I am not really into reptiles that last time I have kept any were the slider turtles that I had as a child. But ever since I have started this blog I like a good opportunity to take pictures of animals so I went to see the expo.
Once visitors enter the expo area they see lots and lots of boxes that from a distance look like someone is exhibiting jewelry but they are mostly populated by snakes and the rest with other reptiles mainly lizards.
As I was unfamiliar with this kind of setup, at first I was worried if the animals felt uncomfortable in such a setting, but I was assured that at least some of them, such as ball pythons, are fond of small confined spaces. Apparently they also like to be handled by humans because the warmth of the human hands makes them comfortable.
Since I cannot even tell a boa from a python I was kind of lost. A lot of the animals for sale are not really labeled by the species name but all sorts of nicknames for the breed. These are all captive bred and fancy animals that do not really look like their wild brethren.
This is very different from how things are with marine reef tanks that I am more familiar with. There we mostly still keep wild caught specimens. Even though reptiles are still considered to be “exotic pets” by many, the animals on the expo were definitely not just captive bred specimens of some wild species of animal, but actually fancied versions of their wild ancestors, and as such they were more domestic rather than wild animals. Considering that the number of captive bred fancy reptiles kept as pets is increasing, we really should reconsider our ideas just how exotic they are.
Although just the other day someone who breeds clown fish did mention to me the “guppyfication” of the clown fish — meaning that in the captive bred trade even some marine animals have now become “designer” breeds, kind of like how it has happened with freshwater fish, hence the reference to guppies. Nevertheless us marine reef aquarists seem to be a long way from where the reptile and amphibian hobby is.
As it turns out there are all sorts of selectively bred fancy versions of a lot of reptiles and amphibians that people keep as pets, and they are truly becoming domesticated breeds rather than just wild animals kept as pets.
Some animals were not simply a fancy version of their wild ancestors in the sense as someone would breed fancy guppies or pigeons, but actually genetically modified to show traits that just do not exist in their species in the wild.
But there were plenty of more traditional looking fancy breeds of all sorts of reptiles.
Breeding for more interesting colors or certain shape of one or the other body part was always part of animal husbandry, so it is no surprise that it is done when breeding more recently domesticated “exotic” pets.
In general I have found that the breeders and retailers participating in the expo were generally nice people who cared a great deal about their animals. The fact that they can breed them in captivity and not rely on capturing animals in the wild for the purpose of making them pets indicates how well they understand the animals’ needs.
Nearly all the animals I have seen looked healthy, most looked reasonably happy, as far as I can tell how happy a snake is. None of the creates showed obvious signs of distress or tried to desperately get away from the humans.
These were all specially bred partially domesticated animals, no longer truly exotic pets. In fact I was told by some breeders that snakes, particularly ball pythons are one of the fastest growing segment of the pet industry as more and more people find the idea of sharing their home with a snake desirable. Ball pythons are especially popular because they are not very demanding and since they do love a small confined space they can be happy even in moderately sized terrariums.
Various other reptiles such as some tortoises also make really undemanding pets suitable for children.
I liked this set up by one of the vendors. It did look like a coffee shop from a distance.
But as soon as one got closer it was obvious that the contents of what looked like food containers wasn’t a a quick snack but snakes.
The expo also included somewhat more exotic, yet already captive bread animals such as pet scorpions and spiders.
This year some birds were also included in the expo.
I liked the expo and keeping reptiles, amphibians and other crawly semi-exotic animals seems like an interesting hobby. Although I was tempted several times I did resist the urge to buy any of these creatures since I have my hands full with my aquaria. But if I would ever decide to get a reptile or amphibian as a pet the breeders and vendors who were at this expo would be a good place to start.
Breeders, Retailers, etc.
I have collected a number of business cards from people who have talked to me or showed off their animals / wares. They were helpful even though I did not actually buy anything from them, the least I can do is to list them here.
These links here are provided merely as a courtesy and should not be considered as an endorsement of these businesses.
I know precious little about the captive bred reptile/amphibian/arachnid trade. My opinion at best is that of a semi-ignorant layman in this area. None of the businesses listed below have paid me to post a link to their site.
Links in more or less alphabetical order:
- All Reptiles
- Axolotl Canada
- Élevages Lisard
- Markus Jayne Ball Pythons
- Canadian Coldblood
- Gecko Gurl
- Iconic Dragons
- The Serpent and the Lizard
- Morph Endorphins
- Port Credit Pet Centre
- Paws and Wings Pet Services
- Real Nature’s Spider Webs Under Glass
- Royal Python Ranch
- Tangled in Webs
- Two Monsters Exotics
- Understory Enterprises Inc.