ST. CHARLES – Deb Moreland, owner of Furry Friends Traveling Petting Zoo, brought many recognizable animals – including a goose, turtle and skunk – to the Chicago Pet Show this weekend, but the creature she kept on a leash routinely stumped visitors.
"It's called a Patagonian cavy," she told them. "He's a rodent from Argentina."
The exotic animal was among an assortment of creatures people could see at the two-day event, which ended Sunday afternoon at the Kane County Fairgrounds in St. Charles.
Joe and Robyn Kovar brought their 2-year-old daughter, Lyra, to the pet show because, as the Geneva residents said, she loves animals.
Which is her favorite? Both thought the girl liked dogs best.
But, Robyn Kovar added, "the turtle seems to have won today."
The family had just finished meeting the 40-pound albino Burmese python named Daisy that was looped around Kris Friedenberger, a volunteer with Friends of Scales Reptile Rescue.
"She's heavy," Friedenberger said.
At 4 years old, she's hardly done growing. Chris McKee, secretary of the group, said full-grown Burmese pythons can reach lengths of 19 feet and can weigh up to 250 pounds.
Friends of Scales Reptile Rescue aims to educate people about what they are signing up for when they take various reptiles, such as snakes, in as pets, McKee said. He said factors that must be taken into consideration include cage size, temperature, lighting and feeding.
"There's a big responsibility there," McKee said after explaining that a baby Burmese can grow to nearly 10 feet long in its first year.
Those who wanted to leave the Chicago Pet Show with an animal could, as various groups offered pets for adoption.
Saturday, for example, Open Doors Animal Rescue found homes for five kittens, said Hillery Higginbotham, who founded the organization with her husband.
Other organizations used the pet show as a way to promote themselves and network with other organizations.
Such was the case for West 'Burb Wieners, a nonprofit that raises funds for the medical treatment of orphaned pets in shelter or rescue care, President Linda Conro said. She said the group also takes in dachshunds that have special needs or are elderly – those that others won't take.