8874 La Mesa Boulevard, La Mesa
It begins with Uncle Milton's Ant Farm ($11.99), and for many, that is where it ends. Hard-shelled, mandible-clad marchers give way to puppies, kittens, and horses. But for some, the fascination with less obviously appealing creatures takes hold, and they upgrade to millipedes: Chocolate ($8), Fire ($18), and the outsized African Giant Black ($12). That leads to spiders: poisonous, husband-murdering Black Widows ($10), or over 20 varieties of tarantula ($11-$50 and beyond). Under a veiled chameleon's ($149.99) disapproving scowl, the initiate may then wander through the damp, cricket-ringing air into the reptilian realm of the lizards: dragons, monitors, anoles, iguanas, basilisks, geckos, skinks, even uromastyxes ($9.99-$299), along with the appropriate cages/environments. The journey ends in the domain of the ultimate unsettling animal companion: the snake room, damper and warmer than the rest of the store, and full of pythons, boas, rattlesnakes, king snakes, pine snakes, anacondas, and such ($9.99-$199). Live Cargo also carries turtles ($8.99 and way beyond) and a broad selection of fish (Bettas, $2.49 male, $1.99 female).