September 14, 2013

family admiring bearded dragons

A week ago today I was at REPTICON, my first ever reptile show. It was held at the Box Expo Center in West Palm Beach. It is always fascinating to visit specialty groups and learn about them. I went expecting to see a lot of inked people with piercings and large pink hair. There were very few and most vendors and attendees were pretty much mainstream America. A tony, young couple from Boca Raton was selling geckoes. Many of the businesses were family run. I was quite surprised at the number of children accompanied by adults. I could see that some were collectors, but others had been brought by a parent as sort of an educational opportunity. That is exactly what it was for me!

While there were a few small amphibian vendors selling turtles and frogs, the vast majority of creatures were snakes and lizards. There were also some newts, salamanders and a siren (a primitive aquatic salamander). Several tables held vast arrays of ball pythons in every color pattern imaginable… pastels, piebalds, axanthic, albino, banana, calico and enough other fancy names to make an orchid breeder jealous. While talking with breeder Greg Graziani, I commented that it was my first reptile show and that it was “just like an orchid show”, but with reptiles. Oh, and the reptiles were not “judged” like orchids are, although another vendor told me it was only a matter of time. While the majority of vendors sold reptiles, a few sold food or supplies (just like an orchid show!). One guy was selling frozen rats.

woman with ball python

It’s easy to see how people can admire and collect reptiles. The ball pythons are a special niche that attracts collectors. The colors and patterns reflect the breeder’s art and many snakes can be stunningly beautiful. One enthusiastic vendor was selling tortises of varying, graded sizes. He had one large one in a box on the floor…it was about the size of a bathroom sink basin. He told me that he keeps them in his backyard and when he wants to unwind, he sits out there and watches the “moving rocks.”

My favorite creatures were the chameleons. Yes, they do change color and some of the colors were quite outrageous. They also have curious opposed toes (like our fingers and thumbs), a prehensile tail and move in a slow graceful way. I had to discipline myself against bringing one home in a terrarium to keep the cat entertained. If they were of easier care I might have!

jackson chameleon

See the set of seven photos here.

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