Repticon Tampa on February 24th – 25th, 2018 was my first-ever time at a reptile expo 🦎🐢🐍. It was so awesome! I bought my VIP ticket online about six weeks before. The REASON I was originally going to go was to get a red foot tortoise hatchling. But after thinking about it more, I got cold feet about two weeks before Repticon & decided to go with my original choice of crested geckos instead. Crested geckos seemed both easy to care for & like a much better choice for my first pet reptile than a baby tortoise. Here’s where I wrote about why I decided on crested geckos 🦎.
I had the gecko tank all set up, complete with a custom ABS plastic divider that took me an hour to make. (SPOILER ALERT! On my geckos’ first night, the two bigger ones managed to squish themselves over the top & into the unfurnished side of the cage. This rendered it useless so I had to remove it. Pets are like that 🙂). I had the heat pad running & the humidity up. Everything was ready.
Here’s what I saw at my first expo & my observations (plus kewl emojis)!
- First off, I bought my first three crested geckos! 😍🦎🦎🦎💕 I got them from Manatee Suncoast Lizards, which seemed like a really nice breeder. Read about my geckos here & see more pictures of them in this article here!
- They had a cool blow-up snake out front that kids were taking pictures of 📸.
- Reptile expos are like better versions of pet stores. The people selling you the pets are mostly the people who actually bred them, & can answer your questions better than most pet stores. The quality of the animals is also a lot higher 👍, & the prices can be much lower 💵 because you’re buying it directly from the breeder & there’s no middleman.
- It’s awesome being in an environment filled with people who are passionate about reptiles 😍.
- To let everyone know I was a VIP there, they gave me a tortoise hand stamp which was adorable!
- SO MANY SKINNY PIGS! (AKA HAIRLESS GUINEA PIGS). One person had regular guinea pigs but it seemed like at least five were selling the hairless “skinny” guinea pigs. For some reason they were a really popular thing.
- A large selection of chinchillas chillin’ (pun intended) in a cage. One was perched precariously at the edge of a shelf, sleeping, but it seemed perfectly comfortable 😴. LOOK AT THEIR LITTLE CHINCHILLA FACES!
- Tons of sugar gliders, including baby ones! I saw some really pretty white sugar gliders with a dark stripe down their backs, & some other sugar gliders eating fruit. 🤗 Their “crabbing” sound reminds me of a combination of a quiet angry squirrel 🐿️ & the sound my guinea pigs make when they’re mad at each other.
- A whole bunch of baby hedgehogs! 🦔🦔🦔 If I was still interested in getting a hedgie I would have been excited, because they were only $100. But MAN, are those things sharp 😮. Especially when they bounce to poke you with their spikes. You can see me jerk away when it pokes me in the video below! They were all sleeping in a little prickly pile together, & they were adorable 💤.
- More leopard geckos than you could shake a stick at. 🦎 It seemed like EVERYONE was selling leopard geckos. I saw some really beautiful mostly-white ones.
- Awesome geckos! 🦎🦎🦎 SO MANY GECKOS! 🦎🦎🦎 The aforementioned leopard geckos, plus a reasonable number of crested geckos. But I also saw some really great Chahouas, Leachies, day geckos, gargoyle geckos, etc. Geckos are super-awesome. 🦎
- I got to hold a 🦉 rescued screech owl 🦉 from the Friends of Largo Nature Parks! (ARTICLE WITH MORE PHOTOS COMING SOON!) OWLS ARE MY FAVORITE & THIS WAS SO AWESOME! They had a Sulcata tortoise 🐢 with a donation jar taped to its back. It was so awesome. The article has pictures of that too! (Also, I was so excited after holding an owl that I began walking away before I realized my gecko bag was still sitting on their table 😂).
Look at the little tortoise nose chilling in the bottom right corner too!
- I got to pet a bearded dragon! I can’t remember the name of the vendor but they made custom stone-looking houses for reptiles. They had this awesome bearded dragon just chilling on a rock & people could pet it. The beardie was so docile & cute! Someone said their bearded dragon always got excited when they came home, like a dog 🤗.
- There were so many beautiful snakes! 🐍🐍🐍 I wasn’t in the market for a snake so I didn’t spend too much time looking at them, but I saw some gorgeous ones. In my opinion, the most beautiful snake are the banana/candino morph-looking ball pythons. I saw plenty of those. I also saw some cute tiny snakes in cups. I watched vendors put the snakes in white mesh bags & speculated that if I ever get a snake it will totally ride in the cooler on the way home just in case it happens to escape from its mesh bag.
- Someone was selling pet roaches, which were pretty cool!
- There was someone with fancy bettas & cherry shrimp. 🦐 I will totally have a shrimp tank someday 🦐!
- One vendor had tiny cups with even tinier baby axolotls. I looked at the axolotls & was very glad I decided not to get one. I would have been too nervous about their water quality.
- I saw piles of tiny 🐁 pinky mice & fuzzy mice 🐁 huddled together. I took a photo of the fuzzies & the vendor said, “The pinkies are also cute.” They were precious, even though I know they will most likely become snake food. There were also a good number of people selling rats, both pet & feeder rats. I saw some really cute baby rats too!
- There was a cup filled with baby chicks 🐤🐤🐤. If I lived somewhere zoned for chicks, I would have bought them. I felt sorry for them because I knew that, like the baby mice, they would most likely be eaten.
- So many people had 🕷️ tarantulas & scorpions 🦂. I heard a guy excitedly telling his father about how poisonous this one tarantula he was getting was & how nasty their bite was. He seemed to know a lot about tarantulas & he sounded like he just loved them. I heard a kid asking a vendor which species she recommended for a beginner. I saw some cute tiny tarantulas 🕷️ that were only about the size of a penny!
- I hoped to get millipedes 🐛 while I was at the expo. I spent a while looking for them, but didn’t see any. I saw a vendor that seemed focused on invertebrates, so I asked if he had millipedes. He said not right now.
- TONS OF TORTOISES! 🐢🐢🐢 I saw a huge number of baby red foots & other tortoises. There were also a variety of ages of tortoises. They were so cute. But I was still really glad not to get a tortoise (especially a fragile hatchling) as my first reptile. I freak out enough about my geckos; it would have been so much worse with a baby tortoise despite my obsessive research. There were also turtles. Someone was selling baby red-eared sliders for $10 & baby snapper turtles for $25. Baby snappers look pretty harmless but I know what they grow up to be 😉. 🐢🐢🐢
- There are a lot of animals I WANT to buy, but I’m good at not impulse-buying them 👏🏆💯
- IF YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO GET A SPECIAL GOODY BAG BECAUSE YOU GOT A VIP TICKET, ASK FOR IT FIRST 🛍️☹️. Big lesson here. I casually moseyed on over to the welcome booth after I was done looking around. “Is this where I get my bag of free stuff?” I asked. The lady looked at me sympathetically. “I’m sorry, we ran out of those.” I wasn’t offended, just a little disappointed. & I totally made a mental note to ask for it ASAP next time. I wonder what was in the bag.
Going to Repticon was super-awesome. I can’t wait to go back again!