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Mystery Guest

Aug 25, 2017
Originally published on January 19, 2018 9:01 am

Our mystery guest and her husband own an unusual business in a 6,000 square foot facility. Ophira and Jonathan ask yes or no questions to figure out what it could be.

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While Anthony and Tadd get ready for the final round, it's time for us to play a game. This is mystery guest. A stranger is about to come on stage. Jonathan Coulton and I have no idea who this person is or what makes them special. Only our puzzle guru, Art Chung, does.

ART CHUNG: That's right, Ophira. You and Jonathan will work together as a team to figure out our mystery guest's secret by asking yes or no questions. Mystery guest, please introduce yourself.

REBECCA LECOMPTE: Hi. My name is Rebecca Lecompte, and my husband and I own an unusual small business.

EISENBERG: OK, an unusual small business. Is it a product you're selling?



JONATHAN COULTON: OK. Is this related to things that you eat or drink?



LECOMPTE: Well, not that I eat or drink.



LECOMPTE: It's a no.

CHUNG: That's a no.

LECOMPTE: It's a no.

COULTON: I guess I mean food or beverages. Is the product food or beverage?

LECOMPTE: No, not for human consumption.

EISENBERG: OK. Is your product for animals?



COULTON: You have an animal food store of some kind?

EISENBERG: But it's special.

COULTON: It's special in some way.


COULTON: Are you one of those dog bakery owners?


COULTON: Oh, thank goodness.


CHUNG: Let me clarify that the thing that she and her husband sell can be used as food for non-humans, but humans also enjoy it as well.

LECOMPTE: But not for food.

CHUNG: Not for food. Yes, I'm sorry. But not for food.

EISENBERG: OK. So just to clarify, it's something humans enjoy...


EISENBERG: ...But animals eat.

COULTON: Yeah. This is something that animals eat, and humans use in a different way.

EISENBERG: Like sofa cushions? Like, I don't get this.


COULTON: Is that food another animal?


EISENBERG: Oh. So I would buy said thing for my dog or cat?


EISENBERG: I would buy it for my bird?


EISENBERG: I would buy it for my lizard?


COULTON: Are you selling mice for snakes to eat?


COULTON: You have a mouse store?

LECOMPTE: In addition to a few other things, yes.



EISENBERG: Wait. Wait. Wait. I don't need - I just need some clarification right now. You sell mice for animals. Where is the part where humans enjoy them?


LECOMPTE: There are other animals involved, as well.

CHUNG: The other animal also eats mice.

COULTON: So you have a store where your two products, one of them eats the other one?



COULTON: Do you also sell snakes in addition to mice?

LECOMPTE: Yes, we do.

CHUNG: Yes, they do.


CHUNG: So Rebecca and her husband own a 6,000-square-foot facility where they breed snakes and mice. They have somewhere between 5,000 and 8,000 mice and over 300 snakes.

LECOMPTE: We do. We also actually breed rats, as well. We breed for pattern and color variations in ball pythons that wouldn't exist in the wild together. So it's like living artwork for your home.

EISENBERG: I'm going to call it "Jurassic World" is what I'm going to call it.


EISENBERG: How long have you been doing this?

LECOMPTE: We've been in business for just about a decade now.

EISENBERG: And are you a snake owner yourself?

LECOMPTE: Oh, yeah. Yes.

EISENBERG: Oh, yeah.

LECOMPTE: Quite a few.

EISENBERG: How many?

LECOMPTE: Pet animals? We probably only have about a half a dozen. But snakes at the facility? In excess of 300.

COULTON: Which is better, mice or rats?

LECOMPTE: It depends on what you're feeding.

COULTON: No. No. To enjoy as a human...


COULTON: ...Not to eat. For goodness sake.

LECOMPTE: An individual rat can make a great pet - rats in a colony, not so much.

COULTON: Why is - now, why is that?

LECOMPTE: There's a lot of them. And they are very - let's go with fragrant.


LECOMPTE: Yeah. It's a big population. It's a lot of work. It's a minimum five hours a day just to maintain all of the rats.

EISENBERG: Now, for the person out there who does not have a snake as a pet and thinks, like, I don't even know if I would want that - what is a selling point?

LECOMPTE: Well, you only have to feed them every two weeks or so. So that's a little bit easier than your cat or dog.

EISENBERG: Right, low maintenance.

LECOMPTE: And with the prevalence of allergies - you know, kids having dander allergies - sometimes, you can't have a fur pet. Or if you travel quite a bit, it's easier to say, hey, drop by and make sure there's water in the tank and throw a mouse in, as opposed to coming in...


LECOMPTE: ...Three times a day to feed your cat. So there's definite benefits.

CHUNG: And on your Facebook page, you post videos of pythons mating.

LECOMPTE: We do. We do.

CHUNG: Why is that?


COULTON: Why is that?

LECOMPTE: Yeah. I've been known to call it snake porn before. And, well, one of the things that gets enthusiasts and other breeders excited is seeing what might be coming up.


LECOMPTE: And so...

COULTON: I hear you, sister.

LECOMPTE: It's not exciting at all. It's not - no. No.

COULTON: It's not very sexy.

LECOMPTE: No. Not really, no. They just sort of wrap their tails together. And often, I have to screen shot these photos, circle and write several arrows to get people to see what they're actually looking for in the photos. I think the snake enthusiasts will recognize it faster than a layperson might.

EISENBERG: Truly amazing - I am happy to know that your business exists and is thriving and has very secure walls and enclosures I imagine - very good.

LECOMPTE: Very, very secure.

EISENBERG: Everyone give it up for our mystery guest, Rebecca Lecompte.

(APPLAUSE) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.