NEW PORT RICHEY — Though reptiles usually aren’t considered house pet material, many people adore creatures that slither and crawl.
Repticon is a convention that offers everything reptilian — and amphibian as well. As part of its travels to 10 different counties and cities in Florida, Repticon visited New Port Richey at the All Sports Arena.
From snakes and chameleons, to supplies and food, this convention had it all — as 42 businesses and vendors showcased different types of reptiles and supplies.
Every type of cold-blooded creature imaginable had a place at this one-of-a-kind convention, from lizards to snakes and frogs to chameleons.
It wasn’t uncommon to see people with snakes around their necks or artwork of lizards on their shirts.
“The reptile hobby has greatly increased in the last 10 years. It’s become more mainstream,” said Skip Peel, one of the event coordinators.
Spectators spanned all ages. Both boys and girls were among fans. Families often shared a common interest in the creatures.
Melinda Reinhart, a mother who held interest in reptiles herself, was mainly there for her son, Travis.
“He likes all of them.” Melinda said. Kids of all ages could be seen running around the convention, in awe of all the different types of reptiles on display.
One of the vendors, Lakeland-based Family Reptiles, got into the business because of a daughter’s interest in snakes.
Several businesses, including Poison Dart Frog Breeding, Ready To Go Reptiles, and crocodile specialist Bruce Shwedick from Reptile Discovery programs gave presentations.
Shwedick talked about his experiences with alligators and crocodiles during his travels to Asia and South Africa.
Shwedick brought out a 19-year-old Chinese alligator named Chopstick. The small gator was raised in the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge at Lake Charles, La. The reptile was hatched as part of a breeding program organized by the Bronx Zoo in New York.
At the end of the presentation, the audience members were invited to come up and touch Chopstick, but only on his tail to avoid scaring the alligator. Isaiah Berrian, 10, was one of the audience members eager to touch the Chinese reptile.
Meanwhile, Sunshine Serpents provided facts and knowledge as well as interactive quizzes on the “Snakes of the Southeast.” They passed around containers with various snakes including the Glass Lizard, which is actually a lizard without legs.
Poison Dart Breeding taught the audience about the proper care of poison dart frogs, while Ready To Go Reptiles staff talked about axolotls, which are Mexican salamanders.
“A lot of people may be afraid of amphibians and reptiles, but with the new generation, that’s decreasing,” Peel concluded.