By Janet Cruz
From geckos to lizards to a Blue Iguana, is what you see at K & R Reptiles Sanctuary located in Lake Havasu City.
Kayla Griswold and her mother Raelee Griswold operate the sanctuary and say it’s a safe place for many reptiles who need a bit of care and a place to call home.
“We have leopard geckos, gargoyle geckos, crested geckos, veiled chameleons, bearded dragons, savanna monitors, plus tons more,” said Kayla Griswold.
The sanctuary is home to abused or surrendered reptiles that can no longer be taken care of by their owners. The Griswold’s love of reptiles began when Kayla Griswold was a child and said they have always brought joy in her life.
“As a kid, I would always catch and release the little blue belly yard lizards and always had fun doing that and I just always had a connection with them,” she said.
Back in 2015, after battling panic and anxiety disorder and being unable to find anything that worked, with permission from her grandparents, she brought home two geckos to keep her mind occupied. She found it gave her a new found purpose while caring for them.
“Those two geckos gave me the motivation to keep trying different things and to keep fighting. When my grandpa started having health issues we noticed that the lizards really cheered him up too, so we had the idea that we could do the same for other people and started to bring them into the retirement homes,” she said.
Soon after her grandfather passed away, other people in the community asked if they could take in their reptiles.
“It eventually turned into, “If you can’t take it, then I’ll have no choice but to let it go in the desert” or “I can’t stand this lizard, no matter how many times I hit it, it won’t stop biting me” etc. So that’s when we realized that the town needed a rescue for these guys,” she said.
It was around this time that they took in another gecko that wasn’t in the best shape, and spent a lot of their time working to tame and care for him.
Soon Kayla Griswold realized how much joy they brought to her and others and so they began to really push their way into the local schools and other places to share the benefits of these reptiles with everyone else.
“Of course, more lizards in bad shape just kept coming to us and we decided that if someone else wasn’t going to rescue these guys then we would and just started setting aside that money for the reptiles,” she said. Since then, the Griswold’s have helped more than 400 reptiles that have passed through the K & R Reptiles Sanctuary.
“When we rescue, it’s like first watching a depressed or sick reptile slowly return to themselves and just light up over time as you fix them up and show them love. Watching them open up and show their personality is really amazing and it feels so good to know that it’s because us that they’re doing this.”
K & R Reptiles have visited local schools to teach the kids, have visited retirement homes, church events and they were also involved in a special Earth Day presentation at the Lake Havasu Museum of History.
The Griswolds are happy to pick up a surrendered reptile or people are also welcome to come to them at no charge.
“All we care about are the animals.” There is no charge for anyone needing to surrender their reptile.”
For more information on K & R Reptiles visit their Facebook page, or contact Kayla or Raelee at firstname.lastname@example.org or 928-846-5477.