named after a prohibition-era mobster.
While Scaled demonstrates enclosures built for the animals, it places a heavy emphasis on the care of the critters. At the end of the day, educating the audience is the main goal for West and his family.
“I would like to think that the education is very important, which my daughter is a big part of. Being that there has never really been a reptile show on the air before, a lot of the people that follow Animal Planet might not necessarily be into reptiles,” West says. “I think it gives them a little bit of education into the world of reptiles and hopefully we’ll get quite a few new people into the hobby that had never thought about reptiles being an interesting or a fun pet to have.”
The person tasked with making sure the designs are fit for habitation is Lucas Neter, owner and operator of Jungle Jewel Exotics in Calgary. He says the most important part of these outrageous builds is making sure they suit the animal they’re meant for.
“There’s a lot of pressure there — especially being the interior designer — where I have to get it right by the animals,” he says. “The interiors are beautiful, these are some incredible builds. But the animal doesn’t care if it’s a Mayan temple or wine barrels or anything like that.”
Among the animals is the show’s star, Kevin, a rescue bearded dragon who can be found sporting a new hat and outfit in every episode. Other species of reptiles making an appearance on the show include monkey tail skinks, uromastyx, tegus, tortoises and snakes.
The show first found its footing when a U.S. production company reached out to West after hearing about Cornels World Terrariums. Neter said they mentioned a previous show on Animal Planet when approaching West. Tanked, which premiered in 2007, follows a family of Las Vegas aquarium manufacturers served as inspiration for Scaled.
“That started about a year and a half ago when they reached out to [West], so it’s actually been a flurry of activity to get to the point where we actually have a show on Animal Planet,” Neter says.
Production for the show was short, taking just over four months. Members of the show often got a minimal amount of sleep when the deadlines were approaching to get the projects done on time.
“It’s crazy. It is very, very long hours. And none of us are actors, none of us have been on TV, so we didn’t know what to expect from this,” Neter says. “It was very common for us to be working 16-hour days to get the work done on-time and in-budget as well.”
Lucas and Greg are both active members in Calgary’s reptile community. Both started out small, building terrariums to accommodate their growing reptile and amphibian hobbies.
“I’ve been doing it full-time for about five years. It started out as a hobby at home and I started that about 18 years ago, so it’s definitely been a passion of mine,” West says. “The business has really grown over the years and it’s crazy to get this opportunity to air in people’s homes all across North America.”
Neter, on the other hand, is still pretty new to the Calgary reptile scene.
“Well, I moved to Calgary in 2012 and I didn’t get involved with the reptile scene until 2014. So in the relative terms of things, I’m actually the newbie coming to this,” Neter says.
The main focus of the show is not actually the over the top builds the team is creating but rather the care for the animals in each episode. The cast of Scaled are advocates for properly educating their audience, especially if someone is considering getting a reptile of their own.
“Are all their needs met? What are the heat requirements, the UV requirements for lighting, the space requirements? It’s an incredible amount of pressure to get that right. And to get it right by the viewers too,” Neter says. “Because everybody has their preconceived notion of what they should do for the animals, there might be five or six different ways I can build out this tank and [they may] all be right.”
West and his family take the large role in the show of educating people on the special needs and requirements for reptiles. The ultimate goal is to send potential reptile owners in the right direction after viewing the show.
“Probably the biggest [issue] we touch on in the show is doing your research and know what you’re getting into before your first reptile. It’s best once you have a specific reptile [in mind] and get the specific supplies you need first,” West says. “[For example], tortoises live 60-plus years. You could be handing them down to your grandchildren, so planning ahead is recommended. We hate to see animals having to be rescued because they were improperly cared for.”
If that isn’t enough to get you hooked on a reptile hobby, a Calgary reptile expo is slithering into the Midsun Community Centre Oct. 20 and 21.
Scaled will premier Saturday, Oct. 8 on Animal Planet. For more information about Scaled. visit