Greg West interview: Animal Planet’s Scaled, reptile care tips, and much more

SCALED -- Photo credit: Animal Planet -- Acquired via Animal Planet PR
SCALED -- Photo credit: Animal Planet -- Acquired via Animal Planet PR /

Scaled premieres on Animal Planet later this week. Find out more about the reptile enclosures and the man behind the business in this interview with Greg West.

Animal Planet as a new program that is going to leave you amazed. Scaled is the reptile-centric show that focuses on the amazing enclosures needed for all types of reptiles. For those who love snakes, bearded dragons, green anole, and more, this is going to be a show for you!

While creating the one-of-a-kind enclosures, Scaled will also help you understand the requirements for caring for reptiles. Watch it if you ever considered getting a reptile. It will certainly show how, with some commitment, you’ll definitely have a laid-back, easy-to-care-for pet in the house.

I caught up with Greg West, the man behind the show on how he goes about building the enclosures, tips for first pets, and much more.

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Hidden Remote: There will be lots of promo for Scaled. How’s that going?

Greg West: We’ve been kept in the dark for how the show is going to look, so it’s exciting to see it.

HR: That must be really hard, knowing what it’s like behind the scenes but not the way it will look on the screen.

West: Yep, it’s definitely not easy. I know all the work people put into it will translate onto the TV. We’re definitely looking forward to showing the world all these crazy things we’ve been doing.

SCALED — Photo credit: Animal Planet — Acquired via Animal Planet PR
SCALED — Photo credit: Animal Planet — Acquired via Animal Planet PR /

HR: You say there’s been a lot of hard work. What goes into the creation of all these habitats? They look absolutely amazing.

West: There’s a lot of work that goes into them. We have to worry about the animals first and foremost. We have to go through a lot of planning for the requirements for the animals. Obviously, there are also a lot of requirements from the client as well. And then we have to tie the two together.

Right from the outset, there’s a lot of planning involved and meeting of the minds to come up with a design that looks great for the client but works well for the animal. It’s definitely been a long road getting to this point, but we’re all reptile enthusiasts, so that helps translate.

HR: It does. And like you said, you have to do the best for the animals. How do you find out the personality each animal has to make sure you create the type of habitat they need.

West: Typically, we’re meeting with the client to get to know their wants and needs. Then we get to interact with the reptiles to get specifics on that specific animal. They’re all tend to have their own mini personalities, so we like to get a good idea of that. We have a few reptile experts here to get the major requirements for each species.

Getting to meet the animal is fun. And it’s important to get the right enclosure for the animal.

HR: Do you ever find the animal’s needs don’t quite gel with the client’s needs.

West: Yes, and those are definitely the more challenging. So far, we’ve been able to pull it off and the animals seem happy and so do the clients.

HR: How does the conversation go with the client then?

West: Usually we take note of everything they’re looking for and then maybe, in private, we have another conversation of how we’re actually going to pull it off. I tend to give the green light on things before we figure out how we’re going to deal with it and then the challenges come up.

SCALED — Photo credit: Animal Planet — Acquired via Animal Planet PR
SCALED — Photo credit: Animal Planet — Acquired via Animal Planet PR /

HR: How did you get started in all this?

West: I’ve loved animals since I was a kid and my parents let me get a single Green Anole, which is native to Florida. As I went to go to college, I started collecting what I could thought was cool. When I graduated college, I started working for a glass company and I built reptile cages for myself to save money. That ballooned into making enclosures for a lot of people.

HR: That seems like the way of many businesses. “I’ll start doing it for myself and then offer to others.”

West: Yeah, and it’s great. I love what I do. I set my own hours. I love coming to work every day, so being able to share this with North America and be able to showcase the, well, animals first and foremost, and what we do here is excellent.

HR: The animals are amazing. My daughter has wanted a Bearded Dragon for years. We’ve put her off because I wouldn’t know where to start. So, what tips would you give someone just starting out with reptiles?

West: The biggest thing is to do research and understand the requirements of the animal. A lot of people don’t realize that a lot of these animals can live for a very long time, so the commitment needs to be there. You need to be willing to take this animal’s life into your own hands and really care for it.

Bearded Dragons are an amazing first reptile. We have one that’s we’ve integrated into the show and something tells me he’ll be more popular than anyone else. They’re a great pet. They just need a big enough enclosure, a UV light, and a basking bowl and they’re very simple to care for.

They’re not like a dog or cat where you need to take them out for walks each day. If they get their salad and a few crickets each day, they’re happy to just hang out in their enclosures and interact with you if you want to take them out.

HR: We cheated and opted for a dog because I’ve always had them so know how to care for them.

West: I love all animals but dogs have a soft spot in my heart. But the reptiles are just so different. They’re a great conversation starter.

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SCALED — Photo credit: Animal Planet — Acquired via Animal Planet PR
SCALED — Photo credit: Animal Planet — Acquired via Animal Planet PR /

HR: Do you find they gel well with other animals and species? Can you have different types in the same enclosure?

West: There are some that can be kept together, but the rule of thumb is generally no. Some work well in groups, some can be integrated, but others have different requirements and they become stressed and think of each other predators. It’s best to keep them separate as much as possible.

HR: So to keep the enclosures separate around the house?

West: Exactly. I mean, we’ve had some customers who have crazy amounts of enclosures. It’s really cool

HR: I saw some in the promo. It looked like they had multiple enclosures on the back wall of one of the rooms. What’s one of the craziest jobs you’ve taken on?

West: Probably the biggest one is the one for Episode 1, which is in the promo. It was a lot of smaller enclosures, but the build ended up being 8ft wide and was an L-shape.

HR: Last question for you. Have you had any major surprises while doing the series?

West: Well, it’s been a learning experience building it for a living and then building it for TV, but the surprises that we come across are more geared towards coming up with what we’re doing and making changes on the fly that work. That’s been the biggest challenge, making sure everything we present to the customer is exactly what they want and we don’t have any issues down the road. And, of course, making sure the animals are well cared for.

Scaled starts on Friday night and will take you through all the amazing possibilities with reptile enclosures and creating them for the personality of the pets. If you are thinking of getting any type of reptile, watch it first to find out more.

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Do you have a reptile as a pet? Has this encouraged you to get one? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Scaled premieres Aug. 24 at 9/8c on Animal Planet.