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Best Saturday Outing for the Nonsqueamish 

East Bay Vivarium

Featuring one of the largest and most diverse selections of reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates for sale in the nation, this reptile specialty store is a fascinating destination even for those who don't care to buy anything. Outside the store, several garden-variety canines lie sprawled about. Inside the store, the motley assortment of critters is anything but ordinary. You'll find everything from the yellow ratsnake ($60 to $75) to the false water cobra ($150) on display in glass enclosures. The knowledgeable -- and fearless -- staff are happy to unload snakes and lizards into curious arms, and those who have never wielded a variegated millipede ($15) are in for a treat. The poison-secreting mint terrible dart frog ($110) is most likely off-limits. The floor inside is quite lively. Skittish customers flinch when backing up against the climbing branches for sale, and feeder crickets routinely escape from their holding tubs. If you're a reptile owner going on vacation, boarding facilities are available, and the Vivarium breeds rodents that you can buy for food. Best of all, Spot the water monitor is available for parties and school assemblies.

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