Written by: Ellen Sever
The rather obvious first step to being a successful reptile owner is, well, owning a reptile. While there are many places where you can purchase reptiles, one of the best has to be at reptile expos. Not only will you most likely be getting the best price, you will also be presented with the biggest variety of options and potentially rare or uniquely patterned reptiles. Not to mention, the animals are, on average, healthier and better cared for than the ones you might find at your local chain pet store.
So, what exactly is a reptile expo and what can you expect when attending one? Well, quite simply, a reptile expo is an event in which various reptile and amphibian breeders get together to sell their animals and products, usually in a place such as a hotel or convention center. Walking into an expo can be slightly overwhelming, however it truly is every reptile lovers’ dream. Tables upon tables, stacked with lizards, snakes, frogs, turtles, and even the occasional hedgehog or sugar glider; all while being surrounded by fellow reptile owners and lovers. While not as numerous, there may be a table or two set up for products and supplies as well, however in my experience it is predominantly animals (which is the fun stuff anyway). Each breeder will typically have their own table or two set up to display their animals, and the rest is up to you. Whether you are there to buy or just to look, expos are a good time and an awesome opportunity to see some patterns and colors you may have never seen before.
Now, while most of the reptiles there are babies or juveniles, there are typically some adults to choose from as well. The prices at these events can range anywhere from $10 to $1000 depending on the animal and the breeder. Personally, the fact that you can walk in and buy a baby lizard for $25 in a little clear plastic cup is something that still excites me every time I attend one. However, the danger with being presented with so many affordable and adorable options is that the urge to impulse buy can become very strong. So, going into these events, use self-control and make sure you aren’t diving in head first by purchasing an animal you are not ready or able to care for. That aside, if you are attending, ready to purchase a new little friend, I have a few tips for you.
1. Go into it with a basic idea of what you are looking for and do some research ahead of time.
Like I mentioned before, there will be many, many options available so it would be best to get a general idea of what you want beforehand and compile a basic knowledge of the husbandry needed to care for that animal. Of course, plans do change and you may stumble across an animal you did not expect and cannot pass up, which is totally understandable. However, do try to use a level of control and make sure you do the proper amount of research before purchasing any animal. So maybe you don’t get that animal at that particular show, it’s ok! There will be more. Plus, most of the vendors have their business cards on their table, so you could even grab that and give them a call to see if they have any of what you want available when the time is right.
2. Ask the breeder how old the animal is, what its sex is (if not stated), and ask to hold the animal if considering purchase so you get an idea of its temperament.
Typically, the containers will state the sex of the animal, however if it doesn’t, be sure to ask. Reptiles’ size, much like most animals, does differ depending on the gender so that is an important bit of info. Like I mentioned, most vendors also have business cards on their tables which could also come in handy later, whether you have a question or you want to buy from them in the future. While not all sellers will allow you to hold the animal, depending on their temperament or stress level (the animal’s or the breeder’s); if you are considering purchase and would like to get a feel for the reptile’s personality, just let the seller know and they will hopefully help you out. Keep in mind though, I am talking about animals that handle well, such as ball pythons or bearded dragons. If you are considering purchasing a more skittish animal, such as the red-eyed crocodile skink, chances are you won’t be able to hold them, which is a good call honestly. That being said, do not feel pressured to buy an animal after making the seller go through the effort of taking it out for you. If it isn’t a match, it isn’t a match.
3. Bring cash
While most breeders do accept card, some do not, so I would recommend bringing cash as a precaution. This could also act as a bit of an anchor to stop you from going over budget with all of the tempting critters.
So that’s it folks. Those are the basics on what to expect at a reptile expo. As I mentioned, it really is one of the best places to buy reptiles, as the amount of options is unmatched. Even if you are not planning on purchasing, or don’t have any interest in ever owning a reptile, I would still recommend attending one as they really are a cool experience. So get online, search for reptile shows/expos near you, and have fun! P.S. While you’re here, check out the home page and take a look at Verge’s awesome Automatic Reptile Feeder. Who knows, maybe you’ll see them at your next expo ;).