Lizards, snakes, and even tarantulas interacted with Calgarians at the Calgary Reptile Expo, at the Genesis Centre Oct. 18-19.
The expo, which is hosted by the Alberta Reptile and Amphibian Society (TARAS), is held twice a year and attracted between 2,500 to 3,000 people throughout the weekend.
Andrea Hersom, the president of TARAS, said the goal of the expo was to educate the public on these specialized creatures, and to connect local breeders and hobbyists with the public.
“These shows are what drive the non-profit society’s activities through the year to support local research, education, and conservation initiatives,” said Hersom.
This year, Hersom said, the expo had many new vendors visiting from all over Canada, as well as new individuals setting up displays for the public to interact with.
“There will be some larger snakes on display that are legal to own in Alberta – several boas and Asian ratsnakes, as well as chameleons.”
Joel Steward, a carpet python owner, has been attending, volunteering, and running displays at the expo for the past three years.
He has always been active in the reptile hobby and has owned lizards since he was a child, although it was only four years ago that he got his first python.
“Animals such as cats or dogs are just too high maintenance for me,” said Steward.
“I like being able to take off for the weekend and not have to worry about inconveniencing someone else to come and deal with my animals.”
Steward hoped that he and his python helped attendees learn more about this particular breed of snake.
“A lot of people think that carpet pythons are very nippy and aggressive snakes, whereas that is essentially not the case.”
He also explained that carpet pythons are rare animals that “most people are not going to get a chance to see.”
“I just like to share with people,” he said.
Jayson Hargren travelled all the way from Edmonton to “hang out” with the reptiles at the event.
“It is the first one [reptile expo] I have ever been to,” he said, while holding a baby painted turtle.
“My friend likes her snakes, and she forced me to come.”
“These shows are what drive the non-profit society’s activities through the year to support local research, education, and conservation initiatives.” – Andrea Hersom
Ali Haul was also experiencing the event for the first time.
“Frankly, I am loving it,” she said.
“I love reptiles, and I love spiders.”