CAN ENJOY A REPTILE TRADE SHOW
July 3, 2011
I took my
grandson to the Repticon Reptile and Exotic Animal Convention in Columbia,
S.C., last month. Herpetoculturists (people who keep reptiles and amphibians
for pets) gather at Repticon extravaganzas in different cities to trade,
sell or simply display their animals. You can buy a ticket just to look
around, with no intent to buy. That's what we did, and it's a bargain
for anyone wanting to entertain kids (or adults) interested in snakes
animal encounter was not with reptiles, but mammals. Not monkeys swinging
from branches or lions lounging in an African savanna. Oh no. We saw mice
and rats. Hundreds of them. Some wriggling, just-born pinkies; others
full grown with waving whiskers. Most were part of a neatly packaged frozen
food section. We moved on, not needing to ask why people with pet snakes
might want a mouse or six.
face-to-face with a reptile was an enormous monitor lizard walking around
on a leash. At least 5 feet long from nose to tail tip, it was taking
its stroll alongside a sign that read Photo of You and the Dragon. $5.00.
A bargain to be sure, but not one we succumbed to, although my grandson
got to pat the big lizard for free.
next hour we saw hundreds of other lizards, including venomous Gila monsters
and the easy-to-care-for bearded dragon lizards kept by many herpetoculturists.
Snakes came in all sizes from baby king and garter snakes to boas, pythons
and anacondas. A few token amphibians, such as poison dart frogs and fire-bellied
newts, were interspersed here and there. All of the animals being sold
were bred and raised in captivity. Corn snakes took the prize for displays
of the most bizarre color patterns of any snake. Corn snakes are a native
species already beautiful in their natural colors of blotched red, orange,
white and black. At the Repticon they came in designer snake patterns
ranging from pigment variations of solid white, solid red and solid orange
to blotched pink, lavender, yellow and everything in between. Looking
at a table with little plastic containers of baby corn snakes was like
gazing at a kaleidoscope of coiled serpents.
Repticon serve a useful purpose in fulfilling the desire many people have
to possess and care for a pet snake, lizard, turtle, salamander or frog.
Such a longing might seem peculiar to some people. To me it's no odder
than acquaintances I have known over the years who collect ball caps,
matchbooks or thimbles. Reptile enthusiasts are worldwide and most are
all professions, a few individuals engaged in the business break the law.
Unscrupulous pet trade dealers sell illegal commodities, in this case
wildlife. Many of these are simply greedy, having little interest in the
reptiles themselves beyond their commercial value. But a valid reptile
trade show, one in which the animals for sale are truly ones born and
bred in captivity, often by private individuals who enjoy the challenge,
helps reduce the collection and commercialization of animals from the
wild. With legitimate captive-raised reptiles and amphibians, people have
an opportunity to try their hand at keeping an unusual pet that is easy
to maintain. If properly cared for, most carry virtually no diseases that
are transmittable to humans. With a little education, anyone can learn
the proper techniques and how to pick out the best animal for their personal
situation. As we made the rounds past exhibits, I explained to my grandson
that none of them were suitable for our personal situation.
out when a Repticon show might be coming to your neighborhood, check out
their events calendar at www.repticon.com.
The next one is July 9 and 10 in Atlanta. Even if you are a thimble collector
or model ship enthusiast, rather than a herpetoculturist, you should find
it fascinating. And you won't have to spend any time making decisions
about what to get at the food locker that greets you when you walk in.
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