Face Your Fears at the Reptile Cafe

DepartmentsThis & That

For anyone terrified of an albino python, an orange corn snake or a scaly, bearded iguana, Chea Raty says getting up close and personal at Phnom Penh’s first reptile-themed cafe is the only remedy.

Taking off from the cat cafes already popular in the Cambodian capital, Chea Raty launched his business to revamp the skin-crawling reputation of lizards and snakes and convince haters they are simply misunderstood.

As customers sip on their lattes and hang out with the reptiles, “they will love them like I do,” the 32-year-old said while stroking the scaly neck wattle of an iguana.

The walls of his cafe are lined with lighted glass tanks containing snakes of various lengths and colors, while a bright macaw screeches in the corner. Some visitors look hesitantly at the cages. Others are bolder in their embrace of the creatures. 

There’s no entry fee, so visitors can order coffee and request a sit-down with a serpentine friend. An ice tea for a customer instantly becomes a cool object for a yellow-and-cream-colored ball python to twist its body around.

Customer Y Navim was wary at first of a corn snake, an orange serpent that kills its prey through constriction. However, it was soon resting on her palm as she sipped her coffee. “This cafe is quite unique,” the 22-year-old said. “I’ve never seen some of these reptiles before. They are beautiful and scary.”   Agence France-Presse

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